[JURIST] A spokesperson for European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding [official websites] said Monday that Croatia [JURIST news archive] may face legal action for failure to comply with EU extradition law. Days before entering the EU on July 1, the Croatian government changed the country's laws to prevent extradition of suspects for crimes occurring before 2002. This act is seen by many to be an attempt to protect veterans from the Croatian War for Independence [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], spanning from 1991-1995. The European Commission has accused Zagreb of intentionally infringing upon EU law [Reuters report] and plans for top officials to meet and discuss what, if any, action is to be taken. Proposed remedies may include a decrease in financial aid or an increase in monitoring the country's compliance with EU law.
Croatia has previously been criticized by groups such as Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] for the slow pace of war crimes investigations. AI noted (report, PDF) that Croatian courts have mostly focused on crimes allegedly committed by ethnic Serbs even though Croats have also been accused of ethnic-based war crimes. Amidst pressure to the tackle this issue of corruption, the push to join the EU was a primary focus [JURIST op-eds] of the nation's rulers for years. In January of this year the Croatian people voted in favor of joining the EU, a month after the government signed a treaty [JURIST reports] to finalize its EU accession. The EU gave final approval [JURIST report] for Croatian membership in 2011 after six years of negotiations. The EU had previously suspended accession talks [JURIST report] in 2005 when it felt Croatia was not cooperating fully with International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia investigations into war crimes against its former military officers.