UN rights expert calls for renewed transitional justice process after 90’s conflict: Croatia


A UN human rights expert today urged Croatian authorities to redouble efforts on the transitional justice process following the 1991-94 armed conflict, raising concerns about increased cases of radicalization and hate speech in the country.

At the end of a six-day official visit to Croatia, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Fabián Salvioli, urged the Government to advance the transitional justice agenda, including justice, truth, reparations to victims, and guarantees of non-recurrence.

“It is important that the Government gives an unequivocal sign to society and the international community of its commitment towards a comprehensive and holistic transitional justice process aimed at addressing past abuses, preventing their recurrence and establishing the foundations of a peaceful and respectful society for all,” Salvioli said in a statement.

The UN expert praised the “progress made after the conflict, and particularly during Croatia’s accession process to the European Union, with regards to the prosecution of war criminals, the search for missing persons, and the pace and quality of legislative and institutional reforms aimed at ensuring the rule of law, democracy and the promotion and protection of human rights”.

“However, progress appears to have stalled in the last seven years and concerns have risen regarding the prospects of effective social reconciliation, particularly as a result of mounting instances of hate speech, glorification of war crimes, and the relativization of the decisions of the ICTY and national tribunals,” he added.

Salvioli noted the legislative measures adopted by the Government of Croatia to curb this extremely worrying trend, but also its insufficient implementation. “I urge the relevant police, judicial, legislative and executive authorities to adopt all necessary measures to adequately respond to the raise in radicalization and hatred expressed in certain sectors of society, to ensure that the steps taken so far towards reconciliation are not irremediably reverted,” he said.

During his visit, Salvioli met government officials, civil society and human rights representatives, victims and survivors. He also visited mass grave sites, exhumation locations, memorials of the 1990s conflict and sites of World War Two concentration camps.

The expert recalled that “for a process of transition and reconciliation to be effective, the acknowledgement of the suffering and dignity of all victims is vital, as is the transmission of their stories to current and future generations, not only through school curricula and text books, but also through cultural activities and through the media”.

“The legacy of past violations in all its complexities must be adequately and comprehensively addressed to assist in the process of social reconciliation, placing the victims at the centre of this process,” Salvioli said.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a full report on the visit to the Human Rights Council in 2022.

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