Reparations for War Victims

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the Union of Ex Camp Inmates of Bosnia and Herzegovina signed today in Sarajevo an agreement on support for a project on reparations, which includes organizing an international conference to discuss models of reparations for victims of torture and other war victims.The conference planned to take place from 15-17 September entitled “Transitional Justice: Reparations For War Victims – Models and Recommendations” should result in concrete recommendations to state institutions and other decision makers on possible types of reparations programs for war victims, including specific measures for rehabilitation of torture victims. The Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees started a process in 2006 to draft a new state level law on “Rights of torture and civilian war victims.”

“There have been a lot of discussions about truth and justice, but little has been done to address the issue of reparations for victims”, said Asta Zinbo, Director of ICMP’s Civil Society Initiatives department, after signing ceremony. “ICMP supports the initiatives of civil society groups to defend the rights of war victims”, she added.

Today in Bosnia and Herzegovina it is nearly impossible for victims to obtain fair and adequate compensation and rehabilitation. Survivors of torture, including sexual violence, are not legally recognized as victims of the conflict, thus denying them the status which would enable them to exercise their rights.

“A comprehensive transitional justice policy is needed in this region. Reparations programs are a part of transitional justice and survivors groups – those who are most affected — must be informed and able to participate”, said Zinbo.

The President of the Union of Ex Camp Inmates of Bosnia and Herzegovina Murat Tahirovic expressed the hope that at the conference victims groups will “finally agree about guidelines on financial compensation, professional rehabilitation and establishment of normal life”.

ICMP believes that these groups of associations should be united between themselves and their actions should be driven by their common commitment to the truth, justice, and respect for human rights. With that approach they can be more effective partners with government in trying to make better policy.

Support for this gathering is considered part of ICMP’s ongoing project on “Approaches to Transitional Justice in the former Yugoslavia” in order to foster a deeper dialogue on existing and possible new mechanisms for dealing with the past. ICMP is grateful for financial support provided by the C.S. Mott Foundation and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs for these activities.