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Outreach Programme documentary on sexual violence premieres in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of public debate on wartime sexual violence and accountability
A public debate on wartime sexual violence and accountability was held today in Sarajevo during which the Tribunal’s Outreach Programme premiered its documentary "Sexual Violence and the Triumph of Justice". The event was attended by some 80 guests, amongst whom were victims, Bosnian government officials, members of academia, Embassy and NGO representatives as well as journalists.
The public dialogue, organised in cooperation with TRIAL and Medica Zenica with the support of UN Women office in BIH and the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, highlighted the challenges, gaps and efforts in obtaining justice and redress for survivors of wartime sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The focus was on the rights of the victims, the obligations of states in ensuring accountability for crimes of wartime sexual violence and the pursuit of criminal justice for these crimes.
The Outreach Programme’s documentary was praised by the audience. “I would like to congratulate the Outreach program on this film which presents the important work of the Tribunal in prosecuting crimes of sexual violence, as well as the support and care provided to witnesses who come to testify in The Hague. I believe it would be useful to provide copies of the film to all judges and prosecutors in BiH in order to encourage them in their future work on war crimes cases,” said Bakira Hasečić, Head of the Association Women Victims of War.
The screening was followed by a round table discussion. The panel was composed of Nerma Jelačić, ICTY Head of Outreach; Lejla Mamut, Human Rights Co-ordinator at TRIAL; Božidarka Dodik and Ibro Bulić from the BiH Prosecutor’s Office; Alma Taso-Deljković, Head of the Witness Support Office at the BiH Court; Gorana Mlinarević, ACIP’s project coordinator for “Implementation of gender-sensitive monitoring of trials of war sexual violence cases in the Court of BiH”; Esma Palić, expert team member of the Sexual Violence Victims Improvement Programme; and Sahiba Haskić, Director of NGO Medica Zenica.
The panelists spoke about the rights of and support provided to victims and witnesses of wartime sexual violence and the prosecution of war crimes containing elements of sexual violence in cases before local Bosnian courts.
Lejla Mamut from TRIAL emphasised that “in line with the international obligations it has accepted, BiH has the duty to guarantee victims of gross human rights violations, including victims of rape and sexual violence, their right to truth, justice and reparation. In order to help victims resort to existing international mechanisms and demand the realization of their rights by the State, TRIAL drafted and presented a Guide containing information about all relevant international instruments and stating the procedures which need to be followed, hoping that victims and their representatives will reach out for the existing international instruments and in that way exert pressure on the State to guarantee their rights.”
Speaking about the prosecution of war crimes containing elements of wartime sexual violence before national judiciary in BiH, Božidarka Dodik, a prosecutor if the BiH Office of the Prosecutor, concluded: “For a judicial system to be truly efficient in prosecuting these types of crimes, it must be supported not only by institutional mechanisms that the state is required to provide, but also through activities of civil society which should work towards raising the awareness of citizens and combating existing prejudices, and exert constant pressure against all those responsible for the progress of society as a whole.”
Similar events will be held in Tuzla on 19 April, Mostar on 24 April and Prijedor from 22 to 26 May 2012.
Almir Alić, Liaison Officer in Bosnia and Herzegovina at fryc [at] un.org or at +387 (0)61 211 743
Lejla Mamut, TRIAL Human Rights Co-ordinator at lejla.mamut [at] trial-ch.org () or at +387 (0)62 386 934
For further information about the documentary and the Outreach Programme’s activities please contact Nerma Jelačić, Head of Outreach, at +31 (0) 6 5357 8006 or jelacic [at] un.org
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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