EUD/EUSR, the OSCE Mission to BiH and the U.S. Embassy urge the BiH Council of Ministers to adopt the revised National War Crimes Processing Strategy

The EU Delegation/EUSR, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the U.S. Embassy call upon the Council of Ministers to adopt the revised National War Crimes Processing Strategy without delay. The significant backlog of war crimes cases has necessitated a revision of the National War Crimes Processing Strategy. This has been recognized by all actors. The revised Strategy is the best road towards completion of all war crimes cases by 2023, a precondition to achieving reconciliation.

The overarching approach of the revised Strategy is that the Court of BiH and the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH focus their resources on the most complex cases to ensure the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable. Less complex cases should be transferred to the Entity and Brčko District level thus allowing the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH to focus its resources on proper investigation, charging, and prosecution before the Court of BiH. As the OSCE Mission to BiH has repeatedly emphasized in its public reports and statements, the prosecutors’ offices and courts at the Entity and Brčko District BiH level have demonstrated that they have the capacity required to handle transferred cases fairly and efficiently.  Over time, EUR 15 million of EU IPA funding support as well as sustained OSCE trial monitoring and capacity building, have strengthened the ability of prosecutors and courts across BiH to process these cases.

Any delay or obstacle to the adoption of the revised Strategy slows down the delivery of justice, negatively affecting the victims of wartime atrocities as well as those persons suspected or accused of committing those atrocities. Therefore, immediate adoption of the revised Strategy is of critical importance to the overall effort to achieve efficient accountability for war crimes.

The EU Delegation/EUSR,  the OSCE Mission to BiH and the U.S. Embassy remind political leaders and institutions of BiH of the most recent Declaration on War Crimes in the Framework of the Berlin Process that BiH signed at the Western Balkan Summit in London on 10 July 2018. BiH committed to supporting domestic prosecutors’ offices and courts in bringing perpetrators to justice and in processing outstanding cases without delay. This includes addressing the significant backlog of cases and applying uniform standards without discrimination. Moreover, the conclusions issued at the last ministerial meeting in the framework of the EU-BiH Structured Dialogue on Justice, held on 2 July 2018, explicitly foresaw that the Council of Ministers would adopt the revised Strategy at its meeting the following day.