“The authorities of Republika Srpska must for a start to recognise, loud and clear, that rape and other forms of sexual violence were committed during the war,” the London-based campaign group said in a statement.
“This will help create an atmosphere where public debate on this issue will thrive and survivors will feel confident to come forward, tell their stories and demand justice,” it added.
Bosnian Muslim sources have claimed that between twenty and fifty thousand women were raped in the war, but less than one thousand were identified by name by international human rights organisations.
Serb sources, on the other hand, claim the Muslim figures were grossly exaggerated, consenting at the same time that rapes had been committed by all three sides in the war – Serbs, Muslims and Croats.
Amnesty said the RS authorities should “identify the number of survivors of war-time rape and look into their needs today”.
They must ensure that the public health system was well-equipped to provide the survivors with the necessary medical and psychological care.
“The silence surrounding the war-time rape of women in Republika Srpska, an internationally recognised crime under international law, is deafening,“ said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
The RS has never made a meaningful attempt to collect data on this population, to understand and quantify their problems, or to develop policies that would address the victims' specific needs, Amnesty said.
The Bosnian Serb entity's authorities must amend legislation covering civilian victims of war by creating a separate category of survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence which would help the victims to rebuild their lives, Amnesty concluded.