(New York, 29 June 2015) – The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, welcomes the decision of the court in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Kotor Varoš case to secure conviction for, and award compensatory damages to, victims of war-time sexual violence. Although the war in Bosnia ended two decades ago, the court has sent a strong signal that there will be no sanctuary for perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence. Too many women throughout the former Yugoslavia are still waiting for justice, while the perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence walk free.  Yet, the court’s ruling shows that no matter the time that has elapsed, perpetrators of humanity’s gravest crimes will ultimately be held to account for their actions.
The court’s ruling also demonstrates the importance of legal aid and reparation for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. All survivors of conflict-related sexual violence have the basic right to access justice and be provided with prompt, adequate and effective reparation. The Special Representative calls on all countries that have been affected by conflict-related sexual violence to implement comprehensive reparation programs that ensure livelihood support for survivors and their families. For a reparation program to be comprehensive, it must be non-sectarian and facilitate not only the rebuilding of survivors’ lives but reconciliation in their communities. The Special Representative sincerely hopes that the court’s ruling can contribute to these goals in Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout the former Yugoslavia.

“It is essential that governments in the former Yugoslavia do their utmost to deliver justice, legal aid and comprehensive reparation programs for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence,” Special Representative Bangura stated. “I call upon the governments affected by conflict in the former Yugoslavia to take these measures on a regional and non-sectarian basis for the benefit of every survivor of one of wartime’s most heinous atrocities.”

For further information, please contact:

Paulina Kubiak, Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Communications Officer in New York  +1 9173673819 or kubiakp@un.org