Jezik / Language:
14 May 2014

Sexual Violence as a War Crime

BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Mass and widespread rapes and sexual abuse were committed during the course of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to verdicts pronounced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, and local judicial institutions, it has been proved that all parties to the conflicts used sexual abuse as a weapon. Women and girls were systematically raped and enslaved, while some of the cases ended up in forced pregnancies.

The verdicts have proved that men and boys too were sexually abused during the war. However, no estimates regarding the incidence of such cases exist.
The total number of persons, who were sexually abused during the war, is not known. According to some estimates, the number of victims ranges between 20,000 and 50,000.
Although no reliable estimates exist, it has been proved that rape and other types of sexual abuse in Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH, were mass and widespread. The ICTY, which was formed in 1993 in order to process war crimes during the war in the former Yugoslavia, began processing these cases too.  
Following the establishment of this institution, rape was classified as war crime against humanity.
The trial of Dusko Tadic, former President of the local board of the Serbian Democratic Party in Kozarac, was the first war-crime case, but also the first sexual abuse case tried before that Court. 33 persons have been sentenced for sexual abuse before this Court so far.
Following the Hague Tribunal’s practices, judicial institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina began processing sexual violence as well. They have processed 101 cases so far.
36 cases covering sexual violence were completed before the War Crimes Section of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2005 to the end of 2013. 33 persons were sentenced, while 12 were acquitted of charges in those cases.
A total of 30 cases have been completed before entity courts in the Federation of BiH and Republika Srpska, as well as the Brcko District Court.
According to a report issued by the OSCE Mission in BiH, at the end of 2013 there were 35 outstanding sexual abuse cases. 18 of them are handled by the State Court, while 17 are under the jurisdiction of the entities and Brcko District.
Despite the number of completed cases, the fact that sexual violence cases committed during the war were mass and widespread indicates that a large number of indictments are yet to be filed.

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