27 years since crimes in Škabrnja and Nadin

27 years since crimes in Škabrnja and Nadin

skabrnjaOn Sunday, November 18, 2018, we mark exactly 27 years since the commission of the crimes by members of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and Territorial Defence (TO) of Benkovac against Croatian civilians in the villages of Škabrnja and Nadin. Although the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed criminal charges for these crimes with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) in November 2017, to date the HLC has no information as to whether the OWCP has taken any legal action that would lead to the trial of those responsible for this crime.

Early in the morning on November 18, 1991, the JNA, together with the Benkovac TO, entered the village of Škabrnja from the nearby village of Smilčić, which was predominantly inhabited by Serbs. After entering the village, they destroyed the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After that, 41 Croat civilians were killed in various locations in Škabrnja. The next day, in the nearby Nadin, seven more civilians were killed. Most of the locals killed were elderly people, including 16 women, one of whom was a person with disabilities.

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Two years after the filing of the criminal complaint against Dušan Lončar, the OWCP has still not taken action

Two years after the filing of the criminal complaint against Dušan Lončar, the OWCP has still not taken action

Specijalni sudToday, exactly two years have passed since the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) against Dušan Lončar, former Commander of the Second Proletarian Elite Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA 2nd PEMBR), for the crime committed in the village of Lovas (Croatia) in October 1991. The HLC informs the public that since the lodging of the criminal complaint, the OWCP has done nothing to investigate this crime and prosecute those responsible.

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Criminal charges for the murder of Matijević familly in April 1992

Criminal charges for the murder of Matijević familly in April 1992

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On October 16, 2018, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) of the Republic of Serbia against several unknown persons, for killing three members of the Matijević family in April 1992 in Kukujevci (Municipality of Šid, Serbia).

In the late evening hours of April 20, 1992, several unknown persons entered the courtyard of the Croatian family Matijević in Kukujevci. They took Ana, Joza and their son Franjo Matijević, a minor, from the house, and drove them to an unknown destination. Several years later, their mortal remains were exhumed from the cemetery in Mohovo (Municipality of Ilok, Croatia). To date, no one has been charged for this crime before the courts in Serbia.


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For the first time in Belgrade: “Besieged Sarajevo”

For the first time in Belgrade: “Besieged Sarajevo”

opsada-sarajeva-thumbFrom September 25 to October 6, 2018, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina presented in Belgrade a part of the museum’s permanent exhibition, entitled “Besieged Sarajevo”. With photographs, documents, and hand-made items made by citizens of Sarajevo, the exhibition depicts life in the city that the Republika Srpska Army (RSA) kept under siege for 44 months. Visitors could see what life in a city without water, electricity and heating looked like, how schools operated, how children played, and how food was procured, along with other daily activities in the city that, despite everyday sniper attacks from the surrounding hills, sought to preserve the illusion of a normal life.


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Invitation to a book launch and a discussion

Invitation to a book launch and a discussion

diane-en-thumbOn October 5th, on the occasion of the presentation of her new research published in the book “Some Kind of Justice – The ICTY’s Impact in Bosnia and Serbia”, the Humanitarian Law Center will host professor Diane Orentlicher.

Diane Orentlicher, Professor of International Law at American University, has been described by the Washington Diplomat as “one of the world’s leading authorities on human rights law and war crimes tribunals.” She has lectured and published widely on issues of transitional justice, international criminal law. Professor Orentlicher has served in various public positions, including as the Deputy for War Crimes Issues in the U.S. Department of State; United Nations Independent Expert on Combating Impunity, and Special Advisor to the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

In her new book, Professor Orentlicher offers a groundbreaking and timely account of how an international criminal tribunal affects local communities and the factors that account for its changing impact over time. Through an in-depth case study, „Some Kind of Justice“ offers fresh insights about two questions now the subject of robust debate: What goals can we plausibly assign to international criminal tribunals? What factors determine the impact of distant courts on societies that have seen vicious violence? The book explores the influence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, launched in 1993 by the UN Security Council at the height of ethnic conflict accompanying the breakup of Yugoslavia, in two countries directly affected by its work. One, Bosnia-Herzegovina, experienced soaring levels of ethnic violence, culminating in the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica. The wartime government of the other country, Serbia, plunged the region into conflict. Scheduled to close at the end of 2017, the ICTY is the longest-running war crimes tribunal in history, and thus offers an incomparably rich case study of how a Nuremberg-inspired tribunal influences societies emerging from ruinous violence.

This will be an opportunity to discuss how the ICTY also impacted other post-Yugoslav states. Our interlocutors will include:

  • Hrvoje Klasić, Historian, University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Erna Mačkić, BIRN, BH
  • Adriatik Kelmendi, journalist, Kosovo
  • Nemanja Stjepanović, journalist, Serbia

The book presentation and a debate will take place on October 5th 2018, at the Cultural Center „Parobrod“, starting at 7 p.m.

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Invitation to the Exhibition “Besieged Sarajevo“

Invitation to the Exhibition   “Besieged Sarajevo“

izlozbaSarajevo

The “Besieged Sarajevo” Exhibition is the story of the life of the citizens during the siege of Sarajevo, and about the persistence, resourcefulness and creativity of the Sarajevans who lived 1,335 days without electricity, water or heating.  At the exhibition you can see how daily life in the city flowed, where and how Sarajevans procured food and water, how the markets and streets looked, how people communicated, how hospitals and schools operated, and how cultural life was fostered and developed… The story of the siege is told through photographs, documents and objects made by the citizens. This is a permanent exhibition of the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Citizens of Sarajevo also participated in the process of its creation, donating war items to the Museum, and sharing their war stories and memories.

In cooperation with the History Museum of BiH, the Humanitarian Law Center will open the exhibition on September 25th 2018 at the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Stari grad “Parobrod” in Belgrade (Kapetan Mišina 6a), starting at 7 p.m. Until October 6, 2018, several accompanying events will be organized as part of the exhibition, including:

Programme

27. IX at 5 p.m. Public lecture on the Siege of Sarajevo

  • Nemanja Stjepanović

4. X at 6 p.m. Movie “The Siege”, Remy Ourdan

  • A talk with the author and the citizens of Sarajevo
  • (reserve your seat at: events@hlc-rdc.org)

5. X at 7 p.m. Book launch and discussion

“Some Kind of Justice – The ICTY’s Impact in Bosnia and Serbia”, Diane Orentlicher

Discussants:

  • Diane Orentlicher, Washington College of Law, US
  • Hrvoje Klasić, Historian, University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Erna Mačkić, Balkan Investigative Research Network, BH
  • Adriatik Kelmendi, journalist, Kosovo
  • Nemanja Stjepanović, journalist, Serbia

The entrance to the exhibition is free of charge. For any additional information please send an email to events@hlc-rdc.org or call (011) 3349-766.

The exhibition is supported by the Embassy of Switzerland to Serbia and to Montenegro, the Civil Rights Defenders, and the Heinrich Böll Foundation – Office in Belgrade

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School of Transitional Justice: To know facts, not myths

School of Transitional Justice: To know facts, not myths

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On Monday, July 30, 2018, the Fifth National School of Transitional Justice organised by the Humanitarian Law Center completed its course. The School participants were 25 students of law, security, political science and history, activists from NGOs, journalists, law apprentices and history educators from Belgrade, Surdulica, Mladenovac, Smederevo, Ribarica, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Požarevac, Pančevo, Bor and Niš.

They acquired knowledge about the concept of transitional justice and its mechanisms, and its application in Serbia in the context of the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, and considered the case studies of Srebrenica, Kosovo, Vukovar, Oluja, Hrtkovci, Skočić, and Zvornik. Besides the opportunity to learn about the court-established facts regarding these crimes, the participants were also able to assimilate some of the facts from the victims’ perspective. In this manner, they had the opportunity to hear about the experiences of Suvada Selimovic, from the town of Djulići near Zvornik, and Zijo Ribić, from the town of Skočić near Zvornik, who talked about pre-war life in their villages with their neighbours, about the war events they witnessed, and their fight for truth and justice after the war ended. The agenda also included a visit to monuments in Belgrade which bear witness to the currently dominant ethnically-biased manner of remembering victims’ suffering during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

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HLC presented the Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for War Crimes Prosecution and Policy Paper: Accounting for Missing Persons from the Armed Conflicts of the 1990s in the Former Yugoslavia

HLC presented the Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for War Crimes Prosecution and Policy Paper: Accounting for Missing Persons from the Armed Conflicts of the 1990s in the Former Yugoslavia

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On Friday, July 27, 2018, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented its second Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for War Crimes Prosecution. Opening the discussion on the report, Jelena Krstić from the HLC pointed to the fact that the problems that led to the adoption of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes are still current: a small number of indictments, the lack of criteria for prioritising cases, a slowdown in trials, an inadequate witness and victims protection system, as well as inefficient regional cooperation. At the same time, the precondition Serbia needs to fulfill in order to join the European Union (EU) is to make visible progress in the prosecution of war crimes before domestic courts. Bearing in mind the current dynamics of the trials, Serbia risks losing a historical opportunity to prosecute as many war crimes perpetrators as possible. Namely, as time goes by, victims, witnesses and perpetrators are coming closer to the moment of death, and their memories are becoming more and more unstable; everyday socio-economic problems are taking precedence over concerns regarding events that occurred several decades ago, and the perspective of the future is becoming more and more important in relation to the need to solve the heritage of the past. Krstić concluded that for a more effective processing of war crimes the political determination of the institutions of Serbia is crucial, but that strong support and encouragement by the EU is also still needed.


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