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Građanski odbor za ljudska prava

Conclusions from the round-table discussion titled

 

LEGAL PATH – SIDEWAYS?

 

Restitution of damage through courts due to the killing of a close person in Croatia in the period between 1991 and 1995 – Problems and Perspectives

 

The discussion held in Zagreb on 8 December 2009 with the topic of restitution of damage for all war victims gathered representatives from the institutions of the executive authority of the Republic of Croatia, judiciary, international institutions and organisations for human rights. It was stressed that numerous family members of war crimes victims did not receive neither moral, nor material satisfaction. Their suffering remains unrecognised, the perpetrators of crimes were not criminally prosecuted and the majority of the victims’ family members lost lawsuits for restitution of damage filed against the Republic of Croatia. 

 

A total of 50 indemnity procedures conducted following the death, disappearance or wounding were analysed. Some of the analysed court cases have not yet been completed with a legally valid court verdict. Family members in the aforementioned 50 cases of violent deaths stated in their damage claims that the causes of deaths were: injuries caused by firearms, blows inflicted by hands or legs, and stabbing wounds made by knives, or a person disappeared and was declared missing while the exact cause of death remained unknown. According to the documentation available, we are aware that criminal charges of murders were filed in at least nine cases. In the majority of cases, those are non-investigated crimes at the pre-investigation stage where procedures are conducted against unknown perpetrators. The analysed procedures were presented in more detail in the texts prepared for the round table[1].

 

In the lawsuits for restitution of damage, the RoC attempted to resolve the issue of responsibility for the damage caused during the Homeland War by way of application of three laws,[2] but many people not only did not receive restitution, but they were obliged to pay huge expenses of the lawsuits. Unlike the sufferers who exercised the right to receive a support by way of application of other laws[3], family members of killed civilians have not received any form of damage restitution since the commission of the crime.

 

It was concluded that no-one was satisfied with the open and still unresolved process of compensations which has, so far, lacked political will, thus it is necessary to do the following:

  1. to urgently resolve the issue of payment of litigation expenses in the lawsuits for restitution of damage due to the killing of a close person;
  2. to seriously and responsibly approach the issue of compensating all victims to be done by the Government, the legislator and the judiciary in order to ensure recognition of suffering of families of the killed and provide just compensation of damage for all victims of gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of the international humanitarian law;
  3. to ensure the official translation of the United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution adopted on 16 December 2005 titled Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for the Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of the International Humanitarian Law[4] pertaining to compensation, restitution, rehabilitation, resolving the destiny of the missing people, symbolic reparation and a guarantee that the crime will not be repeated;
  4. to continue discussion among all participants for the purpose of ensuring a fair legal mechanism for the restitution of damage caused by the killing of close persons in compliance with the United Nations’ Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for the Victims. While searching for the model of compensating victims, the legislator could act according to the standards established by the Act on Financial Compensation to the Victims of Criminal Acts[5] and offer to all victims of war crimes restitution in the form of a special, legally stipulated measure.

 

Participants:

 

Agnese Andreucci, OSCE

Ksenija Bauer, Ombudsman’s Office

Ira Bedrač, Ombudsman’s Office

Tino Bego, Documenta

Jovica Brkić, "Pravda" Association, Bjelovar

Lina Budak, a lawyer

Vanja Crnković, Zagreb County Court 

Monika Čavlović, OSCE

Dinka Ćorkalo Biruški, Psychology Department, Philosophical Faculty

Davorka Ćurko Nasić, Zagreb Municipal Court, Civil Department

Klara Dokmanović, ICTY

Jelena Đokić Jović, Documenta

Snežana Đokić Marković, EU Delegation to the RoC

Ratko Gajica, Croatian Parliament

Wilhemijn van Haaften, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands

Enrique Horcajada, OSCE                                        

Tanja Hučera, Zagreb Municipal Court, Civil Department

David Hudson, EU Delegation to the RoC

Veselinka Kastratović, Centre for Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights Osijek

Sanja Krovinović, Zagreb Municipal Court, Civil Department

Mladen Lončar, Ministry of the Family, Defenders and Intergenerational Solidarity

Andreja Maretić Vuković, Embassy of the Great Britain

Ana Marović, Split Municipal Court

Federica Meijer Dusman, State's Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia

Blaženka Navara, Glina Municipal Court

Sanja Nola, Ministry of Justice

Meliha Okić, a lawyer

Zdenka Pantić, International Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims                                                                                               

Ivana  Požar, Zagreb Municipal Court, Civil Department

Vesna Pusić, Croatian Parliament

Biljana Pusić, Civic Committee for Human Rights

Zoran Pusić, Civic Committee for Human Rights

Suzana Radaković, Zagreb Municipal Court, Civil Department

Marko Sjekavica, Civic Committee for Human Rights

Gordana Sobol, Croatian Parliament

Mladen Stojanović, Centre for Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights Osijek

Snježana  Šagud, Zagreb Municipal Court, Civil Department

Vesna Teršelič, Documenta

Lucia Tomić, Ministry of Justice

Carmen Topalušić, Zagreb Municipal Court, Civil Department

Slobodan Uzelac, Government of the Republic of Croatia

Ana Vlahović Stanić, Ministry of Justice

Tatijana Vučetić, Ministry of Justice

Vesna Vučetić, a lawyer

Tanja Vukov, Documenta

Duško Zorić, "Pravda" Association, Bjelovar

 


[1] Bego Tino, Vukov Tanja, Different Forms of Damage Restitution due to the Killing of a Close Person in Croatia; Maja Kovačević Bošković, Jelena Đokić Jović, Marko Sjekavica, Implications of the Unfounded Application of the Amnesty Act to Lawsuits for the Restitution of Non-pecuniary Damage.

[2]  The Obligations Act (Official Gazette of the SFRY 29/78, 39/85, 57/89 and the Official Gazette 53/91, 73/91, 3/94, 107/95, 7/96, 91/96, 112/99, 88/01), The Act on Responsibility for Damage Caused as a Result of Terrorist Acts and Public Demonstrations (Official Gazette 117/03), The Act on Responsibility of the Republic of Croatia for Damage Caused by the Members of the Croatian Military and Police Forces during the Homeland War (Official Gazette 117/03).

[3] The Act on the Protection of Military and Civilian War Invalids, Official Gazette 33/92, 77/92, 27/93, 58/93, 2/94, 76/94, 108/85, 108/96, 82/01 and 103/03, The Act on the Rights of Croatian Defenders from the Homeland War and their Family Members, Official Gazette 174/04.

[4] A/RES/60/147 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, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/remedy.htm.

[5] which the Croatian Parliament adopted at its session held on 2 July 2008 and which shall come into force on the day of accession of the Republic of Croatia into the European Union and is not relevant for the families of war crimes victims.

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