On the occasion of March 24 – International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) urges the representatives of judicial and executive authorities to take everything what is in their power to shed the light on the fate of missing persons and supress the impunity by processing the ones who are responsible for severe violations of human rights and suffering of innocent population during the post-Yugoslav wars of nineties, and thus ensure their families the right to truth.
According to the latest information, after more than 20 years from war events in region, more than 9,000 persons are still missing, out of which even 62 persons are from Montenegro. Hence, the priority of countries of region, including Montenegro, should be the search for the locations with bodies of victims and their exhumation. That implies close cooperation of competent institutions with various actors, including the families of victims and NGOs. We remind that the Council of Europe Commissionaire for Human Rights has recently supported the establishment of RECOM and suggested to other states to support the establishment of efficient and independent national or regional bodies in charge of the establishment of truth, and that post-Yugoslav successor states should take the ownership of Initiative for RECOM. Initiative for RECOM claims that the integral part of cooperation should be the disclosure of locations of mass graves, exhumation, identification and handing over of remains to victims’ families, in order to acknowledge the minimal level of dignity of victims.
When it comes to punishment of war crimes, data are alarming all over the region, including Montenegro, as well. More precisely, only three acquittals and three convictions for cases of war crimes make the track record of so far work of Montenegrin judiciary. It is additionaly concerning that those who orderded crimes have not been found in a single case that has been closed so far, nor was anyone held accountable in line with the chain of command. This requires mandatory review of all these cases, because without the adequate court proceedings, there can be no complete truth about the war past, which in turn significantly restricts the process or reconciliation between the nations.
Once again, CCE indicates that it is important to create the conditions, either through formal system of education or other alternative programmes of education, to convey the facts on every crime of past to future generations, in order to cease the manipulation over the same. Apart from the lack of satisfying results in the processing, investigation and prosecution of war crimes, education can serve as an important mechanism for the establishment of facts on all crimes and severe violation of human rights, in order to act preventively.
International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations as a day of remembrance of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, great human rights fighter, who was murdered on 24 March 1980, due to harsh convictions of human rights violations of most endangered populations, by defending the principles of protection of right to life, promotion of human dignity and strong opposition to all forms of violence. The purpose of commemoration of this day is to indicate on the respect and remembrance of victims of severe and systematic violation of human rights and promotion of importance of right to truth and justice.
Tamara Milaš, CCE programme associate and spokesperson of Coalition for RECOM in Montenegro