Croatia must speed up war crimes prosecutions
(Brussels 9 December 2010) The Croatian authorities should prioritise and speed up the prosecution of war crimes suspects, Amnesty International has said in a report, Behind a wall of silence: Prosecution of war crimes in Croatia, published today.
“Victims and their families deserve justice. The Croatian authorities must provide it,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “Croatia is discussing its accession to the European Union. Now that the justice and fundamental rights chapter in this process has been opened, the EU must firmly state what action it expects Croatia to take domestically to combat impunity for war crimes. This will also set an important precedent for other western Balkan countries which wish to join the EU.”
The report reveals how the Croatian justice system is failing to provide redress to many victims of the 1991-95 war, amid continued delays, threats to witnesses and concern over standards. Government statistics show that on average only 18 war crimes cases are concluded each year. With almost 700 cases yet to be tried, most of the people responsible may never face trial.
The EU-Croatia negotiations on Chapter 23 (Justice and Fundamental Rights) have opened and specific benchmarks on war crimes trials have been agreed. Amnesty International has stressed that the EU should make clear how it expects Croatia to behave even after the country has joined the Union, specifying how it will monitor Croatian progress in combating impunity for war crimes and the consequences of any failure to meet the agreed benchmarks.
Note to editors:
An Amnesty International delegation is in Zagreb to present the report and discuss its recommendations in meetings with the Croatian authorities, including President Ivo Josipovic.
To arrange an interview, please contact:-
Peter Clarke, European Institutions Office Media Officer at +32 (0)2 548 2773;
e-mail: [email protected]