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The life and rights of the civilian war victims have been in focus of daily work of Documenta for several years. A key position is ensurance of social rights and other forms of compensation that means full affirmation of the right to reparation. Orientation towards raising the visibility and the rights of victims is a key step toward dealing with the past in Croatia.

The basic activities in the field of affirmation of rights of victims to compensation are:

  • documentation and analysis of administrative and judicial procedures,
  • empowerment of civil war victims and victims associations,
  • analysis and research of needs, problems and status of civilian war victims,
  • advocacy of the right to compensation, and
  • support to victims in court proceedings before Croatian courts and European Court of Human Rights. 

Civilian victims of war are the people who have individually or within groups suffered some damage. Damages are called the physical and mental injury, emotional suffering, material losses or other serious violation of their rights through acts or omissions that constitute gross violations of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law. The term victim also includes the immediate family members or inmates of the direct victim and persons who have suffered damage in an effort to assist victims in distress or to prevent their victimization.

Civilian victims of war are persons who have been killed or wounded in the war, who have died as a result of the war, during or after the war, such as disease, malnutrition or rightlessness – consequences that are not normally expected in case of absence of war, victims of conflict in unilateral cases when a state perpetrates violence against its citizens, victims of rape and other forms of sexual violations, refugees and IDPs, died from war wounds after the war, etc.

Number of civilian war victims in Croatia is not accurate, some sources state that the figure ranges from 4000 to 8000 killed, wounded and abused persons. Only a small proportion of them have issued the status of the civilian victims of war and thereby the associated social rights (humanitarian aid, disability allowance, social and health care etc.). Most of the victims have no information on rights and possibilities of realization of social rights. Family members of killed ones are still waiting for the prosecution of crimes committed during the war. Many victims who have applied for non-pecuniary damages for the death of a loved one, have been rejected with obligation to pay high litigation costs. Cases of sexual abuse of civilians and detainees are generally not prosecuted, and victims have no secured psychosocial and other support. Nearly 2,000 people were killed in the war and after the war of mines, and a significant part of the area has not yet been cleared. In areas where military operations were not taking place, there has been destroyed a large number of houses, and procedures for compensation of material damage resulted mainly by paying litigation costs on behalf of victims. Most of the victims have no adequate support from the state and society in general. Most of the survivors need public acknowledgment of suffering, psychosocial support, social solidarity. Victims deserve the moral and material satisfaction.

Civilian victims of war are entitled to adequate, effective and quick reparation.

The forms of reparations are:

  • RESTITUTION – return to the situation preceding the violation of rights: the return of liberty, enjoyment of human rights, identity, family life and citizenship, return to place of residence, returning to work and return on assets
  • COMPENSATION of damages for: bodily injury and mental anguish, loss of opportunity for employment, education and welfare benefits, property damage and loss of earnings, including loss of work ability, moral damages, costs of legal representation, medical treatment, psychological counseling and social services, any economically assessable damage
  • REHABILITATION – Medical and psychological assistance and legal and social assistance
  • SATISFACTION should include: discontinuation of continuous violations, verification of facts and full and public disclosure of the truth, the search for missing persons, judicial and administrative punishment of those responsible for violations, an official declaration or judicial decision to re-establish the dignity, reputation and rights of victims of the people closely associated with sacrifice, commemorate and pay tribute to victims, public apologies and acceptance of responsibility, etc.
  • WARRANTIES OF NON-REPETITION 

 

More information on the campaign for rights of civil war victims to reparation can be found on www.civilnezrtve.hr.