A proposal to abolish the practice of buying out prison sentences in war crime cases is headed to the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina

26.04.2023 ( Last modified: 17.05.2023 )

At the initiative of Member of Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina Saša Magazinović and with the support of TRIAL International in BiH, a proposal to abolish the practice of buying out under one year-long prison sentences in war crime cases has been referred to the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH.

© Pavel Danilyuk

“A recently published investigative article once again directed the attention of the public to this problem and highlighted the fact that cases like these also happen in front of Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the past five years, eight convicted war criminals, whose sentences were up to one year-long, replaced their prison sentence with a fine,” stated Saša Magazinović.

In July of 2020, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UNCEDAW) issued a decision against BiH, in which they, among other things, asked the country to ensure that convicted war criminals are not exempted from sanctions through legislative means, including lowering of prison sentences and replacing them with monetary fines. According to the Criminal Law of BiH, a day in prison can currently be replaced with a 100 BAM (around 50 EUR) fine. The same amount is prescribed by the Criminal Law of the Federation of BiH and Brčko District, while the Criminal Code of Republika Srpska states that one day in prison can be exchanged for 50 BAM (around 25 EUR) when prison sentences are less than 12 months long.

“TRIAL International welcomes this proposal and hopes for a positive answer from the Parliamentary Assembly. For many years, the professional community has emphasized the need to abolish the practice of replacing prison sentences with fines in cases of war crimes. Such a step forward would lead to the end of a practice that is neither fair nor moral, and would align with the purpose of punishment, which is reflected in the social condemnation of war crimes and aims to provide satisfaction to the victims of these crimes,” stated Adrijana Hanušić-Bećirović, senior legal advisor of TRIAL International.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Parliamentary Assembly will debate the proposal during its upcoming session. These changes, if adopted, would not require funding from BiH’s institutions, especially considering the fact that these would not lead to further spending.

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