Wire service reports on Bosnia
November 8, 2004
Originally posted at http://www.haverford.edu/relg/sells/reports/RSCommssion7800.htm by Michael Sells
Report finds massacre planned
The Associated Press
November 8, 2004
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nov 8 (AP) -- A Serb commission's final report on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre acknowledged that the mass murder of more than 7,800 Muslim men and boys was planned, an international official said today. The report on the worst massacre of civilians since World War II was presented to the Bosnian Serb Government last month, but has not yet been made public.
"The report itself admits and provides details of the plan and deliberate liquidation of thousands of Bosniaks by the Bosnian Serb forces," said Bernard Fassier, the deputy to Bosnia's top international administrator, Paddy Ashdown.
Although Bosnian Serbs have long been blamed for the massacre, it was not until June - following the Srebrenica commission's preliminary report - that Serb officials acknowledged that their security forces carried out the slaughter.
The number of victims has long been disputed, with Bosnian Muslim officials claiming up to 8,000 men and boys were killed in Srebrenica.
Mr Fassier said the commission found that more than 7,800 were killed after it compiled 34 lists of victims.
He said the report "is naming names of persons that could be perpetrators" of the massacre, but declined to give any details.
Several Bosnian Serb troops and commanders have been convicted by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for their
roles in the Srebrenica killings.
Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, his top general, are wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity
in Srebrenica and elsewhere during the 1992-1995 war.
Mr Fassier said the commission of judges and lawyers formed by the Bosnian Serb government last year accomplished a historic task
that would "without any doubt contribute to the reconciliation in the future".
He praised the Bosnian Serb government for its "official recognition of the responsibility for the deliberate large-scale atrocities that took place in Srebrenica".
The final report included information on the location of 34 mass graves where some of the victims were presumed to have been buried, he said.
Exhumations from the sites had to be carried out, and the victims had to be identified, Mr Fassier said.
So far, the remains of about 18,000 victims from different ethnic groups who died in the war have been exhumed from more than 300 mass graves across the country.
Nearly 1200 Srebrenica victims have been identified through DNA analysis.
The peace agreement that ended the war left the country divided into a Bosnian Serb mini-state and a Muslim-Croat federation. Both have separate governments, police and army and are linked only by joint state institutions.
The Bosnian war - which pitted Serbs opposed to Bosnia's independence from the former Yugoslavia against Muslims and Croats backing it - claimed about 260,000 lives and left about 20,000 missing and presumed dead.
8 November 2004
Bosnian Serbs admit more than 7,800 killed at Srebrenica: official
SARAJEVO, Nov 8 (AFP) - The Bosnian Serb government has publicly admitted that more than 7,800 Muslims were massacred by Serb forces at Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia in 1995, a senior official of the international body supervising Bosnia-Hercegovina said Monday.
Last month the government of the Serb-run Republika Srpska (RS) was said to have accepted an official report that over 7,000 Muslims were killed in the massacre, Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.
"The list includes the names of more than 7,800 people who have disappeared and it will have to be brought further up to date (revised higher) before being made public," Bernard Fassier, senior deputy high representative of the international organisation (OHR) overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement in Bosnia, said.
"This list should put an end to the manipulation of these figures," Fassier said.
"That represents a turning point compared with the official position which used to deny" the reality, he said.
Hitherto the Bosnian Serb authorities have sought to play down the numbers of those killed, to the outrage of the relatives of the dead and the wider international community.
"The report recognises and gives details of the preplanned murders of thousands of (Muslim) Bosnians by the Serbian armed forces," Fassier said.
He said that the international community was still waiting for the RS -- which with the Croat-Muslim federation has constituted Bosnia since the end of the 1992-1995 war -- to arrest those charged with the massacre by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague who are currently fugitives.
The UN had declared Srebrenica a safe haven but it was seized by Bosnian Serb forces on July 11 1995. The Dutch forces responsible for protecting the enclave failed to prevent the massacre.
Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic have been on the run since being charged in 1995 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, including for their role in the Srebrenica massacre.
Federation News Agency
08 November 2004
OHR ON SREBRENICA COMMISSION'S REPORT
SARAJEVO, November 8 (FENA) - The Senior Deputy High Representative, Bernard Fassier, on Monday said that he was pleased that the BiH Constitutional Court's Human Rights Commissionıs assessment of the Srebrenica Commission's Report was largely positive, although it is stated that much work needs to be done if this process is to be completed fully.
Today, OHR received a copy of the letter that the BiH Constitutional Court's Commission for Human Rights sent to Prime Minister Mikerevic, giving him their assessment of the RS's Srebrenica report endorsed by the RS Government.
Speaking at today's press conference, SDHR Fassier said that despite many obstacles the RS Governments Srebrenica Commission has bravely and determinedly accomplished a historic task that will, without doubt, contribute to reconciliation in the future and benefit BiH's future generations.
I commend the Commission's work, stressed Fassier, adding that a
number of positive elements must be recognized, such as the fact that
the RS Government adopted the report in its entirety and endorsed its
recommendations is a positive indicator - the report itself admits and
provides details of the planned and deliberate liquidation of thousands of
Bosniaks by RS forces. The RS Government's conclusions adopted last week
represent a dramatic u-turn from the RS's initial official position of
denial, obfuscation and concealment; second, the RS Government's stated
determination to collect more documents and continue their investigation
into this crime; third, the official RS recognition - that began in
June this year - of their responsibility for the deliberate, large-scale,
atrocities that took place in Srebrenica - the worst in Europe since WWII
and qualified by the ICTY as genocide.
In addition, Fassier underlined the RS commitment to bring to justice
all those indicted of war crimes and to proceed with prosecutions, and
OHR expects the RS to provide all incriminating evidence to RS, BiH and
ICTY Prosecutors for further investigation and trial.
He also underlined the expression by the RS Government of sympathy and condolence with the victims' families.
The Commission's work to unified consolidate the 34 various lists of
people reported missing from Srebrenica events. The OHR understands that
this list, which already numbers 7,800 missing, and that can be updated,
will be made accessible to the public by the RS authorities. This list
should bring to an end the manipulation of these numbers that has been
evident in recent years.
However, said Fassier, a large amount of work remains though, adding
that exhumations, identifications, investigations and prosecutions
have just started and for the victims and their families this process
must be completed fully.
The Commission has located many potential mass grave sites which
may contain Srebrenica victims and that now must be exhumed and the
mortal remains identified to enable their families to provide a
dignified burial for their loved ones.
Furthermore, the OHR calls on all relevant authorities and institutions
to pool international and BiH efforts in the exhumation of remains in the
interests of the victims families whose pain is multiplied by not knowing
the whereabouts of their loved ones.
The OHR expects that the RS Government will confirm its commitment
to fulfill the remaining elements of the BiH Human Rights Commission's decisions.
Let me add with this positive assessment given the Human Rights
Commission, the OHR's role in this process, aimed at ensuring that the
Human Rights Commission's decision was upheld, can now be scaled back -
though the IC will continue to monitor progress.
I expect that the RS Government will honour its remaining obligation
in the HR's Decision - including the payment of 2 million KM - as
ordered by the HR in March 2003.
Let me stress that the successes here, through this RS Commission could
offer a model for the investigation of other crimes committed in BiH
and I hope that the RS and relevant BiH authorities will take up the
opportunity that this moment offers.
In conclusion let me say that I am fully aware that a report cannot
replace a loved one tragically lost, a loss suffered by so many. But
I sincerely hope that this first breach in this wall of silence will
at least ease the pain suffered during these years by those who await
even the most basic answers, emphasized SDHR Bernard Fassier.
Responding to journalist questions, Fassier responded that he does not
know when the report would be announced, but that he is certain that the
RS Government would make the report available to the public, associations
and the relevant organizations in this field.
Federation News Agency
08 November 2004
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION'S LETTER TO DRAGAN MIKEREVIC
SARAJEVO, November 8 (FENA) The Human Rights Commission within the BiH Constitutional Court today addressed a letter to RS Prime Minister Dragan Mikerevic.
The letter states: The Human Rights Commission within the Constitutional
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ("the Commission") has received and
reviewed the Report of the Commission for investigation of the events in
and around Srebrenica between 10th and 19th July 1995 ("the Srebrenica
Commission", established by the decision of the Republika Srpska
Government on 15 December 2003) entitled The events in and around
Srebrenica between 10th and 19th July 1995 and its attachments and the
Addendum to the Report of 11th June 2004 on the events in and around
Srebrenica between 10th and 19th July 1995 and its attachments, (both
documents are referred to below as the "Srebrenica Report"). The Commission
has also received the Conclusions of the Republika Srpska Government
adopted during its special session on 28 October 2004. Although not
usually its practice, the Commission deemed it warranted in this
exceptional case to provide a written response to the efforts undertaken
towards the implementation of the Human Rights Chamber's orders in case
nos. CH/01/8365 et al., Ferida Selimovic and others v. The Republika
Srpska. As a preliminary matter, the Commission notes that these comments
in no way prejudice any further claims which any of the applicants
in the above decision may assert, or the competence of the Commission
or its successor institution to order additional relief.
The Commission welcomes the Conclusions of the Republika Srpska
Government, and in particular notes the significance of the Republika
Srpska Government's acceptance of the Srebrenica Report in its entirety.
The Srebrenica Report provides details of the planned and deliberate
liquidation of thousands of Bosniaks at the hands of the Republika Srpska
Army. Most significantly, the Government of the Republika Srpska has
extended a sincere apology to the survivors of Srebrenica for the tragedy
that they suffered. The Commission observes that the message conveyed
in the Conclusions signals a dramatic turnaround from previous official
public statements regarding the Srebrenica events, and it welcomes the
Republika Srpska's recognition of its responsibility for the massacre of
between 7,000 to 8,000 Bosniaks. It is the Commission's sincere hope that
this apology will be conveyed in a meaningful and public manner to all of
the survivors of Srebrenica, and to the Bosniak community of Bosnia and
Herzegovina as a whole.
The Commission acknowledges that the Srebrenica Commission faced a
daunting task and, at least initially, a lack of cooperation from the
relevant authorities of the Republika Srpska. Despite these obstacles,
the Srebrenica Commission has produced, without a doubt, a document
of historic significance that will benefit generations to come. The
Commission commends their work. The Commission underscores that the
work of the Srebrenica Commission is a significant step forward for the
Republika Srpska, but the Commission also concludes that a great amount of
work remains to be done. The Commission hopes that the work accomplished
and the work to be done will contribute to the greater goal of lasting
reconciliation among the communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Commission recalls that the Srebrenica Commission stated that
one of its most important tasks was to disclose the locations of
previously unknown mass graves of Srebrenica victims. Its work appears
to have resulted in the disclosure of many previously unknown grave sites.
The Commission also notes that the Srebrenica Commission, as it details in
the Addendum, included several specific recommendations for further work
related to mass graves and exhumations. Namely, the competent authorities
should continue to document and gather facts related to potential mass
grave sites and the competent authorities should also identify funds to
speed up this process. The Commission welcomes these recommendations,
particularly in light of the fact that this will contribute to locating
and identifying the remains of missing persons and bringing an end
to the uncertainty of the surviving family members. The Commission is also
encouraged by the Srebrenica Commission's emphasis on the important role
of the Missing Persons Institute in carrying out further work to determine
the fate of missing persons.
In view of the fact that the Republika Srpska suggests that the manner
and methodology of the Srebrenica Commission's work should serve as
a model for future investigations of crimes in all parts of Bosnia
and Herzegovina, the Commission is confident that the Republika Srpska
intends to make the report public. The Commission welcomes that intention.
The Commission attaches great importance to the Republika Srpska
Government's statement of commitment to bring ail persons who committed
war crimes to justice. The Commission notes that the Srebrenica Commission
specifically recommended that the competent authorities should cooperate
with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in
The Hague ("ICTY"), as well as re-examine the employment of war crimes
suspects in governmental bodies, institutions and public service. The
Commission also recalls that the Srebrenica Commission's Report states
that incriminating information was deliberately left out of the Report.
The Commission expects that this information and evidence will be promptly
submitted to the relevant criminal justice authorities of the Republika
Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the ICTY for further investigation and prosecution.
The Commission recalls that the Chamber received over 1800 applications
from family members of persons who went missing from Srebrenica in July
1995. In case no. CH/01/8365 et al., Ferida Selimovic and others v.
The Republika Srpska, the Chamber addressed 49 applications specifically,
but issued orders which would also provide a remedy for all families of
missing persons from the events in Srebrenica in July 1995. There is still
much work to do. Further investigations, exhumations and identifications
of victims are urgently needed. Family members of missing persons need
specific and detailed information about the fate of their loved ones in
each case. They need to obtain their mortal remains in order to bury their
loved ones in accordance with their traditions and beliefs, and they need
to see the perpetrators of the crimes brought to justice. The Commission
urges the Republika Srpska to act on its commitments and to fulfill the
orders set forth in the Selimovic and others decision. The family members
of missing persons are still waiting, is stated in the letter of the
Constitutional Court's Human Rights Commission addressed to RS Prime
Minister Dragan Mikerevic.