hr | en

On the occasion of the International day of the right to the truth concerning gross human rights violations and for the dignity of victims, we seek to remind of government institutions’ unfulfilled responsibilities towards the victims and survivors, as well as towards all citizens of the Republic of Croatia, who carry the burden of the violent legacy of
unfinished wars.

We demand:
Documenting the fates of the murdered and the disappeared
•   We ask that information concerning the names and circumstances of the suffering of those murdered be made public. The Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs has published four editions of the Book of missing persons on the territory of the Republic of Croatia, containing the names of people whose families and relatives, on both sides of the war, have been trying to locate them. This provides a good foundation that, we believe, will need to be completed with the necessary research. For this reason, we call on the Ministry to adapt the programme that was utilised for the War Veterans’ Register in order to publish the aggregate data on the victims, thus allowing everyone access to the data.

Shedding light on the fate of all who disappeared during the war
•   It is necessary to speed up the process of shedding light on the fate of people who have disappeared during the war, by increasing the effectiveness of operation, capacities and funds of the Administration for the Detained and the Missing, as well as by improving regional cooperation.

Prosecuting war crimes
•   As it is the right of all victims of war crimes to have the facts and circumstances of their suffering established, we expect the police and the state attorney’s office to be more effective in investigating all war crimes, and the courts to be more effective in prosecuting them in an unbiased fashion. The number of unprosecuted crimes, where criminal investigations have not yet been initiated, is still (too) large. Further revisions to indictments brought in earlier periods are needed, as are further investigations, as well as cooperation with members of the families of the murdered.

Developing a system of support for victims and witnesses
•   The support system that has taken root in several courthouses, greatly humanizing the work of the judiciary, should be improved by opening offices tasked with providing support for witnesses and victims of criminal acts in all county and municipal courts.
•   We believe that the system of support must be extended into the State Attorney’s Office and the police.

Responsibility of the state and compensation for damages
•   The Government of the Republic of Croatia must urgently amend the Directive on the criteria, measures and procedure for delaying payment, repayment of debt in installments, write-off or partial write-off of claims, in order for the Republic of Croatia to forego charging the court costs of all claimants who are victims of war, but who have not been successful in their claims for damages.
•   In order to secure compensation for civilian war victims, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity etc., the Parliament of Croatia needs to amend the following laws, removing discriminatory provisions: the Act on  Liability for Damage Resulting from Terrorist Acts and Public Demonstrations (compensation for material damage), the Damage Caused by Members of the Croatian Army and Police during the Homeland War Act (claimants’ burden of proof, calculating the statutes of limitation) and the Act on Protection of Military and
Civilian War-Disabled Persons. It is necessary to adopt a national programme and legislation establishing a fund to compensate all civilian war victims, that would harmonize compensation for damages with the UN’s Basic Principles and Guidelines on the
Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law.

Access to documentation relevant to dealing with the past
•   the draft Archives and Archival Materials Act, which should be adopted by the end of the year, should stipulate for a 20-year period, rather than a 30-year period as it stands, after which the material must be made available to the general public. This should give the public access to the documentation related to the period up to the completion of peaceful reintegration. Beside expert archivists, the discussion concerning the set of laws that, in
addition to the aforementioned Act, include the Data Secrecy Act, the Personal Data Protection Act, the Act on the Right of Access to Information, as well as the relevant directives, needs to involve professionals from other fields, as well as the broader public, because archives are an issue that is of concern to all citizens.

Developing an inclusive culture of remembering and creating the conditions necessary for an education geared towards dealing with the past
•   The Government should remove the Ustasha salute, “For the homeland: ready” from a plaque in Jasenovac, where more than 83,000 people were killed during World War II solely because they were Serbs, Jews, Roma or Antifascists.
•   The good practice developed in the course of preparing the new collection of the Lipa Remembers Memorial Centre, which was organised with the support of the Primorsko-Goranska county and the European Union can serve as an inspiration to all. The competent government institutions have an obligation to develop modes of cooperation with schools, so that far more than the current number of several dozen schools per year start to
visit the Jasenovac Memorial Site and similar sites of remembrance. In 2016, the Jasenovac Memorial Site was visited by a total of 12,661 visitors, 7,297 of whom from Croatia, and 5,364 from foreign countries. The memorial site received organised visits from just 7 primary and 6 secondary schools.
•   There cannot be similar visits to other sites of suffering, like Goli Otok, as they have not been adequately reconstructed and set up. In early June last year, the Conservation department in Rijeka, the Directorate for the protection of cultural heritage and the Ministry of Culture have issued a decision and a ruling on the preventive protection of Goli Otok. Despite this, the devastation of the remaining objects has continued, and there are plans to build within the protected area, instead of earmarking budget funds for the protection and development of a programme of a culture of memory founded upon the principles of inclusiveness, non-violence and dialogue, and to make better use of European programmes dedicated to remembering all victims.
•   It is essential that the Ministry of Science and Education, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, create the preconditions for learning about the legacy of World War II and the political violence during Yugoslavian Socialism through fostering innovative history teaching, as well as research dealing with sensitive topics in local history, but also through raising awareness on the legacy of violence.
Support for regional cooperation and the establishment of RECOM
•   All the relevant institutions must consistently strengthen and reinforce regional cooperation in all legal acts related to prosecuting war crimes and establishing facts on all victims of the war.
•   The Ministry of Culture, which has so far supported the preparatory work on the new collection at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, should earmark the budget funds necessary for the realisation of the exhibition, in cooperation with the culture ministries of other post-Yugoslavian countries.
•   The RH Government should initiate the process of establishing a Regional commission for the establishment of facts about war crimes and other serious violations of human rights (RECOM), in cooperation with the governments of other post-Yugoslavian countries.

Documenta – Centre for dealing with the past