Commissioner Hammarberg supports Croatian President's efforts to end impunity in the Balkans

Strasbourg, 22/03/2012 – "The law adopted by the Croatian Parliament last October proclaiming null and void all legal acts relating to the 1991-1995 war in which Croatian nationals are suspected, indicted or sentenced for war crimes is a serious setback to the efforts to end impunity and promote the rule of law in the region. I welcome President Josipović's request to the Constitutional Court of Croatia for a review of the constitutionality of this law," stated the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, following his meeting with the Croatian President in Zagreb.

"Impunity encourages the committal and repetition of crimes, inflicts additional suffering on victims and adversely affects the rule of law and public trust in the justice systems, especially where there is a legacy of serious human rights violations", added the Commissioner.

Commissioner Hammarberg has noted that as of late 2011, despite efforts made by the Croatian authorities, only one fifth of the approximately 490 crimes recorded by the Croatian State Attorney's Office had been resolved. "I welcome the determination shown by the Croatian authorities to enhance the national judicial system in order to bring to an end the unreasonably lengthy judicial proceedings including those related to wartime crimes. They have realised that justice is key for achieving durable peace in the region of the former Yugoslavia and that it must be justice without distinction. In this context, I encourage Croatia and all neighbouring states that have not as yet done so to accede to the 1974 European Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitation to Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes".

The Commissioner praised the efforts made so far by the presidents of Serbia and Croatia to establish and recognise the truth for the gross human rights violations committed during the wars in the 1990s in the region. "These courageous and visionary acts of determined political leadership deserve wide support and Europe has a special, supportive role to play in this. I trust that my recently launched paper on post-war justice and durable peace in the former Yugoslavia will contribute to these efforts".

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