After 24 years, family of war victim finally puts the past to rest
A UN decision and years of lobbying have been necessary for Alma M. to uphold her rights. Now, at last, she has received tangible acknowledgment of her sufferings.
What can be worse than experiencing the enforced disappearance of a loved one? Experiencing it, and then remaining in limbo for two decades, neglected by the authorities. This is what happened to Alma M. (real name withheld) in BiH.
Her husband was a member of the military when he was forcible disappeared. His family last saw him alive in August 1992, and had never known what happened to him. Now at long last, their right to reparation has been enacted.
For the first time since her husband was disappeared, Alma M. has received the pension she is entitled to: a happy conclusion to a long and exhausting battle.
A funeral and monetary reparation
Alma M. had been navigating arcane bureaucracy for years when she turned to TRIAL for help. Together, they brought her case before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC).
In 2015, the Committee recommended that BiH established the truth about Mr. M.’s disappearance, bring those responsible to justice and redressed his wife accordingly. Since HRC decisions are not self-enforcing, relentless lobbying followed at the domestic level. Throughout it all, TRIAL stayed at the side of Alma M.
Now, thankfully, her life has taken a turn for the better. Last year, the mortal remains of her husband were found near Sarajevo. He finally received a dignified funeral, and his family now have a place to commemorate their loss.
Now, the payment of a monthly pension – an entitlement for the families of missing persons – acknowledges the wrongs she has been through. The sum she will receive from now on will considerably improve her dire living conditions.
UN decisions a paper tiger?
These improvements are significant steps forward, but not the end of the battle. In fact, the HRC also recommended both that the widow should receive adequate compensation and that the murderers of Alma’s husband were brought to justice. At present, they still enjoy complete impunity.
TRIAL International encourages BiH to fully implement the HRC’s decisions – not just for Alma M., but also for the 11 other families who still await its decision to translate into concrete change.