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Tija Hero, Ermina Hero, Armin Hero v Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Court/Judicial body:
OHCHR – Human Rights Committee

Communication No. 1966/2010

28 October 2014

Instrument(s) cited:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: articles 2, paragraph 3 (Access to remedies); 6 (Right to life); 7 (Freedom from torture); 9 (Right to liberty and security of persons); Article 24, paragraph 1 (Special protection of children).

Case summary

Tija, Ermina and Armin Hero submitted the communication on their behalf and on behalf of their disappeared husband and father, Sejad Hero, during the armed conflict surrounding the independence of Bosnia Herzegovina. They claimed to be victims of violations by Bosnia and Herzegovina of articles 7 (freedom from torture) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They further claimed on behalf of their husband and father the violation of his rights under articles 6 (right to life); 7 (Freedom from torture); 9 (right to liberty and security) and 16 (right to recognition as a person). The children of their disappeared father, who were minors at the time of the arrest and disappearance, alleged that the State party violated their right to special protection as minors ( Article 24, para. 1) respectively until 21 June 2004 and 28 December 2008, when they reached their respective majorities.

The children “submitt(ed) that they were minors when their father was disappeared. They were forced to grow up without being able to enjoy a family life and experiencing the ongoing anguish of not knowing the truth about what had happened to their father, and the frustration of not being able to help their mother in putting an end to the terrible situation and alleviate her constant suffering. They have experienced not only the permanent anguish of not knowing the truth of what happened to the victim, but also additional emotional distress, because their mother has been forced to declare Sejad Hero dead, in order to receive a monthly pension, although his fate and whereabouts have not been established with certainty”. …“Instead of being granted the special measures of protection they would have been end to as minors, they had to grow up without the presence of their father, and were forced to live with the dreadful doubt as to what exactly happened to him. They therefore submitted that the State party has violated their rights under Article 24, paragraph 1, read in conjunction with articles 2, paragraph 3, and 7 of the Covenant, as they were minors in need of special protection until they reached the age of majority on 21 June 2004 and 28 December 2008 respectively” (Paragraph 3.9)

The Committee was of the view that the State party had violated articles 6; 7 and 9, read in conjunction with Article 2, paragraph 3, of the Covenant, with regard to Sejad Hero; and Article 7, read alone and in conjunction with Article 2, paragraph 3, with regard to the authors (Paragraph 9.6). The Committee further noted that the social allowance that they had received depended upon their agreeing to recognise their missing husband and father as dead, while there was no certainty as to his fate and whereabouts. The Committee considers that to oblige families of disappeared persons to have the family member declared dead, in order to be eligible for compensation, while the investigation is ongoing, makes the availability of compensation dependent on a harmful process and constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 7, read alone and in conjunction with article 2, paragraph 3, of the Covenant with respect to the authors.

The Committee has however decided not to examine separately the authors’ allegations under articles 16 and 24, read in conjunction with Article 2, paragraph 3, of the Covenant (Paragraph 9.8).

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This case summary is provided by the Child Rights International Network for education and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.