Global Policy Forum

UN Chief Urges Need for "Accountability" for Srebrenica

At an event honoring the victims of the Srebrenica massacre, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon emphasized the need to ensure that justice is brought upon those responsible for killing over 8,000 Bosniaks 15 years ago.  He noted that reconciliation and the securing of trust and peace after conflict depends on bringing perpetrators to account.  The ICC deemed the Srebrenica events to be genocide, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicted 21 people and sentenced them to a total of 476 years in prison.  But the Secretary-General and others suggest that there is still much more to be done.


By Clive Levieve-Sawyer

July 13, 2010
Sofia Echo


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has emphasised the need to ensure accountability for those involved in the massacre of Muslim men and boys 15 years ago by Bosnian Serb forces after they took over Srebrenica, which had been declared a safe haven by the Security Council.

"Until all those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes face those charges and are judged, our quest for justice, and the path towards healing, will remain incomplete," Ban told an event at United Nations Headquarters to honour the victims, the UN News Service said.

About 8000 Muslims were killed by Bosnian Serb forces that overran Srebrenica, the largest such massacre on European soil since the founding of the UN.

"We recognise the burden of families and loved ones who carry the memories and pain with each step," Ban said. "And, we vow, together, never again to allow such an atrocity to happen at any any place."

He said that while the region had made progress over the past 15 years, including efforts to promote reconciliation, there is still a long way to go.

The emergence of respect and trust after conflict depends heavily on bringing perpetrators to account, Ban said. "Truth must be told. Justice must be done."

Ban said that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had found that the horror of Srebrenica constituted a crime of genocide, and that these institutions are contributing significantly to the ongoing fight against impunity.

"The work of the International Criminal Court (ICC)...our efforts to protect civilians...our increased vigilance for early signs of genocide or other grave crimes...are all meant to reduce the risk of another such assault on innocents - and to fully prepare us if it does come," Ban said.

"The age of impunity has passed, and the age of accountability is now taking over."

The ICTY has indicted 21 people for crimes committed in Srebrenica. They include Radislav Krstić, the first individual to be convicted by the Tribunal of aiding and abetting genocide in Srebrenica. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Just last month, the Tribunal jailed two former top Bosnian Serb military officers - Vujadin Popović and Ljubiša Beara - for life after convicting them of genocide for their role in the 1995 massacre.

The trials of then Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadžić and several others are ongoing. Ratko Mladić, the war-time leader of the Bosnian Serb forces, who is also charged with genocide in Srebrenica, however, still remains at large.

According to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network's Justice Report, those responsible for the killings at Srebrenica have so far been sentenced to a total of 476 years in prison, including two life sentences.

In a joint statement, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and European Commissioner Stefan Fuele "Srebrenica is today a silent memorial to something that should have never happened and must never happen again".

For the survivors of Srebrenica, their pain and their grief will remain till the end of their days, the joint statement said.

"Remembrance brings consolation at best. But reconciling for the future is a promise that we must pursue for the next generation. It depends on justice being served.

"Full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia remains both urgent and essential. Return and social integration of those displaced during the war is also part of the process, of restoring individual rights and building a common future in defiance of the crimes of war," Ashton and Fuele said.

The European experience of the past six decades proves that a joint perspective can heal many wounds and create conditions for prosperity and a better future. Gradual reconciliantion can open new ways, they said.

"This is what the European Union wants for the survivors of Srebrenica - and for all the citizens of the Western Balkans. Justice for the victims pursued through the courts and a better European future for all, ensuring peace and stability and the rule of law," Ashton and Fuele said.





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