|Sunday, 25 February 2024
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: FEBRUARY 1995
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
The United States formally recognized the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of six constituent republics of the former Yugoslavia, as a sovereign state in April 1992, following a free and fair referendum in which 63 percent of its voters endorsed independence. President Alija Izetbegovic heads the multiethnic collective presidency of a parliamentary democratic government elected in 1990. Since 1992, approximately 80 countries, including the United States, have recognized the Republic, which is a member of the United Nations. Within days of the Republic declaring its independence, elements of the JNA, supported by Serbian nationalist militias, launched attacks throughout northern and eastern Bosnia and Serbian Democratic Party leader Radovan Karadzic declared the establishment of the "Republika Srpska" or "Serb Republic."
Seventy percent of the Republic remained under Serbian occupation throughout 1994. The estimated number of dead neared the quarter-million mark, while more than half of the country's prewar population of 4 1/2 million continued to be dispersed as refugees or displaced persons. The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, rebel forces, and representatives of the international community wielded varying forms of authority over various areas of the country during the year.
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was constituted in March and established in May, transforming the internal structure of the territories with an ethnic Bosnian and Croatian majority. At year's end, the President of the Federation (Kresimir Zubak) was a Croat and the Vice President (Ejup Ganic) was a Bosnian Muslim. Although the parliaments of the Federation and the Republic differed slightly in their makeup, the Prime Minister (Haris Silajdzic) and cabinet ministers governed in the name of both the Republic and the Federation.
The self-proclaimed "Serbian Republic" of Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) leader Radovan Karadzic, headquartered in the Sarajevo suburb of Pale, is the illegitimate occupation authority of the 70 percent of the country's territory held by the nationalist Serbs. Although a "Serbian Republic" parliament exists, the "government" is run by a small group of military and civilian "authorities," dedicated to an extreme nationalist ideology, who control an elaborate police and security structure and an enormous army inherited from the former Yugoslavia.
Another self-proclaimed authority, the "Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna," was the institutional wing of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), as well as a rival claimant to territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina until the Washington Agreement in March, which led to formation of the Federation. It continued to exist through much of western Herzegovina and some of central Bosnia as a provisional Croatian authority within the Federation, pending formation of cantons as prescribed by the Federation Constitution.
In August Bosnian army troops retook the territory of yet another self-proclaimed entity, Fikret Abdic's "Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia" (APWB), a pro-Serb Muslim enclave within the larger Muslim enclave of Bihac.
The United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina exercised limited authority in specific areas. These included control of some border points and control of air space and some overland movement, as well as police powers and other quasi-governmental functions.
The Bosnian Army (ABH) is the military branch of the Republic. It is a multiethnic fighting force, including predominantly Bosnian Muslims, but also Croats, Serbs, and Bosnians of mixed ethnicity. It is basically a citizens' militia and suffers from a lack of equipment and training. The ABH generally respected the Geneva Convention and citizens' human rights. The ABH also has maneuver and commando forces, such as the 7th Muslim brigade, the "Black Swans," other home-grown special forces, and some foreign mercenaries of Muslim origin, who called themselves "mujahidin." These latter elements of the ABH were accused of committing atrocities during the course of the war. Specifically, in 1994, mujahidin mercenaries, mostly located in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, were accused of unlawfully entering Croatian homes, vandalizing Croatian property, and desecrating Croatian cemetaries. A Turkish battalion of UNPROFOR succeeded in stopping these activities.
The HVO was credibly accused of abusing human rights, though HVO's behavior toward non-Croat populations has improved somewhat since the signing of the Federation Agreements. Some local Croatian paramilitary units retained a considerable criminal element, especially in areas such as Kiseljak, Vitez, and Prozor. The HVO also attracted a larger proportion of mercenary elements, who were implicated in human rights abuses.
The Bosnian Serb army (BSA) is the military arm of the "Serbian Republic." Amalgamated in 1992 from Serbian paramilitary bands, local rural militias, and elements of the JNA, it continued its pattern of using terror tactics against Sarajevo and other civilian areas within sniping or artillery range. U.N. sources reported that in late summer the BSA cut off utilities service to Sarajevo upon orders from the Serbian military, a violation of U.N. Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 900. BSA forces regularly shot at, harassed, and kidnaped UNPROFOR troops, frequently resulting in injury and occasionally in loss of life, with the goal of disrupting delivery of humanitarian assistance and coercing UNPROFOR into cooperating with Serbian objectives.
The Bosnian economy, once dependent upon heavy industry, such as construction, metallurgy, mining, hydroelectricity, and forestry, largely came to a halt, both in federal and Serb- occupied territories. In July the Government switched to the German mark as its official currency and in October "officially" introduced the "Bosnian dinar"; however, the German mark remains the de facto currency. Most prewar industries no longer function, either because of damage from fighting or shortages of spare parts and supplies. There is some agricultural production in contiguous Federation territory, minimizing the need for humanitarian food assistance there. Serb-blockaded Sarajevo, however, remains almost completely dependent upon humanitarian assistance, as do Bihac and the eastern enclaves. When the U.N.-protected road to the Sarajevo airport was opened in June, Sarajevo began to experience a revival of commerce. But when UNPROFOR shut it down on July 26 at the request of SDS leader Karadzic, trade all but stopped again. Serbs were able to feed themselves in Serb-occupied territory, but lack of markets and raw materials shut down most industry there as well.
In 1994 Serbian expulsions of mainly Muslims and Croats--what has become known as "ethnic cleansing"--slowed but did not cease. In pursuit of the goal of ethnic cleansing, the Serbs for more than 2 years have laid siege to cities, indiscriminately shelled civilian inhabitants, withheld food deliveries and utilities so as to starve and freeze residents, executed noncombatants, ran detention camps in which they executed some prisoners and subjected many inmates to inhumane treatment, employed rape as a tool of war to terrorize people, forced large numbers of civilians to flee to other regions, razed villages to prevent the return of displaced persons, and interfered with international relief efforts, including attacks on relief personnel.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) confirmed reports of substantial ethnic cleansing in the Bijeljina area of northeast Bosnia, in Banja Luka in northwest Bosnia, and in Rogatica, north of the Gorazde enclave. Non-Serbs were lured out of their homes by promises of transit out of Serb-held territory and were then robbed and abandoned en route. Men were taken to work camps to dig trenches along the confrontation lines and were used as human shields. There were credible reports that Serbian military and paramilitary groups conducting ethnic cleansing acted at the behest of the "Serbian Republic" leadership in implementing its policies.
The work of the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal, established at The Hague in 1994, is expected to document, assess, and determine the culpability of alleged perpetrators of war crimes, including the extent to which Serbian atrocities and genocide were a matter of low-level loss of control or of high-level policy. In late 1994 the Tribunal began legal proceedings against the first defendant, a Serb now living in Germany, accused of being an officer and ordering summary excutions at the Bosnian death camps in 1992. The European Union's (EU) Administrator's office continued to report Croatian expulsions of Muslims from east Mostar and protested to Croatian authorities. Croats, on the other hand, complained that Muslim pressure in Bosnian-held areas, in particular in Bugojno, forced Croats to leave their homes.
Generally, wartime conditions stalled the democratization process in Bosnia, initiated in the ill-fated 1990 "free" elections which brought about the victories of ethnic-based parties. The Party of Democratic Action (SDA) of President Izetbegovic and the HDZ were the dominant parties on Federation territory. Opposition parties claimed that the SDA and HDZ increasingly control the media and scarce jobs and housing. In Serb-held territory, the SDS, led by Karadzic, controlled both the media and political activity, and did not permit dissent.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial KillingBoth Government and Federation Constitutions guarantee the right to life. There was no credible evidence that government forces committed political or other extrajudicial killings. Nor was there credible evidence in support of allegations of Bosnian atrocities against the population of the APWB during the overthrow of its leader Fikret Abdic; direct observation suggested humane treatment of persons and property there. Similar allegations of Bosnian atrocities committed in the course of an early October commando raid outside of Sarajevo also proved unfounded.
Military and paramilitary forces of the "Serbian Republic" continued to terrorize Bosnian civilians through shelling, sniping, and other military action (see Section 1.g.). While accurate statistics are difficult to obtain because Serbian authorities do not cooperate with international human rights groups, significant numbers of non-Serbs were killed in Serb-run detention camps (see Section 1.c.). Opposition to SDS views also resulted in death. Risto Djogo, a popular satirist, was found mysteriously drowned in a lake near Zvornik on the Serbian border, after a dinner with the notorious paramilitary leader "Arkan." While the official account claimed his death was accidental, due in part to drunkenness, many Bosnians strongly suspected that he was assassinated because he had run afoul of Serbian President Milosevic.
b. DisappearanceSince the beginning of the war, 3,800 Bosnians have been registered with the Bosnian Red Cross as missing. The Red Cross suspects the real number of missing could be more than twice as high, given the inability of many Bosnian citizens to come to the Red Cross to register those missing. In addition,
* NOTE: Although the United States and other friendly governments actively are involved in helping establish Federation governmental structures, all references to the "government" in the report apply to the Government of the Republic, not the Federation. since some families were completely wiped out, many missing citizens may simply have no one left to inquire about them. The Red Cross believes these missing persons fall into different categories: Some have escaped but have failed to contact relatives, some have been killed, and some remain in work camps that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not been able to visit. The Bosnian Red Cross has registered 83 cases of persons who disappeared and who were last seen in 1994. Although during the year the Bosnian Red Cross registered a total of 928 missing persons, the majority of those disappeared in prior years; their relatives had been unable to register them until 1994. The majority of those who disappeared in 1994 came from Gorazde, Bijeljina, and the vicinity of Sarajevo.
There was no resolution of the longstanding case involving the disappearance of approximately 180 men from Hadzici in June 1992. Pending information on the whereabouts of these men, the Bosnian Government continued to detain for a second year approximately 150 Bosnian Serbs in a grain silo in the nearby town of Tarcin. Five Bosnian Muslim community leaders in Banja Luka were reported to have been arrested in late August by local Serb "authorities." There was no further word on their welfare or location. Local Bosnian officials in Bugojno have yet to provide satisfactory information on the whereabouts of 26 prominent Croats who disappeared when the ABH took the town in late 1993.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or PunishmentThe Constitutions of both the Government and the Federation provide for the right to freedom from torture and cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment, and there are no credible allegations that the legitimate Government or its authorities engaged in such practices in 1994.
In 1994 in Siroki Brijeg, HDZ militia severely beat a Croat who was trying to establish an arm of the rightwing Croatian Party of Rights.
Non-Serbs in Serb-held territory credibly reported they were routinely beaten by the authorities. For example, a retiree from Prnjavor reported that military police entered his home, beat him, then took him to the police station and continued to beat him for several hours, breaking his ribs and teeth and leaving him with a cracked skull. In another case, a man evicted from his home in Banja Luka was later arrested and beaten at the local military police headquarters by the same men who had evicted him. Another case of serious abuse involved the participation of medical professionals. A Muslim woman in Bijeljina was mistreated by hospital personnel while giving birth to her first child. She suffered terrible pain for 3 months after delivery. After fleeing to Tuzla where she sought medical help, doctors discovered that her vagina had been stitched with wire and the surgical needle and wire left in her vagina. According to the woman, the medical personnel of the hospital in Bijeljina had threatened her that she would suffer after her childbirth. Three operations were required to remove the wire and needle. Doctors in Tuzla stated that the use of these methods was unheard of in such medical procedures.
In government prisons, access to prisoners being held for criminal offenses is adequate, according to human rights lawyers. Prisoners of war (POW's) are kept in the same jail facilities as common criminals, as well as in military prisons, contrary to the Geneva Convention.
Both Bosnian and "Serbian Republic" authorities allow the ICRC access only to "conflict-related prisoners." This term is not to be confused with that of prisoner of war as defined by the Vienna Convention. In particular in Serb-held territory, "Serb Republic authorities" routinely detain non-Serb civilians for use in exchanges for Serb POW's. This practice constitutes another form of "ethnic cleansing." Approximately 500 acknowledged "conflict-related prisoners" on both sides are being detained in jails, prisons, and some 15 to 20 camps on the Serbian side and 10 camps on Federation territory. Both Bosnians and Serbs deny the ICRC access to prisoners accused of common crimes.
The best known Bosnian-run detention facility is the grain silo in Tarcin (see Section 1.b.). Relief workers who have visited the grain silo state that, although it is an unacceptable detention facility, those held there are fed, clothed, and in reasonably good health. The detainees are forced to labor in the local agricultural fields. According to credible sources, in addition to Tarcin, the Bosnian Government also allegedly runs 9 or 10 other detention facilities for Serbian conflict-related prisoners.
According to recently exchanged Bosnian prisoners of war, the BSA allegedly regularly engages in torture, including use of electric shocks. During its November offensive against Bihac, the BSA humiliated Bosnian prisoners in front of television cameras, ridiculing them and forcing them to chant pro-Serb slogans.
The Karadzic Serbs continue to hold non-Serb military personnel and civilians in from 15 to 20 detention camps. According to government sources, the ICRC has access to some but not all of these camps, as Serbs also differentiate between "conflict- related" and other prisoners and deny access to the latter.
According to a reliable source, the forced labor camp "Rasadnik" outside of Rogatica continued to function through April 1994. The Serbs denied access to the camp, claiming that it was not related to the conflict. The camp has held up to 50 prisoners who worked as prison labor in the stockyards. There reportedly were approximately a dozen murders at this camp at the hands of camp officials; one was confirmed in 1994--a prisoner from Gorazde was reportedly beaten to death in front of his fellow prisoners following the Serbian assault on Gorazde in May. A reliable source reported that in 1994 "Rasadnik" officials raped five women from this camp, also following the Gorazde assault--two of whom were teenage girls from Gorazde, two were young women, and one a woman in her fifties. Most of the prisoners from this camp were transferred to Kula Prison outside of Sarajevo in the spring, and some were freed in the October prisoner exchange.
The Kula Prison houses the Serbian poet, Vladimir Srebro. In 1992, shortly after the invasion began, Srebro walked from Sarajevo to Ilidza to protest the actions of the Karadzic Serbs. He was quickly arrested and sentenced to 10 years in jail for being an "enemy of the Serbian nation." Released Kula Prison inmates report Srebro is regularly tortured and his health has seriously deteriorated. However, he refuses to sign a document swearing his allegiance to the "Serbian Republic."
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or ExileIn September the Bosnian police in Hrasnica detained 100 Serbs boarding a bus for an "organized trip" to Serb-controlled Ilidza. The Bosnians accused the Serbs of trying to avoid military service and civil defense duties and of attempting to "depart illegally" from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Women, children, and the elderly were released fairly quickly, but men of military age are allegedly still detained in jails in Hrasnica and Sarajevo. Bosnian authorities deny the existence of a jail in Hrasnica and have not allowed access to the prisoners held in Sarajevo, saying they are imprisoned for "civil offenses." However, some Bosnian officials admit these men are being kept for future POW exchanges.
In parts of the Bosnian Federation where curfews were in force (such as Sarajevo), violators were subject to arrest and detention overnight. They typically had access to a telephone but were not released until the next morning, at the end of the curfew period.
Both sides typically held POW's for exchange. Several hundred were traded by each side during the course of the year, the largest exchange taking place on October 5 when 295 Serbs were released in exchange for 166 Bosnians. As is the case with the majority of these exchanges, Bosnian civilians from ethnically cleansed areas of Serb-held territory were exchanged for Serbian POW's.
The Kula Prison outside of Sarajevo has approximately 60 prisoners, mostly from ethnically cleansed areas of eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as Rogatica. These civilians were kept in the Kula Prison pending U.N.-brokered POW exchanges. Bosnians argue that UNPROFOR is assisting with ethnic cleansing because it accepts the "exchange" of ethnically cleansed Bosnian civilians for Serbian POW's. A Western relief worker based in Serb-held Bosnia noted that one of the main goals of ethnic cleansing in 1994 was to have a readymade pool of non-Serbs to exchange for Serbian POW's. Serbs running the Kula Prison told relief workers that the civilians held there are not being detained but rather are kept in the facility pending release to the Bosnian Government, because "there is no hotel in this area."
Over 10,000 Bosnians in 1994 were victims of ethnic cleansing, including over 6,000 in the Bijeljina region from July through October (many at the hands of paramilitary "colonel" Vojkan Djurkovic), hundreds more from Prijedor and Banja Luka in the spring and summer, and more than 100 people from Rogatica in early October, 2 weeks after U.N. Special Representative Akashi had protested directly to "Serbian Republic" leader Karadzic. Statistics as of late September reveal the extent of the planned removal of non-Serbs from Serb-held territory. An estimated 80,000 non-Serbs remained in Serb-held northeastern Bosnia, compared to 837,000 living there before the war; only 10,000 non-Serbs remained out of a prewar 300,000 in eastern Bosnia; and just 17,000 non-Serbs remained in the area of Banja Luka and Prijedor, where there were 537,000 in 1992.
In the course of these expulsions, Serbian agents typically coerced property owners into handing over property titles, robbed them of their money and belongings, demanded "fees" to pay for their transport into exile, and seized military-age men for detention in "work camps," such as one in Lopare where over 200 were held for forced labor. The ICRC has been consistently denied access to the Lopare camp.
e. Denial of Fair Public TrialThe Republic's Constitution establishes a regular judicial hierarchy based on municipal courts, which have original jurisdiction in most civil and criminal cases, and cantonal courts, which have appellate jurisdiction over the canton's municipalities, as well as three federal courts (Constitutional, Supreme, and human rights). The Constitution provides for open and public trials. Judges are appointed for terms which end upon their reaching age 70, and administration of the judicial branch is managed internally. The judiciary's independence extends to the investigative division of the criminal justice system, as the Constitution also establishes a judicial police force that reports directly to the courts. These principles appeared to be practiced in areas under Bosnian Government control.
The legal system is designed to guard against discrimination against ethnic minorities by ensuring adequate diversity of representation on the bench, although there have been allegations that the ruling SDA and HDZ parties are "stacking the courts." The court system for the most part uses the same criminal code used by the former Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Constitution provides for the right to fair criminal proceedings. There is a functioning appealate system and the accused has the right to legal counsel.
According to international relief workers based in Pale, the Bosnian Serbs, for the most part, use the same criminal code as that of the Republic for trials of common criminals. It is unlikely, however, that there are any non-Serb judges serving on Serb-held territory, reducing the possibility of a fair trial for non-Serb defendants. In late October, Bosnian Serb television reported the establishment of "drumhead courts," in which local military or police commanders had the right to arrest and punish civilians and military personnel guilty of "spreading disinformation about the 'Serbian Republic.'" These commanders were authorized to kill offenders on the spot or sentence them to forced labor on the front lines, without benefit of a trial. This measure was directed primarily at soldiers who refused to fight or males who refused to be mobilized. According to a reliable observer, deserters were shot after drumhead court procedures even before the policy was announced. An eyewitness reported that in July a soldier was shot in front of his unit for "failure to fight."
The Bosnian Government does not hold any political prisoners. The Serbian authorities hold poet Vladimir Srebro (see Section 1.c.) as well as a journalist charged with terrorism in October in the "Tajfun affair," an alleged conspiracy against the Karadzic regime.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or CorrespondenceThe Republic's Constitution provides for the right to privacy, protection of the family and of children, and property. Governmental respect for these rights was the rule rather than the exception in 1994. Bosnian authorities attempted to monitor communications that impinged on military or other national security concerns.
Local Serbian authorities in Serb-occupied territories in Sarajevo, such as Grbavica, instituted a policy of summarily confiscating the property of mixed-marriage couples with sons who had either fled abroad or to Federation territory. According to a credible observer, Serbian authorities in Grbavica threatened to confiscate the property of a mixed Serb-Muslim family whose son fled from Grbavica to Bosnian-controlled Sarajevo and who was dating a loyalist Serb, if the son did not return to fight for a "Greater Serbia." There are five other mixed families living in the same building with sons who have fled, who also were threatened with having their property confiscated unless their sons acceded to the draft.
The persistence of the Serbian policy of ethnic cleansing constituted sustained arbitrary interference with family and home. Serbs continued to enter Bosnian and Croatian homes in Serb-held territory without search warrants. In the towns of Banja Luka, Bijeljina, and Rogatica, the pattern of ethnic cleansing usually began with unauthorized entry into non-Serb homes by the BSA, Serbian police, or other paramilitary forces who demanded weapons and threatened residents with violence if they did not leave. In the village of Janja, in the Bijeljina township, Serbs regularly placed Serbian refugee families in Muslim homes, forcing the owners to live in one room. In general, in Serb-occupied Bosnia, police powers were intrusive and only minimally restricted by law or custom. Letters carried through Serbian lines were regularly opened.
In addition to forcible eviction, extortion, and robbery, Bosnian Serb authorities routinely harassed and terrorized non-Serbs in Serb-held territories by breaking into homes with dynamite and threatening to blow up the occupants; by destroying graveyards so that deceased family members had to be buried in family gardens; and by destroying farm animals and crops to starve out the population.
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal ConflictsBosnian government forces are under orders to honor the Geneva Convention and subject to discipline if they violate it. Allegations of official abuse have not been substantiated with credible documentation. For example, although the ABH's success in subduing the rebel Muslim insurgency in Bihac led by Fikret Abdic resulted in the flow of almost 20,000 persons into Serb-held Croatian Krajina in August, there was no credible evidence of human rights abuses committed by the Bosnians.
Although Serbian officials in Pale also claim to honor the Geneva Convention, international observers agree that the Serbian forces continue to violate the terms of the Convention on a massive scale.
The BSA continues to target noncombatant and populated areas in order to maintain a constant atmosphere of terror and vulnerability. Standards of wartime behavior are dictated by the Geneva Convention, but UNPROFOR must nevertheless negotiate with Serbian forces to seek their adherence to these standards. Frequently, these negotiations involve issues, such as sniping at civilians, that are explicitly cited as unacceptable in UNSC resolutions. The Serbs routinely violate even these agreements. Some acts routinely committed by the Serbs, (e.g., sniping at civilians) not only constitute ordinary crimes (for example, murder when the sniping results in death) but also violations of the Geneva Conventions, with the result that those who order the act can be prosecuted, along with those committing the act, before national courts as well as the War Crimes Tribunal.
From January through October, Serbian snipers killed over 50 Sarajevo civilians and wounded more than 300. Even though an antisniping agreement was signed in August, there were eight fatalities in September, and the sniping continues unabated. There were more persons wounded in September (60) than there were in January (47), before the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) ultimatum. UNPROFOR figures on this subject may be somewhat different because, as of the September antisniping agreement, UNPROFOR began classifying injuries from sniper fire as "injuries caused by random exchange of fire." Thus, under UNPROFOR categories, only killings are classified as sniper fire.
Throughout 1994, the BSA continued to pound Bosnian populations centers with mortars and automatic weapons fire, causing the death of hundreds of civilians from January through October. The population centers most affected were Sarajevo, Gorazde, Mostar, Olovo, Tuzla, Visoko, Vares, and Breza. During the May offensive against Gorazde, Serbian shelling killed between 500 and 600 Bosnian civilians. In Sarajevo, prior to the NATO ultimatum, the most deadly results from a single projectile came in a downtown Sarajevo marketplace in February when one shell killed 68 people. Also prior to the ultimatum, on January 22, Serbs fired three shells into a residential neighborhood, killing five children.
In addition to firing directly on civilians, during the year the BSA fired directly on humanitarian aid convoys and on UNPROFOR troops escorting them. It choked off assistance at various times to the eastern enclaves, Sarajevo, and (through its Krajina Serb allies) Bihac. In an early November order on mobilization, issued in response to ABH successes near Bihac, the "Serbian Republic" leadership ordered secondary schools closed, students to report to their units, and emigres to return to fight under penalty of being branded as deserters.
UNSC Resolution 900 specifically provides for the uninterrupted supply of utilities to Sarajevo. In defiance of this resolution, Bosnian Serb authorities continued to manipulate the supply of basic utilities as part of their strategy of pressuring and demoralizing the population of Sarajevo. UNPROFOR-sponsored talks were held to resolve the utilities problem, but the Bosnian Government claims that utilities were restored only after the Bosnians found ways to cut off utilities to Serb-occupied territory.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and PressThe Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, but 3 years of wartime conditions have thwarted the development of truly independent media in Federation territory. As a result, the Government only partially respects this right in the majority of Federation territory, and the authorities in the HDZ-controlled "Herceg-Bosna" do not respect this right at all.
Although there are some independent media in Federation territory, in general the ruling SDA and HDZ political parties exert considerable influence over the media. Many private radio stations broadcast from Federation territory; a smaller number of private television stations serve local markets in Zenica and Tuzla. These independent media have complained of strong-armed Bosnian government tactics. When the ruling SDA party came under strong criticism for alleged corruption by the Sarajevo paper Bosna, former employees for the paper claim it subsequently was harassed out of existence, closing its doors in October. In the northeastern city of Tuzla, for example, the local television station "FS3" lost its building and some equipment when the district government moved Tuzla Radio and Television operations to its premises.
Bosnian government-controlled television dominates the airwaves. It came under strong criticism in 1994 for alleged censorship of programming that did not hew to the SDA line, such as a series of broadcasts by the satirical troupe "Nadrealisti" ("Surrealists"), which Bosnian television had itself produced. The development of independent media also was constrained by the wartime lack of start-up capital, paper, and supplies. Western television stations such as Cable News Network (CNN) and Sky News are available to those in Federation territory who can afford such service. In HDZ-controlled "Herceg-Bosna," the media are part of the HDZ structure but not as strictly censored as in the "Serbian Republic." Croatia supplies transmissions of Radio Split to the inhabitants of "Herceg-Bosna."
Foreign journalists in Sarajevo and elsewhere on federation territory say they operated without censorship or government interference of any kind, whereas media in the "Serbian Republic" are a propaganda tool of the ruling SDS party. The SDS strictly censors the media in Serb-controlled territory; laissez-passers for foreign journalists are issued by Karadzic's daughter. The party's media voice, the Serbian Republic News Agency, Tanjug (the news agency of the Milosevic regime in Serbia), and other Serbian sources formed the basis for near total domination of both print and electronic information media. All foreign media are banned in the "Serbian Republic." The public in Serbian territory only has access to two choices: Serbian media from Pale or Serbian media from Belgrade.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, academic freedom was constrained more by lack of resources and access (to information, other academic communities, etc.) than by government policies. In Serb-controlled areas, general lack of tolerance for dissent led to total control of the educational media. Curriculums in Serb-controlled areas have been revamped to teach solely Serb history, art, literature, etcetera. There has been no evidence of an intellectual exchange of ideas in the media or other academic fora in Serb-held territory since the 1992 invasion.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and AssociationThe Constitution provides for freedom of association, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. Although large gatherings of people were generally discouraged in Sarajevo for security reasons, demonstrations took place, for example, to protest the offensive against Gorazde in April.
While political membership is not forced, membership in the ruling SDA and HDZ parties in Federation territory is viewed as the main way to obtain scarce housing and jobs. In "Herceg-Bosna," the HDZ, through threat and coercion, has prevented other Croatian parties from forming.
In the "Serbian Republic," the SDS's control over security and police impose severe limitations on the right to assemble and associate. In September, however, the authorities took no action against demonstrations by small groups in the Serb- controlled Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, protesting the closure of the blue route (the UN-protected road over Mount Igman leading into and out of Sarajevo which was closed by the UN in July after Karadzic threatened to use force to close it). While political membership is not forced, membership in the SDS is viewed as the means to obtain access to both jobs and housing.
c. Freedom of ReligionThe Constitution provides for freedom of religion, including private and public worship. However, within the Federation the authorities did not respect these rights in consistent fashion. In general during 1994, conditions for religious observance were significantly better for non-Muslims in those parts of the Federation where Muslims dominated than they were for non-Catholics in areas where Croats dominated.
In Tuzla, for example, which is governed by a nonnationalist city administration with a Muslim majority, the authorities repaired a Serbian Orthodox church damaged by Serbian shelling The dominant political parties are both based on ethnic or religious identification: SDA-Muslim and HDZ-Croat. Members of these parties used religion or ethnicity as ideological litmus tests and means of intraparty competition. The results, reinforced by Communist-era experience, sometimes emerged in the form of radical positions embraced by some political or religious figures. For example, a trend towards Islamization of Bosnia was widely reported in international media during the latter half of 1994. Among the examples cited to illustrate this trend were statements made by the Reis-ul-Ulema, the head of Bosnia's Muslim community, criticizing mixed marriages and consumption of pork and alcoholic beverages. Culture and Education Minister Enes Karic was also cited for heavyhandedly promoting Muslim religious studies in elementary schools, calling for a ban against Serbian music played over Sarajevo radio stations, and trying to exercise political control over the content of educational and cultural activities. In almost all cases, however, public outcry (especially among Muslim Bosnians) forced politicians to back down from such positions.
The "Serbian Republic" continued systematically to eradicate the remaining traces of the centuries-old Muslim and Catholic presence, demolishing mosques, churches, cultural and religious monuments, and graveyards. In spite of the Serb "authorities" use of religion as an identifier for "ethnic cleansing," those remaining non-Serbs in Serb-held territory reportedly are allowed to attend services, if they can find a place in which to worship.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and RepatriationThe Constitution provides for freedom of movement. In practice, however, the ongoing hostilities effectively restricted the full exercise of this right. The demands of mobilization and the dangers of crossing checkpoints and confrontation lines often made movement difficult. Moreover, as a matter of policy, the Government sought to avoid letting all would-be refugees flee to avoid both depopulating the country and creating massive resettlement problems throughout Europe.
The Federation has not yet fully addressed the issue of the right of refugees and displaced persons to freely return to their homes of origin and to have returned to them any property of which they were deprived in the course of ethnic cleansing, as provided for in the Constitution. According to Bosnian Red Cross statistics, there are currently a quarter of a million displaced persons in Federation territory. Frequently they are prevented from returning to their homes because of harsh recriminations leveled by different communities. For example, in mid-October Bosnian Croat leaders denounced alleged ethnic cleansing by Muslim Bosnians in cities such as Vares, Bugojno, Zenica, and Sarajevo. Bosnians in Bugojno denied this was true, and claimed that their city contained many Bosnians driven out of Croat-controlled Prozor, Stolac, and Capljina who had personally witnessed the brutality of ethnic cleansing by Croats.
The proposed law on refugees and displaced persons being considered by the Federal Parliament provides for the return home of all Federation citizens. Bosnian Red Cross officials oppose massive population resettlements and view relocation as contributing to Karadzic's policy of ethnic cleansing.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their GovernmentCitizens of the Bosnian Federation have the right to change their government peacefully, both through direct elections and by amending the constitution. However, they have not had the ability to do so since the elections of December 1990. According to the Constitution, elections to the federal legislature ought to have been held 6 months after the Constitution's entry into force, that is, by September 30. These elections were delayed pending the formation of the federal cantons which were in turn delayed by disagreements between Croats and Bosnians on formation of the cantons' constituent municipalities.
The delay in establishing the Federation's internal structure was compounded by the nature of the Federation as a state of Bosnians, Croats, and "others." Under the Constitution, power would be shared primarily between Bosnians and Croats. It became clear during 1994 that, in practice, "Bosnians" actually meant the dominant Muslim political party SDA, and "Croats" meant the dominant Croat party HDZ. Among the quasi- disfranchised "others" were non-SDA Muslims and non-HDZ Croats, along with Serbs who had been loyal to the multiethnic republic, Bosnians of mixed ethnicity (estimated to make up 30 percent of the prewar Bosnian population), Jews, Roma, Vlachs, and the rest of Bosnia's varied ethnic mix.
Women are underrepresented in government and politics, although a few women occupy prominent positions. For example, a Serbian woman belongs to the Republic's collective presidency, and a Muslim woman heads Bosnian radio and television.
Although people on territory controlled by the "Serbian Republic" have a theoretical right to change their government and actually participated in "referendums," including one in August on the Contact Group proposal (with a 90 percent-plus vote against), SDS control of the media and security apparatus effectively precludes true citizen participation without intimidation. In the "Serbian Republic," women such as Karadzic's daughter, his wife (head of the "Serbian Republic" Red Cross), and one of his vice presidents occupy important posts.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human RightsIn late 1994, officials of the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal said that the Bosnian Government was cooperating fully with their investigations and inquiries, even in cases of accusations of war crimes by Bosnian forces. Other human rights monitors also worked effectively with the Bosnian Government.
The U.N. Special Rapporteur and his staff, however, remain barred from Banja Luka following publication of their report in 1993 which condemned the ethnic cleansing that occurred there.
The staff of the War Crimes Tribunal also traveled to Pale in "Serbian Republic"-held territory and described its visit as "satisfactory." However, most human rights monitors observed that Bosnian Serb authorities effectively impeded the War Crimes Tribunal's work by blocking its passage to Serb-held areas.
In early November, the Government accused the UNPROFOR of blocking the transport of witnesses to testify at a war crimes trial in Denmark. This accusation appeared to be without substance; UNPROFOR did much to support the War Crimes Tribunal staff during its visits to Bosnia.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social StatusThe Constitution provides for freedom from discrimination based on race, color, sex, language, religion or creed, political or other opinions, and national or social origin. However, the state of war and the ethnic and religious basis of that war created an environment in which many forms of discrimination were practiced.
WomenWomen hold some of the most responsible positions in society, including judges, doctors, and professors. However, they continued to be subjected to rape and other forms of physical abuse. Officials at the "Rasadnik" forced labor camp in the "Serbian Republic" raped five women from the camp early in the year (see Section 1.c.).
ChildrenThere is no discrimination against children as such, but they suffered long-term harm from war-related shortages of food and clothing, the closing of schools, psychological trauma, and constricted environments for living and playing. Serbian snipers are suspected of targeting children; the inordinate number of children killed by snipers apparently substantiate this suspicion. In the final months of the year, Serb snipers shot and killed a 12 year old girl in the middle of town, a young boy riding his bicycle in front of the Holiday Inn and another young boy in the Dobrinja area near the airport.
National/Racial/Ethnic MinoritiesEthnic differences are at the heart of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and have been manipulated by both the SDS party and the HDZ to sustain concepts of a "greater Serbia" and a "greater Croatia." The human rights violations addressed throughout this report--ethnic cleansing, rape, forced labor, forced relocation, extrajudicial killing--were largely perpetrated with the goal of establishing the superiority and political domination of a particular ethnic group. No group was more victimized than Bosnia's Muslims.
People with DisabilitiesIt is not known whether there are laws providing for protection of the handicapped. In 1994 the number of disabled veterans and civilians disabled by war injuries continued to increase. The Government had limited resources to address the special needs of the disabled.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of AssociationThe Constitution provides for the right of workers to form and join labor unions. The largest union is the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the heir of the old Yugoslav Communist Trade Union Confederation. Unions have the right to strike, but in practice mobilization and other emergency wartime measures generally restricted the exercise of this right. Moreover, the economic devastation and joblessness caused by the war throughout much of the Federation allowed trade unions little opportunity to organize and carry out their normal role.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain CollectivelyThe law provides for this right, but the practice of collective bargaining in labor-management negotiations was not significantly used in 1994.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory LaborMost Bosnians of productive age in the Federation were mobilized to serve either in the military or in supporting capacities in connection with the war. Government authorities in practice tolerated a significant amount of independent freedom of choice in the selection of work to fulfill the obligations imposed by the mobilization decree.
Reliable sources reported that detainees at the government-run detention facility in Tarcin did agricultural forced labor in the fields nearby (see Section 1.c.).
According to a reliable service, the forced labor camp "Rasadnik" operated by "Serbian Republic" authorities outside of Rogatica continued to function through April 1994. Serbs have denied access to the camp, saying it is "not related to the conflict." The camp has held up to 50 prisoners who worked as prison labor in the stockyards there (see Section 1.c.). "Serbian Republic" agents seized military-age men for detention in "work camps," such as one in Lopare where over 200 were held for forced labor, without access to international observers. As of October, according to Bosnian Serb television reports, local military and police commanders have the right to punish those guilty of spreading disinformation about the "Serbian Republic" by sentencing then to forced labor on the front lines (see Section 1.e.).
Non-Serb men and women in the Banja Luka and Bijeljina regions were routinely forced to labor, digging trenches, tilling fields, cleaning streets, etc. They received no compensation for this work. A few farmers were able to avoid forced labor by giving their entire harvest to the authorities. Reports of the forced labor of non-Serb women began to appear in September.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of ChildrenThe minimum age for employment of children remained 16. Bosnia had no effective social services agency to enforce the limit in 1994. Children sometimes assisted their families with farm work and odd jobs.
e. Acceptable Conditions of WorkIn principle, minimum wages were guaranteed, but with the economy in collapse workers had no assurance they would be paid for work performed. The basic wage paid to government employees in Sarajevo, for example, was $0.66 (DM 1.00) per month, with supplemental allowances of flour and other humanitarian assistance.
The prewar 42-hour workweek, with a 24-hour rest period, was formally still in effect, but for many workers no limits on working hours appeared to apply.
Occupational safety and health regulations were generally sacrificed because of the demands and constraints imposed by the war.