Perpetrator convicted of wartime rape has paid compensation to the survivor
Convicted last year for the rape of a woman during the war, the perpetrator has paid the compensation awarded to the survivor by the Cantonal Court in Novi Travnik. The 16 March 2020 will therefore remain as a milestone, since this is the first time that compensation awarded in criminal proceedings at entity level is effectively paid.
The lawyer who represented the rape survivor emphasized that voluntary compliance with the court’s decision should be a norm. However, practice shows that it is rarely the case.
Other wartime sexual violence survivors have reported that obtaining compensation was empowering for them not only in the economic sense, but also to ensure that such crimes do not happen again in the future. The possibility of obtaining compensation gives victims the will to go forward and to fight for justice to the end.
As for the prosecutor in this case, he sees the payment of awarded compensation by the perpetrator as an important incentive for the further development of this practice. “I am sure that this verdict will have positive effects, especially on the practice of assessing compensation claims in criminal cases before the courts of the Federation of BiH, as well as the Republika Srpska“, he stated. The verdict has been shared with Cantonal and District Offices of the Prosecutor, so that they can take inspiration for their own cases.
A precedent at the federal level
In 2015, the Court of BiH established an important precedent, awarding damages to wartime survivors in several criminal cases. However, there has been no groundbreaking improvement since then, and the victims’ right to monetary compensation has often been hindered by many obstacles. It is difficult to ensure that victims receive the compensation payments ordered by the court, as in 95 percent of the cases, the convicted perpetrators say they do not have the money or have already disposed of their assets.
“In most cases where the perpetrators do not own property, or sell it during the course of the trial, – which sometimes lasts a very long time – in order to avoid paying the compensations, the Office of the Prosecutor can impose, from the very beginning, temporary measures prohibiting the sale of property. That approach is effective but is still a rarity. That is why prosecutors need to step up their efforts on financial investigations and securing property assets” said Lamija Tiro, Legal Advisor at TRIAL International.
TRIAL International has been working on improving the practice of awarding compensation claims in criminal proceedings since 2015. The organization will continue to facilitate other cases and advocate for non-pecuniary damage to be awarded and paid, as well as to educate judges, prosecutors and lawyers on the matter.