ICTY prosecutor urges greater Croatia cooperation for EU accession

[JURIST] Chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] Serge Brammertz [official profile] said Friday that Croatia must make additional efforts to assist in investigations of war crimes during the 1991-1995 Balkan war [JURIST news archive]. Approval from Brammertz is crucial to Croatia's European Union (EU) [official website] bid, as it enters into the final round of negotiations with the hope to gain entry in 2012. Brammertz stated that while Croatia has been cooperative on most issues, he is still seeking wartime documents for the prosecution of three Croatian generals, which he requested from Croatia two years ago. Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor [official profile] claims that the government has performed a comprehensive administrative search for the military documents but has been unable to locate the outstanding materials in question. Defending [press release] the government's efforts, Kosor stated:

We have done all we could regarding the documents in question. We have handed over the documents we have found, and as regards to those we haven't found, our investigations have clearly established their chain of custody. We have very clearly described it [in our report] and sent it to the prosecutor.
Kosor also added that the exhaustive efforts of her ICTY "task force" have led to charges against 13 individuals, of which three have already been convicted. Kosor hopes that these accomplishments will be taken into consideration by the chief prosecutor when he briefs the UN Security Council and EU ministers in mid-June. Negotiations for Croatia's EU review of judiciary and fundamental rights is set to begin in June.

Croatia has been working hard to settle many of the human rights issues that have previously blocked its EU accession. In March, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the practice of segregating Roma [JURIST news archive] minority primary school students in Croatia from other pupils is discriminatory. The court declared the practice to be in contravention of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF], which prohibits discrimination, and of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1, which guarantees the right to an education. In January, the Serbian government filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against Croatia in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website], accusing the Croatian government of committing genocide during the Balkan war. The suit [press release, in Croation] is in response to a similar suit [case materials] filed by Croatia against Serbia in 1999. The ICJ ruled [JURIST report] last year that it has jurisdiction to hear that case. Serbia is also looking to gain membership into the EU in 2012, and will be assessed by Brammetz in June in regards to capture of two high-level Serbian targets still at large under the jurisdiction of the ICTY, Ratko Mladic [case materials; JURIST news archive] and Goran Hadzic [case materials].

 

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