Better access to compensation for victims of sexual violence

07.12.2018 ( Last modified: 20.12.2018 )

A few weeks ago, TRIAL International organized a training course for judges and prosecutors. The objective: to give them the necessary tools to facilitate the access to compensation for victims of sexual violence during the war.

How can we provide comfort to victims of sexual violence? Is the perpetrator’s conviction sufficient to enable them to regain control of their destinies? On 16 November, more than fifteen judges and prosecutors from the cantonal courts of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina met for a training session at the invitation of TRIAL International and the Center for Education of Judges and Prosecutors of FBiH. Up for discussion was how to claim compensation for victims of sexual violence during the war.

In the Bosnian context, in which the events took place more than twenty years ago, the need for justice is still present and the burden borne by victims is often very real. TRIAL International has been fighting for years to ensure that victims’ access to justice and reparations is improved. In the last couple of years, focus has been put on financial compensation in criminal proceedings, in addition to the conviction of the perpetrators of these crimes.

Paving the way to more compensations

In recent years, ten compensation claims decisions have been issued, mostly by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. By training prosecutors and judges, TRIAL International hopes that this practice will become more widespread, especially at lower level jurisdictions. Nevertheless, having claims for compensation recognized before a Court is not a straightforward matter, especially when the damage caused to the victims is not material.

Therefore, the main objective of the workshop was to train prosecutors and judges from cantonal level jurisdiction how to handle the practical aspects of compensation claim procedures, and which steps to undertake in order to facilitate the later enforcement process. The organization has also published a manual which outlines the steps for including these requests in criminal proceedings, as well as recommendations for ensuring that they are followed up.

Rehabilitating through compensation

“Reparations are a significant part of victims´ rehabilitation. They provide additional recognition of the damage suffered by the victims and help them to finally turn the page,” says Adrijana Hanušić, Legal Advisor for Bosnia and Herzegovina at TRIAL International.

However, none of these convictions have so far been enforced, as the perpetrators of the crimes do not have the resources to serve their sentences. TRIAL International will continue its fight to improve enforcement of granted compensations.