Bosnian state prosecutor not delivering justice to war crimes victims, OSCE says

By bne IntelliNews June 17, 2019

The quality of investigation and prosecution of war crimes has deteriorated due to large systematic deficiencies, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) noted in a spot report 'War Crimes Management at the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina' released on June 17.

The report concluded that the state-level prosecutor’s office (PO) is not delivering justice to all war crimes victims due to persistent   deficiencies it has not addressed in recent years.

“The PO BiH is failing to focus its efforts exclusively on the gravest and most complex cases, as required by the National War Crimes Processing Strategy, thereby wasting resources and time with less complex cases that should be tried at the entity/Brčko District level,” the report noted.

It added that the prosecution risks re-traumatising repeat victim-witnesses and distorting the historical record of facts.

Moreover, many perpetrators of war crimes may remain unpunished due to the unnecessarily large war crimes case backlog. If the current trend continues, it will take almost 10 years for the prosecution to complete all war crimes cases it now holds, which comprise the majority of remaining cases in the country.

“The pace of solving war crimes cases has recently been slowing down,” stated Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, head of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU special representative in BiH. “The report notes that the focus has not been solely on the most complex cases which, in accordance with the 2008 National War Crimes Strategy should have been a priority. As also noted by the European Commission Analytical Report accompanying the Opinion on BiH's application for EU membership, the OSCE report highlights an alarmingly low conviction rate at the BiH level compared to Entities."

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