State Responsible for Forcible Mobilization of Refugees

Serbian Supreme Court (SSC) dismissed on 19 July 2006 the state’s demand that the First Municipal Court in Belgrade repeats the procedure concerning the charges filed by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) during the year of 1998, on behalf of seven forcibly mobilized refugees from Croatia.

By this act, the SSC confirmed the responsibility of Serbia for the violation of right to freedom and rights guaranteed to the refugees by the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. By this decision, the SSC also confirmed the State of Serbia’s obligation to pay 2,380,000 dinars as economic compensation of damages to the victims.

Gugleta Stojan, Kasap Mile, Simić Đorđe, Dereta Zdravko, Živković Slavko, Kosović Đuro, and Ljubišić Mirko fled Croatia and came to Serbia during the military operation known as ‘Oluja’ (Storm) in August 1995 because of the fear for their lives and the lives of their families. Upon arriving in Serbia, they gained the status of refugees in accordance to the local legal provisions and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. However, their refugee status did not represent an obstacle for the members of the Serbian Ministry of Interior (MUP), to deprive them of freedom very soon. Based on false or no explanation, with the use of force, and in the presence of the family members, the police officers arrested most of them immediately after they crossed the border; they arrested some of them in the refugee camps. After they arrested these people, they transferred them, with the help of the very strict security, to Erdut, the Serb Volunteer Guard Camp. Upon completion of ‘training’ in the camp, they were all forcibly enlisted in the Republic of Srpska Krajina military troops.

During the summer of 1995, the members of Serbian MUP unlawfully detained around 10,000 refugees from Croatia and BiH, whom they transferred to the territory of Croatia and BiH. There, they were forced, against their convictions, to participate in the military operations as members of the Republic of Srpska Krajina Army or the Republic of Srpska Army. A great number of them were killed in these operations and many are still suffering from physical and mental consequences.

The HLC would like to remind Serbia that victims of mass human rights violations committed in the past, are forced to look for justice through individual procedures, due to the lack of the state program of reparations. The HLC has represented more than 700 forcibly mobilized persons before the court in the procedures for the compensation of damages initiated against the Republic of Serbia.