Joint statement of the EU in BiH, U.S. Embassy and the OSCE Mission to BiH on adoption of Revised National War Crimes Processing Strategy

The Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and EU Special Representative in BiH, the US Embassy in BiH and the OSCE Mission to BiH welcome yesterday’s long-awaited adoption of the Revised National War Crimes Processing Strategy by the BiH Council of Ministers.

The adoption of the Revised Strategy is an important step in delivering justice for all victims of war crimes and reducing the impunity gap, as well as a key requirement outlined in the European Commission Opinion on BiH’s EU membership application. By seeking common ground for the greater good, BiH politicians have shown they can make vital steps forward to deliver on citizens’ expectations of a more just society firmly on course for EU membership.

Twenty-five years since the end of the conflict in BiH, hundreds of war crimes cases are still pending. The adoption of the Revised Strategy will help accelerate the processing of war crimes cases, by providing more precise criteria on the distribution of cases to the appropriate level. We will continue to support all prosecutors’ offices in BiH in their efforts to ensure their efficient processing.

In keeping with the Revised Strategy, the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH should focus exclusively on the most complex cases, including genocide and crimes against humanity allegations, and those with command responsibility for such crimes. All less complex cases should be transferred to entity and district level prosecutor’s offices to be processed as soon as possible.  We call on the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH to proceed with this urgently, and in light of the findings of the recently published Korner Report. Additionally, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH must, without delay, introduce an effective accountability mechanism for judges and prosecutors who fail to implement related strategic goals and measures. We will closely monitor these processes in the coming months.

It is also crucial that all authorities in BiH ensure that the judiciary processes war crime cases independently, impartially, professionally, and transparently. This process must be free from politicization and with full respect for final and binding judicial decisions and acknowledgement of facts that have already been established by domestic and international courts, in particular the verdicts of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

We will closely monitor the implementation of the Revised Strategy and remain available to assist the justice sector in its efforts to deliver justice to victims.