Durić v. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Relatives as Victims | Right to Know the Truth | State/Non-State Agents | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Justice and Truth

The Committee held that the term “enforced disappearance” may be used in an extended sense, referring to disappearances initiated by forces independent of, or hostile to, a State party, and not only in relation to disappearances attributable to a State party, comparing the different definitions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. In light of the fact that the State did not provide information as to the status of the investigation into the victim's disappearance and did not comply with the Constitutional Court's decision, the Committee found violations of the victim's right to life, right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment and right to liberty and security. For the same reasons, the Committee also made a finding of inhuman treatment with respect to the victim's family, taking into account the anguish and distress caused to them by the continuing uncertainty resulting from the disappearance. Finally, the Committee reiterated that to oblige families of disappeared persons to have the family member declared dead, in order to be eligible for compensation, while the investigation is ongoing, makes the availability of compensation dependent on a harmful process, and thus constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment.

Judgment Date

July 16, 2014

Country

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Judicial Body

Human Rights Committee

Articles violated

Article 2(3) [ICCPR], Article 6 [ICCPR], Article 7 [ICCPR], Article 9 [ICCPR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 10 [ICCPR], Article 16 [ICCPR]

Facts of the Case

In May 1992, in the context the armed conflict taking place in the country, Mr. Ibrahim Durić disappeared together with a friend after being stopped at a checkpoint and interrogated by members of the Army of Republika Srpska while he was travelling to take a wounded neighbour to the hospital. On the day of the disappearance, the wife of Mr. Durić's friend tried to ascertain their fate and whereabouts, and was told that both had been taken to the military barracks of the National Yugoslav Army to be interrogated. In the following days, she heard rumours that Mr. Durić and his friend had been arbitrarily killed, but she did not receive any official information from the authorities.

After the war, the remains of Mr. Durić's friend were found in a suburb which was under the control of the Army of Republika Srpska during the conflict. In 2002, Mr. Durić's mother obtained certificates stating that Mr. Durić was registered as missing since May 1992 by both national authorities and the ICRC. In September 2003, Mr. Durić was declared dead as of May 1992, with the place of death fixed as the place where his friend's body had been found. The declaration of death was necessary for Mr. Durić’s mother to be entitled to a pension. Despite a 2006 Constitutional Court's decision ordering the authorities to provide all accessible and available information on Mr. Durić, the relevant institutions did not provide any information on his whereabouts. Mr. Durić's mother applied over a period of 17 years to various official authorities, but never received any plausible information as to his fate.

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