Amnesty Slams Bosnia for Neglecting Victims of Wartime Rape

Posted March 29th, 2012 at 4:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Rights group Amnesty International has slammed the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina for neglecting women survivors of wartime rape.

In a statement issued Thursday, the group says that Sarajevo in 2010 made a commitment to ensure justice, truth and reparation for hundreds of survivors of wartime sexual violence, but failed to enact it.

Jezerca Tigani, Amnesty's deputy program director for Europe and Central Asia notes that nearly two decades after the end of the war, “hundreds of women continue to live with the effects of rape and other forms of torture, without proper access to the medical, psychological and financial assistance they need to rebuild their shattered lives.” But, she says, most of the perpetrators remain unpunished.

During the 1992-1995 war Serbian, forces raped thousands of Muslim women in the areas they occupied. Many victims fled their homes to find safe haven in Muslim-held areas of Bosnia or in other countries. After the conflict they were unable or unwilling to return to their homes in the areas under Serb control.

Tigani notes that it took more than a decade for Bosnian authorities to acknowledge their international obligations to wartime rape survivors. But she says the national program to help women victims of sexual violence has not been finalized due to continuing political deadlock.

She urged Bosnia's central government to make the survivors' rights their priority and set a standard for local governments.

Under the 1995 Dayton peace accord, Bosnia is divided in two entities: the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic. The central government is weak and ethnic tensions continue to simmer in the Balkan country.

Tigani says the new government, formed at the end of 2011, has still to show its willingness to implement the commitments made by its predecessor. She said many of the rape victims do not have adequate medical insurance to cover treatment for their serious psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, hypertension and insomnia.

Meanwhile, she says, out of tens of thousands of documented cases of crimes of sexual violence committed during the war, fewer than 40 have been prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague or by Bosnian domestic courts.

Hollywood movie star Angelina Jolie has sought to draw the world's attention to the plight of Bosnian women victimized during the 1992-1995 war with her directorial debut movie “In the Land of Blood and Honey.” The movie was welcomed in Bosnia, but rejected by ethnic Serbs worldwide.