Bosnia and Herzegovina
Practice Relating to Rule 158. Prosecution of War Crimes
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Criminal Code (1998) contains provisions regarding the punishment of certain acts, some of them committed “in time of war or armed conflict”, such as: “war crimes against civilians” (Article 154); “war crimes against the wounded and sick” (Article 155); “war crimes against prisoners of war” (Article 156); “organizing a group and instigating the commission of genocide and war crimes” (Article 157); “unlawful killing or wounding of the enemy” (Article 158); “marauding” (Article 159); “using forbidden means of warfare” (Article 160); “violating the protection granted to bearers of flags of truce” (Article 161); “cruel treatment of the wounded, sick and prisoners of war” (Article 163); “destruction of cultural and historical monuments” (Article 164); and “misuse of international emblems” (Article 166).
The Republika Srpska’s Criminal Code (2000) contains the same provisions.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Criminal Code (2003) provides for the punishment of various acts committed by persons:
… who planned, instigated, ordered, perpetrated or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of a criminal offence referred to in Articles 171 (Genocide), 172 (Crimes against Humanity), 173 (War Crimes against Civilians), 174 (War Crimes against the Wounded and Sick), 175 (War Crimes against Prisoners of War), 177 (Unlawful Killing or Wounding of the Enemy), 178 (Marauding the Killed and Wounded at the Battlefield) and 179 (Violating the Laws and Practices of Warfare) of this Code.
The Criminal Code also states:
The criminal legislation of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall apply to anyone who, outside of its territory, perpetrates:
c) A criminal offence which Bosnia and Herzegovina is bound to punish according to the provisions of international law and international treaties or intergovernmental agreements.
In 2007, in the Lučić case, the Panel of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina stated:
According to the universal jurisdiction principle, customary international humanitarian law is obligatory for each state throughout the world, regardless of whether it has ratified the appropriate international legal instruments. Therefore, each state is bound to prosecute or extradite (aut dedere aut judicare
) all persons suspected of having violated customary international humanitarian law.
It is reported that the Chief of Staff of the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in response to the international reaction to the destruction of the Mostar Bridge by Croatian Defence Council (HVO) forces in 1993, had distributed a brochure describing international provisions regarding IHL, war crimes, cultural heritage and POWs, and promised the severest punishment to members of the armed forces who did not respect the laws of war.