Bosnia and Herzegovina
Practice Relating to Rule 89. Violence to Life
The Instructions to the Muslim Fighter (1993) issued by the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 states:
Killing of women, children and priests who do not participate at all in the war and who do not directly or indirectly assist the enemy is forbidden … These are general rules which are binding for our soldiers. However, if the commanding officer assesses that the situation and the general interest demand a different course of action, then the soldiers are duty-bound to obey their commanding officer … It is also left to the military command’s discretion to decide whether it is more useful or in the general interest to free, exchange or liquidate enemy prisoners of war.
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Criminal Code (1998) provides that killing of civilians, prisoners of war, the wounded, sick and shipwrecked is a war crime.
The Republika Srpska’s Criminal Code (2000) contains the same provision.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Criminal Code (2003) criminalizes the following as an act of genocide:
Whoever, with an aim to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, orders perpetration or perpetrates any of the following acts:
a) Killing members of the group.
The Criminal Code criminalizes the following as a crime against humanity:
Whoever, as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of such an attack, perpetrates any of the following acts:
a) Depriving another person of his life (murder).
The Criminal Code also states that, in time of war, armed conflict or occupation, ordering or committing “killings” of civilians, in violation of international law, constitutes a war crime.
The Criminal Code also contains the following war crimes provision:
Whoever, in violation of the rules of international law in time of war or armed conflict, orders or perpetrates in regard to wounded, sick, shipwrecked persons, medical personnel or clergy, any of the following acts:
a) Depriving another person of their life (murder)
shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years or long-term imprisonment.
In 2005, in its initial report to the Human Rights Committee, Bosnia and Herzegovina stated: “The right to life is a fundamental human right that cannot be derogated, not even during a state of emergency that threatens the life of citizens”.