Online proceedings for the IRCT General Assembly and 10th International Scientific Symposium - Delivering on the Promise of the Right to Rehabilitation

Time: 11:10 to 11:30 Download Presentation

Rehabilitation of torture victims' precondition to the reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Presenter(s) and co-author(s): Ms. Jasna Zecevic ( Vive Zene Centre for Therapy and Rehabilitation - Bosnia & Herzegovina )


As the conflict during the war in B&H arises from difference (ethnicity, belief), our task is to lead a process through which difference brought out, acknowledge and dealt with in a way that permits them to exist without threatening the whole system. For many years Vive Žene worked on rehabilitation of torture victims on individual and community level. Rehabilitation is a first step on the long road towards reconciliation. Work on the reconciliation is the next stage that has to be achieved. It is very complex term mainly because it is in the same time a goal and a process.


Throughout the years, Vive Žene developed comprehensive multidisciplinary psycho-social treatment for victims of war, torture and violence. Within Community Reconciliation Program, Vive Žene use Do No Harm Framework (DNHF). Based on our previous experience with this specific approach we understood that DNHF approach help us to be a simple and effective. In the context of the Reconciliation Program DNHF encourages project staff and members of the victims associations to jointly identify and analyze “connectors'”, i.e. systems/institutions, attitudes/actions, values/interests, experiences, and symbols/occasions that have historically linked (or could potentially link) people together across ethnic and religious divides. This same identification and analysis is then done on ``dividers'', which have historically (or could potentially) increase tension and exacerbate conflict across the same divides. Community Psycho-social group work is done on the bases of the workshops on networking and empowerment of the victims’ association structure. Vive Žene staff reinforces existing connectors and help facilitate the creation of new ones (e.g. municipal working groups, round table events, and joint community projects). Once strengthened, these connectors will be more effective in mitigating the effects of dividers of war.


If war victims can successfully change their attitudes and behaviors towards people of other ethnicity, they can be valuable role models as peace builders and provide examples of accepting alternative historical narratives. Through the use of DNHF, Vive Žene will convene individuals who previously have demonstrated a desire to bridge with other groups with those who are attempting such interaction for the first time. Mixing these participant profiles will deepen the relationships and commitments of the former group, and utilize their relationships, structures and experience to more effectively engage the latter Vive Žene expect that the wall of silence (block of communication) among different ethnic groups will gradually collapse. Very important moment in the entire process will be that beneficiaries could deal with the past in a constructive way. Deep silence that isolates individuals weakens families and groups, and increases fear and mistrust, will be broken.

Funding & No Conflicts Declaration

The author declare no potential conflict of interest with respect to this article. The article is written within the Vive Žene community program financed by international donors.

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