Denied Justice: Individuals Lost in a Legal Maze
Denied Justice: Individuals Lost in a Legal Maze
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Changing Dynamics in the Western Balkans
Changing Dynamics in the Western Balkans
Report 86 / Europe & Central Asia 1 minutes

Denied Justice: Individuals Lost in a Legal Maze

Thousands of people try to find their way daily through an immensely complicated labyrinth established by the three separate and very often conflicting legal systems in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

Executive Summary

This is the third report of the European Commission-funded ICG project “Promoting Justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina."

Using six representative cases, this study sheds light on the experiences of ordinary individuals in the Bosnian legal process.  The experiences of the individuals contained herein are all too common, in that the individuals have experienced the misuse or abuse of court or governmental authority.  In many cases, local authorities have undertaken discriminatory or illegal acts in contradiction of the judicial process.  The cases were chosen using such criteria as ethnic background, the category of human rights violation, and the field of law where the violation occurs. Special attention is paid to ethnic minorities that attempt to exercise their fundamental human rights and freedoms, as set forth in the applicable national laws and international instruments to which Bosnia and Herzegovina is a signatory.

Currently a total of 194[fn]See International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) "Directory of Humanitarian and Development Agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina," April 1999, pg. VI.Hide Footnote  organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina are active in the field of human rights monitoring.  All are capable of submitting numerous cases of human rights abuses that they come across in their every day work.  Reports on the continuance of systematic human rights abuse in Bosna and Herzegovina appear in the local media on an alarmingly regular basis.

This report gives evidence that systematic human rights abuse is alive and well in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  This is in spite of the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens, on paper at least, are some of the most protected individuals in the world, as the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols take precedence over all local laws.  Yet, in spite of these "paper freedoms," judicial and administrative authorities are willing and able to wantonly victimise and abuse citizens.  Should that citizen represent the "wrong" ethnic group or "wrong" political affiliation, or if that person is simply not part of the ruling nationalist structures in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina, then the likelihood of abuse dramatically increases.

Data on the six cases presented has been provided by the ICG’ field partners situated throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. These organisations, all of which are Bosnian non-governmental agencies, provide, inter alia, free legal services to citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sarajevo/Brussels, 23 Febrruary 2000

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.