Recognition of Bosnian genocide victims: denial no longer an option

8 Jun, 2021 | Press Releases

Brussels, 8 June 2021

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) heralds today’s final conviction of General Ratko Mladić as a victory for justice and a critical step in the healing of the former Yugoslavia.  Over 20 years ago, Bosnian Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladić executed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys and forced another 25,000 women, children and elderly people to leave their homes. The massacre was found to constitute genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2004, a finding reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice in 2007 and again on General Mladić’s conviction in 2017 and subsequent life sentence, which were upheld today by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

NPWJ consistently called for the ICTY’s doors to remain open until General Mladić could be brought before it and answer to the charges against him and are pleased that in fact happened. To do otherwise would have been an affront to the memory of the thousands of victims still awaiting justice for the crimes committed at Srebrenica in July 1995. We applaud the resolve of everyone who has worked hard to see this day come and who employed political and diplomatic means to ensure Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY, including the ICTY Prosecutor, States and members of civil society in the former Yugoslavia and around the world. Today their determination has paid off, in a final and binding way.

There can no longer be any denial of the inhumane tragedy of what was done in Srebrenica and elsewhere in Bosnia during those dark days. For the victims in Foca, Prijedor and elsewhere, it is difficult to understand how the very same joint criminal enterprise had genocidal intent for Srebrenica, but not for them, given the way in which killing, detention, inhumane acts and other crimes were committed in those places. Nonetheless, the days of denying the role and responsibility of General Mladić, convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, including in Srebrenica, after a trial in which his ability to defend himself was both respected and facilitated, must surely now be over.

Today, as we honour the memory of victims of Srebrenica, of Bosnia and of countless other acts of violence around the world, we can state with more confidence that surely, even if slowly, justice will triumph over violence. It took 16 years for General Mladić to be arrested and transferred to the ICTY, but the lesson to draw here is that although it took time, there is no escaping justice, as his capture, transfer, trial and final conviction shows. Let other fugitives from justice take note, let other victims take hope and let other institutions charged with delivering justice and redress act.

For further information, contact Alison Smith on or +32-486-986 235 or Nicola Giovannini on