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NEW YORK (TrustLaw) - Nearly two decades after war ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, hundreds of women who survived rape and torture in the conflict are still seeking reparations and justice, with only 40 cases of sexual violence having been prosecuted so far, an Amnesty International report says.
By Lisa Anderson
“Justice is not only about seeing the perpetrators punished, but it’s also being able to function in everyday life,” Elena Wasylew, the campaigner for Amnesty’s Balkan team, told TrustLaw in a telephone interview from Sarajevo, where the report is being released on Thursday.
“When you ask the women, what does justice mean to you, they say justice means ‘I can access healthcare, that my children can access healthcare, that I can go to work and I don’t have to be ashamed about what happened to me,’” said Wasylew, who has worked closely with women survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) over the last several years.
Despite a commitment by the BiH federal government in 2010 to develop and implement a “national programme for women victims of sexual violence in conflict and beyond,” the programme has yet to be finalised and implemented.
As a result, “hundreds of women continue to live with the effects of rape and other forms of torture without proper access to the medical, psychological and financial assistance they need to rebuild their shattered lives,” said Jezerca Tigani, Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia deputy programme director, in a statement.