23 years of unpunished war crime of deportation of refugees

These days we are commemorating 23 years since the war crime was committed in Montenegro against Bosnian-Herzegovian Muslim refugees, better known as the “Deportation of refugees”. NGOs Human Rights Action, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) and Anima organised will on Monday, 25 May 2015, in noon, in front of the Security Centre in Herceg Novi, on where the majority of refugees was illegally deported, laid flowers and mutually paid tribute to victims.

We remind that Montenegrin police illegally detained at least 66 civilians in May and June of 1992, who fled from war in BiH to Montenegro, and handed them over as hostages to the Bosnian Serbs Army for the exchange of prisoners of war. The majority of the deported were immediately executed, others were killed in concentration camps, and some of them survived the torture and were finally exchanged. For some of the victims who were deported from Herceg Novi on 27 May 1992, till this day, whereabouts of their tombs or places where they were killed remain unknown.

NGOs (HRA, CCE and Anima) and the president of Council for civic control of work of the police, Aleksandar Saša Zeković, addressed three initiatives four and three years ago:
1) An initiative to President of Parliament of Montenegro, Ranko Krivokapić, and to heads of all parliamentary clubs, to declare 27 May as the Day of Remembrance for the victims of the crime of deportation of refugees in 1992 from Montenegro;

2) An initiative to former Prime Minister of Montenegro Igor Lukšić, Minister of Interior Ivan Brajović, and Minister of Culture Branislav Mićunović, as well as to former President of the Municipal Assembly of Herceg Novi Dejan Mandić, to build a memorial to the victims of 1992 deportation of refugees in front of the Police Directorate in Herceg-Novi, thereby also recognizing the desire of families of deported victims;

3) In 2012 one more initiative was submitted – for the Montenegrin police to apologize for the use of police authorities during the deportation of refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

None of these initiative has been accepted up to date. As a reminder, former President of the Municipal Assembly of Herceg Novi, Dejan Mandić, stated that the city of Herceg Novi was not ready to support the initiative to build a memorial, and that he did not address higher authorities with regard to this initiative – in this case the Ministry of Culture. Prime Minister Igor Lukšić on 11 July 2011 opened a “monument to all victims of the 1991-2001 wars”. On that occasion, we stated that it was inappropriate and pointless to put all victims under the same, nameless monument, which does not state anything about what had happened in that decade, who these victims were and who was responsible for them becoming victims. Therefore, this monument cannot be considered a response to our initiative.

We remind of the verdict of Higher court in Podgorica (which became final on 17 May 2013 when Appellate court confirmed it) based on which all the accused were acquitted because they did not have the status of “members of party in conflict in B&H” or of those “who were in the service of party during the conflict in B&H”, which was supposedly necessary in order to consider that they perpetrated war crime. Meanwhile, Maurizio Salustro, expert of European Union, pointed out in his report on the processing of war crimes in Montenegro that the precondition for criminal-legal responsibility for war crime for which the court established that it was wrong and unfamiliar to international humanitarian law and practice, where, for the responsibility, no formal status of the perpetrator is required, only the context of armed conflict which influenced him/her to perpetrate the crime. Supreme State Prosecution of Montenegro (SSP) filed a request for the protection of legality against the verdict on 25 March 2015, thereby demanding from Supreme court to determine that the law was violated based on that verdict in favour of accused former police officials, officials of Ministry of Interior and Intelligence Service.

We welcome the initiative of Committee of SDP from Herceg Novi, which recently urged competent ones to put memorial plaque before the Security Centre in Herceg Novi with all of the deported citizens from B&H. We called all councillors of Municipal Assembly of Herceg Novi to join us in the commemoration of this mournful anniversary, and now we call the media and citizens to join us.

Tea Gorjanc Prelević, executive director of Human Rights Action

Ljupka Kovačević, coordinator of ANIMA – Centre for women and peaceful education

Daliborka Uljarević, executive director of Centre for Civic Education (CCE)