Podgorica/Zagreb, 17 May 2010

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights Montenegro and Youth Initiative for Human Rights Croatia express their concern about the manner of conducting war crime trials in Montenegro and Croatia. We believe that war crime proceedings in Montenegro and Croatia are to a large extent conditioned by political circumstances and that they are insufficiently independent. This equally applies to pre-investigation and investigation phases of the proceedings, preparation of indictments and conducting the proceedings, as well as rendering judgments.

What can be noticed is insufficient prosecution of perpetrators, primarily those who committed crimes against non-Montenegrin and non-Serb population in Montenegro, or against non-Croat population in Croatia. Also evident is insufficient prosecution of high ranking officers and those who ordered the crimes, as the majority of proceedings are conducted against direct perpetrators, those executing the orders.

Judgments like the one for Morinj in Montenegro or Lora in Croatia are more of an obstacle than a means for achieving justice. Such judgments are scandalous and surprising for all those who wish justice to be satisfied.

Montenegro and Croatia, as leading countries in the region in terms of their progress in the process of EU integration, must take more serious responsibility for the prosecution of war crimes, as well as for their political condemnation. Any different intention represents a justification of crimes. Thus, in addition to being leaders in the EU integration, they are also leaders of inaction with regard to dealing with the past.

Judicial and government authorities and officials in Montenegro and Croatia should shift the focus in the prosecution of war crimes from the irresponsible and nontransparent goals of protecting the perpetrators and politicians who had had significant roles in committed crimes, towards the victims of such crimes and achieving justice. Otherwise, through government policies and acts by citizens who have not been convicted, Montenegrin and Croatian political elites become active participants in the fascist criminal actions of the early 1990s.

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights Montenegro and Youth Initiative for Human Rights Croatia consider that only those opposing such situation and those demanding genuine dealing with the past can bring us into the EU. This cannot and must not be done by those trying to hide and justify crimes, often because of their own involvement.