BiH: How TRIAL brings about real change for victims
TRIAL International has secured 12 positive decisions from the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC). But the battle for their implementation is ongoing.
Over the last 8 years, TRIAL International has brought 12 cases of enforced disappearance before the HRC. A total of 53 family members of 26 missing persons have been represented.
All 12 cases led to positive decisions, but in spite of this record, the implementation of the Committee’s decisions has been very limited.
“The HRC has no enforcement mechanism, so the onus is on the States to implement these decisions.” says Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović, Senior Legal Adviser in Sarajevo. “A number of obstacle still hinder their implementation in BiH, including a big backlog in war crimes to be prosecuted, technical difficulties to finding missing persons, a lack of resources leading, amongst others, to a failure to provide compensation. There is also an undeniable lack of political dedication.”
In March 2017, the HRC expressed its concern at BiH’s failure to implement its decisions. Once again, it called on the State to guarantee the right of victims to truth, justice and effective remedy. It also called for the establishment of an implementation and follow-up mechanism.
Demanding an efficient coordination mechanism
TRIAL International has been advocating for HRC decisions enforcement since they were first issued. The organization has met with representatives of the Prosecutor’s office, the Missing Persons’ Institute, the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and the Human Rights Commission of the Federal Parliament, among many others.
In 2016, TRIAL International met with the Ombudsmen institution and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly, asking the non-enforcement of HRC decisions were raised before the Council of Ministers. Following the meeting with the Ombudsperson, a complaint has also been filed.
Both bodies – respectively through their investigation procedures their possibility to ask questions to the ministries – have required an explanation from the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of BiH (MHRR).
Recently, the MHRR has announced it would submit a Draft Law on the Implementation of Recommendations of International Human Rights Bodies. It will consult with the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the BiH representative before the European Court of Human Rights in the process.
“We are delighted by this step forward”, concludes Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović. “Our efforts to ensure the implementation of international bodies’ decisions might be significantly facilitated through the establishment of an efficient coordination mechanism. With this procedure, things may finally evolve for victims.”