Žepa Bosniaks sue Serbia over Detention and Torture in Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje Camps
A Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) attorney filed three compensation lawsuits against the Republic of Serbia on behalf of Mušan Džebo, Enes Bogilović, Ahmet Kamenica, Mujo Vatreša, Selim Nuhanović, Halil Durmišević, Senad Jusufbegović, Fehim Dudević, and Fadil Čardaković [all from Žepa], because of the state’s responsibility for their detention in Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje camps during the summer of 1995 and torture committed against them by members of the Serbian Ministry of Interior. The compensation lawsuits were filed on 23 November and 20 December as part of the support programme to victims of past human rights violation 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 them on the banks of the Drina River and, after searching them, took some of them 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 an old workers’ barracks in Šljivovica, while in Mitrovo Polje, they were held in facilities that had most likely been used as a children’s summer camp. Alleged collection centres were guarded by members of special police units of the Republic of Serbia.
Refugees from Srebrenica and Žepa who were detained in Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje told HLC how on a daily basis they were tortured, humiliated, sexually abused and starved, among other illegal acts, by members of the Serbian police. Bosniaks detained in facilities at Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje consider them to have been concentration camps. Three prisoners did not survive: one suffocated in a truck due to the lack of oxygen while being taken to the camp; a second was shot dead; and a third died as a result of the beating he suffered. The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) registered the prisoners of these camps in mid August 1995.
Enes Bogilović spent five months in detention, Mušan Džebo four months, Mujo Vatreš six months, Ahmet Kamenica, Selim Nuhanović Halil Durmišević, Senad Jusufbegović, and Fehim Dudević nine months each, Fadil Čardaković four and a half months. Members of the Ministry of Interior abused them on several occasions during their detention in these camps. They still suffer serious physical and mental consequences of this abuse.
HLC calls on Serbian state 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.