In November 2010, TRIAL submitted a communication to the United Nations Human Rights Committee concerning the enforced disappearance of Mr. Husein Hamulić.
On 20 July 1992, when ethnic cleansing operations were taking place in Hambarine and in the surrounding area, members of the Yugoslav National Army (Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija - JNA) went to the house of the Hamulić family. Mr. Husein Hamulić tried to hide behind the house and to escape in the woods near Hambarine. Three other men trying to escape capture and who were also hiding in the woods saw there Mr. Husein Hamulić alive for the last time. To avoid looking suspicious, Mr. Husein Hamulić and the other three men decided to split up. The whole area was under the control of the JNA and paramilitary groups. Mr. Husein Hamulić was then allegedly apprehended by members of the JNA. His fate and whereabouts remain unknown since then.
In spite of numerous attempts from his relatives to establish the truth regarding the circumstances of the arbitrary deprivation of liberty and the subsequent enforced disappearance of Mr. Husein Hamulić , his fate and whereabouts and the progress and results of the investigations remain unknown. Since then, Mrs. Halima Hodžić and Mrs. Nura Hamulić, who are respectively the sister and the mother of Mr. Husein Hamulić have lived in a lacerating situation of uncertainty.
Indeed, more than 18 years after the events, no ex officio, prompt, impartial, thorough and independent investigation has been carried out by BiH authorities and no one has been prosecuted, judged and sanctioned for the disappearance of Mr. Husein Hamulić, thus fostering an ongoing climate of impunity. Although the victim’s relatives have provided DNA samples to international mechanisms and national institutions dealing with the subject of missing persons, to date the mortal remains of Mr. Husein Hamulić have not been duly located, exhumed, identified and returned to the family. In addition, as of today, Mrs. Nura Hamulić and Mrs.Halima Hodžić still have not received reparation or compensation for the harm suffered by them and their loved one.
TRIAL therefore submitted an individual communication to the United Nation Human Rights Committee asking it :
to recognise that BiH violated numerous articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights subsequently to Mr. Husein Hamulić’s enforced disappearance;
to declare that BiH also violated the Covenant with regard to the suffering caused by Husein Hamulić s mother and sister owing to his disappearance;
to request that BiH undertake all necessary action to launch independent investigations as a matter of urgency with a view to locating Mr. Husein Hamulić and, in the event of his death, exhuming, identifying, respecting and returning his mortal remains to the authors;
to request that BiH undertake all necessary action to identify those responsible for his arbitrary deprivation of liberty, ill-treatment and subsequent enforced disappearance, judge and sanction them;
to request that BiH undertake all necessary action to guarantee that Mrs. Halima Hodžić and Mrs. Nura Hamulić obtain without any further delay fair and adequate compensation and, in particular, access to medical and psychological care free of charge.
On 30 March 2015 the UN Human Rights Committee issued a decision on the case, finding BiH responsible for the violation of several provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the rights to life, personal liberty, and the prohibition of torture with regard to Mr. Husein Hamulić. The Committee declared that the State is responsible for not providing information on the progress of the investigation into Mr. Hamulić’s disappearance to his loved ones. The failure of the State to unveil the truth on Mr. Hamulić’s fate and whereabouts exposed his mother and sister to anguish and distress amounting to inhumane and degrading treatment.
The Committee requested BiH to:
- Establish the fate and whereabouts of Mr. Husein Hamulić;
- Bring to justice without unnecessary delay those responsible for Mr. Hamulić’s enforced disappearance;
- Provide the mother and the sister of Mr. Hamulić with adequate compensation and measures of satisfaction;
- Prevent similar violations in the future and ensure that investigations into allegations of enforced disappearance are accessible to the families of missing persons.
BiH has now 180 days to inform the Committee about the measures taken to implement this decision.
The General Context
It is estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 persons died as a consequence of the conflict (1992-1995) in BiH and that between 25,000 and 30,000 were victims of enforced disappearance.
The disappearance of Mr. Husein Hamulić took place within the general context of the “ethnic cleansing” operations that occurred in July 1992 in the area surrounding Prijedor, including the village of Hambarine. On 20 July 1992 Hambarine, as well as other villages on the left bank of the Sana river was the object of an armed attack by Serb forces.
To date, no one has been convicted, prosecuted and punished for the enforced disappearance of Mr. Husein hamulić, thus fostering an overall climate of impunity.
In 2010 the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross estimated that around 10,000 people remain disappeared in BiH.