Transitional Justice Vital for Bosnia’s EU Path, Conference Says

Transitional Justice Vital for Bosnia’s EU Path, Conference Says

4. April 2024.16:33
4. April 2024.16:33
Participants agree transitional judice is a priority for the EU and feelings of ‘fatigue’ must not get in the way.

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A conference titled “Role of Transitional Justice in Bosnia’s European Path”, organised by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network of Bosnia and Herzegovina, BIRN BiH, with support of the Belgian embassy, on April 4, put a focus on one of the five key priorities of the European Union, which advocates promoting an environment conducive to reconciliation and overcoming the legacies of the war.

Denis Dzidic, executive director of BIRN BiH, said the fifth priority of the EU should be additionally defined, especially in light of widespread hate speech, revisionism and denial of genocide and other crimes.

“All these things continue to deepen the gap between people and it is simply impossible to talk about other aspects of the European Union accession without making this segment clearer and more precise,” he said.

“For that reason, we wanted to open a discussion with a broad spectrum of people. Today, we have representatives of victims’ associations, who are manifestly living with the consequences of all that, but also representatives of judicial institutions and the international community,” Dzidic added.

He noted that, unfortunately, government representatives did not accept an invitation.

Benjamin Sturtewagen, acting charge d’affaires of the Belgium embassy. Photo: BIRN BiH

Benjamin Sturtewagen, acting charge d’affaires of the Belgium embassy, said his country had tried to affirm this topic as a priority in the UN Security Council a few years ago.

“Transitional justice is one of the priorities of the EU and that is especially highlighted in a Council of Europe’s decision of two weeks ago. So, this remains one of the focus points of our efforts and our activities. Just like with any other topic that is talked about a lot, public fatigue happens. That has happened with transitional justice too. But given it is the priority of the UN, European Union, BiH and all us actors, we must not let it be forgotten and the fatigue happen,” Sturtewagen said.

Results of an analysis of almost 30 years of work on prosecution of war criminals in Bosnia were presented at the conference by Dzana Brkanic, BIRN BIH deputy editor, and by Emina Dizdarevic Tahmiscija, BIRN BiH journalist.

Speakers included state prosecutor Ivan Matesic, Murat Tahirovic, president of the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide in BiH, Joeri Maas, from the EU Office in BiH, Irma Zulic, political and development advisor at the United Nations in BiH, Mirza Buljubasic, a professor of Criminalistics, Criminology and Security Studies and Agnes Picod, senior human rights advisor at the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in BiH.

The participants concluded that civil society organisations, jointly with associations of victims and with support of the international community, must insist on this matter with the holders of authority.

Jasmin Begić

This post is also available in: Bosnian