Romani Refugee Girl Escapes Sexual Abuse Nightmare in Bosnia and Herzegovina

28 May 2004

On November 7, 2003, the ERRC, in partnership with the Bijeljina-based non-governmental organisation Helsinki Committee for Human rights, Republika Srpska (HCHRRS), spoke with Ms Svetlana Šačirović, a 17-year-old Romani refugee from Serbia living in the Salakovac Collective Centre near Mostar. In October 2003, Ms Šačirović escaped, for the second time, the home of her kidnapper and sexual abuser.

Ms Šačirović, who settled in the Salakovac Collective Centre in spring 1999, was kidnapped for the first time by Mr G.A. in Mostar shortly thereafter and taken to his flat in Sarejevo, where he lived with his common-law wife and son. According to Ms Šačirović, she was held for more than a year, during which time Mr G.L. physically abused and raped her repeatedly. She was also reportedly forced to beg for money, all of which Mr G.L. took for himself. Ms Šačirović testified that she managed to escape to the Salakovac Collective Centre, but in July 2003, Mr G.L. again kidnapped her from the street in Mostar. Mr G.L. held Ms Šačirović for another three months of physical and sexual abuse, beating and raping her daily, according to Ms Šačirović. Ms Šačirovićreported that Mr G.L. repeatedly hit, kicked and beat her with thick cables, as well as extinguished cigarettes on her arms until she escaped for the second time at the end of October 2003. Ms Šačirović also stated that she gave birth to a child fathered by Mr G.L. which she left with him in Sarajevo when she escaped for the second time. When Ms Šačirović arrived at the Salakovac Collective Centre, her brother reported the case to the police in Mostar. The police brought Ms Šačirović to the Juzni Logor Hospital for medical treatment where doctors confirmed her injuries and medicated her. At the time of her interview with the ERRC/HCHRRS, Ms Šačirović was living with her brother's family in the camp again. On the same day, Mr Srecko Bosnjak, a spokesman of the Ministry of Interior of Hercegovacko-Neretvanski Canton, informed the ERRC/HCHRRS that the case had been sent to the police in Sarajevo Canton where Mr G.A. resides. Two days earlier, the Ilidza Police Department of the Sarajevo Canton had taken Mr G.A. into custody. As of May 5, 2004, a police investigation into the case was ongoing. Additional information on Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://www.errc.org/publications/indices/bosnia.shtml. (ERRC, HCHRRS)

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