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Bosnian Ministers Fail to Adopt National War Crimes Strategy

24. July 2019.16:37
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Council of Ministers was criticised for again failing to consider a revised national strategy for prosecuting war crimes to ensure that the country’s huge backlog of cases is processed by 2023. The Council of Ministers, the executive branch of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s state-level government, has been criticised for again failing on Tuesday evening to consider a revised national strategy to clear up the country’s large backlog of war crimes cases.

This post is also available in: Bosnian (Bosnian)

Denis Zvizdic, chairman of the Council of Ministers, said that the issue was so-called ‘Category A’ cases which were transferred, before the investigations were finished, by Hague Tribunal prosecutors to Bosnian prosecutors.

“We have no answer to the question on what happened to 850 Category A cases, because it is unclear how many cases have been ruled upon, how many defendants there are, in which cases investigations have been discontinued and how many have not been acted upon at all. Until these questions are answered, the presumptions for adoption of the strategy will not have been met,” Zvizdic said.

But Milorad Kojic, director of the Centre for Research of War, War Crimes and the Search for Missing Persons of Republika Srpska, argued that this made no sense because all the data was already available to a working group that was set up by the Council of Ministers.

“Why did the Council of Ministers form the working group if they are now seeking the information?” Kojic asked.

Murat Tahirovic, president of the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide, argued however that information about the 850 ‘category A’ cases was crucial because these cases are the most important.

“We have no information about them. Why don’t they say publicly how many of those cases have been processed, how many are in the investigation phase, how many charges have been brought against certain individuals. Nobody has the information,” Tahirovic said.

In 2008, Bosnian authorities adopted a national strategy for processing war crimes cases which said that most complex cases would be processed at the state level within the seven years, while all other cases would be transferred to the entity level and completed in 15 years, by 2023.

As the seven-year deadline expired in late 2015 without the most complex war crime cases having been completed at the state level, a revised strategy was prepared, specifying that a larger number of cases would be transferred to the entity level.

The revised strategy, to which the country’s judicial overseer, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, gave its backing in February last year, says that all cases should be processed by 2023.

But this revised strategy has never made it onto the agenda of the Council of Ministers for approval.

Haris Rovčanin


This post is also available in: Bosnian (Bosnian)