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World : Europe : Bosnia_Herzegovina
 
Bosnia & Herzegovina

For the first centuries of the Christian era, Bosnia was part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of Rome, Bosnia was contested by Byzantium and Rome's successors in the west. Slavs settled the region in the 7th century, and the kingdoms of Serbia and Croatia split control of Bosnia in the 9th century. The 11th and 12th centuries saw the rule of the region by the kingdom of Hungary. The medieval kingdom of Bosnia gained its independence around 1200 A.D. Bosnia remained independent until 1463, when Ottoman Turks conquered the region.

During Ottoman rule, many Bosnians converted to Christianity in favor of Islam. Bosnia was under Ottoman rule until 1878, when it was given to Austria-Hungary as a colony. While those living in Bosnia came under rule by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, South Slavs in Serbia and elsewhere were calling for a South Slav state. World War I began when Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Following the Great War, Bosnia became part of the South Slav state of Yugoslavia, only to be given to Nazi-puppet Croatia in World War II. During this period, many atrocities were committed against Jews, Serbs, and others who resisted the occupation. The Cold War saw the establishment of the Communist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Tito, and the reestablishment of Bosnia as a republic with its medieval borders.

Yugoslavia's unraveling was hastened by the rise of Slobodan Milosevic to power in 1986. Milosevic's embrace of Serb nationalism led to intrastate ethnic strife. Slovenia and Croatia both declared independence in 1991, and Bosnia-Herzegovina soon followed. In February 1992, the Bosnian Government held a referendum on independence, and Bosnian Serbs, supported by neighboring Serbia, responded with armed resistance in an effort to partition the republic along ethnic lines to create a "greater Serbia." Muslims and Croats in Bosnia signed an agreement in March 1994 creating the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This narrowed the field of warring parties down to two. The conflict continued through most of 1995, ending with the Dayton Peace Agreement signed on November 21, 1995 (the final version was signed December 14, 1995 in Paris). BiH today consists of two entities, the largely Bosniak and Croat Federation and the primarily Serb, Republika Srpska.

 

CIVIL DISORDER

Sporadic violence against international community representatives continued throughout the year. On January 31, a hand grenade was thrown at the IPTF police station in Pale in the RS, damaging three vehicles. On April 3, a hand grenade was thrown at a SFOR patrol near Modrica in the RS. Two cars and a shop were damaged. On June 21, a landmine damaged an SFOR armored personnel carrier near Gacko in the RS. Three SFOR soldiers were wounded in the incident, which followed protests against minority refugee returns to the area. On July 24, six rocket-propelled hand grenades were fired at the living quarters of the Joint Commission Observer in Zvornik. The attack was similar to one carried out in May 1998. The attack damaged the house, but did not result in any casualties. RS police arrested two suspects, and still are searching for another. On August 3, a false bomb threat was made against offices in Zenica that house international community organizations, local government, media, and NGO's. In August, an IPTF monitor was assaulted and slightly injured in the Zvornik area by unknown assailants.

Federation and RS government officials also were attacked. The private business premises of Mostar mayor Safet Orucevic were damaged in a rock throwing incident on May 15. An improvised explosive device detonated in a Travnik municipal office in June, injuring one employee. An official vehicle used by the RS Minister of Information was destroyed by an explosion in Banja Luka on June 15. In July municipal officials in Maglaj complained of death threats during the eviction of foreign-born Islamists who illegally were occupying homes owned by displaced persons. A car belonging to the head of the local refugee government department in Modrica in the RS was heavily damaged by a hand grenade on August 7. Early in the year, a cantonal judge in Sarajevo received death threats during the deportation proceedings of a naturalized Bosnian citizen who was wanted on international terrorism charges. In August the interior minister of Central Bosnia canton received threats following the arrest of a Croat war-crimes suspect. There was no progress reported by year's end in the Foca police chief's investigation of the attack of the Foca IPTF station. There was no progress reported by year's end by the RS police on the investigation of the death of municipal council member Munib Hasanovic.

A number of housing authorities responsible for implementing property law were threatened or assaulted. The head of the Banja Luka housing authority resigned after receiving death threats. He had been under pressure not to carry out evictions of Croatian Serbs and war veterans illegally occupying property owned by displaced persons. On April 10, the head of the housing authority in Bijeljina was stabbed and seriously wounded. Police determined that the assailant was a displaced person who was dissatisfied with the manner in which his case had been handled. The perpetrator was arrested and sentenced to 60 days in prison. On April 29, the head of the Stolac Housing Board was beaten by an alleged illegal occupant, who also attempted to stab him. Local police did not respond adequately and the IPTF subsequently issued two noncompliance reports against local police and continued to monitor the investigation. On December 7, the head of housing in Pale resigned after receiving threats for implementing property laws.

A few violent incidents marred the municipal elections on April 8. Two such incidents were directed against the international community, while others resulted from intraethnic conflict between political parties within ethnic communities (see Section 3). There were no violent incidents involving international community representatives during the November elections, as had been the case in past elections.

Individual and societal violence motivated by ethnic conflict continued to be a serious problem, and numerous bombings, shootings, and assaults caused deaths, injuries, and significant material damage; however, violence decreased compared with 1999. Such violence often was connected to the return of refugees and displaced persons to their prewar homes in areas where the returnees are now a minority. A growing level of violence associated with criminal activity compounded the problem.

There continued to be numerous violent incidents directed at returning refugees. In Posavina, a Croat returnee's windows were broken by Croat HDZ hard-liners. There have been reports of intimidation against Serbs in Drvar. On January 18, the newly renovated house of a returning Bosniak refugee in Aladinici, near Stolac (currently a Croat majority area), was burned. The next night another Bosniak house, still under construction, was destroyed. In early March, three Bosniak houses in Janja were set on fire and three of the inhabitants injured. In March a group of Serbs in Vlasenica in the RS beat a number of Roma who had been deported from refugee camps in Italy. On March 11, a group of Serbs threw a hand grenade at a house holding more than a dozen Bosniak heads of families in Kopaci, the Serb suburb of Gorazde. The Bosniaks were the first returnees to the suburb and previously had been camped nearby in tents for more than 5 months, waiting for Serb authorities to evict illegal Serb occupants from their property.

Also in March, there were several attacks against returning Bosniaks near the RS town of Prnjavor. On March 21, a hand grenade severely injured a Bosniak male who had returned with his family to the settlement of Babanovac only 1 week earlier. On March 23, another Bosniak family physically was threatened and told to leave the area. On March 24, a hand grenade exploded and killed a Bosniak returnee who was burning trash on his property in the Prjnavor settlement of Lisnja (it remains unclear whether the grenade was placed deliberately in the fire to harm the Bosniak or merely was there by accident).

In April a group of approximately 100 Bosnian Serbs stoned 6 Bosniaks who were rebuilding their houses in Brcko. On April 26, a mine exploded in the house of a Croat returnee in the Modrica area of the RS, damaging the dwelling but injuring no one. On May 11, several buses carrying 180 Bosniak women to a memorial ceremony to mark the 8th anniversary of a massacre in the Bratunac area were stoned by an angry mob of Serbs. At least 10 Bosniak women were injured slightly by broken glass. RS authorities charged 29 Serbs for disturbing the peace several days later (see Sections 2.b. and 5). In late May there were minor attacks on Bosniak returnees and Croat IDP's outside of Stolac. The next day the governor of the canton visited the return site to criticize the incidents.

On June 21, an unidentified person fired at the office of the Association of Refugees from Derventa in Bijelo Brdo. On June 25, a hand grenade exploded under the truck of a Bosniak returnee to Janja in Bijeljina municipality. The explosion damaged the house and garage.

Arsonists set fire to more than a dozen Bosniak returnee homes in and around Srebrenica in the summer in an effort to intimidate returnees. No one was injured but property was significantly damaged and, in some instances, destroyed. One fire was timed to coincide with the July 12 ceremony at Potocari marking the 5th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. Several of the homes had been renovated recently. None of the perpetrators were arrested.

On July 24 a crowd of 250 Serbs, protesting against the eviction of Serbs in Janja, rioted in a Bosniak neighborhood of the town, burning 2 Bosniak houses, destroying several vehicles, and stoning 6 other dwellings. Two hand grenades exploded during the incident, injuring several people. Local police and SFOR looked on without intervening. Approximately 11,000 Bosniaks lived in Janja before the war; only 700 had returned by July.

In mid-August a bomb destroyed a cafe in downtown Glamoc that was owned by a Bosniak returnee. Three days later the owner's father's rebuilt home was set on fire. The OHR dismissed the Croat mayor of Glamoc on September 8, partly due to his inaction regarding these two incidents.

On August 23, a group of Serb IDP's angry over their displaced circumstances blocked the Zvornik-Vlasenica road for several hours. When police broke up the blockade, they were assaulted by the crowd and 12 police officers were injured.

On September 9, a Bosniak house in Srebrenica, which had been empty after a Serb had vacated it, was set on fire.

On September 12, the vehicle used by the head of the Banja Luka branch of the RS Ministry for Refugees was destroyed in an explosion. The explosion appeared to have been an attempt to intimidate the official, who is in charge of evicting illegal occupants and returning refugees to Banja Luka.

In mid-December, there were two mine incidents that may have been deliberate attempts to deter Bosniaks from returning. In the destroyed village of Glogova, near the Serb town of Bratunac, a Bosniak was killed when a mine exploded while he was clearing his property. After an investigation, RS authorities concluded that the mines were recently placed as a booby trap to prevent return. In southern Bosnia, outside the Serb town of Gacko, a landmine exploded under a car carrying Bosniaks to the refugee village of Fazlagica Kula. The occupants were severely wounded, but survived. The OHR suspects that the mine was set recently. These landmine incidents prompted OHR to make a statement criticizing what appeared to be increasing violence against returnees.

There was no progress in the local authorities' investigation of a car bomb that injured a Bosnian Croat police officer in Travnik in 1999. There was no investigation into 1999 incidents of arson of homes of Bosniak returnees in Borovnica. There was no progress in the investigation by canton and Federation antiterrorism officers into a bomb explosion at the home of Ivan Saric, former middle Bosnia canton governor, in a village outside Gornje Vakuf in 1999.

 

ECONOMY

The economy remains weak and dependent upon international assistance. Gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated at $5 billion; per capita GDP doubled, at approximately $1,350. GDP continued to be lower in the RS than in the Federation. The entity governments have made only minor structural reforms in privatization, banking, and taxation. Official unemployment estimates range from 40 to 50 percent, and many individuals are forced into the informal economy for work. Workers in the "gray" market typically receive no benefits, but those with formal employment often are paid only partial salaries and months late. Pensions and other benefits are also paid only in part and are delayed 6 months or more due to a lack of government resources. The continued return of refugees from abroad is expected to compound the problem of job creation and to reduce remittances. International assistance provided loans to the manufacturing sector and guidance on structural reform.

 

INCIDENCE OF CRIME

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina has provided data neither for United Nations nor INTERPOL surveys of crime; however, an estimate of crime is given in the United States State Department's Consular Information Sheet.

 

POLICE

In the RS, police detained suspects for long periods of time before filing charges; lengthy prearraignment detention was a problem in numerous cases in the Federation as well. However, there were fewer cases of arbitrary arrest and detention than in the previous year. Confusion over the rules governing local arrest, detention, and prosecution of suspects for The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) led in some instances to questionable detentions in both the Federation and the RS. The RS continued its de facto refusal to take action against any Serbs indicted by the ICTY. In contrast, RS authorities have made arrests of Serbs based solely on warrants issued by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Yugoslavia); however, in a recent case the authorities later released the suspects.

There were no reports of political killings by police; however, there was one death in custody. Violent incidents continued throughout the year, many between members of different ethnic groups or political parties.

A prisoner died in Mostar West prison where he was being held on charges of aggravated assault. An investigation by the IPTF's Human Rights Division determined the death a suicide and found no evidence to suggest police abuse or irregularities.

Federation authorities made several arrests in connection with the March 1999 killing of Federation Deputy Interior Minister Jozo Leutar. In spite of ethnic divisions within the police and political interference from some quarters, the investigation, one of the most politically contentious in Bosnia, was continuing in cooperation with officials in third countries at year's end. By contrast, a series of attacks on Croat policemen in Travnik in 1999 remains unsolved, mainly due to political interference.

Many, if not most, of the perpetrators of killings and other brutal acts committed in previous years remained unpunished, including war criminals indicted by the ICTY, individuals responsible for the up to 8,000 persons killed by the Bosnian Serb Army after the fall of Srebrenica, and those responsible for up to 13,000 others still missing and presumed killed as a result of "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia. The local prosecution of war crimes cases has proceeded slowly due to political interference, but Bosnian authorities made some progress during the year with the arrest of several suspects that have been charged and are to be tried in the Bosnian courts.

There was an increase in the number of arrests by Federation police of war crimes suspects for local prosecution, particularly in Croat areas of the Federation. Officers of the Federation Interior Ministry arrested suspected Croat war criminal Dominik Ilijasevic August 28 in Kiseljak. Erhad Poznic and Ivan Suljo, former Croat special police officers charged in connection with the disappearance and presumed execution of 13 Bosniak prisoners of war in Mostar in 1993, both surrendered voluntarily to cantonal authorities in September. In addition, Dragan Stankovic, a Bosnian Serb indicted for local prosecution for actions targeting the Bosniak civilian population in Foca in 1992, was arrested by cantonal police in Gorazde on September 20, while crossing through Federation territory. A Croat police official in Travnik surrendered himself to a Sarajevo court in March following his reported indictment on war crimes charges. The court subsequently released the officer, ultimately explaining that he had been questioned as a witness in an ongoing war crimes investigation.

A pattern of poor police protection and of violence against minority communities continued in several areas. Police in Stolac, Drvar, Gacko, and Srebrenica proved unwilling or unable to contain the numerous instances of arson designed to intimidate returnees. While there was some improvement in the behavior of local police in the RS and the Federation toward returning minorities, there still were numerous instances of poor police protection in several areas. In February the U.N. Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) called for increased police patrols after an attempted arson attack on a Bosniak home in the settlement of Ilici in southwest Mostar. In March the OHR suspended the deputy police chief and three policemen in Kopaci, a suburb of Gorazde in the eastern RS, who, despite being stationed around a Bosniak house, failed to prevent a Serb from throwing a grenade at it. In Srebrenica, police failed to apprehend anyone responsible for more than 12 burnings of houses occupied by minority families in June and July. In July in Janja police stood by and watched as rioters burned three houses and damaged 15 others during a protest against Bosniak returns that was sparked by the scheduled eviction of three Serb families. The subsequent police investigation was marked by significant omissions, and police refused to identify suspects during court hearings. In the Federation, returning Serbs in Drvar were subjected to physical attacks and intimidation during attempts to evict temporary Croatian occupants.

At times some police officers impeded the enforcement of the law by their unwillingness to carry out eviction orders for persons illegally occupying homes of internally displaced persons (IDP's). Government leaders in both the RS and the Federation often used a variety of tactics, including public statements, to inhibit the return of IDP's.

The IPTF made significant progress in its efforts to restructure and increase professionalism in the police forces. The IPTF completed its programs to provide human dignity and basic skills training to all Federation police officers and neared completion of officer training in the RS. The IPTF continued its certification of Federation and RS police and also decertified officers on a variety of charges. This process involved written and psychological examinations, as well as background investigations. In addition, an IPTF unit in The Hague checks the names of all police officials through the ICTY database. In August the RS police academy graduated its third multiethnic class. Minority officers are beginning to be deployed in areas where minority returns are occurring. All Federation canton governments have agreed to an ethnically mixed police force in principle; however, many cantonal governments continue to resist integration in practice.

In the Federation police include Croat, Bosniak, and Serb officers and generally reflect the appropriate ethnic mix within each canton. However, Bosniak and Croat police in the Federation often operate under separate, parallel budget and command structures, divided along ethnic lines. Police in the RS generally do not meet target standards of ethnic representation, as mandated by various agreements. Cooperation between the RS and the Federation Interior Ministries often is better than cooperation between federation cantons. The integration of women into the police forces is uneven but improving, with substantial female representation in the Brcko district and in recent police academy classes in both the RS and the Federation.

IPTF certification of officers proceeded more slowly in the RS, but there was progress on significant law enforcement reforms. An interentity agreement negotiated under U.N. auspices allows the voluntary redeployment of officers across entity lines to redress ethnic imbalances. By year's end, 33 officers had volunteered for redeployment (22 from the Federation and 11 from the RS). Police officials attempted to recruit more minority candidates; individual cantons in the Federation held positions open for minority candidates. Since 1999 international monitors have been establishing an IPTF physical presence within police facilities to ensure proper IPTF monitoring of police reforms. Authorities in the RS are implementing a policies and procedures manual that institutes, among other reforms, a public information bureau and internal affairs unit.

Under these reforms, the RS authorities continue to remove officers accused of graft or brutality. Professional standards units have reviewed over 1,000 cases, substantiating approximately 35 percent of complaints received and administering punishments ranging from fines to suspensions. A total of 20 officers were removed and 16 cases were registered for criminal prosecution.

On January 14, the IPTF Commissioner removed the provisional authorization to exercise police powers from seven police officers in the Federation. The removals were enforced for violations ranging from illegal deprivation of liberty to assault on civilians in custody and assault while off duty. In one case, an officer shot and injured a civilian while intoxicated. There were scattered reports of police brutality throughout the country, although local professional standards units were increasingly active in holding law enforcement officers, including senior officials, accountable for their actions.

In June the Human Rights Chamber ruled that the Federation army had violated the human rights of two Serbs who were shot and detained while driving near Sarajevo in 1996. The two were detained at various locations for over a month before appearing before a judge and were released 15 days later by the then-Higher Court of Sarajevo. A month after their detention, the Army launched an investigation a month after their detention into whether they had committed war crimes. The Chamber ruled that the treatment of one of the two men during detention constituted torture and that both men suffered inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment because they were Serbs. During the year, there were no reports of the Army detaining civilians.

On March 1, the Sokolac prosecutor indicted nine former RS police officers for their alleged unlawful conduct during the investigation into the murder of the Deputy Chief of the Pale Public Security Center (PSC), Srdan Knezevic, in August 1998. Among those indicted were the former RS Minister of Interior Chief of Uniformed Police (who was shot to death by unknown persons in June), Head of the Pale PSC Crime Unit, and the Chief of Staff of the Pale PSC. The charges included unlawful deprivation of freedom, extraction of statements by duress, maltreatment during the discharge of duty, illegal search, failure to render aid, and unauthorized photography. Several of the indictees had been cited by the IPTF for illegal deprivation of liberty, torture, and ill-treatment of 14 suspects and witnesses, as well as coercing several detainees into confessing and into signing incriminating statements.

Sporadic violence against international community representatives continued throughout the year. On January 31, a hand grenade was thrown at the IPTF police station in Pale in the RS, damaging three vehicles. On April 3, a hand grenade was thrown at a SFOR patrol near Modrica in the RS. Two cars and a shop were damaged. On June 21, a landmine damaged an SFOR armored personnel carrier near Gacko in the RS. Three SFOR soldiers were wounded in the incident, which followed protests against minority refugee returns to the area. On July 24, six rocket-propelled hand grenades were fired at the living quarters of the Joint Commission Observer in Zvornik. The attack was similar to one carried out in May 1998. The attack damaged the house, but did not result in any casualties. RS police arrested two suspects, and still are searching for another. On August 3, a false bomb threat was made against offices in Zenica that house international community organizations, local government, media, and NGO's. In August, an IPTF monitor was assaulted and slightly injured in the Zvornik area by unknown assailants.

 

DETENTION

There were fewer cases of arbitrary arrest and detention in both the Federation and the RS compared with 1999. In prior years, police in both entities enjoyed great latitude based on Communist-era criminal procedure laws that permitted them to detain persons for up to 6 months without bringing formal charges against them. The Federation revised these laws in 1998, removing this power from police and vesting it solely in the investigative judge. The Communist-era detention laws remain in force in the RS.

Federation law permits prearraignment detention of up to 24 hours; in the RS prearraignment detention may extend for 3 days. International monitors report numerous instances in which these deadlines have been violated. In one case, a detainee was held for 11 days in the Federation before appearing before a judge. Some accused persons have been in detention for several years while awaiting a final action by the appellate court. The absence of psychiatric facilities in the Federation and RS has led to persons being detained rather than properly treated.

Human rights NGO's contend that there are cases in which persons who ostensibly are detained on criminal charges actually are incarcerated for political reasons. For example, Ibrahim Djedovic, a parliamentary deputy for the Democratic National Union (DNZ), which the ruling Bosniak SDA views as a renegade party due to its activities during the war, was arrested and jailed in May 1997 for war crimes, after he arrived in Sarajevo to take up his parliamentary seat. The ICTY investigated Djedovic and decided not to arrest him for his alleged activities. Most local and international observers believe that Djedovic was arrested due to his political affiliation and not because of alleged war crimes. Although the Sarajevo cantonal court convicted and sentenced Djedovic to 10 years in 1998, he was released in March after winning an appeal and returned to his seat in the Federation Parliament.

There were no reports that forced exile generally was used as a legal punishment. There were no reports during the year of attempts by local Croat authorities to expel returning Serbs in some Croat-dominated areas of the Federation, as had been the case in the past. However, Croat hard-liners in Capljina continued to intimidate Serb returnees. The Croatian Government also continued to deny electricity to Serb returnees in Ivanica, a small town in Bosnia near Dubrovnik.

 

COURTS

 

Both the Federation and RS Constitutions provide for an independent judiciary; however, the executive and the ruling nationalist political parties continue to influence the judicial system. Party affiliation and political connections weighed heavily in the appointment of prosecutors and judges. The legal system is unable to adequately protect the rights of either victims or criminal defendants because of its inefficient criminal procedure codes and complicated trial procedures.

The judicial hierarchy in the Federation varies among its different constituent cantons. In the seven mixed or Bosniak cantons, original court jurisdiction exists in both municipal and cantonal courts, with more serious offenses typically tried in the cantonal courts. Appeals are taken to the Federation Supreme Court. However, in the three Croat-dominated cantons, the municipal courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses, and appeals are heard by the cantonal courts. The Croat-dominated cantons refuse to recognize the appellate jurisdiction of the Federation Supreme Court; however, no litigant has attempted to appeal to the Federation Supreme Court yet. The differing judicial practices in the cantons of the Federation present obstacles to prosecutors, criminal defendants, defense attorneys, and civil litigants and their attorneys.

In August 1999, the OHR imposed a law allowing the Federation Supreme Court to claim immediate jurisdiction as the "court of first instance" in cases involving terrorism, organized crime, smuggling, and intercantonal crime, which would be difficult for lower courts to try because of pressure from political parties. However, no such cases had been tried in the Supreme Court by year's end.

The Federation Constitution provides for the appointment of judges by the President, with the concurrence of the Vice President and the approval of the Assembly, to an initial term of 5 years. Judges may be reappointed following this initial term to serve until the age of 70.

The RS judicial hierarchy includes a Supreme Court to provide for the unified enforcement of the law and a Constitutional Court to assure conformity of laws, regulations, and general enactments with the Constitution. The RS has both municipal and district courts, with the district courts having appellate jurisdiction. Judges are appointed and recalled by the National Assembly and have life tenure.

In June 1999, judicial associations in both entities adopted identical codes of ethics for judges and prosecutors. In August 1999, the OHR imposed laws strengthening the Federation prosecutor's office and protecting the identity of witnesses in sensitive cases in the Federation. There have been no test cases to date, however. The international community continued training programs in the Federation to familiarize judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the police with the Federation's reformed Criminal Code, which entered into effect in November 1998. The RS has not adopted similar criminal law reforms yet. Some NGO's expressed concern over the judicial selection process in eight federation cantons, especially in Sarajevo and Tuzla. Legal experts argued that the laws on judicial selection in those two cantons were inconsistent with the canton and Federation Constitutions.

Both the Federation and RS Constitutions provide for open and public trials and give the accused the right to legal counsel.

The Dayton Peace Accords also created the Human Rights Commission for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which consists of the Human Rights Chamber and the Human Rights Ombudsman. The Chamber may consider alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights if the matter is within the responsibility of one of the parties to the Dayton Agreement and occurred after its signing. Decisions of the Chamber are final and may not be appealed to the Constitutional Court. The Ombudsman may investigate allegations of human rights abuses either on his or her own initiative or in response to any party, or may refer matters to the Chamber.

Human rights organizations reported that judicial institutions in both entities were controlled or influenced by the ruling parties. Likewise, the various prosecutorial offices throughout the two entities remained subject to political pressure. There were numerous anecdotal reports of politicians pressuring judges to rule in favor of the local party members in cases before the courts. Courts often were reluctant or unwilling to try cases of human rights abuse referred to them. A lack of resources and a huge backlog of unresolved cases provided a convenient excuse for judicial inaction. Even when the courts rendered a fair judgment, local officials often refused to implement their decisions. This was especially the case for those who won decisions mandating eviction of illegal occupants from their property, although this improved somewhat during the year under pressure from the international community. In addition, organized crime elements sought to pressure judges, especially in central Bosnia and Herzeg-Neretva canton.

The Federation and the RS maintain separate structures of courts and prosecution agencies, with little or no cooperation across the entity line. Although there have been isolated instances in which the 1998 Memorandum on Inter-Entity Legal Cooperation has been used successfully, little sustainable progress has been made in creating viable and effective structures for such cooperation. For example, there is no mechanism between the Ministries of Interior to enable arrest warrants to be executed throughout the country.

In the Federation, the High Representative implemented the Law on Judicial and Prosecutorial Service on May 17. In the RS, the National Assembly adopted the Law on Courts and Court Service and the Law on the Public Prosecutor's Office. These laws provide a merit-based, nonpolitical structure for the appointment and dismissal of judges and prosecutors and provide uniform standards for their professional conduct. The laws provide for a review period, during which all prosecutors and sitting judges who fall below the standard of professionalism set out in the laws will be removed. Review commissions were established in June and began reviewing files in September.

The caseload of the Human Rights Chamber continued to grow rapidly as more citizens turned to the Chamber to redress human rights violations after national institutions and domestic courts failed to provide an effective remedy.

In February the Human Rights Chamber ordered a retrial for Sretko Damjanovic, who was convicted by a military court in Sarajevo in 1993 of war crimes against the civilian population. The Chamber ruled that Damjanovic had not been granted a fair trial in the proceedings that led to the rejection of his petition for a retrial. In May and October 1997, the Sarajevo Cantonal Court had denied his request to reopen proceedings and his appeal was finally rejected by the Federation Supreme Court in February 1998. The Chamber stated that the cantonal court's reasoning for rejecting the appeal was "grossly inadequate and devoid of the appearance of fairness" and that Damjanovic did not have a fair chance to appeal to the Federation Supreme Court.

In February the Sarajevo Cantonal Court acquitted Bosniak Ibrahim Djedovic of charges of war crimes. Djedovic had been convicted and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in October 1998, after a trial that was viewed by international observers as unfair.

On August 4, Sarajevo Canton police arrested former Interior Minister and Bosniak organized crime figure Alija Delimustafic on "abuse of power" charges filed by the Federation Prosecutor. Delimustafic is purported to have ties across the political spectrum. Some observers believe that his arrest and arraignment indicate that the Bosnian judicial system is attempting to address the most serious corruption cases. Others are doubtful that the law enforcement community will have the political support to successfully prosecute the case.

No new trial was held in the May 1999 RS Supreme Court case in which the court ruled that three Bosniaks were wrongfully convicted of 1996 murders of four woodcutters.

 

WOMEN

Violence against women is a problem. Credible NGO observers reported that violence against women, including spousal abuse and rape, remained widespread and underreported. A report by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights estimates that about 30 percent of women in the country are victims of domestic violence; however, there is little data available regarding the extent of the problem. Throughout the country, rape and violent abuse are considered criminal offenses. The laws prohibit rape in both the Federation and the RS. Spousal rape and spousal abuse are also illegal in the Federation. However, domestic violence usually was not reported to the authorities; a sense of shame reportedly prevents some victims of rape from coming forward to complain to authorities.

The police have little or no training in investigating cases of domestic violence, and there were reports of police inaction in cases of domestic violence and sexual assault. According to human rights groups, in one case, a police officer from Zvornik was accused of raping two teenage girls. The father reported the incident to the local police station, but the officers on duty did not record the complaint. When the police finally interviewed the victims, the accused officer was allowed to be present in the room. The IPTF has requested an independent investigation. The OHR reported that in one case, police answering a call about domestic abuse noticed injuries on the woman and her minor daughter, but offered only to take them to the hospital. The woman, who had previously reported other incidents of abuse to the police, later committed suicide. In Canton 4, a police officer hung up on a midnight call from a daughter calling for help when her father threatened her mother with a knife. No record of the complaint was made. The IPTF has called for an investigation and for disciplinary action against the duty officer.

Trafficking in women from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union for the purpose of forced prostitution is a serious and growing problem.

It is illegal to run a brothel, but local police primarily arrest women engaged in prostitution rather than procurers or those managing the brothels. As a result, women who have been coerced or forced into prostitution have little recourse.

There is little legal discrimination against women, and women serve as judges, doctors, and professors; however, a male-dominated society prevails in both entities, particularly in rural areas, with few women in positions of real economic power or political power.

Women have been discriminated against in the workplace in favor of demobilized soldiers, and a small but increasing number of gender-related discrimination cases have been documented. Anecdotal accounts indicate that women and men receive equal pay at socially owned enterprises but not necessarily at private businesses. Women are entitled to 12 months' maternity leave and may be required to work no more than 4 hours per day until a child is 3 years old. However, women in all parts of the country encounter problems with regard to the nonpayment of maternity leave allowances and the unwarranted dismissal of pregnant women and new mothers. A woman with underage children may not be required to perform shift work.

 

CHILDREN

The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child is incorporated by reference in the Dayton Accords and has the effect of law in both entities. The end of the fighting brought a major improvement in the human rights of children. During the war nearly 17,000 children were killed, 35,000 were wounded, and over 1,800 were permanently disabled.

Social services for children are in extremely short supply. Disabled children lack sufficient medical care and educational opportunities. Education is free and is compulsory through the age of 15 in both the Federation and the RS. The most serious issue is the ethnic division of the education system. Students in minority areas frequently face a hostile environment in schools that do not provide an ethnically neutral setting. At times minority children are barred from attending school at all. Local education officials excuse such abuses by claiming that minority children should have their own schools and curricula. Obstruction by politicians and government officials has slowed international efforts to remove discriminatory material from textbooks and enact other needed reforms.

Steps were taken during the year to integrate minority students into some schools. In May approximately 85 Bosniak children who had been attending home schools in Stolac were integrated into the Stolac Elementary School, which previously had taught only Croat children. Similar integration took place in Vares. However, segregation and discrimination are entrenched in Bosnian schools, particularly in religious education. For example, in Sarajevo only Muslim religion classes were offered in public schools, which denied children of other faiths the opportunity to study their own religious traditions in school. In August Romani refugees from Kosovo protested the local authorities' decision that Romani children from the Smrekovica refugee center in Breza could not attend the local primary school. Although the UNHCR had arranged for 60 Romani children from the camp to enroll in a local primary school, the mayor intervened to prevent the children from enrolling, allegedly because of a lack of space at the school. In a compromise, two rooms in the camp were converted into classrooms; however, at year's end the children still were barred from the local school.

There was no societal pattern of abuse against children. Nonetheless, they continue to suffer disproportionately from the societal stress of the postwar era. There have been credible but unconfirmed reports that children are trafficked to work in begging rings. Trafficking in girls for the purpose of forced prostitution is a problem.

 

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

 

There are no laws that specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, and trafficking in women for the purpose of forced prostitution is a serious and growing problem. The country is mainly a destination point, and to a lesser extent an origin and transit point, for women and girls who are trafficked for the purpose of forced prostitution. Most victims are from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. A significant number of women are manipulated or coerced into situations in which they work in brothels in conditions close to slavery. The country is extremely vulnerable to trafficking in persons, because of weak laws, almost nonexistent border controls, and corrupt police who are bribed easily. As many as 5,000 trafficked women may be working in the country. Previous estimates of the problem by the Office of the U. N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) were overinflated due to unavailability of hard statistics; however, credible sources report that the problem is growing. From March 1999 to January 2001, there were 384 confirmed cases of women trafficked for sexual exploitation; 236 women were returned to their home countries. The IPTF reports that they have encountered approximately 4,000 women in their raids of bars and estimate that 10 percent of the women have been trafficked. The IOM confirmed two cases of Bosnian women who were trafficked to other countries. Organized crime elements control the trafficking business.

The majority of trafficked women in Bosnia come from Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine, but also come from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Bulgaria. The ages of the trafficked women averaged 22.8 years, ranging between 16 and 33 years of age. Less than 5 percent of the women were minors. Many of these women were lured by the promise of well-paying jobs abroad, and came in hope of improving their socioeconomic situation. Many women responded to advertisements that offered work in Italy or Germany as dancers, waitresses, and domestic servants. Most of the trafficked women cross through Yugoslavia or Hungary before entering the country. Many of them are sold in Belgrade, and from there are smuggled across the Drina river at Zvornik and Bijeljina into the country. Some traffickers brought in the women and girls specifically to work in the country's brothels. For a variety of reasons, traffickers stranded or abandoned some women en route to other countries. Some women are trafficked to Croatia to work as prostitutes there or to be trafficked to other countries. Trafficked women often are sold several times between different bar owners after arriving in Bosnia. Prices vary between $500 and $1,500 (1,000 to 3,000 KM) per woman, and the women often are expected to repay their "owners" this amount out of their allotted share of the earnings. There have been reports of trafficked women being physically and sexually assaulted, denied food, and threatened. A significant proportion of the traffickers is female.

There have been credible but unconfirmed reports that children (boys and girls) are trafficked to work in begging rings, mainly in Sarajevo.

It is illegal to run a brothel, but local police arrest primarily women engaged in prostitution rather than procurers or those managing the brothels. As a result, women who have been coerced or forced into prostitution have little recourse. Authorities generally treat prostitution as a minor violation committed by the woman involved; however, the police do not charge employers or customers with any crimes. In most cases, the police do not conduct thorough investigations against the bar owners and others involved in the recruitment, transportation, and movement of such women, and prosecutions of those involved are rare. Women convicted of prostitution may be fined, imprisoned for 60 days, or deported. In the fall of 1999, the OHR issued directives governing police raids on brothels to ensure that trafficked women were provided assistance. While these directives reportedly have been followed, raids are infrequent. The country's deportation laws permit local police to release trafficked individuals in neighboring jurisdictions or across the border in Croatia. Police in Bihac, Gradacac, and Tuzla have broken up trafficking rings in recent years and deported the women. It is estimated that there are some 300 to 600 brothels in the country. Brothel operators reportedly earn $50 (100 KM) per hour per woman; in some cases women forced to work in brothels reportedly receive as little as $13 (25 KM) per month for personal expenses and are forced to find other money (often through begging) for essentials, including condoms. Other prostitutes reportedly earn $100 (200 KM) per month. Police in the Federation and the RS arrested and deported Russian and Ukrainian women working as prostitutes.

Police officials in Brcko have been removed from office for involvement in prostitution, and there are allegations that police officers in other cities also may be involved. A May report by UNMBIH and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights documented evidence of complicity by local police, international police, or SFOR in 14 out of 40 cases that it investigated between March 1999 and March 2000. In one case, an SFOR civilian paid $3,057 (7,000 KM) to purchase two women from a brothel owner. On the basis of his misconduct, the man was relieved of his duties and barred from the SFOR area of operations; he left the country and no further action was taken.

In many cases women are afraid to testify against their traffickers and the judicial system offers them little protection. There are no witness protection programs for women who testify against their traffickers. There have been confirmed reports of witnesses being threatened in court despite the presence of local police and international representatives. Local officials have been slow to bring charges of intimidation.

The country is also a major transit point for illegal immigrants, and the IOM confirmed one case of a man being trafficked for forced labor and held against his will.

The Government has done very little to combat the problem of trafficking. However, the IOM and several NGO's, both local and foreign, are addressing the issue. The IOM has established a program to repatriate trafficked women who seek to return home. As of November, nearly 160 women had been repatriated through IOM's program. There are a number of shelters that house trafficked women while they await return to their countries of origin.

The IPTF works with local police forces to free trafficked persons and to crack down on traffickers. However, there have been very few arrests to date. On October 30, Sarajevo Interior Ministry officers raided a nightclub and arrested 3 persons allegedly involved in trafficking the 17 women who were found there.

 

DRUG TRAFFICKING

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has a small drug problem compared to other European countries but it is growing. This is due to its recent war and poor economic conditions. However, Bosnia's two entities (Federation and the Republika Srpska) have entered into a cooperative agreement to face the threat of future drug problems as the economy strengthens. BiH is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. However, drug legislation needs reform. The current laws are old Yugoslavian drug laws which are antiquated and poorly written. The Office of the High Representative (OHR) is drafting new drug laws for the Federation. The entities laws have not yet been integrated for consistency.

As the economic conditions in BiH improve, there is potential for increased criminal activity in drug production (synthetic drugs and marijuana), transit, money laundering and possibly precursor chemicals. BiH's close proximity to the Adriatic sea and surrounding European countries make it a viable hub for criminal activity. Historically, BiH was on the Balkan drug route (heroin).

Policy Initiatives. In June 1998, the Federation and the Republika Srpska entered into a cooperative agreement to work closely together on national and international criminal issues. Each entity's police forces receive drug training by various international programs including the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), the international police task force and DEA.

The USG will offer advanced narcotics and task force training courses in 1999. Both entities are cooperating in this regard. However, the implementation of a counternarcotics master plan is several years away. Recently, the Federation passed new money laundering legislation. The current drug laws are not in line with the 1988 UN Drug Convention. However, the international community is assisting the two entities in drafting new laws.

UNDCP began working with both entities to set up a record keeping system for narcotics arrests and seizures in mid-December 1998. In August 1998, a task force comprising police officers from the Federation, Croatia and Slovenia seized 38 kilograms of heroin in northern Bosnia. UNDCP has assisted the Federation in opening three drug identification laboratories. They are helping the Republika Srpska (RS) establish similar laboratories. Since June 1998, inter-entity cooperation has increased dramatically.

An inter-entity task force and local law enforcement efforts in counternarcotics are just beginning. However, in May 1998, 600 grams of heroin was seized in the RS. In July, 4.5 kilograms of heroin was seized in the Federation. In the latter case, 1 man was arrested and sentenced to 18 months in jail. The presiding judge decided it was a misdemeanor because it was for "personal use." This inappropriate sentence highlights the need for judicial reform. Law enforcement authorities will remain at a disadvantage until appropriate drug laws are passed.

The police and judicial systems of BiH are in transition. Currently there is no legislation specifically addressing corruption. OHR has an anti-corruption working group which is addressing corruption issues.

BiH has no counternarcotics agreements with the USG. Bilateral agreements regarding police training do exist. Both entities in BiH have honored a cooperative agreement by working closely together on illegal narcotics issues.

There are no reported incidents of major drug transiting cases for 1998.

Community policing programs and police resource programs in the schools contain anti-drug segments. There are no drug treatment programs to date.

U.S. goals and objectives are to provide the necessary counternarcotics training and support to move BiH police forces from operational dependence on the IC to independence in the fight against drugs. The USG also gives funds to UNDCP.

The USG donated 1.6 million dollars to the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) for counternarcotics training with Federation and RS police forces. UNDCP established three Federation drug identification laboratories and is establishing the same for the RS. UNDCP will bring regional drug commanders together from Macedonia, Croatia and BiH, to offer a practical exercise in international narcotics smuggling.

Task force training, organized crime courses, narcotics identification courses and money laundering courses are just a few of many courses that BiH police officers will receive throughout 1999. The USG and UNDCP are working to provide a central standardized information management system throughout BiH. This will enhance the ability to receive and disseminate vital investigative information through inter-entity and international channels.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Internet research assisted by Courtney van Elden

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Dr. Robert Winslow
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San Diego State University