OSCE Mission to BiH launches war crimes processing project

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support of the governments of the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, the United States of America and Italy, and in partnership with five judicial authorities and the European Union, officially launched in Sarajevo today the “War Crimes Processing Project”. The project aims to address the most urgent needs of the BiH justice sector in processing war crimes in BiH. 

“The Project is a prototype, breaking new ground by providing direct assistance to cantonal and district level jurisdictions”, said Fletcher M. Burton, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH. “We have been monitoring war crimes trials and have co-operated with the BiH judiciary for many years now and this project will further strengthen our partnership with BiH judicial authorities in their effort to reach the milestones that have been set for war crimes processing”. 

The BiH National War Crimes Strategy set deadlines for completing the most complex and top priority cases by 2015, and all remaining cases by 2023. The project is designed to bolster the capacities of the BiH judiciary to process war crimes cases and address the most urgent staffing and training needs of courts and prosecutors’ offices at various levels of BiH jurisdiction. 

“The War Crimes Processing Project is timely. It will enable us to immediately support the justice sector to process war crimes cases in the period before EU IPA funds come on stream in 2014 at which point EUR 15 million will begin to be released to further support war crimes processing in BiH. The project launched today is part of a strategic effort to assist BiH in addressing the backlog of some 1,300 war crimes cases,” said Burton. 

“The importance of addressing War Crimes cases has been a significant part of EU engagement with BiH. It is also part of the path to future EU membership and essential for the future of this country and its citizens. I cannot stress enough the importance of the judiciary effectively addressing these questions with our collective assistance. But the full commitment of the relevant judicial and executive institutions in BiH to reach concrete results in timely manner is also needed”, said Peter Sorensen, Head of EU Delegation/EU Special Representative to BiH. 

“There have been positive steps taken to implement the National Strategy for War Crimes Processing, but more work is needed to further achieve the goals within the strategy”, said Milorad Novkovic, President of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH. “This project demonstrates a novel joint effort to accomplish this task and accelerate war crimes processing”.

Link to the video statement of the Project leader Francesco Caruso: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVY_M9sFgz4 

Link to the Project fact sheet: http://www.oscebih.org/documents/osce_bih_doc_2013032512531594eng.pdf