There was little visible progress on human rights during 2017. Authorities failed yet again to end structural and political discrimination against Jews, Roma, and other minorities. There was limited progress towards accountability for war crimes in domestic courts. Journalists remain vulnerable to intimidation and threats. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people face hate speech and threats. More than 98,000 people remain displaced from their original homes, despite the fact that conflict ended more than 20 years ago.
There was slow progress in prosecuting war crimes in domestic courts.
The goal to finish the most complex cases in the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court by the end of 2015 has not been reached.
Between January and November 2017, the State Court War Crimes Chamber delivered 37 verdicts, 20 of them appeals. Out of 37 verdicts, the court reached seven acquittals, 22 convictions, and eight partial acquittals. The total number of final judgments since the court became fully operational in 2005 stands at 188.
A report in June by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina identified progress made by national courts in addressing conflict-related sexual violence stemming from the 1992-1995 armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Between 2004 and 2016, 116 such cases were completed across all jurisdictions in the country. As of the end of 2016, 58 cases involving conflict-related sexual violence were ongoing in courts, and 128 cases remained under investigation. Many survivors have not accessed needed medical or psychosocial care, or financial compensation and support, in part due to lack of a comprehensive reparations scheme for wartime sexual violence.
Between September 2016 and September 2017, the cantonal courts issued 28 verdicts (11 acquittals, 17 convictions) in relation to 67 defendants. The district courts reached four verdicts (one acquittal and one conviction) in relation to nine people in the same period.
In January 2017, the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed the indictment against Boro Milojica and Zelislav Rivic. They are accused of participating in crimes against humanity in 1992 as members of Bosnian Serb forces, including widespread and systematic attacks on civilians in Prijedor and the murder and persecution of Bosniak, Croat, and Romani civilians.
In September 2017, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina issued an indictment against Serbian national Nenad Bubalo for crimes against humanity over the killing and persecution of civilians in the Bihac municipality area in 1992, while serving as an officer in Bosnian Serb forces. The indictment was forwarded to the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had yet to confirm it at time of writing.
Cross appeals against the conviction and sentence filed in April 2016 by lawyers for Bosnian Serb wartime President Radovan Karadzic and prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), in relation to his March 2016 conviction for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, were pending at time of writing.
On November 22, 2017, the ICTY convicted former Commander of the Republika Srpska Army, Ratko Mladic, of genocide in Srebrenica, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bosnia, and sentenced him to life in prison.