The first of its kind in BiH
The effects of the war in BiH can be felt even today, especially the effects it had on the mental health of the population. A significant part of the population in BiH suffers from mental health problems. In the post-war situation the stress induced consequences vary – from homicides, an increased rate of suicides, to various other types of violence. According to the international human rights conventions, individuals who have committed crimes and suffer from mental health problems have to receive adequate psychiatric treatment in secured institutions. However, in BiH there were no institutions which could treat these individuals. Unfortunately, they had to be sent to ordinary prisons and could not receive much needed psychiatric treatment, or they would even be left at large and frequently commit new crimes.
Fully equipped institute to accommodate 200 patients
In 2010, the Government of Republika Srpska established the Institute for Forensic Psychiatry Sokolac in the reconstructed former military hospital Sokolac. The Government of Switzerland provided funding for the reconstruction of the military hospital into the Institute, as well as for the purchasing of necessary medical and non-medical equipment. Additionally, the initial training of the Institute’s staff was also provided. The total investment for the Institute was well over 6 million KM.
The purpose of the intervention was to ensure the highly needed support to the recovery and resocialization of people with mental health problems who committed crimes. As the only one of its type on the territory of BiH, the Institute for Forensic Psychiatry Sokolac became operational in 2014. The Institute can accommodate 200 patients from the whole country, based on the security measures imposed by the courts. The Institute runs across a space of 7.800m2, with a work therapy area, medical specialist offices, and other contents required by strict criteria. According to the latest reports there are over 160 individuals in BiH, who would become users of the Institute.
Connecting the health and judicial sectors
The Institute for Forensic Psychiatry Sokolac is registered as a tertiary-level health care institution, where the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of RS is responsible to oversee the Institute’s medical operations. However, Ministries of Justice of the state, entity, cantons and District of Brcko are responsible to cover the running costs of the Institute by paying for accommodation, food and treatment of patients sent to the Institute by the decision of their respective courts.
The overall funding, treatment of patients and related security costs are stipulated within an Agreement signed by the Council of Ministers of BiH, the Government of Federation of BiH, the Government of Republika Srpska, and the Government of the Brcko District. Other than improving the conditions for the recovery of prisoners and meeting human rights standards, the project serves as a good example of cooperation between the health and judicial sectors at the state level in BiH. Furthermore, it can be seen as a rather unique contribution to building bridges between the two entities.