Amnesty International Urges New EU force in Bosnia to Learn from NATO’s Mistakes
Thursday, July 22, 2004 11:50 AM

Amnesty International issued a press release on 12 July 2004 directed toward European Union foreign ministers as they adopted guidelines for the EU military operation (“ALTHEA”) that will be replacing the NATO-led SFOR mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. AI stated its concerns that SFOR has failed to adhere to international human rights law standards, including instances of arbitrary arrest and the ill-treatment of detainees. AI attributed SFOR’s failures partly to a lack of adequate civilian control and appealed to the EU's ALTHEA mission to ensure the highest standards of troop behavior and accountability.

AI called on the EU to:

  • commit itself to abide fully by international human rights law, and to ensure that its standards are applied in ALTHEA operations;
  • establish a centralized system of civilian control over ALTHEA;
  • establish centralized and transparent procedures whereby allegations of human rights violations by ALTHEA members are thoroughly and impartially investigated and disciplinary procedures and criminal proceedings are initiated against ALTHEA members who are reasonably suspected of having committed human rights violations;
  • grant jurisdiction to the Human Rights Ombudsman of Bosnia and Herzegovina over ALTHEA activities;
  • provide comprehensive and consistent training in international human rights standards to all ALTHEA personnel;
  • actively seek those indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, coordinating its activities with NATO forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina where appropriate, with a view to arresting the suspects and transferring them to the Tribunal's custody;
  • immediately turn over to the competent authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina all individuals detained by ALTHEA, for whom no arrest warrant was issued by the Tribunal;
  • discontinue SFOR’s current practice of arbitrary detention;
  • adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of sexual exploitation, including prohibiting through disciplinary and criminal sanctions, the use of women and girls trafficked into forced prostitution;
  • ensure reparation, including paying appropriate compensation, to victims of human rights violations committed by its personnel.

For more information on the European Security and Defense Policy's ALTHEA mission to Bosnia, see the Council's conclusions of 12 July, 2004.