Dossier: VRS 43rd Motorised Brigade in Prijedor

43mb-enBetween May and August 1992, units of the 1st Krajina Corps of the Army of the Republika Srpska (VRS), together with the police of the Republika Srpska, Territorial Defence Force (TO) units and various volunteer groups, carried out attacks on a large number villages in the municipality of Prijedor inhabited predominantly by Bosniaks and Croats.

In the documents of the VRS and the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) of the Republika Srpska, combat operations in the Prijedor municipality were referred to as “cleansing operations” and actions aimed to crush extremist groups. However, as established in several judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), these operations involved the systematic killings, abuses, arrests and detention of non-Serbs, as well as the destruction and looting of their property.

More than 3,000 civilians died in the territory of Prijedor municipality in 1992, and around 38,000 Bosniaks and Croats left the municipality before the second half of October of 1992.


DOSSIER: Camps for Croats in Serbia

Dosije-logori-thumb-enOn November 18, 1991, after a three-month siege of the city, the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army (JNA) took over Vukovar with the assistance of the Serbian Territorial Defence Forces (TO) and military volunteer units. Upon occupying the city, a large number of members of the Croatian forces, as well as civilians, were captured by the JNA, including the wounded, women, minors and elderly people.

The JNA transferred those captured persons to the territory of Vojvodina, where already in September 1991 several camps for prisoners of war from the territory of Croatia had been established.

According to research conducted by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), the largest camp set up in Serbia was at the Sremska Mitrovica Penal Correctional Facility (KPD). In addition to this camp, there were camps in the Banat villages of Begejci and Stajićevo, the JNA barracks in Aleksinac and the Niš Penal Correctional Facility. In Serbia, there were also smaller “transit” camps and centres, where detainees stayed for several days before being transferred to some of the larger camps. Although there were more such camps, in this Dossier we have identified the facilities in Šid, a military police training centre in Bubanj Potok and a JNA barracks in Paragovo.

All the camps – except Niš, which was in the area of responsibility of the 3rd Military District (VO) of the JNA -, were within the area of responsibility of the 1st VO of the JNA. The security of the camp was provided by members of the JNA military police. JNA officers were appointed commanders of the camp; however, the real control of the camps was exercised by the Security Administration of the Federal Secretariat for National Defence (UB SSNO).


Dossier: Forcible Mobilisation of Refugees

Dosije-PrisilnaMobilizacija-srFrom the outbreak of war in Croatia and BiH, and especially in connection with the Croatian military-police operations “Flash” and “Storm”, about 500,000 Serbs, citizens of Croatia and BiH, fled to Serbia. Tens of thousands of Serbs from Croatia fled to Serbia during 1991 and 1992. They mostly exchanged their houses and property with Croats from Vojvodina, who, under pressure from the Serbian Radical Party and paramilitary groups, left Serbia. At least 200,000 people fled Croatia from May until the end of August 1995, during and after the “Flash” and “Storm” operations of the Croatian Army and the MUP. Most of the refugees were accommodated in reception centres across Serbia, in old hotels, unused public facilities, or with relatives and friends, and only a few were able to rent an apartment.


Dossier: Crimes against Croats in Vojvodina

Dosije_Hrvati_u_Vojvodini_enIn the period 1991-1995, in the territory of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, there was a campaign of intimidation and pressure on Croatian civilians with the aim to force them to leave their homes, and Serbia as well. The campaign, the intensity of which changed and reached its highest peaks in the second half of 1991, from spring to autumn 1992 and in summer of 1995, resulted in the expulsion of several tens of thousands of Croats from Vojvodina. Violence against Croats in Vojvodina included attacks on their private property and religious buildings, as well as threats, physical attacks and murders.

Vojislav Šešelj and his Serbian Radical Party (SRS) were the main advocates and inspirers of the campaign of intimidation and pressure on the Croat population in Vojvodina. The persecution of Croatian families was carried out under the pressure of various groups close to the SRS, composed of the local population, a militant part of the Serbian refugees from Croatia, and of members of  volunteer units from Serbia who had participated in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This intimidation campaign took place with the awareness and tacit approval of the political structures of the Republic of Serbia. The evidence presented in this Dossier shows that in some acts of violence against Croats, persons from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) of the Republic of Serbia also took part. In addition, in the forced eviction of Vojvodina Croats, the State Security Department (RDB) of the MUP of the Republic of Serbia played a significant role.

In the period between the two population censuses of 1991 and 2002, the number of Croats and members of other non-Serb populations in the territory of Vojvodina was noticeably reduced. The number of Croats was reduced in 39 out of 45 municipalities in Vojvodina; and across the territory of the entire Vojvodina, the number of Croats decreased by 18,262, i.e. by 24.41%.

In this Dossier, evidence of events in certain Vojvodina municipalities (Ruma, Šid, Stara Pazova, Inđija, Petrovaradin and Apatin) has been presented, showing how strong the pressure on the Croats to emigrate was, and where the ethnic picture was changed the most. The Dossier is based on the testimonies of witnesses and families of victims given to the Humanitarian Law Center, RDB documents, judgments of the courts in Serbia, and documents presented to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, as well as media reports.

Dossier: Crimes against Croats in Vojvodina is available here.


Jović: The war in Yugoslavia was a war against minorities


On June 15, 2018, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented its tenth Dossier: “The JNA in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina“. As the most extensive so far, this Dossier has been covering the period from the end of the 1980s up to May 1992. It explores how the JNA and the political leadership of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and of Serbia prepared for the wars, the JNA’s involvement in the conflicts, and its contribution to achieving the wartime goals of Serbia, the Republic of Serbian Krajina and Republika Srpska.

Nemanja Stjepanović from the HLC said that the goal of the Dossier was to point to the crimes committed during the armed conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to the responsibility of the perpetrators and initiators, as well as to place these events in a wider historical context for a better understanding of them. The Dossier illuminates the process of the restructuration of the JNA from the Yugoslav into the Serbian army, its transformation as the focus of its activities changed, the alterations of national structures within the JNA, and, finally, the partiality it showed in dedicating itself to the goal of “defending the Serb people”. A survey the HLC conducted, presented within this Dossier, showed that “defence” was reduced exclusively to the conquest of the territory.


Dossier: The JNA in the Wars in Croatia and BiH

JNA_u_ratovima-enThe role of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and its transformation from the Yugoslav into the Serbian army, is the subject of this, the tenth Dossier of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC). It is the most extensive of the HLC Dossiers so far, covering the period from the end of the 1980s up to May 1992. It explores how the JNA and political leadership of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and Serbia prepared for the wars, the JNA’s involvement in the conflicts, and its contribution to achieving the wartime goals of Serbia, the Republic of Serbian Krajina and Republika Srpska.

The introduction section of the Dossier presents facts about the development of the crisis in the former Yugoslavia and the steps undertaken by the leadership of the Republic of Serbia, headed by Slobodan Milosevic, to take control of the JNA, with a view to using it for achieving their own wartime goals. After that, the Dossier presents the role of the JNA in the war in Croatia, and in the BiH.

In each of the examples given of the JNA’s military involvement in Croatia and BiH, the pattern of attacks is described and the JNA units that took part in them are listed. Also, evidence on the identity of the perpetrators of crimes committed during the attacks, whether they were JNA members or members of Serb formations who participated in the actions alongside the JNA, is presented.

The Dossier also presents evidence on the JNA’s role in arming Serb formations in Croatia and BiH in the lead-up to the conflicts, and on the assistance and support it provided to Serb militaries in Croatia and BIH after having formally withdrawn from these republics.

Some of the examples given, which are substantiated by military documents, make clear that after a decision was issued on JNA’s formal withdrawal from BiH in May 1992, its units  remaining behind in BiH were simply renamed, to become units of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS). The VRS retained the command structure of the JNA and its manpower, and took possession of its weaponry. This gave the newly established army of the Bosnian Serbs a head start over all other armed formations in BiH.

The Dossier: The JNA in the Wars in Croatia and BiH is available here.


Dossier: “Deportation of Srebrenica Refugees”

Dosije_Deportacije-logo-enAfter the fall of Srebrenica on 11 July, 1995, an estimated 7,905 persons disappeared, mostly men considered by the Army of Republika Srpska as “able-bodied”.  DNA analysis of the mortal remains of those found in mass graves, to date, has enabled positive identification of 5,977 persons killed in Srebrenica.

Most of these men were killed between 13 and 16 July 1995, in mass executions at several locations. A day before the fall of the enclave, between ten and sixteen thousand men fled into the forests around Srebrenica, intending to reach the “liberated territory” under the control of the Army of BiH. The search for, capture and killing of these men continued for weeks after the fall of Srebrenica.


“General Diković and 37th Brigade in Kosovo” Film

Dosije_Dikovic-thumb-enApproximately 1,400 civilians were killed in the area of responsibility of the 37th Brigade of the Yugoslav Army in Kosovo in 1999. The mortal remains of a number of victims were discovered in mass graves in Serbia. The present Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Army, Ljubiša Diković, was the Commander of the Brigade at this time. Neither he nor any members of his unit have been held accountable for these crimes.

 The evidence showing the presence and the role of the Yugoslav Army in the mass killings of civilians in Izbica, Čirez, Savarine, Rezala and other villages in the Drenica region is presented in the film titled “Ljubiša Diković and the 37th Brigade in Kosovo”, made by the Humanitarian Law Center. This evidence has already been presented in the “Ljubiša Diković” and “Rudnica” Dossiers.

 A number of TV services in Serbia, including the public broadcasters Radio and Television of Serbia and Radio and Television of Vojvodina, have refused or have not responded to the request that they screen the film. For this reason, the film will be posted on the HLC’s webpage and youtube channel on Tuesday, February 21st at 11:00 a.m.



Unpunished Concealment of more than 900 Bodies in Mass Graves in Serbia

Predstavljanje_dosijea_skrivanje_telaOn Tuesday, January 31st, 2017, the HLC presented its eighth dossier in a row about unprosecuted crimes and possiblel perpetrators. The Dossier “The cover-up of evidence of crimes during the war in Kosovo: Concealment of Bodies Operation” shows how the operation of concealing the bodies of Albanians killed during the war in Kosovo in 1999 was planned and executed, and which civilian, military and police institutions were involved in it. The objective of the Dossier is to point to the perpetrators of the concealment of one of the most serious crimes in Kosovo, to enable the citizens of Serbia to hear about the crimes committed in their name, and to encourage witnesses to come out with their knowledge about these events and help the search for the more than a thousand bodies of Albanian civilians who were killed during the conflict in Kosovo and who are still reported as missing.