University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture, Bosnia and Herzegovina, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/BIH/CO/1/CRP.1 (2005).


Thirty-fifth session

7 to 25 November 2005



Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture




1. The Committee considered the initial report of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CAT/C/54/Add.3) at its 667 th and 670 th meetings (CAT/C/SR.667 and 670), held on 8 and 9 November 2005, and adopted, at its 689 th meeting, the following conclusions and recommendations.


A. Introduction


2. While welcoming the initial report of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the information presented therein, the Committee is concerned that the report is in fact overdue by more than 10 years. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the large and high level delegation, with representatives from relevant ministries and different entities in the State party, thus facilitating a constructive oral exchange during the consideration of the report.


3. The Committee notes that following the State Party’s independence in 1992, the State continued to experience armed conflict until 1995. Furthermore, the complicated and fragmented legal structure of the State, which grants substantial autonomy to the two entities established under the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement (the Federation of Bosnia and Republika Srspka) and District Brcko, has sometimes brought about contradictions and difficulty in implementing all laws and policies at all levels of authority. Nonetheless, the Committee wishes to remind the State party that despite the complex structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the State is a single country under international law and has the obligation to implement the Convention in full, and that no exceptional circumstances justify the use of torture.


B. Positive aspects


4. The Committee notes the State Party’s extensive ratification of the major international treaties protecting the human rights of its citizens, including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families, as well as the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees; and the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.


5. The Committee further notes the accession to or ratification of regional instruments, among them the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms, the European Convention to Prevent Torture, and the European Convention on the Extradition and Transfer of Proceedings.


6. The Committee notes with satisfaction the ongoing efforts at the State level to reform its legislation in order to ensure better protection of human rights, including the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in particular:


(a) The Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code which entered into force in March 2003;


(b) The Law on Protection of Witnesses under Threat or Vulnerable Witnesses which entered into force in March 2003;


(c) The Law on Movement and Stay of Aliens and Asylum which entered into force in October 2003;


(d) The State Law on Missing Persons which entered into force in November 2004;


7. The Committee further welcomes the establishment of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Special War Crimes Chamber of the State Court and the Special War Crimes Department of the Prosecutors Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina that were inaugurated in March 2005 and paved the way for the transfer of cases from the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia to the domestic courts. The Committee also welcomes the establishment of the Srebrenica Commission to investigate the events leading to the Srebrenica massacre, to inform families of the fate of their missing relatives, and to make the results of the investigations public through the report.


8. The Committee takes note with interest of the oral statement by the State party’s representative that, although there was no integral structure in place for protection of victims of torture and sexual violence from the period of conflict i.e. 1992 to 1995, a systematic way such as an umbrella law at the State level would be initiated in 2006.


C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations


9. The Committee is concerned by the lack of congruity between the State and entity laws encompassing the definition of torture, where the definitions particularly of Republika Srbska and District of Brcko do not comport fully with the definition contained in article 1 of the Convention .


The State party should incorporate the crime of torture, as defined in the Convention, into the domestic law throughout the State, and ensure that the legal definitions in the Republika Srbska and District of Brcko are harmonized with the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina through any necessary legal amendments.


10. In connection with the well documented torture and ill-treatment which occurred during the conflict of 1992 – 1995 in the former Yugoslavia, the Committee is concerned about:







The State party should:





11. While noting the developments towards multiethnic structures within authorities, the Committee remains concerned about alleged cases of ethnic bias or politically influencedpolice and judicial procedures. The Committee is also concerned that the State party has not been able to prevent and investigate violent attacks against members of ethnic and other minorities, in particular returnees.


The State should ensure that judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other personnel are fully aware of the State party’s international obligations enshrined in the Convention, and that fair treatment prevails in all judicial procedures and that independence of the judiciary is fully guaranteed and safeguarded, in particular in procedures relating to the protection of minorities and returnees.


12. The Committee is concerned that individuals may not have been able, in all instances, to enjoy full protection under relevant articles of the Convention in relation expulsion, return or extradition to another country.


The State party should ensure full compliance with article 3 of the Convention, and ensure that individuals under the State party’s jurisdiction are considered by its competent authorities and guaranteed fair treatment at all stages of the proceedings, including an opportunity for effective, independent and impartial review of decisions of expulsion, return or extradition


The State party should further provide the Committee with information regarding cases of extradition where the risk of being subject to torture has been or not been considered, including information whether safeguards are in place to prevent such extradition.

13. While noting the information provided by the State party on the various procedures of law enforcement and for prison administration, the Committee remains concerned that procedures are implemented differently in different parts of the State party. In addition, education and information provided to police and prison officers in the different entities and the practical implementation of the knowledge and skills acquired through training vary.


The State party should:



14. The Committee is concerned at the lack of separate facilities for imprisoned men, women and children both at the outset of detention and following sentences.


The State party should ensure that men, women and children are kept in separate facilities through their whole period of detention or confinement in conformity with international standards in force.


15. The Committee is concerned that all persons deprived of their liberty are not ensured prompt access to a lawyer, a doctor and a family member.


The State party should ensure that all persons detained are guaranteed a right to contact their families, and have immediate access to an independent medical doctor and legal counsel from the very outset of the deprivation of liberty.


16. The Committee is concerned about reports of inter-prisoner violence and reported cases of sexual violence in the prisons and places of detention.


The State party should conduct prompt investigation of all allegations of violence within detention or prison establishments, including through forensic examinations, and take measures to prevent such occurrences.


17. The Committee is concerned about reports that prisoners spend up to 23 hours in their cells without meaningful activities.


The State party should take all necessary steps to improve the regime for prisoners. Such activities could include work with a vocational value and regular physical exercise.


18. The Committee is concerned that insufficient measures have been undertaken in order to review investigation and prosecution processes and address possible shortcomings and problems.


The State party should ensure systematic review of interrogation rules, instructions, methods and practice for persons deprived of their liberty. Recommendations emerging from the Offices of the Ombudsman and others conducting regular monitoring should be implemented in a timely manner.


19. The Committee notes, based on the information provided by the State party, that a framework or procedures for prisoners to file complaints is in place but the Committee remains concerned the procedures differ from one prison to another and that the prisoners are not aware of their rights to complain as ensured by article 13 of the Convention.

The State party should:




20. While noting the adoption of the Law on Missing Persons, and the oral information provided by the State party delegation, the Committee remains concerned about the lack of full implementation of the law and in particular the creation of relevant institutions foreseen in the law.


The State party should intensify its efforts to establish the Institute for Missing Persons and the Fund for Support to the Families of the Missing Persons, and the Central Record of Missing Persons. The State party should further ensure that available avenues for compensation are used in a non-discriminatory manner.


21. While noting the efforts made by the State party to combat trafficking for sexual slavery, the Committee is concerned that only a small number of cases have actually been investigated and prosecuted and that mainly fines and light sentences have been imposed on the cases pursued. The Committee is also concerned about the alleged complicity of the police and border authorities. In addition, the entity-level laws i.e. the criminal codes and criminal procedure codes are not fully harmonized with the federal level legal provisions.

The State party should:






22. The Committee notes that much information was provided in the State party report on a number of situations but that this information is not disaggregatedin a way requested by the Committee which therefore hampers the identification of possible pattern of abuse or measures requiring attention.


The State party should provide in the next periodic report detailed statistical data, disaggregated by gender, ethnicity or nationality, age, geographical region, and type and location of place of deprivation of liberty, on complaints related to cases of torture and other ill-treatment, including those rejected by the courts, as well as related investigations, prosecutions, and disciplinary and penal sanctions, and on the compensation and rehabilitation provided to the victims.


23. The State party is encouraged to disseminate widely the reports submitted by Bosnia and Herzegovina and the conclusions and recommendations, in appropriate languages, through official websites, the media and non-governmental organizations. Furthermore, the Committee encourages the State party to discuss the conclusions and recommendations broadly, including with the Offices of the Ombudsman and non-governmental organizations, in particular those who submitted information to the State party and participated in the preparation of the report.


24. The Committee requests that the State party provide, within one year, information on its response to the Committee’s recommendations contained in paragraphs 10, 11, 15, 19 and 21 a) above.


25. The State party is invited to submit its next periodic report, which will be considered as the combined second to fifth report, by  5 March 2009, the due date of the fifth periodic report.




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