For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) hails yesterday's arrest by Serbian security services of Radovan Karadzic, former political leader of Bosnia's Serbian population and a lead coordinator of the genocide in Bosnia, and applauds Serbian President Boris Tadic's commitment to extradite him to The Hague to face trial at the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia). Ratko Mladic, the military leader of Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-1995 war, must also be immediately arrested and brought to the ICTY for trial, the group said.
In 1996 PHR led and conducted the exhumations and forensic examinations of several large mass graves in Bosnia and Croatia for the ICTY. The group also helped exhume and identify those killed during the Srebrencia massacre orchestrated by Karadzic and provided psycho-social assistance to the families of the Srebrencia victims. (More background on PHR's work in Bosnia.)
"Serbia's arrest of Radovan Karadzic is a major victory for international justice," stated Frank Donaghue, Chief Executive Officer of PHR. "He must be swiftly transferred to The Hague to face trial at the ICTY for crimes against humanity, including genocide. Ratko Mladic, who helped Karadzic implement a systematic campaign of murder, rape, and forced displacement against the people of Bosnia, must be also arrested and brought to trial."
While the arrest of Karadzic is a landmark step towards holding those who orchestrated the genocide in Bosnia to account, the international community must continue to provide assistance for survivors and support the continuing effort to identify the missing, said PHR.
"The international community has a continuing responsibility to support the process of providing the truth and healing the wounds of the crimes committed in Bosnia," stated Stefan Schmitt, Director of PHR's International Forensic Program and a member of the team that participated in several of the United Nations exhumations of mass graves in Bosnia. "Justice is but one step towards engaging with the past. The identification of those killed during the genocide in Bosnia, the return of their remains to family members, and psycho-social support for the victim's loved ones is something that will have to continue long beyond the conclusion of any trials."
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.