Bosnia Develops Protocol on Wartime Sexual Violence

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Posted in category Balkans, Bosnia Hertegovina
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The proposed new international protocol on documenting and investigating wartime sexual violence will utilise Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 20 years of experience in dealing with sensitive cases.

Bosnian prosecutors and human rights experts met in Sarajevo on Monday to discuss the creation of the proposed protocol and discussed how the country’s knowledge and experience of difficulties dealing with wartime rape cases could be of benefit to other countries in post-conflict situations mounting such prosecutions.

Mirha Poljskic, a psychotherapist working with sexual violence victims, said that it was important for the protocol to introduce better support mechanisms for victims and their families.

She added that it was important to introduce the term ‘survivor’ along with the term ‘victim’ to help people reintegrate into society.

“We must do this in order to break the stigma and incorrect perception of the public. We must expose the myths and wrong assumptions and counter them with the truth. This will facilitate a better understanding of this subject and improve the treatment of these people,” said Poljskic.

Bosnian human rights ombudswoman Jasminka Dzumhur said that it was important for the protocol to clearly define who has jurisdiction over gathering information about crimes and which organisations were working in the field in order to avoid confusion.

“For Bosnia and Herzegovina, this protocol is quite late, but it is a great opportunity to stop mistakes in other areas facing wartime sexual violence crimes,” said Dzumhur.

She added that it would be important to highlight reparations for sexual violence victims, as they are often a marginalised group.

The conference was organised on by the non-governmental organisation Track Impunity Always (TRIAL) and the British embassy in Sarajevo.

British foreign secretary William Hague launched an international ‘Preventing Sexual Violence’ initiative two years ago, aiming to create a team of police officers, lawyers, psychologists and forensic experts who will travel to war zones in order to gather evidence about mass sexual violence.

Jon O’Shaughnessy of the British embassy said that a global summit on combatting wartime sexual violence would be held in London in June this year.

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