Annual Report: Croatia 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Croatia 2010

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Head of state Stjepan Mesic
Head of government Jadranka Kosor (replaced Ivo Sanader in July)
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 4.4 million
Life expectancy 76 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 8/7 per 1,000
Adult literacy 98.7 per cent

Very limited progress was made in the prosecution of cases of war crimes allegedly committed by members of the Croatian Army and police forces against Croatian Serbs and members of other minorities during the 1991-1995 war. There was a continued lack of co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Tribunal) over military documents relating to Operation Storm in 1995. Some cases of attacks on journalists remained unresolved. Discrimination against Roma and Croatian Serbs, in access to economic and social rights among other things, continued.

Background

Accession negotiations with the EU reopened in September. These had been suspended in December 2008 due to a border dispute with Slovenia as well as the lack of co-operation with the Tribunal. As a result of the negative report by the Tribunal's Chief Prosecutor, some EU member states continued to oppose opening negotiations on the judiciary and human rights chapter.

International justice – war crimes

Both the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) and the Tribunal's Chief Prosecutor reported that Croatia continued to fail to submit to the Tribunal all outstanding military documents related to Operation Storm, conducted in 1995, for which three Croatian Army generals (Ante Gotovina, Ivan ?ermak and Mladen Marka?) were on trial in The Hague.

Despite statements by government representatives on the readiness and willingness of the authorities to co-operate with the Tribunal, the search for the military documents remained inconclusive.

The trial of Mom?ilo Peri?i?, which included, among other things, charges relating to the shelling of Zagreb in May 1995, continued before the Trial Chamber of the Tribunal.

The trial of Jovica Stani?i? and Franko Simatovi? resumed in June, following its suspension in 2008. They had been charged with, among other things, racial and religious persecution, murder, deportation and inhumane acts against the non-Serb population in the Serb-controlled areas of Croatia during the 1991-1995 war.

Justice system – war crimes

The authorities continued to fail to investigate war crimes committed during the 1991-1995 war by members of the Croatian Army and police forces against Croatian Serbs and members of other minorities. A lack of political will to deal with those cases remained one of the main obstacles. The disproportionate number of cases against Croatian Serbs was demonstrated in a report in the newspaper Jutarnji List, where the Minister of Justice said in September that 2 per cent of the cases which had been prosecuted by the Croatian judiciary were against ethnic Croats whereas the remaining 98 per cent included cases against Croatian Serbs and other minorities. The Minister's own view was that this was understandable, as he claimed that Croatian Serbs had committed more war crimes than ethnic Croats.

Measures designed by the government to address impunity for war crimes remained unimplemented. Only one case was under prosecution in 2009 in one of the special war crimes chambers established at four county courts in Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka and Split. These had been established in 2003 in order to try war crimes cases outside the community where the crimes were committed, a move which was supposed to lessen potential pressure on witnesses and reduce bias.