MIP participates in two-day international conference on detention camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Prijedor and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
A collage of images from the conferences held in Prijedor and Sarajevo

On 30 and 31 May 2024, the Mechanism Information Programme for Affected Communities (MIP) participated in a two-day international conference held in Prijedor and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

The first part of the conference, which focused on the detention camps in BiH, took place on 30 May in Prijedor, where the discovery of detention camps by international journalists in 1992 sparked investigations that led to the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) by the United Nations Security Council in May 1993. This component was organised by the Sarajevo Memorial Centre together with the Kozarac Association of Camp Detainees. The second part of the conference, held in Sarajevo on 31 May, focused on the crimes committed in Prijedor and its surroundings and messages for the future. This component was organised by the City of Sarajevo and the Sarajevo Memorial Centre, with support from a number of other national and international stakeholders.

The President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), Judge Graciela Gatti Santana, delivered the keynote address at the opening of the conference in Prijedor, and provided a video message for the second day of conference proceedings in Sarajevo. During her remarks, she highlighted the contributions made by the ICTY and the Mechanism in establishing the facts about crimes in Prijedor, including in the detention camps located in the municipality, and in advancing the law concerning such crimes.

In addition to the judicial perspective, the conference offered the views of participants from a variety of disciplines, including academics and journalists who reported from BiH during the conflicts, as well of survivors of the detention camps.

Ms. Rada Pejić-Sremac, Coordinator of the MIP, participated in both days of the conference as a panellist, focusing in her remarks on the importance of judicially established facts before the ICTY and the Mechanism. In this context, she stressed that facts and responsibility regarding the detention camps and crimes committed in Prijedor and its surroundings have been established in numerous proceedings held before the ICTY and the Mechanism, as well as the Court of BiH. Ms. Pejić-Sremac emphasised that the well-documented events at detention camps such as Omarska, Trnopolje, and Keraterm, must not remain confined to courtroom records; instead, this knowledge should be accessible to the public in the region of the former Yugoslavia with a view to facilitating a fact-based dialogue about the past. Such dialogue, she explained, helps societies to face the past and move forward.

The MIP’s participation in this conference formed part of the Programme’s efforts to support projects and events using the legacy of the ICTY and the Mechanism.

The aim of the MIP is to improve the knowledge and understanding of citizens and communities in the countries of the former Yugoslavia about the crimes committed during the conflicts of the 1990s, based on the jurisprudence of the ICTY and the Mechanism. The MIP is funded by the European Union.