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25th anniversary of Tuzla massacre: Ensuring justice for past crimes must be one of the top political priorities in the region

Statement
Strasbourg 25/05/2020
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25th anniversary of Tuzla massacre: Ensuring justice for past crimes must be one of the top political priorities in the region

Today we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the massacre of Tuzla, where a grenade fired by the Army of the Republika Srpska killed 71 people and injured more than 130. It is important to commemorate the victims and survivors of that atrocious crime and remember the suffering of their families. However, commemoration is not enough. They deserve justice.

Regrettably, justice is still hindered in the region by a lack of political will to fight against impunity for wartime crimes, and by increased efforts to undermine the results achieved so far. Denial of wartime crimes, falsification of the facts established by the ICTY and the glorification of war criminals have become serious obstacles to this fight.

A quarter of century after the Tuzla massacre, not all those responsible for it have faced trial. Like many other war criminals in the region, they hide behind the refusal of some countries to extradite their nationals who are charged with war crimes, or to co-operate in other ways.

The most egregious case is that of Novak Djukić, who was convicted by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for ordering the Tuzla attack, and five years after his condemnation is still free in Serbia because the sentence against him has not yet been enforced. This is a slap in the face of the victims of the Tuzla massacre and a blatant disrespect by Serbia of its international human rights obligations.

It is time that countries in the region depoliticise wartime crimes and pay more attention to the needs of the survivors and of the victims’ families. Ensuring justice for past crimes must be one of the top political priorities in the region.