new victims supported


new cases at domestic level


trained legal practitioners


annual budget (CHF)

Political division remains rife in the two decades since the war – but so does the victims’ thirst for justice. TRIAL International has secured individual victories as well as structural improvements for survivors, keeping the hopes of many alive.

Fractured society still a reality

General elections in October 2018, along with a dire economic situation, reignited nationalistic rhetoric in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) this year.

Read more: Despite its limits, the ICTY has blazed a trail for victims’ empowerment

Executive and legislative activities slowed down prior to the vote and were slow to pick up again afterwards. As a result, points of the legislative agenda were postponed and forced some of TRIAL’s advocacy and lobbying activities to be delayed to 2019.

Finally, raising awareness on wartime issues proved harder than ever as other topics, such as migratory influxes, captured the attention of the international community in the Balkans. But this phenomenon also led to a touching encounter between a wartime survivor supported by TRIAL International and migrant women in Greece.

Read about the rape survivor inspiring hope and courage to migrants

Protecting victims throughout proceedings

Even when they find the courage to initiate legal action, victims of wartime sexual violence remain vulnerable within the Bosnian legal system. To facilitate their access to justice, TRIAL International has sought to address some of these (sometimes pernicious) hurdles.

It advocated for two legal amendments in favor of victims’ security and wellbeing. In partnership with the Sarajevo Open Centre and Udruzene zene, it sought the prohibition of questions during trials relating to their sexual conduct after the crime. It also advocated for the generalization of identity protection for survivors throughout the proceedings.

Read more: Civil courts setup does not guarantee victims’ security


Secondly, TRIAL International confronted persistent myths and representations on sexual violence, which remain vivid even within the judiciary. Its awareness-raising efforts included a report entitled Rape Myths in Wartime Sexual Violence Trials – Transferring the Burden from Survivor to Perpetrator, presenting the four most common stereotypes victims suffer, and concrete recommendations to legal actors to avoid them.

Read more: Blame and shame for sexual violence belongs on the side of perpetrators

Long-awaited victories in the courtroom

Despite the war ending over 25 years ago, many criminals remain unpunished. But in 2018, two courtroom victories proved that it is never too late for justice.

Former Bosnian-Serb policeman Darko Mrda was sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity, perpetrated in 1992. In collaboration with the local NGO Izvor, TRIAL International supported the family of one of his victims, Said Sadić, who was abducted in Prijedor and has not been seen since.

Read more: “You will not need your shoes anymore

In October 2018, the condemnation of Dragan Janjic became the sixth successful criminal case of wartime sexual violence for TRIAL International in BiH. Not only was Janjic condemned to seven years imprisonment for crimes against humanity, but he was also ordered to pay compensation to his victim.

Read more: 1992 sexual crimes in Foca finally punished

Bosnian authorities embrace the fight against unfair fees

TRIAL International’s strategic litigation and advocacy against disproportional court fees yielded exciting results in 2018. Firstly, the Constitutional Court of BiH delivered an important decision siding with TRIAL International’s claim that court fees should not be imposed on a victim of wartime sexual violence, regardless of the trial’s outcome. In March 2018, the Constitutional Court annulled the fees previously imposed on the victim.

Read more: Constitutional Court decision “a message of hope” for victims

Additionally, as a result of TRIAL International’s advocacy and training sessions, the Ministry of Justice started providing free legal aid to victims in criminal proceedings before the Court of BiH.

Compensation claims: bringing all actors around the same table

Following several positive decisions on reparation rights, TRIAL International made it a priority to spread and harmonize these good practices. To do so, it initiated a collaboration with the Centers for the Education of Judges and Prosecutors (CESTs) in both Bosnian entities. In November 2018, it trained 13 professionals on the inclusion of compensation claims in criminal proceedings. A manual entitled “Compensation claims in criminal proceedings” was also published and distributed.

Read more: Better access to compensation for victims of sexual violence

The following month, TRIAL International’s staff arranged a meeting with all those involved in compensation claims, namely the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, the Court of BiH and the Ministry of Justice. Together, they mapped out next steps to improve their coordination.