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Croatia: UN rights expert calls for renewed transitional justice process after 90’s conflict

Croatian version

ZAGREB (2 December 2021) – A UN human rights expert today urged Croatian authorities to redouble efforts on the transitional justice process following the 1991-94 armed conflict, raising concerns about increased cases of radicalization and hate speech in the country.

At the end of a six-day official visit to Croatia, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Fabián Salvioli, urged the Government to advance the transitional justice agenda, including justice, truth, reparations to victims, and guarantees of non-recurrence.

“It is important that the Government gives an unequivocal sign to society and the international community of its commitment towards a comprehensive and holistic transitional justice process aimed at addressing past abuses, preventing their recurrence and establishing the foundations of a peaceful and respectful society for all,” Salvioli said in a statement.

The UN expert praised the “progress made after the conflict, and particularly during Croatia’s accession process to the European Union, with regards to the prosecution of war criminals, the search for missing persons, and the pace and quality of legislative and institutional reforms aimed at ensuring the rule of law, democracy and the promotion and protection of human rights”.

“However, progress appears to have stalled in the last seven years and concerns have risen regarding the prospects of effective social reconciliation, particularly as a result of mounting instances of hate speech, glorification of war crimes, and the relativization of the decisions of the ICTY and national tribunals,” he added.

Salvioli noted the legislative measures adopted by the Government of Croatia to curb this extremely worrying trend, but also its insufficient implementation. “I urge the relevant police, judicial, legislative and executive authorities to adopt all necessary measures to adequately respond to the raise in radicalization and hatred expressed in certain sectors of society, to ensure that the steps taken so far towards reconciliation are not irremediably reverted,” he said.

During his visit, Salvioli met government officials, civil society and human rights representatives, victims and survivors. He also visited mass grave sites, exhumation locations, memorials of the 1990s conflict and sites of World War Two concentration camps.

The expert recalled that “for a process of transition and reconciliation to be effective, the acknowledgement of the suffering and dignity of all victims is vital, as is the transmission of their stories to current and future generations, not only through school curricula and text books, but also through cultural activities and through the media”.

“The legacy of past violations in all its complexities must be adequately and comprehensively addressed to assist in the process of social reconciliation, placing the victims at the centre of this process,” Salvioli said.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a full report on the visit to the Human Rights Council in 2022.

ENDS

Mr. Fabian Salvioli (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence. He is a human rights lawyer and professor. Fabián Salvioli is professor of International Law and Human Rights at the School of Law of the University of La Plata. He has lectured in many countries and universities across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. Mr. Salvioli has authored several books and articles on international human rights law. He was member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee between 2009 and 2016, and its President between 2015 and 2016. As a Special Rapporteur, Mr. Salvioli is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Croatia

For further information and media enquiries, please contact: During the mission: Ms. Brenda Vukovic (+41 079 444 3940 / bvukovic@ohchr.org) and Thomas Njuiri Kimaru (+220 335-9999 / +220 335-9999). After the mission: Ms Brenda Vukovic (+41 22 917 9635 / Bvukovic@ohchr.org )

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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