Regarding the report that the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) submitted to the Cantonal Prosecutor in Sarajevo, and the response to the parliamentary question by Mr. Milorad Kojić, which stated that the Transitional Justice, Responsibility and Remembrance in BiH (TPOS) association produced 230 fake statements regarding detention centres in BiH, it is important to point out that the mistakes were discovered in the course of the work; that they were eliminated through repeated research; and that the published book is one of the best documentary sources on the camps during the armed conflict. The book is also unique in that there is no division into Serbian, Bosniak and Croatian camps, but rather the detention centres are covered chronologically, at the level of the municipality, from their establishment to their abolishment, and according to the criminal acts that have been sanctioned in accordance with international humanitarian law. Every fact in the book is verifiable, by accessing the appropriate court judgements, study results, and sources that confirm these findings independently.
The book on camps is a unique collection of court-established facts, empirical research data and other sources on acts against the lives and dignity of the detainees.
1. In the summer of 2021, in the course of reviewing the statements about detention centres in the Doboj municipality and while attempting to contact certain witnesses for additional information, one of the TPOS researchers noted that the mobile phone numbers of the witnesses that had given the disputed statements to the TPOS director, were unavailable. By checking all the numbers of the former detainees, listed in the witness statements, it turned out that they were not in use. The comparison of the information from the statements taken by the director, in her capacity as a researcher, and the court-established facts, it was determined that a number of listed detention centres had not existed. Further field research has shown that the listed witnesses were persons who did not exist.
2. As coordinator of the regional project RECOM Reconciliation Network, within which the TPOS and the Center for Democracy and Transitional Justice (CDTJ) together carried out the national project ‘Mapping camps and other detention facilities in BiH’, I held an urgent meeting that included the editor of the narratives, researchers, the financial manager of the national project, and the CDTJ director. The meeting was also attended by the TPOS director, who immediately resigned, with the explanation that she had been ‘deceived by the people she had interviewed’. As the research methodologist, I decided that the research in the Doboj municipality should be repeated, which the TPOS researchers completed within eight months – in addition to their monthly obligations and without added pay. The editor of narratives resigned in light of the discovery of the fake statements, without accepting responsibility for not carrying out control of the work of the researchers. The position of editor/coordinator of the project was taken over by the researcher who discovered the fake statements.
3. The publication on the detention centres in BiH, which the TPOS and the CDTJ published in August 2022, with the RECOM Reconciliation Network logo, is based on the judgements of the ICTY, courts in Germany, BiH and Serbia. All the information about the detention centres that is based on field research is confirmed by other sources – numerous publications, monographs, publications of prisoners’ associations, media reports, and reports by international and regional human rights organisations – and are publicly available and verifiable. The methodology was strictly followed – there is not a single piece of information obtained through field research that has not been confirmed by other sources.
4. The RECOM Reconciliation Network is financially supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the European Commission, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Civil Rights Defenders (CRD), but the organisations entrusted by the donors take responsibility for the presented information. The donors have been notified about the problems that have arisen, as well as the corrections and repeated research. The TPOS founder and Chairperson of the organisation’s Assembly has been notified in detail about the work of the TPOS and he took part in the presentation of the book in August 2022.
5. The Humanitarian Law Centre, as the lead partner of the Regional Reconciliation Network regional project, which for more than 10 years has involved partner organisations TPOS and the CDTJ, Documenta, the Humanitarian Law Centre Kosovo, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights from Croatia and Serbia, and the Centre for Civic Education, undergoes financial audits by the European Commission, whose experts review the accounts of all partner organisations and there have never been any mistakes in the financial reporting.
On behalf of the RECOM Reconciliation Network
Network and project coordinator