Project Description

Legal support for survivors in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Start of the project : 2023. In partnership with TRIAL International.

Bosnie projet aide juridique aux Survivantes


The war that ravaged the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s particularly affected Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) from 1992 to 1995. The conflict resulted in serious human rights violations, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Over 100,000 people were killed, and more than 20,000 were victims of sexual violence.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is still deeply affected by the consequences of the war, and carries a heavy burden of the past. Many complicated problems have arisen from the events of the war. These include bringing war criminals to justice, meeting the needs of victims and their families, and reconciling individuals and communities.

TRIAL International’s activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina primarily take the form of free legal assistance to victims. They also focus on advocating improvements to national legislation. The organization calls on the authorities to bring their legislation into line with international human rights, such as access to reparations for victims of sexual violence. It also regularly organizes training and capacity-building activities for prosecutors, lawyers and judges. The aim is to inform them about best legal practices relating to international crimes.


The overall aim of the project is to strengthen transitional justice in Bosnia-Herzegovina by combating impunity on the one hand, and ensuring that victims obtain the reparation due to them on the other hand, by improving their access to justice. TRIAL International collaborates with victims’ associations, partner NGOs and public authorities, as well as with international organizations and actors present in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This approach enables the organization to build on the local dynamic of exchange and experience sharing. It also allow them to design the best tools for providing legal support to Survivors.

More specifically, the project aims to improve care for Survivors and children born of wartime rape. This by setting up training courses for prosecutors and journalists. It also aims to provide free legal assistance to those who need it. These practices make it easier to document the cases of Survivors and children born of rape, and thus facilitate legal proceedings.

Finally, Stand Speak Rise Up! supports TRIAL International’s advocacy activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These include lobbying national and international authorities, articulating the needs of Survivors and children born of rape so that they are enshrined in law, and advocating free legal fees for Survivors.

TRIAL International has submitted a new case to the United Nations Committee against Torture on behalf of four Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. These Survivors have not received the compensation awarded for the trauma they suffered. Due to the application of the statute of limitations, they have no possibility of seeking compensation from the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) or the entity deemed responsible. There is currently no effective reparation solution in Bosnia-Herzegovina in cases where the perpetrator is unable to pay compensation for non-material damages. It confirms the existence of a systemic problem.

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In 2022, after more than two years of struggle, the Federation of BiH recently passed a law that recognizes the victim status of Survivors, as well as children born of war rape. It grants them new rights to meet their specific needs.
30 years after the war, this is an enormous step forward for Survivors. Indeed, they are still paying for the mental, physical and psychological repercussions of this conflict. It is a major step forward for the fate of victims of wartime violence. Not only in Bosnia but throughout the world. It shows once again that it is necessary to fight to support victims in their struggle to obtain their fundamental rights.

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