All the families of the victims who are waiting for those responsible for the murders of their loved ones to be punished will see it only at the end of 2023 – as the authorities had previously promised.
Furthermore, a little more than a year until the end of the deadline for the completion of war crimes cases, the statements of prosecutors and the reports of international organizations show that even after 2023 there will be unsolved cases.
The state authorities will probably have to set a new deadline or prepare some other document, after the promises from the Revised Strategy for working on war crimes cases are not fully fulfilled.
The president of the ”Families of the Missing Persons of Vogosca” Association, Ema Cekic, is dissatisfied with the way the Strategy is being implemented.
”As families, we expect this to happen, but, unfortunately, it never happens, and it seems to me that this process is being dragged out in order not to reach the end of the Strategy,” Ema stated.
Prosecuting war crimes is considered an important part of the process of dealing with the past and improving the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), as one of the most important conditions for approaching the European Union (EU).
Doubts that the war crimes cases will be completed by 2023
The High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) of BiH says that current statistical projections of the dynamics of processing war crimes cases in courts and prosecutor’s offices lead to the conclusion that the deadline for ending all war crimes cases by the end of 2023 will not be met.
At the press conference, after being elected as the Chief State Prosecutor, Milanko Kajganic said that the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH is implementing the Strategy, but that it is not realistic that the deadline of the end of 2023 will be met.
The OSCE Mission in BiH says that the deadlines – foreseen in both the original Strategy and the Revised Strategy, despite good intentions – are too ambitious. Although a lot has been written about the failures of institutions, especially those at the state level, as they state, in the processing of cases in accordance with the strategies, it is necessary, first of all, to appreciate the enormous scale of this task.
Also, one should not ignore the enormous difficulty of establishing a criminal justice system capable of prosecuting perpetrators of crimes in a fair and efficient manner in a post-conflict environment, according to the OSCE.
The first Strategy for working on war crimes cases was adopted in December 2008. The most complex cases, according to the Strategy, were supposed to be completed at the state level within seven years – which did not happen – and the remaining ones within 15 years. The State Prosecutor’s Office did not comply with its obligation to deal exclusively with the most complex cases.
After the deadline for the most complex cases was not met, a revised strategy was drawn up, which stipulates that all war crimes cases will be completed within five years, i.e. by 2023, Detektor reports.