Jezik / Language:
8 December 2015

Documentary “How to Prove Genocide” Screened for Students

“How to Prove Genocide,” a documentary produced by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was screened for Faculty of Law students at the University of Sarajevo on Monday.

“How to Prove Genocide,” which was filmed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, features investigators and judges from international criminal tribunals. The interviewees investigated war crimes committed against Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Erna Mackic, the editor-in-chief of BIRN Bosnia & Herzegovina, addressed the audience after the screening. She said in most cases, the commission of genocide is associated with the number of victims.

“We want this documentary to show that the key element for proving genocide isn’t the number of victims, but the intention to completely or partially destroy an ethnic group,” Mackic said.

Edin Halapic, a professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Sarajevo, said the existence of the intent to commit genocide is the most difficult element to prove in such cases. He added that the acceptance of facts determined by courts was another problem in the region.

“We are a post-genocidal society today, but many ignore that. The denial of such a grave crime is a guarantee that it will happen again. It’s just a matter of time,” Halapic said.

Almir Alic, the head of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s (ICTY) outreach programme, said investigators who went to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 and 1996 found it very difficult to filter testimony given by witnesses who’d personally seen war crimes and those who had just heard about them. He added that the local population was unwilling to discuss war crimes. He said investigators also had to deal with non-existent bodies, which were found in secondary and tertiary graves later on.

“The investigators played a key role. I can say that their zealous work yielded excellent results, without which it would have been impossible to file indictments for genocide, hand down 14 verdicts before the ICTY and refer some cases to national courts,” Alic said.

Students in the audience were most interested in finding out why judges in Bosnia and Herzegovina had ignored the context in which war crimes happened. They also asked whether the Serbian state was responsible for genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the roles played by the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) and the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS).

The debate was organized with the help of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Humanity in Action in Sarajevo.

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