Amnesty: General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina

THE GENERAL FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT: ANNEX 7

Agreement on Refugees and Displaced Persons

Article VI: Amnesty

Any returning refugee or displaced person charged with a crime, other than a serious violation of international humanitarian law as defined in the Statute of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia since January 1, 1991 or a common crime unrelated to the conflict, shall upon return enjoy an amnesty. In no case shall charges for crimes be imposed for political or other inappropriate reasons or to circumvent the application of the amnesty.

Implementation History

1995

No Implementation

No information was found for 1995.

1996

Intermediate Implementation

The High Representative for the implementation of the civilian aspect of the peace accords informed the UN Secretary General in his first report that he had encouraged “both the Federation BiH (sic) and Republika Srpska (sic) to adopt amnesty laws covering all crimes except war crimes as defined by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia or crimes unrelated to the conflict.” According to the High Representative, the law would “help both reconciliation and freedom of movement."1

On 12 February 1996 members of the parliament (Federation level) passed the new law following a two hour debate. Under the law "all individuals who committed criminal acts (related to the conflict) except those who committed acts of violation of international humanitarian law as defined by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will be subject to amnesty."2 As of 23 March, according to the Office of the High Representative (OHR), the Republika Srpska was yet to adopt the amnesty law.3

In his December 10th report, OHR High Representative informed the UN Secretary General that the amnesty law in the Republika Srpska was passed, but there was a fundamental flaw, as it excluded persons who deserted or avoided military conscription, which he suggested “must be corrected."4

1997

Intermediate Implementation

The OHR High Representative informed the UN Secretary General that the Republika Srpska was yet to amend its amnesty law to extend coverage to persons who deserted or avoided military conscription. According to the report, such delays would “pose a substantial obstacle to return of refugees and displaced people and contribute to ethnic division (sic)."5

1998

Intermediate Implementation

It was reported that the establishment of Entity Mine Action Centers as bodies within the Entity governments resulted in the Mines, Ordnance and Other Warlike Materials Amnesty, which supported an amnesty specifically aimed to those who voluntarily gave up their weapons. In one report, the OHR High Representative urged the Bosnia and Herzegovina Authorities “to enact legislation so that such an amnesty can be implemented by the Entities in conjunction with SFOR and the UN IPTF.”6

In his report, the OHR High Representative mentioned that the Republika Srpska avoided introducing politically sensitive legislation, such as amnesty legislation, to the National Assembly before election.7

1999

Full Implementation

The OHR High Representative reported to the UN Secretary General that “On 24 December 1998, the Republika Srpska National Assembly passed a Law on Amnesty which amends the previous Law on Amnesty's exclusion of deserters and draft dodgers from legal protection. It also extends the amnesty period to the point at which the conflict ended de facto, and makes the amnesty explicitly retroactive. This is an improvement on the previous legal regime and a major step by Republika Srpska towards fulfilling its obligations under Annex 7, Article 6. My Office is still working with the Republika Srpska Ministry of Justice to draft an amendment which would clear up some minor outstanding issues.”8 In the subsequent report to the UN Secretary General, the High Representative stated that President Poplasen refused to sign the law; therefore, the law did not come into force.9

The RS national assembly readopted the amnesty law on 23 July, overriding the earlier veto by the President.10 As of 1999, the amnesty law was adopted and implemented in both Entities.

2000

Full Implementation

There were no further reports; the Amnesty provision in the accord was fully implemented in 1999.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.