University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Croatia, U.N. Doc. A/50/18, paras. 163-178 (1995).



Forty-sixth session


Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination



163. At its 1096th meeting, held on 16 March 1995, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

(a) Introduction

164. The opportunity to continue the constructive dialogue with the State party is welcomed and appreciation is expressed concerning the readiness of the State party to provide the additional information which had been requested by the Committee. The presence of a high-level delegation and the extent to which they presented additional information orally and in written form to the Committee is indicative of the desire of the State party to take seriously its obligations under the Convention. Also acknowledged with appreciation is the invitation and assistance offered to the Committee's good-offices mission to Croatia which took place in 1994.

(b) Positive aspects

165. The stated commitment to normalize inter-ethnic relations is welcomed as are the advances which have been made in democratic institution-building. The establishment of a Constitutional Court is especially important and ongoing preparations for the activation of bodies such as a provisional court of human rights are noted. Satisfaction is expressed concerning the adherence of Croatia to the Council of Europe's human rights protection mechanism for non-members. The State party is to be commended for its willingness to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and with mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights, including the Special Process for disappeared persons and the Special Rapporteur for the former Yugoslavia.

(c) Factors and difficulties

166. It is deplored that the State party, due to the fact that parts of its territory are controlled by secessionist forces, is not in a position to exercise control over the whole of its territory and in consequence cannot ensure the application of the provisions of the Convention throughout the State. It is noted that the secessionist forces are responsible for systematic violations of human rights in areas under their de facto control, including rights ensured by the Convention, the principal victims of which are those not belonging to the Serb or Croatian Serb communities.

167. The enormous problems for the State party posed by the effects of the hostilities in the former Yugoslavia are noted. In particular the difficulties in meeting the needs of the large numbers of refugees and displaced persons are acknowledged.

(d) Principal subjects of concern

168. Great concern has been expressed concerning the earlier intention of the State party not to permit the military, civilian and police components of the United Nations Protection Force to remain in the country. It is considered that withdrawal may have the gravest implications for minority ethnic groups and displaced persons in the United Nations Protected Areas (UNPAs), the demilitarized zone and elsewhere.

169. While recognizing the great problems confronted by the State party in meeting the needs of refugees and displaced persons, unease is expressed as to recent practices which have particularly affected refugees of Bosnian Muslim origin. Note is taken of reliable reports that many such refugees have failed or had great difficulty and extreme delay in obtaining the necessary documentation to allow them access to essential social and humanitarian services in Croatia, and have thus been obliged to return to sometimes life-threatening situations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Concern is also expressed about the incident in late summer of 1994 when the State party refused to allow some 30,000 externally displaced persons, all Bosnian Muslims, from the Velika Kladusa region of Bihac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) to leave appalling camp conditions in UNPA North and the demilitarized zone and enter areas of Croatia under its control. It is, however, noted that the situation was especially complicated by, inter alia, the influence exerted by leaders of the so-called "Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia", the rapidly changing war situation and the eventual return of most of the displaced people to Velika Kladusa.

170. It is noted that the administration of the criminal justice system fails adequately to address crimes of an ethnic nature. Thus there has been a failure to prosecute alleged perpetrators of crimes directed at ethnic Serbs and it is reliably reported that a number of Croatian Serbs have been unfairly prosecuted or excessively punished for alleged crimes against non-Serbs.

171. Attention is drawn to the extent of evictions carried out by State authorities against ethnic Serb residents of apartments formerly owned by the Yugoslav National Army. Particular concern is expressed concerning evictions which the Government declared to be legal in apparent defiance of decisions of the Constitutional Court. Inaction by the government authorities to prevent or reverse evictions of ethnic Serbs which it itself deems to be illegal is also noted.

172. Concern is expressed regarding the influence of the mass media in aggravating ethnic tension and the failure of the State to investigate and prosecute a number of incidents of promotion by elements of the print media of hatred directed against ethnic Serbs.

173. Note is taken of the provisions of the laws concerning naturalization and acquisition of citizenship and concern is expressed as to the great difficulties encountered in the process by many who are not of ethnic Croat origin.

174. Attention is drawn to the situation of the Roma community in Croatia and to a number of reports indicating that they are subject to discrimination and forms of harassment.

(e) Suggestions and recommendations

175. The Committee recommends that the process of democratic institution-building proceed with great urgency and that the provisional court of human rights speedily commence its activities. It also recommends that the State party ensure that laws and regulations concerning, inter alia, naturalization, acquisition of citizenship, determination of refugee status and tenure of rented accommodation be implemented in a transparent non-discriminatory manner in full conformity with the provisions of the Convention. It further recommends that any victims of discriminatory application of such rules and regulations in violation of the terms of the Convention receive redress to the extent that this is possible.

176. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that it administers justice in a manner consistent with its obligations under the Convention and that it speedily prosecute all alleged offences which appear to be directed against persons because of their racial, ethnic or religious origins. It recommends to the State party that it identify any miscarriages of justice which may have occurred and been motivated by the ethnic origin of the defendants and that it redress any injustice done.

177. The Committee recommends that the State party consider making the declaration under article 14, paragraph 1, of the Convention.*

178. The Committee recommends as a matter of urgency that the State party comply with article 4 of the Convention and prohibit and prosecute all incitement to ethnic hatred in the media and elsewhere.


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