Documenta NGO Warns about Wartime Missing Persons

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, March 25, 2018 – On the occasion of International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, March 24, the Documenta Centre for Dealing with the Past warned on Saturday that Croatia still had not adopted laws on civilian war victims and persons gone missing during the 1991-95 Homeland War.

Participants in a panel presented recommendations from a research on a regional cooperation strategy in resolving the issue of the war missing which underline the need to enhance the search for the missing and to regulate the rights of their families.

The panellists underlined the need to draw up a single regional list of the war missing and to ensure equal treatment of victims and their families, regardless of faith or ethnicity.

Documenta head Vesna Teršelić said it was necessary to open Croatia’s archives as well as those of the countries in the region to help resolve the fate of the missing as well as to adopt and implement laws on missing persons. She underlined the need to establish reparation funds for victims’ families and to apply more efficiently the agreements and bilateral protocols concerning the missing.

Teršelić recalled that a UN task force visited Croatia in 2014 and called on the government to introduce forcible disappearances as a separate crime in Croatian legislation, to continue tracing the missing and identifying remains, to ensure effective war crimes trials and to establish comprehensive reparation programmes, Documenta said.

The panel heard that none of those recommendations had been fully implemented, notably concerning the rights of civilian victims’ families.

Marica Šeatović, president of the Against Forgetting association, said Croatia still had no law that would properly regulate the rights of civilian war victims although the war ended over 20 years ago.

Teršelić called on the War Veterans Ministry’s department for detained and missing persons to expedite the investigation of known grave sites, and asked for greater transparency in the release of data on exhumed and identified persons, including their names.

Nives Jozić, who researched human losses in Croatia in 1991-95, presented some data from her research. For example, the town of Petrinja recorded the highest number of victims (98) in September 1991, including 53 persons killed or gone missing in only three days. In the Dvor area, there were 60 victims on 4-8 August 1995, half of them civilians, the oldest being 86.


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