CEDAW/C/76/D/116/2017 Background 1. The author of the communication is S.H., a Bosnian national of Croat ethnicity. The author is a survivor of a rape allegedly perpetrated by a member of the Bosnian Serb forces in 1995, during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. She claims that the State party has violated her rights under articles 1, 2 (a)–(f), 3, 12, 13 (a) and (b) and 15 (1) of the Convention. The Convention and the Optional Protocol thereto entered into force for the State party on 1 October 1993 and 4 December 2002, respectively. The author is represented by counsel, TRIAL International, a non-governmental organization (NGO). Facts as submitted by the author 2.1 In 1995, the author was living with her husband in the municipality of Prijedor, 1 Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a village occupied by the Bosnian Serb forces (Vojska Republike Srpske, VRS) since 1993. 2 On 25 August 1995, at around 5 p.m., the author was alone at home when four armed men, dressed in a combination of plain clothes and camouflage uniforms and carrying rifles, entered her house. The author believ es that they were members of VRS. 3 They addressed her in derogatory terms related to her ethnicity and stole her belongings. While three of the men went outside, one remained inside the house and ordered the author to take her clothes off. When she refused to do so, the man pushed her on to a couch, and raped her, with vaginal penetration. After hearing a shot outside, the men left the house and the author managed to escape to the nearby woods. She did not tell her family or neighbours about the rape out of shame. 2.2 In September 1995, accompanied by her sister-in-law, the author reported the incident at the police station in Ljubija, a town near Prijedor. She could not obtain a copy of her report to the police, and the case was not followed by any investigation. 2.3 For many years, even after the end of the Bosnian war, the author did not actively pursue her case out of fear of being stigmatized and in the hope that the authorities would finally investigate her case on the basis of her initial compl aint of 1995. However, in 2008, when she inquired at the police station in Ljubija about the progress made in the investigation into her case, she was informed that the files had been burned 10 years after the offence. Shocked by that response, the author decided to approach the Social Work Centre in Prijedor to seek justice. The Centre referred her to several NGOs. On 6 November 2008, the author provided the Association of Women Victims of War with the details of the events of 1995. On 26 January 2009, the Association, with the author’s approval, brought a criminal case to the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 2.4 As no evident progress was being made on the investigation into her case, between 2009 and 2014, the author repeatedly presented her allegations to the police stations in Ljubija and Prijedor, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Human Rights Ombudsperson Institution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the District Prosecutor’s Office in Banja Luka. Although most of the cor respondence remained unanswered, she received several responses, including from the police station in Ljubija on 17 September 2012 and the police station in Prijedor on 4 December 2012, 16 January 2013 and 17 February 2014. However, the letter from the Prijedor police station in December 2012 informed her only that the police had not __________________ 1 2 3 2/16 Now in the Republika Srpska, an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The majority of the village’s inhabitants were Croats. The author alleges that, from the time it was occupied, members of VRS committed rape and sexual violence in the village in the context of ethnic cleansing. The author believed that this was the case on the basis of the fact tha t only members of VRS could move freely in the village under their control. 20-11100

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