The rule of law is an essential principle that needs to be respected if Bosnia wants to progress on its path toward the European Union, EU member country ambassadors said on Tuesday after meeting with two fathers who have been accusing those in power in Bosnia of covering up their sons' murders.
The ambassadors, lead by EU Special Representative in Bosnia, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, spoke during a meeting with Davor Dragicevic and Muriz Memic about pressures on the civil sector and on freedom of speech in Bosnia. The meeting was organised as part of marking December 10, Human Rights Day.
“All civil society actors have the EU’s full support in demanding accountability from the authorities in upholding the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” a statement published on the EU Mission’s website said.
“The Ambassadors commended Mr Memic and Mr Dragicevic’s tireless efforts to peacefully seek out justice for the tragic deaths of their sons,” it added.
Davor Dragicevic is the father of David, a 21-year-old whose lifeless body was found in a local river near Banja Luka, the administrative centre of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity, in March this year.
Muriz Memic is the father of Dzenan, another 21-year-old who was murdered in February 2016 in Sarajevo.
Both cases remain unresolved.
The investigations into both were marred with controversies, and the fathers believe that those in power pressured courts and police into hiding the true perpetrators.
“Like all citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Memic and Mr Dragicevic have the right to expect thorough and professional investigations into all serious crimes by the relevant law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. Any country aspiring to membership in the European Union must do no less,” the EU press statement said.
Memic and Dragicevic also told N1 on Tuesday that they were satisfied with how the ambassadors understood their campaign when they met with them and their lawyer.
“They had many questions. They don’t understand it. They don’t understand that those in power in this country are lying,” said Dragicevic.
“The state has killed David. Nobody has ever denied this throughout the past nine months,” he said.
The murder of Dragicevic’s son is currently being processed by the judiciary of Republika Srpska and he hopes that it will be taken over by the state-level court. He may even submit it to the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg, he said.
The fathers said they hope that the ambassadors will pressure Bosnia’s institutions to conduct proper investigations into the cases.
Some in Republika Srpska have said that Dragicevic and his campaign were abused by the political opposition in the country, but the father denies that.
“I was not used, nor could anyone use me. There is no place for politics and politicians in this,” he said.
Memic told N1 that “injustice” was discussed at the meeting with the 21 ambassadors.
“They were most touched when we said that we are not doing this because of our sons, but because of other people,” he said.
“If you ask me, Dzenan was murdered. This has been proven. It is not up to me to say who did it. I care more for the dishonourable police officers and prosecutors to be punished,” he said.
He called upon institutions to conduct “proper investigations” and to prove him wrong with the results.