Violence Against Women in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia and H
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Population of women: 1,945,000/3,744,000 [Dec 2012]
Life expectancy of women (at birth): 78
School life expectancy for women:  13.4
Women's adult literacy: 96%
Unemployment of women: 29.9%
Women engaged in economic activity: 35%

Source: UN Statistics Division, Social Indicators, updated Dec 2012[i]
 
Last updated April 2014
Introduction
Formerly a constituent republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia & Herzegovina (“BiH”) declared its independence in March 1992. Bosnian Serbs boycotted the referendum that led to independence, starting a war between local military and paramilitary groups supported by the Yugoslavian Army, and the Croatian Army and paramilitary groups from bordering countries.[ii]
The war resulted in numerous atrocities including mass imprisonment, mass killings, rape and other forms of torture of civilians. Recent research documented at least 97,207 persons killed or missing during the war.[iii] At one point in time, more than 50% of the population (2.2. million people) was displaced or had fled to other countries as refugees.[iv] According to the State Agency BHMAC, 2.4% of BiH territory is still covered by mines.
The armed conflict ended when the parties initiated the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, commonly known as the Dayton Peace Agreement, on November 22, 1995 in Dayton, Ohio (USA).[v] The Agreement was signed in Paris, on December 14, 1995.[vi] The text of the Constitution of BiH  is given in Annex 4 of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which transformed the country into a complex and decentralized State composed of the national or central government of BiH, two sub-national entities with independent judicial and legislative authority (the Federation of BiH and the Republic of Srpska), and the autonomous Brcko District.[vii] Control over the Brcko District was fiercely contested during the war, and its status and powers were not settled until an international arbitration tribunal, mandated by Annex 2 of the Dayton Peace Agreement, issued a “Final Award” in 1999.[viii] In 2009, the Constitution of BiH was amended to formalize the status of the Brcko District as a self-governing entity “held in condominium” by both the Federation of BiH and the Republic of Srpska, but under the sovereignty of the national government of BiH.[ix] 
The central government of BiH is composed of a bicameral legislature, a three member Presidency (consisting of a Bosniak, a Serb, and a Croat), a Council of Ministers, a State Assembly, and a Constitutional Court.[x] The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has a large Bosniak and Croat majority, and the Republic of Srpska has a Serb majority.[xi] The Brcko District is considered “multi-ethnic” with a mix of Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs.[xii]
The Office of the High Representative (OHR), supported by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), was created as part of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The High Representative’s[xiii] mission is “to work with the people of BH and the International Community to ensure that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a peaceful, viable state on course to European integration.”[xiv] The OHR will continue to function until BiH meets the five critical objectives of peace defined by PIC’s Declaration in February 2008 and the PIC finds full compliance with the Dayton Peace Agreement. [xv] These critical objectives include fiscal sustainability, and “entrenchment” of the rule of law.[xvi]  Until 2012, a Deputy High Representative for Brcko, or Brcko Supervisor, exercised broad powers in the Brcko District similar to those of the BiH High Representative.[xvii] Those powers have been suspended but could be reinstated if “conditions warrant.”[xviii]
Gender Equality
The Constitution of BiH prohibits discrimination on “any ground” including on the basis of sex.[xix] After years of policy advocacy by women’s NGOs, BiH adopted the Law on Gender Equality in 2003.[xx] The law was amended and updated in 2010.[xxi] As stated in Article 1, the Gender Equality Law “shall regulate, promote and protect gender equality, guarantee equal opportunities and equal treatment of all persons regardless of gender in public and private sphere of society, and regulate protection from discrimination on grounds of gender.”[xxii]
The law prohibits all forms of gender discrimination, including direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, “incitement to discriminate,” and gender based violence.[xxiii] Articles 10-22 provide for equal rights and opportunities in education, employment, health care, social welfare, and “public life,” among other areas. Article 29 states, “A person, who, on the grounds of sex, commits violence, harassment or sexual harassment that endanger serenity, mental health or body integrity shall be punished with a fine or imprisonment for a term of six months up to five years.”[xxiv] Article 23 allows victims of gender discrimination to sue for compensation and protection of their rights in accordance with the procedures outlined in the 2009 Law on Prohibition of Discrimination.[xxv] Courts of “general territorial jurisdiction,” including in both entities and the Brcko District, have jurisdiction over gender discrimination claims.[xxvi]
The Law on Gender Equality authorized the establishment of the Gender Equality Agency of BiH within the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees to coordinate and monitor implementation of the law, including the development of a national Gender Action Plan (“GAP”).[xxvii] At the entity level, the law directed the Gender Center of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,[xxviii] established in 2000, and the Gender Center of the Republic of Srpska, established in 2001, to implement the provisions of the Gender Equality Law in their respective jurisdictions.[xxix] The three Gender agencies formed a Coordination Board, or Coordinating Committee, in 2005, comprised of the directors of each agency.[xxx]
The U.S. Department of State 2013 Country Report found discrimination against women in the workplace continues, although progress has been made, particularly in the public sector:
“Women have equal legal status to men, and authorities treated women equally in practice. The government’s Agency for Gender Equality worked to inform women of their rights. Women and men generally received equal pay for equal work at government-owned enterprises, but there were reports that the same was not true at private businesses. Women had problems with nonpayment of allowances for maternity leave and the unwarranted dismissal of pregnant women and new mothers. Many job announcements openly advertised discriminatory criteria, such as age and physical appearance, for female applicants. Women remained underrepresented in law enforcement agencies, although there was continued progress.” [xxxi]
Further, according to a 2013 shadow report submitted to the European Union by the Centre for Political Studies in Sarajevo:
Significant progress was made [on women’s rights] with the adoption of the Gender Action Plan in 2006, which is supposed to lead to real improvement of the status of women in BiH. Despite this, it is clearly evident that measures taken by the state in terms of law and public policies adoption, establishment of the institutional framework, and implementation of action plans have not been accompanied by substantial progress in deconstructing traditional and patriarchal gender roles of women and men in BiH society . . . Women continue to face unequal access to the labor market and the level of female participation in the workforce remains low. Limited progress has been made in harmonizing Entity and Cantonal laws with the state-level law on Gender Equality. Institutional mechanisms for ensuring gender equality continue to face resource constraints.“[xxxii]
The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina reported in 2012 that public awareness of the Gender Equality Law and the 2009 Law on Prohibition of Discrimination remains “very low” and few women understand how to take advantage of the laws to further their rights.[xxxiii]
Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is recognized as a serious problem and “one of the biggest challenges within BiH society,” according to the Gender Equality Agency.[xxxiv] Economic pressures and post-traumatic stress as a consequence of the war exacerbate violence.[xxxv] Traditional attitudes that regard violence in the home as a “private matter” discourage women from reporting domestic violence, but a lack of economic alternatives is also a factor preventing women from reporting abuse.[xxxvi] Property is often in the name of the husband, making credit difficult to obtain for the wife, and employment discrimination is prevalent against women.[xxxvii]
BiH has no national-level legislation on domestic violence. However, the BiH Law on Gender Equality recognizes “violence occurring in the family or household” as a form of gender or sex based violence that is prohibited if it causes or may cause physical, mental, sexual or economic damage or suffering, as well as threat to such action which prevents this person or group of persons to enjoy their human rights and freedoms in public and private sphere of life.”[xxxviii] The law directs competent authorities in BiH to “take appropriate measures” to prevent gender based violence in both public and private life, including through the use of protective instruments.[xxxix]
The national government of BiH, through the Gender Equality Agency of BiH, also developed a State Strategy for preventing and combating domestic violence in 2009-2011.[xl] Among other goals, this Strategy called for the harmonization of entity-level domestic violence laws with national and international standards, as well as improved services for victims.[xli] Although an updated Strategy was presented to the Parliament of BiH in 2013, it had not yet been released as of April 2014.[xlii]
Of note, both subnational entities, the Republic of Srpska and Federation of BiH, adopted amended laws on domestic violence in 2012 and 2013, respectively.[xliii] These amendments improve the domestic legal framework for protecting victims of domestic violence in BiH, although harmonization of entity level laws and national strategies to combat domestic violence remain a challenge.[xliv]  
In the Federation of BiH, the new Law on Protection from Domestic Violence was adopted in December 2012 and published in 2013.[xlv] The new law amends the 2005 Law on Protection from Domestic Violence to include a more “precise definition of domestic violence” and emergency procedures for issuing protective orders against perpetrators, with a specific goal of protecting victims from violence.[xlvi] The new law also contains provisions to fund shelters for victims, and to develop trainings and other programs at the Federation and local level to combat and prevent domestic violence.[xlvii] The existing Article 222 of the 2003 Criminal Code of the Federation of BiH punishes acts of domestic violence against members of the “household” by up to three years in prison.[xlviii] The presence of “aggravating factors” such as death or serious bodily harm allows judges to impose “long-term imprisonment,” between 21 and 45 years.[xlix].Article 183 punishes threats to the safety of a spouse, partner or child, including stalking and “frequent following,” by up to one year in prison.[l] The Federation of BiH has also adopted a strategy for preventing and combating family violence tor 2013-2017.[li]
The Republic of Srpska amended its Law on Protection from Domestic Violence (2005) in 2012 to incorporate many standards on the prevention of domestic violence contained in the Council of Europe Convention on Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, which BiH ratified in 2013.[lii] The 2012 amendments remedy several deficiencies in the 2005 domestic violence law, including: a lack of urgent protection measures to provide timely care and assistance to victims, and a failure to designate or define safe houses as a means of providing support and protection to victims of domestic violence.[liii]
 
The new law attempts to fix these and other gaps by including emergency protective measures for victims of domestic violence, and providing for “multidisciplinary cooperation between health and social institutions to provide services for victims free of charge.”[liv] The Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women noted with approval that the new law took more of a “victim protection” approach, rather than a “family protection” approach, shifting the emphasis of domestic violence laws from keeping the family together to protecting victims and their children from violence.[lv] 
 
The Criminal Code of the Republic of Srpska treats domestic violence as either a misdemeanor or a criminal offense, with most perpetrators charged with a misdemeanor, if they are charged at all.[lvi] For criminal domestic violence offenses, Article 208 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Srpska provides for a maximum prison sentence of two years, increasing to a minimum of 10 years if the perpetrator kills his victim.[lvii] Amendments to the Republic of Srpska Criminal Code to harmonize criminal sanctions for domestic violence offenses with the updated Law on Protection of Domestic Violence, and with international standards, are reportedly under consideration in the legislature but have not been enacted as of April 2014.[lviii]
 
A lack of knowledge and reluctance of police to remove offenders from homes continues to impede effective legal protection for victims of domestic violence.  Although entity-level police have received specialized training in handling domestic violence cases, the US State Department 2013 Country Report on BiH reports widespread reluctance among police to break up families by arresting offenders.[lix] The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women echoed this concern, and found that police are often more concerned about where a perpetrator will live than about the safety of the victim if the perpetrator were to remain in the home.[lx]
In some cases, the victim has been required find “alternate accommodation” for her abuser, and if she cannot afford that, she must leave the home and find safety in a shelter, often with her children.[lxi] Perpetrators removed from the home are often returned to the home within 24 hours, particularly in the Republic of Srpska where the law allows police and prosecutors to treat domestic violence as a minor offense, or misdemeanor.[lxii] The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women also noted “high levels of confusion among the judiciary about the nature and purpose of ‘protection measures,’ with authorities using these in lieu of sanctions against perpetrators,” and with few consequences for offenders who violate protective orders.[lxiii]
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE): Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina recommended improvements in sentencing practices in domestic violence criminal proceedings in BiH courts to ensure greater accountability for perpetrators of domestic violence. Three areas of concern highlighted in the report were: a) sentencing at or below minimum penalties prescribed by law and heavy use of suspended sentences; b) under charging a domestic violence offender and failing to combine a domestic violence charge with other offenses such as the use of weapons or abuse of children; and c) failing to revoke a suspended sentence upon violation of probation.[lxiv] In 2011, 75% of domestic violence penalties in the Federation of BiH involved suspended sentences, with prison sentences accounting for 16%.[lxv] In the Republic of Srpska, courts handed down just 15 prison sentences in 2010 compared with 58 suspended sentences.[lxvi]
Support services for domestic violence victims remain inadequate. Services and shelter are provided primarily by a cooperative of NGOs that have developed a Safe Network with 2 hotlines and 10 safe houses across BiH.[lxvii] The hotlines received an estimated 6,000 calls during 2011.[lxviii] The NGOs receive financial support from the government; however such support is not consistent, despite laws in both the Federation of BiH and the Republic of Srpska requiring entities to provide 70% of a shelter’s funding, with the local communities and cantons providing the remaining 30%.[lxix]  Additionally, the NGO-run shelters cannot receive victims without a referral from the ”relevant” authorities, such as the police or entity-level Centres for Social Welfare (CSWs).[lxx] This can have a negative impact on victim referral. For example, in the Federation of BiH, the local community’s share of the cost of sheltering a victim is “borne by the authority [police or CSW] that refers a victim to a safe house.”[lxxi] Additionally, victims in urgent need of protection and shelter may not receive it due to bureaucratic delays and limited services.[lxxii]
Sexual Harassment
The Consolidated Law on Gender Equality of 2010 prohibits sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination.[lxxiii] Article 5(2) of the Law defines sexual harassment as: [E]very unwanted form of verbal, non- verbal or physical behaviour of sexual nature that aims to harm dignity of a person or group of persons, or has such effect, especially when this behaviour creates intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”[lxxiv]
However, sexual harassment remains a serious problem in BiH.[lxxv] As reported by the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2012, quoting the BiH Human Rights Ombudsman:
“Lately we have noted a significant increase in the number of complaints related to mobbing [repetitive and humiliating non-physical harassment]. . . . Many women fall victim to this form of employment discrimination. Another common form of discrimination against women in the workplace and the education system is sexual harassment. Little has been done to enforce the laws prohibiting this and other forms of discrimination.”[lxxvi]
Sexual Assault
The Criminal Code of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina prohibits sexual assault by force or threat of “immediate physical attack”, or by coercing another person into sex through the use “of serious threat to cause harm.”[lxxvii] The Criminal Code of the Federation of BiH also prohibits sexual abuse of a child, sexual intercourse with a helpless person, and sexual act by abuse of dependent or subordinate position.[lxxviii] The 2004 Criminal Code of the Republic of Srpska[lxxix] contains similar provisions on sexual assault, although it imposes slightly longer prison terms than in the Federation of BiH.[lxxx] The Criminal Code of the Republic of Srpska also does not contain a provision prohibiting the use of coercion to obtain sex, criminalizing only forcible rape. Both entity-level criminal codes prohibit spousal rape.[lxxxi] BiH has no national-level laws against sexual assault or rape, except as a crime against humanity in the context of war or conflict (see below).[lxxxii] 
According to the US State Department BiH Country Report for 2013, sexual assault is rarely reported by victims and remains underreported by authorities, due to social stigmas associated with rape and the failure of police to treat rape—especially spousal rape--as a serious offense.[lxxxiii]  An estimated 87 percent of cases of physical and/or sexual violence against women are not reported to the police.[lxxxiv] Because the applicable entity-level laws fail to define the terms and procedures for proving the rape, police lack clear guidance on whether and how they should arrest and charge an offender.
 
For example, the laws of the Federation of BiH and Republic of Srpska define sexual assault in terms of the force or coercive threats used by the perpetrator rather from than the aspect of non-consent of the victim. The UN Special Rapporteur reported that the national Court of BiH has recognized the lack of consent of the victim as satisfying the “force” requirement of BiH criminal law on rape, but such cases involve only conflict-related sexual violence prosecuted at the national level (see below) and not sexual assaults prosecuted in entity-level courts.[lxxxv]
 
Sexual Assaults and Rapes during the Bosnian War
Of special note in BiH, in a 1995 Periodic Report submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the government estimated that 25,000 to 30,000 Bosnian Muslims were raped as part of the ethnic cleansing campaign during the war.[lxxxvi] Croat and Serb women and girls were also victims of sexual violence during the war.[lxxxvii] Article 172 of the 2003 Criminal Code of BiH defines wartime sexual violence directed against a civilian population as a crime against humanity and “values protected by international law.”[lxxxviii] Specifically, Article 172(g) forbids: “Coercing another by force or by threat of immediate attack upon his life or limb, or the life or limb of a person close to him, to sexual intercourse or an equivalent sexual act (rape), sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity.”[lxxxix]
Uniquely, Article 172 also punishes “persecutions” on the grounds of sexual gender committed “in connection with any offense listed” in the BiH Criminal Code, including rapes and sexual violence.[xc] The OSCE reports that BiH recently achieved the first internationally known convictions for persecutions based on gender in three cases related to wartime rapes.[xci]
However, entity-level laws have not been harmonized with the national law of BiH, or international standards, and convictions for wartime sexual violence remain very low relative to the number of potential cases. As of April 2014, only 76 such cases had been prosecuted at any level of government in BiH, with 35 more in progress as of February 2014.[xcii] BiH adopted a National Strategy for War Crimes Processing in December 2008 to address the backlog of war crimes, including sexual assaults and violence.[xciii] Individual rapes of women by “rank and file soldiers” are considered less “serious” under the Strategy than war crimes such as torture, systematic sexual slavery, and genocide committed by high-ranking officials, and many rape cases are sent to sub-national courts that lack witness protection or support services for victims.[xciv] Thus, many victims fear the trauma and stigmatization of testifying and many perpetrators enjoy widespread immunity from prosecution for their crimes.[xcv]
Additionally, survivors of wartime sexual violence have received only limited reparations or other compensation, such as psychological support services.[xcvi] In July 2006, the Federation of BiH Assembly amended the “Law on Basics of Social Welfare, Welfare of Civilian Victims of War and Welfare of the Families with Children” and recognized women survivors of “war rape” as persons who can claim specific social and other rights.[xcvii] Article 54 now states, “Particular categories of the civil war victims are persons that survived sexual mistreatment and rape.”[xcviii] According to Amnesty International, the Republic of Srpska Law on the Protection of Civilian Victims of War allows survivors of rape to claim social protection, but the law limits protection to those who have suffered at least 60 percent bodily damage and who filed a claim before 2007, and the law does not cover psychological harm.[xcix] 
Trafficking in Women
In response to an influx of trafficking of women during the civil conflicts of the 1990s, the government of Bosnia & Herzegovina has taken steps to implement legislation and meet international standards for elimination of trafficking. BiH ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (“Palermo Protocol”) on April 24, 2002. In 2003 and again in 2010, the government of BiH amended its criminal code to comply with the Palermo Protocol as well as Council of Europe and EU standards, vesting the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina with jurisdiction over human trafficking.[c] Implementation and coordination of anti-trafficking law enforcement at all levels of government is the responsibility of the Bosnia & Herzegovina Ministry of Security, within the Council of Ministers.[ci]
 
Article 186 of the 2003 Criminal Code of BiH, as amended in 2010, states that the following shall be punished by not less than three years and up to 10 years imprisonment:
 
“[W]hoever, by use of force or threat of use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud or deception, abuse of power or influence or a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to obtain the consent of a person having control over another person, recruits, transports, transfers, hands over, harbours or receives a person for the purpose of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or service, slavery or similar status, servitude or the removal of organs of human body or of other types of exploitation.”[cii]
 
BiH has reportedly increased the minimum penalties for trafficking, from five to to 10 years in prison for trafficking in children, and from three to five years for trafficking in adults.[ciii] In addition, slavery and transport (Article 185), international procurement for prostitution (Article 187), unlawful withholding of papers (Article 188) and smuggling of persons (Article 189) are defined crimes.[civ]
 
The 2013 US TIP Report classifies BiH as a “Tier 2” country, meaning BH does not yet comply with “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” but is making progress towards that goal. Specifically, the 2013 US TIP Report criticizes the government of BiH for failing to amend sub-national laws in the Federation of BiH, the Republic of Srpska and the District of Brcko to criminalize all forms of trafficking in accord with the national laws of BiH and international requirements.[cv] The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) has also urged BiH to criminalize human trafficking in “all criminal codes applicable on the country’s territory.”[cvi]
 
The OSCE called on BiH to establish clear guidelines for entity and national level jurisdiction in trafficking cases to improve offender prosecution and victim protection.[cvii] In its 2013-2015 Strategy for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, the BiH Council of Ministers acknowledged these gaps in the government’s efforts to comply with national, international and EU standards, and recommended harmonization of all sub-national substantive criminal laws on trafficking.[cviii]Reportedly, the Republic of Srpska and the Brcko District have made recent progress in updating their anti-trafficking laws, although specific legislative language was not available as of April 2014.[cix]
 
The 2004 Criminal Code of Republic of Srpska punishes trade in human beings under Article 198, which states:
 
“Whoever, in order to get financial benefit, entices, incites or lures another into prostitution or whoever, in any way, enables turning a person over to another for the exercise of prostitution or whoever, in any way, takes part in organizing or managing prostitution, shall be punished by imprisonment for a term between six months and five years.[cx]
 
The Criminal Code of the Federation of BiH does not explicitly criminalize trafficking in persons, but punishes certain elements, including abduction and unlawful deprivation of freedom.[cxi] Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Federation of BiH, and Article 207 of Criminal Code of Brcko District outlaw “enticement to prostitution,” and a limited number of sex traffickers have been convicted under these statutes.[cxii]
 
In 2013, the government renewed its commitment to combat trafficking with the Strategy to Counter Trafficking in Human Beings in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a new national action plan for 2013 – 2015. [cxiii] Prosecution at the national level resumed during 2012 – 2013 after a decline from seven prosecutions in 2010 and eleven in 2009 to zero in 2011.[cxiv]  In the face of reports of government employees facilitating trafficking, the government convicted one official for a trafficking-related offense during the 2012-2013 reporting period.[cxv]
A lack of credible evidence and investigative intelligence impedes prosecution.  A study conducted by the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina indicates that police may be reporting trafficking at a higher level than prosecutors are investigating.[cxvi]  In one case, the court did not consider the testimony of a minor victim to be credible.  In another, the State Prosecutor’s Office terminated further investigation after the accidental death of the victim.[cxvii]   
Government efforts to protect victims of trafficking have improved, although many gaps remain.  By March 2013, the government allocated a regular budget line item for victims of trafficking, including funding for NGOs.  Article 54 of the 2008 Law on Movement and Stay of Aliens and Asylum allows trafficking victims to apply for temporary residence permits on “humanitarian grounds.”[cxviii] The BiH Rulebook on Foreign Victims grants foreign trafficking victims a 30-day “protected” reflection period during which victims may decide whether to cooperate with law enforcement and/or apply for a temporary residence permit.[cxix]  However, observers report that prosecutors continue to initiate deportation proceedings when a victim’s testimony will not lead to a successful prosecution, or soon after they provide testimony or a statement, without arranging for the safety of victims who may face retribution upon returning to their homes. [cxx] There are also reports of prosecutors threatening to deny victims protection and assistance if they do not testify against traffickers.[cxxi] NGOs or other social service professionals are rarely involved in identifying foreign trafficking victims.[cxxii]
Additionally, the 2013 US TIP Report noted that local laws allow police to treat trafficked girls over age 14 as criminals under “enticement to prostitution” statutes, rather than as victims in need of assistance.[cxxiii] The OSCE noted that the BiH criminal and criminal procedure codes do not include the OSCE principle of “non-punishment” of trafficking victims, with even children prosecuted for “violations of public order”.[cxxiv] The most recent BiH Strategy to Counter Trafficking in Human Beings recommends several improvements in victim assistance and protection, as well as strategies for addressing the root causes of trafficking in women and girls.[cxxv]
Two NGOs signed a Cooperation Protocol with the Ministry of Security, authorizing them to provide assistance (shelter, psychosocial support and legal assistance) to foreign trafficking victims.[cxxvi] Three NGOs signed an agreement with the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees to provide shelter and support to domestic women and girls who are victims of trafficking.[cxxvii] At least two other NGOs operate shelters for victims. All of these shelters offer varying levels of service to trafficking victims, ranging from one “high security shelter” in Sarajevo, to one room near the NGO’s offices.[cxxviii] NGOs that have signed agreements with the Ministry of Security must disclose all information about trafficking victims to the relevant prosecutor or police office, with or without the consent of the victim.[cxxix] Additionally, the NGOs reportedly receive financial support from the government only for services provided to women who are officially identified by prosecutors as trafficking victims.[cxxx] NGOs criticize this process as overly restrictive, denying many women access to essential services, including those trafficked for forced marriage or reasons other than sexual exploitation, or who did not want to cooperate with the prosecution.[cxxxi]
Other support services for victims may be provided by official “social welfare centres” (CSWs) in BiH, but such support is limited.[cxxxii] Additionally, observers note that these centres and the NGOs lack financial and human resources, severely limiting the assistance they can provide to victims.[cxxxiii] Victims are generally not offered “post-shelter” rehabilitation and reintegration services, either by the government or NGOs.[cxxxiv] Trafficking victims received minimum assistance such as that required by the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings only if they resided at a “recognized or authorized shelter.”[cxxxv] Otherwise, victims may not be eligible for legal services or other entitlements such as free health care or the right to work, particularly if the victim is foreign-born and lacking a legal residence permit.[cxxxvi]
Finally, the Criminal Codes of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Srpska and Brcko District address victim compensation. A victim may demand compensation from confiscated criminal proceeds. There are several procedural requirements outlined by each Code that must be met before such compensation is awarded. The government of BiH has acknowledged that the country lacks an efficient framework for compensating victims of trafficking but has no immediate plans to improve the process other than to increase confiscation of trafficking proceeds.[cxxxvii]


[i] The United Nations updates population data between censuses through sample household surveys. See United Nations Handbook on Social Indicators, Series F, No. 49, Department of International Economic and Social Affairs, Statistical Office, United Nations, New York, 1989, p. 20.
[ii] U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, “The World Factbook: Bosnia and Herzegovina,” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bk.html (accessed April 17, 2014).
[iii] Mirsad Tokaca, “The Bosnian Book of the Dead,” The Research and Documentation Center (Sarajevo, June 21, 2007).
[iv] Kirsten Young, “UNHCR and ICRC in the former Yugoslavia: Bosnia-Herzegovina,” International Review of the Red Cross 83, no. 843 (2001): 782-83, http://961.ch/eng/assets/files/other/781_806_young.pdf.
[v] U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, “The World Factbook: Bosnia and Herzegovina,” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bk.html (accessed April 17, 2014).
[vi] Ibid.
[vii] The General Framework Agreement: Annex 4, Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
[viii] Arbitral Tribunal for the Dispute over the Inter-Entity Boundary in the Brcko Area, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. The Republika Sprska, Final Award (March 5, 1999).
[ix] The General Framework Agreement: Annex 4, Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Amendment I.
[x] Ibid.
[xi] U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Bosnia and Herzegovina, last updated March 31, 2014.
[xii] International Crisis Group, “Brcko Usupervised,” Europe Briefing no. 66, December 8, 2011.
[xiii] The current High Representative is an Austrian diplomat named Valentin Inzko. He is the seventh High Representative, and took office in March 2009.
[xvi] Ibid.
[xviii] Ibid.
[xix] The General Framework Agreement: Annex 4, Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, art. II, sec. 4.
[xx] Law On Gender Equality In Bosnia And Herzegovina (2003), Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 16/03.
[xxi] Consolidated Law on Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2010), Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 32/10.
[xxii] Ibid., art. 1.
[xxiii] Ibid., arts. 2-5.
[xxiv] Ibid., art. 29.
 
[xxv] The Law on Prohibition of Discrimination(2009), Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 59/09..
[xxvi] Ibid., art. 13.
[xxvii] Consolidated Law on Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina(2010), arts. 25, 26, Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovinano. 32/10.
[xxviii] Decision on Establishment of the Gender Center of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Official Gazette of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina nos. 53/00, 64/05. Description of Gender Center in English at http://www.fbihvlada.gov.ba/english/uredi%20i%20sluzbe/gender_centar.php.
[xxix] Consolidated Law on Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina(2010), Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 32/10.
[xxx] Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Gender Action Plan of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Adopted at the 129th Session of the Council of Ministries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 14, 2006.
[xxxi] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, “Bosnia and Herzegovina: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013."
[xxxii] Centre for Political Studies, Initiative for Monitoring BiH’s European Integration, “Shadow Report on the Progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European Union Accession Process,” 52 (Sarajevo, 2013).
[xxxiii] Meri Musa & Will Richard, Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Still a long way to go,Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe: Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 8, 2012.
[xxxiv] Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Gender Action Plan of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013-2017,” in Official Gazette of Bosnia and Heregovina no. 98/13, (Sarajevo, 2013).
[xxxv] U.N. General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Twenty-Third Session, Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, Addendum, Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, A/HRC/23/49/Add.3, June 4, 2013.
[xxxvi] Ibid.
[xxxvii] Ibid.
[xxxviii] Consolidated Law on Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina(2010), arts. 6(3)(a), 6(4), Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovinano. 32/10.
[xxxix] Ibid, art. 6(4).
[xl] Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Gender Action Plan of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013-2017,” in Official Gazette of Bosnia and Heregovina no. 98/13, 10 (Sarajevo, 2013).
[xli] Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Strategy for prevention and combat against domestic violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina for period of 2009 – 2011,” (Sarajevo, 2009), available for download from http://legislationline.org/topics/country/40/topic/7. 
[xlii] U.N. General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Twenty-Third Session, Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, Addendum, Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, A/HRC/23/49/Add.3, pars. 36, 39, June 4, 2013.
[xliii] Law on Protection from Domestic Violence in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2013), Official Gazette of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 20/13; and see Republic of Srpska, Law on Protection from Domestic Violence (2012), Official Gazette of Republic of Srpska no. 120/12.
[xliv] European Commission, Commission Staff Working Document, “Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013 Progress Report,” Accompanying the document Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2013-2014, SWD(2013) 415, 17 (Brussels, October 16, 2013).
[xlv] Law on Protection from Domestic Violence in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2013), Official Gazette of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 20/13.
[xlvi] Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Prevalence and Characteristics of Violence Against Women in BiH,” sec.1.2.1, June 2013.
[xlvii] Ibid.
[xlviii] Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Ensuring Accountability for Domestic Violence: An analysis of sentencing in domestic violence criminal proceedings in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” 15 (Sarajevo, 2011).
[xlix] Ibid.
[l] Criminal Code of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, art. 183, Official Gazette of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina nos. 36/03, 37/03, 21/04, 69/04, 18/05, 42/10, and 42/11.
[li] Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Prevalence and Characteristics of Violence Against Women in BiH,” sec. 1.2.1, 2013.
[lii] Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, pars. 36, 39. See also: Republic of Srpska, Law on Protection from Domestic Violence 2012, Official Gazette of Republic of Srpska 120/ 12, November 5, 2012.
[liii] Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Prevalence and Characteristics of Violence Against Women in BiH,” sec.1.2.2, June 2013.
[liv] Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, par. 39.
[lv] Ibid.
[lvi] US Department of State Country Reports, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013.
[lvii] Law on Protection from Domestic Violence (2012), Official Gazette of Republic of Srpska no. 120/ 12.
[lviii] Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Prevalence and Characteristics of Violence Against Women in BiH,” sec.1.2.2, June 2013.
[lix] US Department of State Country Reports, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013.
[lx] Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, pars. 73-4.
[lxi] Ibid.
[lxii] Ibid., 82.
[lxiii] Ibid., 85.
[lxiv] Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Ensuring Accountability for Domestic Violence: An analysis of sentencing in domestic violence criminal proceedings in Bosnia and Herzegovina” (Sarajevo, 2011).
[lxv] Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, par. 87.
[lxvi] Ibid.
[lxvii] US Department of State Country Reports, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013
[lxviii] Ibid.; Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Gender Action Plan of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013-2017”, 2013.
[lxix] Edita Miftari, “Economic and Social Rights of Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2012-2013,” 7 (Sarajevo Open Centre, 2013).
[lxx] Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, par. 80
[lxxi] Ibid., 78.
[lxxii] Ibid., 78-80.
[lxxiii] Consolidated Law on Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina(2010), Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovinano. 32/10.
[lxxiv] Ibid, 5(2).
[lxxv] US Department of State Country Reports, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013
[lxxvi] Meri Musa & Will Richard, Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Still a long way to go,Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe: Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 8, 2012.
[lxxvii] Criminal Code of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2003), arts. 203(1) and 206(1), Official Gazette of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina nos. 36/03, 37/03, 21/04, 69/04, 18/05, 42/10, and 42/11.
[lxxviii] Ibid., 204(1), 205(1) and 207(1).
[lxxix] Criminal Code of Republika Srpska (2004), Official Gazette of Republika Srpska, nos. 49/03, 108/04.
[lxxx] Criminal Code Of Republika Srpska (2004), Official Gazette of Republika Srpskanos. 49/03, 108/04, arts. 193(1), 194(1), 195(1), and 196(1).
[lxxxi] US Department of State Country Reports, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013