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Bosnia/Herzegovina: Peace Without Justice

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *

17 November 2000 EUR 63/014/2000 218/00

Nearly five years have passed since the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed, yet Bosnia-Herzegovina's governments and the international community have a long way to go before there is a just peace for people in the region, Amnesty International said today as the parties involved meet again in Dayton, Ohio.

"Approximately one million refugees and displaced people are still unable to return to their homes or rebuild their lives elsewhere," Amnesty International added.

Massive human rights violations took place during the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These violations will not be redressed until all refugees and displaced persons are able to freely return home, until all suspects indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia are arrested and until the fate of the estimated 17,500 "disappeared" is resolved.

"Although the Dayton Peace Agreement equipped Bosnia-Herzegovina with some of the world's most sophisticated human rights monitoring and protection institutions, for many Bosnians, in reality, the term human rights still has little meaning,"Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International calls on the governments meeting to discuss the next phase of the Dayton Peace Agreement, to honour their existing obligations. The human rights provisions of the agreement will not be fulfilled until all parties to the Agreement live up to their financial and political commitments.

Despite a reported significant increase in refugee returns during 2000, Amnesty International has identified persistent barriers to sustainable return. These include the obstruction of people's access to their pre-war housing, the reluctance of the local police to act against the perpetrators of return-related violence, and the fact that many individuals suspected of war crimes remain at large. The decline in international financial support for return and reconstruction, and the lack of social and economic rights for returnees in many parts of Bosnia further inhibits sustainable return.

Amnesty International supports the calls by the Tribunal's Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte to countries supplying troops to the Stabilization Force to increase their efforts to arrest suspects - including Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, publicly indicted by the Tribunal. The organization urges the Republika Srpska (RS) to adopt and implement legislation providing for full cooperation with the Tribunal and asks both the RS and the new Yugoslav government to arrest indicted suspects on their territory and transfer them to the Tribunal.

Recognizing the need for domestic courts to complement the vast task undertaken by the Tribunal, the organization urges that war crimes prosecutions before Bosnian courts are conducted impartially, independently and in accordance with international standards.

"The parties meeting today should also make every effort to assist the relatives of the 'disappeared' - and organizations working on their behalf - to establish the fate of their loved ones. The suffering of the families amounts to torture," Amnesty International said. "ENDS.../

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For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or visit our website at http://www.amnesty.org

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