Main Menu
Human Trafficking
Street Children

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025            

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)

Harassment by police remains routine for vulnerable groups. Many prisons are run down or overcrowded, and detainees risk abuse by prison authorities. The thousands of active mine fields still in place following the war continue to pose a danger. Two civilians were killed and one was injured in mine accidents between January and September 2017.

 [Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Description: Bosnia-Herzegovinia

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Bosnia and Herzegovina

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 6 July 2021]


The law prohibits such practices. While there were no reports that government officials employed such measures, there were no concrete indications that security forces had ended the practice of severely mistreating detainees and prisoners reported in previous years.

Impunity was a significant problem in the security forces.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 11 May 2020]


Harassment by police remains routine for vulnerable groups. Many prisons are run down or overcrowded, and detainees risk abuse by prison authorities. The thousands of active mine fields still in place following the war continue to pose a danger. Two civilians were killed and one was injured in mine accidents between January and September 2017.

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes response of the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Council of Europe COE, 2 March 2017


[accessed 4 June 2020]

Torture and other forms of ill-treatment

12. In  the  course  of  the  visit,  the  CPT’s  delegation  received  a  considerable  number  of allegations  of  widespread  physical  ill-treatment  of  detained  persons  by  law  enforcement  officials throughout  the  country.  The  alleged  ill-treatment  mostly  concerned  kicks  and  punches  to  various parts  of  the  body  as  well  as  blows  with  batons.  However,  credible  allegations  were  also  received relating  to  the  handcuffing  of  detained  persons  in  stress  positions  for  hours  on  end,  the  use  of  a hand-held  electro-shock  device  and  other  non-standard  instruments.  Once  again,  several  persons stated that they had been subjected to a mock execution with a pistol pointed at their temple and the trigger  pulled  or  they  had  had  the  barrel  of  a  pistol  inserted  into  their  mouth.  A  number  of allegations of verbal abuse and threats by police officers were also heard. The  allegations  of  ill-treatment  by  police  officers  related  to  the  period  following  arrest, during transport and when held at police stations and/or during the time when suspects were being questioned  by  crime  inspectors  in  their  offices,  sometimes  for  prolonged  periods,  prior  to  being placed in holding cells or transferred to the prosecutor’s offices. The CPT continues to have serious concerns that the infliction of ill-treatment for the purposes of trying to extort a confession remains a frequent practice by crime inspectors throughout the country.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


Political deadlock in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) continued to impede needed reforms in 2014 despite widespread protests in February expressing broad economic and political dissatisfaction. The protests were marked by incidents of police brutality. Journalists remained vulnerable to intimidation and threats.

Torture in Republika Srpska: the police in the dock

Rodolfo Toč & Banja Luka, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, 15 October 2013

[accessed 15 Oct 2013]

The mission, led by Ukrainian CPT Vice-President Mykola Gnatovskyy, performed its own investigations in police institutions and prisons in all major cities of RS (Banja Luka, Bijeljina, Doboj, Istočno Sarajevo, Gradiška, and Prnjavor), with alarming results. In fact, while commending the "good cooperation" of RS institutions, the examiners highlighted "a considerable number of detailed, consistent, and coherent records of mistreatment by the police in Republika Srpska", mainly during interrogation in order to extort confessions. These mistreatments mostly include "kicks, punches, and slaps, but also beatings with blunt objects (such as baseball bats)". Numerous testimonies denounce the use of small, portable mechanisms for electric shock. In other cases, the police handcuffed suspects forcing them into stress positions for hours, or tied plastic bags around their heads. On some occasions, they resorted to mock executions to terrorize the suspect

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/BIH/CO/2-5 (2011)

[accessed 23 February 2013]

8. While noting that the State party envisages amending the Criminal Code and harmonizing the legal definition of torture in the State and entity laws, the Committee remains concerned that the State party has still not incorporated into domestic law the crime of torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention and has not criminalized torture inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity (arts. 1 and 4).

The Committee, in line with its previous recommendations (CAT/C/BIH/CO/1, para. 9), urges the State party to speed up the process of the incorporation of the crime of torture, as defined in the Convention, into the State party laws as well as the harmonization of the legal definition of torture in the Republika Srpska and Brcko District with the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The State party should also ensure that these offences are punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature, as set out in article 4, paragraph 2, of the Convention.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES - Despite problems with budget allocations for exhumations caused by the absence of the government, exhumations continued. In January, the State Prosecutor’s Office assumed control of exhumations previously conducted by local prosecutors, which had a positive impact in expediting the recovery of the remains of missing people from mass and clandestine graves. Around 10,000 people were still unaccounted for. Unwillingness of insider witnesses to provide information on mass graves remained the biggest obstacle in the process.

In February, the Central Record of Missing Persons was created as a permanent database in BiH. It gathered around 34,000 names from various existing databases and conducted verification of those names. It was expected that the database would help the state-level Missing Persons Institute to strategically address the remaining cases.

Despite the accurate DNA-led identifications made by the International Commission on Missing Persons over the past years, the identification process began to slow down. The Commission reported that around 8,000 bodies had already been identified through the classical methods of identification. However, due to the existence of hundreds of secondary, tertiary and quaternary mass grave sites, the recovery of body parts of already identified and buried people could continue for years.

Despite progress made in the recovery and identification of disappeared people and the prosecution of perpetrators, victims’ families were still denied the rights to justice and reparation.

The non-implementation of the 2004 Law on Missing Persons led to problems for the families of the disappeared, including the lack of independent functioning of the Missing Persons Institute and the non-existence of the Fund for Providing Assistance to the Families of Missing Persons. In addition, many judgements of the Constitutional Court of BiH in cases involving enforced disappearances remained unimplemented.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 25 December 2018]

Scroll Down


2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 19 February 2020]


In 2016 the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) released a report on its 2015 visit to detention facilities, prisons, and psychiatric establishments in the country. The report cited a considerable number of allegations of widespread police abuse of detainees in Sarajevo, Trebinje, Banja Luka, Turski Lukavac, and Bijeljina. The reported abuse of detainees included slaps, punches, truncheon blows, prolonged handcuffing in stress positions, mock executions, and use of a hand-held electro-shock device. The report stated that the CPT delegation gained the impression from multiple detainee interviews in Bijeljina and Sarajevo that mistreatment (kicks, punches, and slaps) was a routine occurrence and almost considered “normal” practice. In some instances, authorities allegedly abused detainees in order to extort confessions. The CPT found that prosecutors and judges routinely failed to take action regarding allegations of mistreatment.

The CPT also noted that it received several credible allegations of inmate physical mistreatment (slaps, kicks, and punches to various parts of the body) by staff at Mostar Prison. In one case, an inmate alleged that, in response to his repeated banging on his cell door, prison officials handcuffed him behind his back with his wrists hyperflexed, ankle-cuffed him with a walking chain, and placed him empty cell for two days without food or the opportunity to use sanitary facilities. The CPT reported that the findings observed by its delegation’s doctor were compatible with the inmate’s allegation.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 21 January 2013]

[accessed 3 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, physical mistreatment of prisoners by police occurred.

During the year there were a number of citizen complaints in both entities alleging excessive use of force during arrest. According to the European Union (EU) police mission and the RS and Federation professional standards units (PSUs), the number of complaints against police officers remained at approximately the same level during the year as in 2004. Investigations and into police misconduct and standards of accountability continued to improve during the year (see section 1.d.).

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES. 

Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Bosnia-Herzegovina ",, [accessed <date>]