ISSN 2330-717X

Bosnia War Victims Protest Threat To State Court

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By Elvira Jukic and Denis Dzidic

Members of Bosniak [Muslim] war victims associations gathered on February 16 in front of the state parliament in Sarajevo to voice anger over Serb MPs calls for the abolition of the state court and state prosecutor’s office.

The vote had no chance of succeeding after MPs representing the mainly Bosniak and Croatian Federation entity said they would never support it.

Meanwhile Bosniak war victims said justice would suffer if the state court was scrapped because they had no faith in securing justice from the courts in the Serb-run entity, Republika Srpska.

Bakira Hasecic, from the association of women war victims, said they had come before parliament to show “we are still waiting for justice.

“Our prior goal is that all the war criminals are tried ‘under the same roof’ and without entity courts,” Hasecic told reporters in Sarajevo.

The proposals to abolish the state court and prosecutor came from Drago Kalabic and Darko Babalj, deputies of the two main parties in the Serb entity, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, and the Serb Democratic Party, SDS.

Thursday’s discussion between MPs took the form of a long argument over the work of two state judicial institutions.

Backers of the law refer to the absence of a clear constitutional basis for the existence of the State Court and Prosecutor’s Office, as both were founded in 2003 by a decision of the Office of the High Representative, which was subsequently accepted by the state parliament.

Serbian deputies on Thursday called this an imposed decision and said it did not represent the democratic will of the people. They also accused the two institutions of bias when it comes to handling war crimes committed by Bosniaks.

Drago Kalabic, one of the MPs submitting the resolution, said the act of the then High Representative, Wolfgang Petrisch, had not been what all people in the country had wanted.

Bosniak parties opposed the proposal to scrap the state court, saying entity courts would be too lenient to war criminals and would not complete cases with adequate verdicts.

Sefik Dzaferovic, from the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, and president of Constitutional Commission, said that if the court and the prosecutor’s office were abolished, many cases would not be tried at all.

“If something like that is done, chaos would appear and this parliament will not let that happen,” he said.

Croatian parties stayed on the side of the argument, which mainly involves Serbs and Bosniaks.

But the president of HDZ 1990, one of two major Croat parties in Bosnia, said that instead of abolishing the two judicial institutions, parliament should reconsider their work.

“Ending those institutions will not solve problems, but they should be replaced by better ones,” Ljubic told the assembly.

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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