PUBLIC STATEMENT BY COORDINATION OF ORGANISATIONS FOR PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA ON 16 JUNE, INTERNATIONAL DAY OF REFUGEES
The Co-ordination of organisations for protection and promotion of human rights in the Republic of Croatia, that gathers 18 non-governmental organisations which work on the protection and promotion of human rights all through Croatia, on June 16, the International Day of Refugees want to inform the public on its attitudes and thoughts on what would complete "Program of return and providing for refugees and displaced persons" should contain in order to guarantee that 1998. and following years would be years of return.
It would be unreasonable to claim, because of the character of the refugee crises in the area of former Yugoslavia, because of the problem of "connected containers", as due to material limitations of the Republic of Croatia, that it is possible to ensure mass return, and lately, self-preservation of that return, in a short period. Neither international community, nor non-governmental organisations for human rights have ever asked for that.
However, non-governmental organisations for human rights gathered in the Co-ordination of organisations for protection and promotion of human rights in the Republic of Croatia, do ask for:
Only those who are willing to concede right to return to every individual and are determined to help him/her in realising that right, would be able to elaborate "credible concept of the return of refugees and displaced persons in all parts of Croatia"
Have the Government and the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia those qualities?
We witness constant inducing of opposing to refugee return in Croatian public, through state media, by intimidating the public with the consequences on their safety and life standard provoked by the return, which aims at obtaining general support to the policy of return defended by Croatian authorities.
The Croatian Government passed, in the October 1997 (almost seven months ago) the Program on Establishing the Trust, Accelerated Return and Normalisation of Life in War Inflicted Areas of the Republic of Croatia. The goals of that programme were, among others: creating general atmosphere of tolerance and safety, achieving equality of all citizens in front of the administration, the return of Croatian citizens in areas of the Republic of Croatia from which they were exiled, as soon, safe and organised as possible, and creating political framework for execution of all valid legal norms. Seven months after passing the programme, on which we did not have any objections at the time, the situation in neither of these areas is not developing as fast and wide as it would be objectively possible. On the contrary, we witness every day that those who encourage national non-toleration are given great space in media.
We demand changes of the Government's "return policy", from insincere and non-trustworthy, into trustworthy and promising, in sense of providing hope to all displaced persons and refugees that they will be able, if that is what they really want, to return to their home.
In that sense, we expect that the Programme of return and providing for refugees and displaced persons, which should be passed within next four days, should be based on the following principles:
In that sense, it is necessary that the Programme of Return and Providing for Displaced Persons and Refugees foresees, i.e., to invalidate immediately, following laws, which were passed, in our opinion, at least partially, in order to make return more difficult and to acknowledge illegal condition created by violence and war:
All listed laws or specific articles need to be invalidated, not only because they make the return impossible, but also because they obviously contradict the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia.
The return of all people to their houses and apartments is of such vital interest (although it may not always seem so to us, who were in our houses and flats all this time) to the citizens of Croatia (and for the citizens of all neighbouring states), that we propose establishing responsibility and sanctioning of all persons in charge of implementing laws, who do not implement them, or misconduct or misuse them in way that prevents the return of displaced persons and refugees, or that makes the return more difficult.
The members of the Co-ordination of Organisations for Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Republic of Croatia:
Center for Direct Protection of Human Rights, Zagreb
Center for Civil Initiatives, Poreč
Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights, Osijek
Center for Peace, Legal Advice, Psychosocial Support, Vukovar
Central Bureau for refugees, Human Rights and Rights of National Communities or Minorities in SDF
Dalmatian Committee for Human Rights, Split
Dalmatian Committee for Solidarity, Split
Civil Committee for Human Rights, Zagreb
Group for Women's' Right B.a.B.e., Zagreb
Committee for Human Rights, Karlovac
Peace Movement "Suncokret", Rijeka
Committee for Human Rights in Serbian Community, Rijeka
Association for Peace and Human Rights "Baranja", Darda
Association for Human Rights Protection and Civic Freedom "Homo", Pula
Women Group Lošinj, Mali Lošinj
Center for Direct Protection of Human Rights