Rizvanović v. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

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

Themes: Justice and Truth | Characteristics of the Crime

The Committee found a violation of the victim's right to life, right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment, and right to liberty and security, due to the fact that no specific measures were undertaken to investigate his arbitrary deprivation of liberty, ill-treatment and enforced disappearance, and no information was provided as to his fate and whereabouts. The Committee also made a finding of inhuman treatment with respect to the victim's family, in light of the fact that the limited information that they obtained throughout the proceedings was only provided to them at their own request or after very long delays. Finally, the Committee found that to oblige families of disappeared persons to have their family member declared dead in order to be eligible for compensation while the investigation was still ongoing, makes the availability of compensation dependent on a harmful process, and thus constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment.

Judgment Date

March 21, 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 2(1) [ICCPR], Article 10 [ICCPR], Article 16 [ICCPR], Article 26 [ICCPR]

Facts of the Case

In July 1992, in the context of the armed conflict taking place in the country, members of the Army of Republika Srpska and paramilitary groups surrounded a village and apprehended a number civilians, including Mr. Mensud Rizvanović. According to witnesses, Mr. Rizvanović was taken to a concentration camp where he and the other men were detained in inhumane conditions, and were frequently beaten and ill-treated. Mr. Rizvanović was last seen alive by witnesses in life-threatening circumstances in the hands of the guards of the facility, who were allegedly taking him and other men to an unknown location to perform forced labour. His fate and whereabouts remain unknown since then. More than 18 years after his disappearance, no investigation has been carried out by the authorities, despite the efforts made by his family. In November 2003, Mr. Rizvanović was declared dead. Such declaration was necessary for Mr. Rizvanović's wife to have access to a pension and a social allowance as a relative of a missing person. Despite a 2007 Constitutional Court's decision ordering the authorities to provide all accessible and available information on people who went missing during the war, the relevant institutions did not provide any information on Mr. Rizvanović's whereabouts. In 2008, Mr. Rizvanović's wife obtained certificates stating that he was registered as missing by both national authorities and the ICRC.

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