Views adopted by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women – communication No. 116/2017

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) must ensure that a Bosnian Croatian woman who was raped by a Bosnian Serb soldier during de Balkan war in 1995, receives full reparation for her material and moral damages and rehabilitation of her dignity and reputation. That is the (non-binding) decision of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the Committee) in a case brought by TRIAL International, representing the victim. Click here to read the decision.

The Committee stressed that gender-based violence against women is discrimination within the meaning the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the Convention). Under the Convention, States have a due diligence obligation to tackle discrimination, including sexual violence by, among other things, conducting effective investigations, punishing the perpetrators and by providing reparations to victims. The Committee found that the BiH (police)authorities failed on all these counts (para. 8.6) and, abstracting from this specific case, recommended BiH to clean up its act (para. 10).

On top, the Committee underscored that apart from discrimination, wartime gender-based violence against women, such as rape, may also constitute a war crime (para. 8.3).