Camps for Bosniaks from Žepa: Compensation Lawsuit against the Republic of Serbia

The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a compensation lawsuit on 30 June 2008 against the Republic of Serbia, on behalf of Esed Avdagić, Omer Čavčić, Sabrija Ćesko, Zajko Imamović, Amir Mednolučanin, Munib Omanović, Šemso Ramić, Suljo Salić, and Galib Vatreš [Bosniaks from Žepa, BiH], because of the state’s responsibility for their detention in Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje camps during the summer of 1995 and the torture members of the Serbian Ministry of Interior committed against them.

The lawsuit was filed within the scope of the HLC programme of support to victims of past human rights violations in exercising their right to reparation.

Collection Camps in Šljivovica [Čajetina Municipality] and Mitrovo Polje [Aleksandrovac Municipality] were set up in late July 1995 for Bosniaks from BiH who took refuge in Serbia after the fall of the Srebrenica [11 July 1995] and Žepa [30 July 1995] enclaves. Border officers, members of the Yugoslav Army, stopped the refugees on the banks of the Drina River and, after searching them, took some of the refugees for interrogation and turned the rest of them over to the Mali Zvornik and Bajina Bašta local police. HLC has documented cases in which members of the Yugoslav Army beat refugees. Police took refugees to Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje on trucks and buses. Bosniaks were placed in old workers’ barracks in Šljivovica, while in Mitrovo Polje, they were placed in facilities that had been most likely used as a children’s summer camp. Alleged collection centres were guarded by members of special police units of the Republic of Serbia.

Former detainees gave accounts to HLC describing the torture, humiliating treatment, sexual abuse, starvation, and other illegal acts they were submitted to on daily basis by members of the Serbian police. Six prisoners did not survive: Edem Torlak suffocated in the truck due to lack of oxygen while being taken to the camp; Mujo Hodžić was shot dead on the banks of the Drina River; and Ahmo Krlić, Meho Jahić, Šećan Dizdarević, and Nazif Krlić died as a direct result of beatings in the Šljivovica camp. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) registered detainees of these camps in mid August 1995.

Detainees Omer Čavčić, Sabrija Ćesko, Zajko Imamović, Munib Omanović, and Suljo Salić were detained in the camp in Šljivovica, while Esed Avdagić, Amir Mednolučanin, Šemso Ramić, and Galib Vatreš were detained in Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje for periods of four to eight months. During detention they were subjected to torture, provocations, and humiliation – guards made detainees cross themselves, sing Chetnik (Serbian nationalist) songs, and beat each other. Police officers deliberately starved the prisoners and deprived them of basic hygiene needs. The Detainees suffer serious health problems as a consequence of detention. They have all been diagnosed with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

HLC calls upon the Serbian institutions to compensate the victims of past human rights violations committed by members of the Serbian Army and Police through the establishment of a reparations programme.

Point of Contact:
Sandra Orlović, Project Coordinator