In May this year marks 27 years since ‘Deportation of Refugees’, when a war crime against refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina was committed in Montenegro.
Tomorrow, on 25 May 2019, at noon, in front of Police Station in Herceg Novi, wherefrom the majority of victims were deported to their deaths, in an organized manner, on 25 and 27 May 1992, Human Rights Actions (HRA), Centre for Civic Education (CCE) and Centre for Women’s and Peace Education ANIMA organize a memorial gathering. This is the tenth anniversary that we commemorate in that place. As in all previous years, we leave flowers and pay tribute to the victims.
We invite you to join us in marking this sad remembrance. Come to remind ourselves together of the victims and their families who sought refuge from war in Montenegro, and experienced the most horrible betrayal. Come to show that we condemn this crime, that we expect the punishment of those responsible for crime, to stand up again for building the monument to the victims and proclaiming the remembrance day, and thus to try to ensure that the war crimes never again repeat.
Tomorrow, for the first time, one of the few survivors of the deportation on 25 May 1992, who managed to save himself from camp in Foča, will also be present. For the very first time, after this unfortunate event, he is coming to Herceg Novi to attend a memorial gathering.
We remind that Montenegrin police unlawfully arrested at least 66 civilians aged from 18 to 66 in May 1992, who had taken refuge in Montenegro from war that blazed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that it handed them over as hostages to the army of Bosnian Serbs under leadership of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic to serve for exchange of war prisoners. Written documents confirm this fact.
All those who were deported from Herceg-Novi on 27 May 1992, were killed soon after, while the second group was sent to concentration camp in Foča (KPD) on 25 May 1992, and only few of them survived. The bodies of all victims of deportation from Herceg-Novi on 27 May 1992, have not yet been found, nor the places where they were killed are known with certainty.
Victims of this crime are undisputed, Montenegro has paid compensation of damage to their families after four-year trial as per court settlement due to illegal actions of Montenegrin police that brought forth these tragic consequences. It was also determined by criminal conviction in Montenegro that they were unlawfully arrested and deported as hostages, as well as by conviction of The Hague Tribunal in case Krnojelac (commander of camp in Foča).
However, it is disputable that courts in Montenegro did not find strength in all of that to recognise the war crime and to punish it. By conviction of the Higher Court in Podgorica (final from 17 May 2013 when the Appellate Court of Montenegro confirmed it) nine of accused former officials of police, Ministry of Interior and Intelligence service were acquitted for war crime against civilian population since they allegedly did not have a status of ‘member of conflict party in B&H’, and not even of those ‘who were in the service of conflict party in B&H’, which according to wrong interpretation of Montenegrin courts was necessary to deem they committed a war crime. Afterwards, the expert of the European Union, Italian prosecutor and international judge Maurizio Salustro, highlighted in his report on prosecution of war crimes in Montenegro that such interpretation is wrong, unknown in international humanitarian law and practice. Group of mothers, daughters and sisters of victims has submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights because Montenegro did not provide criminal justice in this case nor respected human right to life and prohibition of torture.
HRA, CCE and ANIMA and President of the Council for Civilian Control of Police Work, Aleksandar Sasa Zekovic, have submitted three initiatives eight years ago:
- To then President of Parliament of Montenegro Ranko Krivokapic and all heads of MP clubs for Remembrance Day of Victims of War Crime Deportation of Refugees 1992 to be proclaimed;
- To then President of Government of Montenegro Igor Luksic, Minister of Interior Ivan Brajovic and Minister of Culture Branislav Micunovic, as well as then President of Parliament of Municipality of Herceg Novi, Dejan Mandic – for a memorial to be built for victims of deportation of refugees 1992 in front of building of Police Administration in Herceg Novi, supporting thus also the wish of families of deported victims;
- To the Minister of Interior for Montenegrin police to make an apology due to illegal conduct during arrest and deportation of refugees to, for them, hostile army in Serbian Republic B&H.
None of these initiatives has been accepted to this date.
We again submitted the initiative for building a memorial on 10 September 2018 to the President of Government of Montenegro, Minister of Culture and Minister of Interior, President of Parliament of Municipality of Herceg Novi and all councilors of Parliament of Municipality of Herceg Novi. Only Ministry of Culture has responded to us with information that by decision No 01-3376 /2 from 21/09/2018, Law on Memorials ‘prescribes that building memorials programme is being adopted by parliament of the municipality of the capital city and the old royal capital with the prior approval of the Ministry of Culture’, as well as “if the Municipality of Herceg Novi assesses this initiative as justified and includes in its programme for building memorials, and also submittes proposal to the Ministry of Culture, they would consider such a proposal and pass relevant act. “
On Monday, 27 May 2019, at 12h at EU Info Centre, in Podgorica, we organize panel discussion on the right to reparation for victims of crime, about which you will be specifically informed.