OCTOBER 31 2012 17:43h
AI's director for Europe and Central Asia, John Dalhuisen, met with the authorities of Republika Srpska, the Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Banja Luka on Wednesday to present them with a report warning about the rights of numerous victims of wartime rape being ignored by Republika Srpska.
"The silence surrounding the war-time rape of women in Republika Srpska, an internationally recognized crime under international law, is deafening. Both the authorities and the media are ignoring the suffering of part of the population", Dalhuisen was quoted by AI as saying.
He said that it was high time, almost 20 years after the end of the war, that those responsible were brought to justice and the victims were helped to cope with the physical, emotional and social consequences of the violence they had been subjected to.
"Justice for survivors requires both the prosecution of perpetrators and the acknowledgement of – and resolve to redress – the continuing consequences of their abuse. The Republika Srpska authorities must move to meet these needs and work on de-stigmatizing war-time rape, so that survivors can be given the opportunity to speak out", Dalhuisen said.
Although AI has documented numerous cases of wartime rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republika Srpska authorities have never made a meaningful attempt to collect data on this population, to understand and quantify their problems, or to develop policies that would address their specific needs nor have they tried to stimulate public discussion and break the silence surrounding the crimes committed against these women during the war, the organisation said in a statement.
"The authorities of Republika Srpska must for a start recognize, loud and clear, that rape and other forms of sexual violence were committed during the war. This will help create an atmosphere where public debate on this issue will thrive and survivors will feel confident to come forward, tell their stories and demand justice," Dalhuisen said.
AI recalled that thousands of women had been raped during the Bosnian war and only about 40 perpetrators had been prosecuted to date.