11 June 2009 – “Restitution is the optimal response to housing, land and property loss, because it allows a free choice between all three durable solutions for a refugee or internally displaced person (IDP), namely return to the original home in safety and dignity, integration at the place of displacement or resettlement,” said Jørgen Poulsen (Denmark, ALDE), who is preparing a PACE report on “Solving property issues of refugees and internally displaced persons”. He was speaking at the end of a fact-finding mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (8-10 June 2009).

“Should restitution for some reason not be possible, pecuniary compensation or compensation in kind must be provided,” Mr Poulsen continued. He highlighted that all restitution claims should be dealt with as speedily as possible using the set of guidelines elaborated by the UN, known as the Pinheiro Principles. “These principles,” he added, “should be promoted and used across Europe.”

“The way in which Bosnia and Herzegovina has tackled the issue of property restitution might serve as a good example for other countries faced with the same issue,” he continued. “Some questions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, remain to be solved. These include finding means to reconstruct destroyed property and solutions for people who were deprived of their housing and who, for different reasons, are still confined to collective centres.”

Source: Council of Europe/PACE