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Historic amendment will allow dozens of victims to claim reparations

27.10.2016 ( Last modified: 15.11.2016 )

Thus far, victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) received no State legal aid to seek compensation in criminal proceedings. This violation of the country’s obligation has now come to an end.

In 2015, for the first time in the history of BiH, TRIAL International helped wartime victims obtain compensation in criminal trials. Since these seminal verdicts, the practice has been rapidly spreading.

Recognizing that the victims’ right to compensation was impossible without legal aid, officials from prosecutor’s offices and courts have since referring victims to non-governmental organizations for assistance. The organization’s means, however, were largely insufficient to cover the needs.

 

Upholding the State’s obligation

This is why TRIAL International has campaigned over the last months to establish a free legal aid regime for victims. On 27 October, the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH has finally adopted amendments in that sense.

Now the State’s Ministry of Justice must implement the new legal aid laws and ensure that victims can access the remedies they are due. The law is limited to the State level, which means that the changes affect the Prosecutor’s office of BiH and the Court of BiH.

Only victims meeting other conditions (poor financial situations, or are victims of gender-based violence) will be entitled to free legal aid.

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