Centre for Civic Education (CCE), on the occasion of 24 March – International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims – again urges Montenegrin Judiciary to undertake all the legal measures in order to clarify the destiny of missing ones and to combat impunity of the war crimes comitted during post-Yugoslav wars in 90s. Additionally, the CCE assesses that more dedicated work on enforcement of all legal aid mechanisms at the international level is needed, for the purpose of screening, investigation or judicial proceedings, and in relation to the serious violations of International Humanitarian Law on the territory of former Yugoslavia since 1991.
The importance of the international mechanism in fight against the impunity of war crimes and establishment of transitional justice is indicated also by the recent verdict against Radovan Karadžić. The conviction of Karadžić should be source and warning to the Montenegrin society for the need for adequate confrontation with our war past. In Montenegro, we still have a climate that supports the impunity of war crimes and insults dignity of victims. One of the important sources for this is decades long and continuous rule of those who were in power when those crimes were committed and who then and now made decisions on behalf of citizens of Montenegro. Consequently, the formal refusal of the fact that Montenegro has ever been in the war is still in force, although we have Montenegrin victims as well, crimes committed at the territory of Montenegro, crimes that Montenegrin citizens committed in other territories , as well as Montenegrin citizens who lost their lives in the camps at the territory of former Yugoslavia.
The Hague tribunal passed through different stages and did not meet the great expectations which had been faced in front of this mechanism. This refers to certain number of acquittal final judgments for persons convicted of long prison sentences in the first instance proceedings. However, it is also valuable that the Tribunal succeeded in documenting large number of facts, gathering extensive material on war events and crimes at the territory of the former Yugoslavia.There are also testimonies of survivors, victims, but of defendants and their defense attorneys as well, which should further be used by the national judicial instances in prosecuting those responsible.
The CCE recalls that those are crimes that do not become obsolete, which obliges the countries of the region to bring to justice and stipulate criminal responsibility of all the masterminds, prosecutors and perpetrators of those crimes. It is obligation of the countries of the region to make a comprehensive list of victims, to identify destiny of thousands of missing persons and to pay war compensation to all victims, but also to cherish culture of remembrence that must become key mechanism in fighting against oblivion and crime prevention. In this manner, these painful topics would be placed under the auspices of justice, accountability and memorialization.
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, acknowledged human rights defender. He 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 draw attention to the respect and remembrance of victims of serious 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