SERB forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina have regularly used rape and harassment as part of their campaign to force Muslims and Croats to flee their homes, Amnesty International said in a report yesterday.
The London-based human rights organization said in some cases the violations were carried out "in an organized or systematic way, with the deliberate detention of women for the purpose of rape and sexual abuse."
Amnesty said all warring factions were guilty of human rights abuses, but that Serbs carried by far the most blame.
"Incidents involving the sexual abuse of women appear to fit into a wider pattern of warfare, characterized by intimidation and abuses against Muslims and Croats which have led thousands to flee or to be compliant when expelled from their home areas out of fear of further violations," it said.
The organization's legal officer Nick Howen said it was impossible to estimate the true number of victims and there was no evidence to back up the figure of 20,000 cited by the European Community.
The 14-page report "Rape and Sexual Abuse by Armed Forces" was based on interviews conducted by Amnesty and on the work of other human rights groups. The organization's report comes amid a flurry of activity to uncover the true extent of the rape incidents in Bosnia.