BIH War Crimes Court

Before going to the BIH War Crimes Court I was nervous because of all the strict guidelines we were told we would have to follow such as the dress code and technology rules. I thought I would feel unwanted there. However that was not my experience, people were friendly, interested in our questions, and provided thoughtful and genuine answers to our questions. I found out the difference between their court and the Hague court. At the Hague the cases were higher profile and more complicated where Mladic was charged at and at the BIH war crimes were not as high profile. The judge mentioned that 129 individuals had been charged and hundreds of cases are ongoing and in process.  I was really surprised and discouraged on the sentencing process and the low sentences they received, as low 5 years and the maximum 20. That just does not seem enough to me. I was happy when a classmate had asked how the individuals working on the cases and their personal experience with the war affected them or if they felt it interfered with their work. The judge shared that she had lived in Sarajevo during the siege and still went to work every day. However, when she gets to work she leaves that at the door along with her colleagues. I appreciated when she said we were together the way the former Yugoslavia used to be”, all in harmony and peace. I could tell she longed for her beautiful country back along with the rest of the population.

We also had the opportunity to speak to a psychologist/social worker who provided support services for the witnesses. Her work mainly included emotional support and crisis intervention.  She discussed how they are all overwhelmed with the amount of cases they had. It really made me think of how we always discuss self-care and the high burnout rates in our line of work. I cannot begin to imagine the burnout rate for this type of work in Bosnia where everyone was one way or another impacted by the war.

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