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Bosnia-Herzegovina: Amnesty International calls for new commitments on the International Day of the "Disappeared"

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  • office@greekhelsinki.gr
    * News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International * 30 August 2002 EUR 63/016/2002 Seven years after the ending of the war in
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 30, 2002
      * News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
      International *

      30 August 2002
      EUR 63/016/2002


      Seven years after the ending of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
      Amnesty International called on the authorities in
      Bosnia-Herzegovina to make a commitment to the introduction of
      new legislation to criminalize acts of "disappearances",
      recognizing the severity of this human rights violation.
      Specifically, the organization recommends that such provisions
      are added to the new State Criminal Code to enable prosecutions
      for violations of international humanitarian law by a special
      division of the new State Court.

      "Despite real progress in the exhumation and
      identification of the victims of "disappearances" and abductions
      throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina there has been pitiful little
      progress in bringing those responsible for these human rights
      violations and abuses to justice," Amnesty International stated.
      "Indeed the authorities -- especially, (but not exclusively),
      those in the Republika Srpska -- have shown almost a wilful
      refusal to end impunity for those suspected of "disappearances",
      abductions and other human rights violations carried out in the
      war in Bosnia-Herzegovina".

      Amnesty International supports the ongoing process of
      reform of the judicial system and welcomes initiatives to
      establish mechanisms to prosecute violations of international
      humanitarian law, but the organization warned that without the
      political will by the authorities to investigate and prosecute
      the perpetrators, the law will be a dead letter, and the culture
      of impunity will continue.

      To date, criminal investigations have only been initiated
      in a handful of "disappearance" cases, and only after
      overwhelming pressure and involvement by the international
      community. Amnesty International fears that with the end of the
      mandate of the IPTF (International Police Task Force) -- which
      has actively supported and supervised these investigations --
      Bosnian police and judicial officials will receive little
      encouragement to initiate such investigations.

      Amnesty International believes that without justice for
      the survivors of war crimes, the possibility of restoring respect
      for human rights and the rule of law, and of enabling ethnic and
      political reconciliation, remains a remote possibility for
      Bosnia-Herzegovina.

      The human rights organization also urged the authorities
      to recognize that "disappearance" is an ongoing violation of the
      rights of the relatives of the "disappeared" who continue to be
      obstructed or ignored by the authorities in their continuing
      search for the truth, and for justice and redress. The pain and
      suffering of tens of thousands of relatives amounts to a
      violation of their right not to be subjected to torture and
      ill-treatment, a view also held by the Human Rights Chamber for
      Bosnia-Herzegovina.

      The organization also urged the governments of
      Bosnia-Herzegovina to address the special, and so far neglected,
      needs of the relatives of the "disappeared" -- many of whom are
      still living as internally displaced persons. "The authorities
      need to address the current needs of many of the relatives,
      especially women and their children, now living as displaced
      persons -- often in poverty -- with no prospect of return to
      their homes in the foreseeable future," the organization
      commented.

      Finally, Amnesty International again urged the
      Stabilization Force (SFOR) to honour the terms of their mandate,
      and to actively seek out and arrest those -- like Radovan
      Karadzic and Ratko Mladic -- indicted for war crimes by the
      International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. "After
      a year of public relations exercises, it is time for some real
      action," the organization concluded.

      Background

      Amnesty International will be represented today at a ceremony in
      Sarajevo to mark the International Day of the "Disappeared" in
      Sarajevo today, organized by the International Commission for
      Missing Persons, and attended by representatives of the family
      associations who continue to search for the truth about their
      loved ones.

      Amnesty International campaigns throughout the world
      against impunity for the perpetrators of "disappearances" and
      abductions, and for the rights of the relatives of the
      "disappeared". In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the organization has
      worked continuously on behalf of the families of those who
      "disappeared" and were abducted in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
      and continues to raise the issue with the authorities in
      Bosnia-Herzegovina and at an international level.


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