BIH: access to justice should be a right, not a privilege
Thousands of Bosnian war victims have yet to receive justice. For some of them, justice is simply unaffordable.
The Bosnian State does not provide free legal counsel for all victims, effectively making access to proceedings a privilege reserved for those who can afford it.
“The absence of a national scheme offering free legal aid puts an unreasonable economic and logistic burden on the survivor’s shoulders.” explains Selma Korjenic, Head of TRIAL’s BiH program.
For the last year, TRIAL International has been advocating for free legal aid for victims in criminal proceedings. In August, the organization sought to amend the Bosnian law in that sense. The answer from the authorities is still pending.
“Creating the sense that justice is achievable”
Until the State meets its obligations, NGOs and cantonal institutes alone offer free counsel for victims in national procedures. Unfortunately, few are trained to file compensation claims in criminal proceedings, resulting in few victims accessing reparations.
For this reason, TRIAL International has held a workshop for victim representatives on how to successfully file a compensation claim in criminal proceedings. This is part of a broader effort to diffuse its expertise and best practices on reparations for wartime survivors.
While compensation money can be useful to cover legal fees or otherwise improve the victims’ lives, the sole award of compensation is the most valued reward: “It creates the sense that justice is achievable”, said Miroljub Radomirović, junior legal associate and participant to the training.