For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) hailed today’s landmark guilty verdict against former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. After almost six years of proceedings, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found the former political leader responsible for some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.
“This is a momentous day for international justice, but also for those in Bosnia who lost husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters in a coordinated campaign of violence,” said Susannah Sirkin, PHR’s director of international policy and partnerships. “It may have taken 20 years, but at last Karadzic – a psychiatrist-turned-demagogue who fomented ethnic hatred and violence – is finally being held responsible for his crimes.”
During and after the war, PHR led efforts to document atrocities across the former Yugoslavia, exhuming and identifying remains in several large mass graves, including those at Srebrenica. Over the course of a few days in 1995, 8,000 Muslim men and boys were taken from a UN safe area there and killed. PHR’s investigators gathered evidence showing the victims were executed, many with their hands tied behind their backs, shot in the back of the head, and dumped in shallow graves. PHR contributed evidence and testimony to the ICTY’s proceedings against Karadzic and others accused of war crimes.
(Read Sirkin’s account of PHR’s Dr. William Haglund’s 2012 testimony at The Hague.)
Karadzic is the highest-ranking official to face judgment at the ICTY for his role individually and jointly in the Bosnian war that cleaved the country along ethnic lines and claimed more than 100,000 lives. He was convicted today for his role in multiple massacres, including the massacre in Srebrenica, the siege of Sarajevo, as well as his part in purging towns of Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia.
“The wounds of war in Bosnia will leave their marks for generations,” said Sirkin. “Even as the ICTY winds down, we must continue to pursue justice and support victims’ loved ones. Today’s historic ruling signals to leaders not just in Europe but around the world that if you act with impunity and ruthlessness, you will be held to account.”
The court sentenced Karadzic to 40 years in prison, which includes the period in which he was detained at the ICTY. He has been held at the court since 2008.
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.