Summary: Bosnian war crimes court issues landmark ruling allowing rape victims to claim for financial compensation

Sarajevo, 24th June 2015: The Bosnian war crimes court has issued two landmark rulings ordering compensation to wartime rape victims and sentencing former Bosnian Serb soldiers who raped women in the 1992-1995 war to 8 and 10 years in jail. These cases mark the first time Bosnian war crime victims have been awarded compensation through criminal proceedings.

Bosnian Serb leaders have feared a wave of compensation claims and therefore courts and prosecutors have until now redirected victims through civil procedures. This meant that victims had to reveal their often protected identities and received no legal or financial assistance from the state. In consequence, many victims avoided this course of action and have endured more than two decades knowing their attackers remain at large and may never be brought to justice.

In both cases, SRT grantee TRIAL provided legal assistance to the victims. Adrijana Hanušić, TRIAL’s legal adviser, said, “the victims now have reason to hope that legal practice will change, making it possible to compensate the victims and bring criminals to justice in a single trial.” They hope that these judgments will encourage more victims of wartime rape to come forward and put additional pressure on prosecutors and courts to implement the already existing legal provisions. Ms Hanušić said, “Money will not erase the pain caused by the perpetrators, but it is nevertheless a very important day for the victim. For her, justice has been fully served: she has both won her right to justice and compensation, and felt satisfaction through experiencing public recognition for her suffering.”

Full press release from TRIAL’s website:

Return to grantee stories