Last chance to investigate Croatian war crimes: “EU must act”
(Brussels, 12 October 2011) As the European Commission prepares to issue its progress report on Croatia’s suitability to join the European Union, Amnesty International has expressed alarm at the apparent weakening of EU pressure on Croatia to improve its handling of war crimes cases, and has urged EU member states to challenge Croatia’s human rights record.
“In closing the Croatian accession negotiations, the EU promised to ensure continued progress on war crimes. The opposite is the case. Does the EU really care
”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “Not only has the Croatian Government been back-sliding on its commitments on war crimes suspects, but it has recently proposed a new law to dismiss indictments, including those issued by Serbian courts and the former Yugoslav army. This clearly demonstrates political interference with the judiciary.”
“The Croatian Prime Minister has recently attacked the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, demonstrating her disregard for international justice,” said Beger. “The Croatian Government has failed to ensure the right to justice for those who survived crimes of sexual violence during the war. Out of hundreds of cases of rape, very few have been prosecuted.”
The Commission’s annual progress report assesses Croatia’s progress in fulfilling EU membership conditions. Amnesty International believes the EU, having initially set rigorous standards on war crimes prosecutions and the reform of Croatian courts, has seemingly back-tracked on those demands.
Croatia completed negotiations to join the EU in June. It is expected to sign the accession treaty in December and formally join in July 2013. This means the progress report released on 12 October offers one of the last opportunities to ensure the Croatian Government delivers on its commitments to investigate war crimes.
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