Bosnia Failed to Investigate Wartime Deaths, Says NGO

In a letter to the UN Human Rights Committee a Swiss NGO has criticised a failure of the Bosnian authorities to investigate the murder of two elderly Bosnian Serb women during the war.The Swiss organisation Track Impunity Always, TRIAL, has asked the UN Human Rights Committee to request from the Bosnian authorities to launch an investigations into the fates of Andja Lale, and Staka Popovic, who were murdered in the village of Trnovo in 1992.

“Following the military attack of the Bosnian Army against the town of Trnovo in mid-July 1992, Andja Lale and Staka Popovic, together with other six people, fled the town and reached the nearby village of Sirokari seeking refuge. On August 2, 1992, dozens of Bosnian soldiers were seen approaching,” states the letter, adding that there are information that the women were murdered in a cottage in Sirokari.

More than 20 years after the events, claims TRIAL, no investigation has been launched to establish what happened to Andja Lale and Staka Popovic – who were at the time 85 and 73 respectively – nor who was responsible for their alleged arbitrary killing and the subsequent removal and concealment of their remains.

According to TRIAL, since 1992, Vide Lale and Milojka Blagojevic have been suffering from “deep and severe psychological distress” trying to cope with what has happened to their mothers.

“The state’s attitude has been one of indifference towards their plight and absence of compensation or reparations,” says TRIAL.

In July 2005 the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina, declared that Bosnia violated the right not to be subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and the right to respect for private and family life of the relatives of missing persons.

Accordingly, the court ordered domestic institutions to disclose all available information on the fate and whereabouts of the missing people, including Andja Lale and Staka Popovic.

To date, Vide Lale and Milojka Blagojevic have not received any relevant information about their mothers from the institutions concerned.

“During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, around 35,000 persons went missing. Beside limited results, thousands of families of missing persons still remain without any relevant information about their relatives,” says TRIAL.

The organization reminded that they are representing the rights of over 300 direct or indirect Bosnian victims in over 115 cases before the European Court for Human Rights and UN Human Rights Committee.

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