10 February 1993
I. INTRODUCTION 1 - 15
A. Activities of the Special Rapporteur 1 - 8
B. Collection of information 9 - 15
II. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA 16 - 117
A. General observations regarding ethnic cleansing 16 - 31
B. Summary executions 32 - 43
C. Arbitrary detention and the treatment of prisoners 44 - 81
D. Investigation of widespread occurrence of rape 82 - 89
E. The particular suffering of children 90 - 94
F. Forced transfer of population 95 - 101
G. Attacks on non-military targets 102 - 109
H. Humanitarian crisis 110 - 117
III. CROATIA 118 - 145
A. United Nations Protected Areas (UNPAs) 138
B. UNPA Sector South 139 - 140
C. UNPA Sector East 141 - 143
D. UNPA Sectors North and West 144 - 145
IV. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA (SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO) 146 - 19
A. Kosovo 153 - 171
B. Sandzak 172 - 181
C. Vojvodina 182 - 190
V. SLOVENIA 191 - 216
A. Introductory remarks 191 - 192
B. Legal and institutional framework of human rights violations 193 - 201
C. Elections in Slovenia 202 - 203
D. The refugee problem 204 - 209
E. Freedom of speech and the press 210 - 212
F. Conclusions 213 - 216
VI. MACEDONIA 217 - 255
A. Introductory remarks 217 - 218
B. Constitutional regulations 219 - 231
C. Situation of nationalities 232 - 240
D. Mass media 241 - 245
E. The refugee problem 246 - 247
F. Conclusions 248 - 255
VII. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 256 - 269
A. Conclusions 256 - 268
B. Recommendations 269
II. Report of the team of experts on their mission to investigate allegations of rape in the territory of the former Yugoslavia from 12 to 23 January 1993
III. The London International Conference: Programme of Action on Humanitarian Issues Agreed between the Co-Chairmen to the Conference and the Parties to the Conflict
1. At its first special session, the Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution 1992/S-1/1 of 14 August 1992 in which it requested its Chairman to appoint a special rapporteur to investigate first hand the human rights situation in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
2. At its second special session, the Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution 1992/S-2/1 of 1 December 1992, by which it, inter alia, requested the Special Rapporteur “to continue his efforts, especially by carrying out such further missions to the former Yugoslavia as he deemed necessary ...”.
3. Since his appointment the Special Rapporteur has conducted three missions to the former Yugoslavia and has submitted the following reports: report of the Special Rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights of 28 August 1992 (E/CN.4/1992/S-1/9), hereafter referred to as the “first report”; report to the Commission on Human Rights of 27 October 1992 (E/CN.4/1992/S-1/10), hereafter the “second report”, and his report to the forty-seventh session of the General Assembly (A/47/666-S/24809), hereafter the “third report”.
4. During his third mission the Special Rapporteur visited Slovenia, Macedonia and Croatia from 10 to 17 January 1993. This mission is further discussed in the relevant chapters below.
5. In December 1992 and January 1993, two other missions to the territory of the former Yugoslavia were conducted within the framework of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate to investigate the human rights situation there.
6. The Special Rapporteur requested the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to carry out a preliminary investigation into allegations that victims of war crimes are to be found in certain mass graves in the former Yugoslavia. The mission was carried out from 15 to 20 December 1992 with the participation of a forensic expert to assess the extent to which these allegations are prima facie reliable (see annex I). As agreed by the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Experts established pursuant to Security Council resolution 780 (1992), the results of the preliminary inquiry have been forwarded to the Commission for in-depth investigation. More generally, the Special Rapporteur shares with the Commission any information he receives which is of relevance to its mandate.
7. A mission to investigate allegations of the widespread occurrence of rape, particularly in relation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, was conducted from 12 to 23 January 1993, in parallel to the Special Rapporteur’s visit. A team of four medical and psychiatric experts, accompanied by the Director of the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women and staff of the Centre for Human Rights visited Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) to collect and analyse the testimony of victims and witnesses as well as related statistical data and medical records (see annex II).
8. In addition to his missions the Special Rapporteur has conducted several other visits and discussions with political leaders which aimed at promoting understanding of the human rights problems in the former Yugoslavia. He has made statements to the Security Council and to the General Assembly. He also participated in the extraordinary meeting of the Islamic Conference in Jeddah on 1 and 2 December 1992.
9. A great deal of the evidence of human rights abuses has been gathered on missions. Apart from that, more and more testimony is emerging which documents violations of human rights, providing convincing and verifiable detail and naming the names of those responsible. A substantial proportion of the documentation received by the Special Rapporteur is from Governments which are not party to the conflict, intergovernmental agencies and missions as well as other United Nations bodies. This report, due to limitations of space, refers to only a fraction of the allegations received by the Special Rapporteur.
10. The Special Rapporteur also receives large amounts of documentation from sources whose objectivity is difficult to confirm and which needs corroboration from disinterested sources.
11. Interviews with refugees after they have fled the territory where their human rights were violated provide very valuable information. In the coming months, and particularly as hundreds of thousands of applications for asylum are considered all over Europe, this evidence will mount. The Special Rapporteur intends to establish direct contact with the governmental and non-governmental organizations which assist refugees, or process applications for asylum, in order to systematize the flow of information which is emerging from their testimonies.
12. However, the Special Rapporteur, in accordance with his mandate to investigate the human rights situation in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, remains convinced that investigations must be conducted in that territory to assemble a more complete picture. The presence of field officers would provide the Special Rapporteur with information in a more systematic manner and enable him to act more rapidly against violations. The assessment of the credibility of allegations is an ongoing process and is an important aspect of the work envisaged for the Special Rapporteur’s field officers.
13. The Special Rapporteur notes the encouraging work being undertaken in very difficult circumstances by local non-governmental organizations in all parts of the former Yugoslavia. As a rule, they are making valiant efforts to document human rights abuses and war crimes in an independent, objective manner. For many such bodies the task is not easy in a prevailing climate of propaganda, misinformation and incitement to hatred. The Special Rapporteur encourages such independent work and hopes to expand his contact with those organizations through the operations of his field staff.
14. The Special Rapporteur’s appreciation is once again due for the invaluable support and cooperation which he has received from his fellow Special Rapporteurs. In this connection, he wishes to thank Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, for having agreed to carry out the above-mentioned mission to Croatia.
15. The Special Rapporteur would also like to take this opportunity to express his appreciation for the cooperation he has received from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the European Community Monitoring Missions, missions of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), other international agencies and non-governmental organizations, both in Geneva and in the field.
II. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
16. Massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are not simply features of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are being used deliberately to achieve ethnically homogenous areas.
17. In his first report the Special Rapporteur emphasized the variety of methods used in ethnic cleansing: replacement by extremists of those elected representatives who refused to cooperate with ethnic cleansing, harassment, discrimination, beatings, torture, summary executions, expulsions, forced crossing of the confrontation line, confiscation of property, dismissal from work, intimidation, destruction of mosques, use of the siege and cutting off supplies of food and other essentials to civilian population centres. The report drew on the experience of the city and region of Bihac as well as Bosanska Dubica, Celinac, Sanski Most and Sarajevo.
18. In his second report the Special Rapporteur described ethnic cleansing in and around Bosanski Novi, Prijedor, Doboj, Kotor Varos, Travnik and conditions in Trnopolje.
19. In his third report the Special Rapporteur illustrated the deliberate and methodical character of ethnic cleansing carried out by Serb forces in and around the Prijedor area where the aim of this policy had largely been accomplished (paras. 17-19).
20. In the present report the Special Rapporteur presents accounts and testimonies which are characteristic of the information which is increasingly becoming available from refugees regarding the systematic nature of ethnic cleansing as well as the human rights and humanitarian law violations. They show the methods by which a violent change in the demographic map of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been achieved, leaving 810,000 people displaced internally and 700,000 refugees in other countries formerly part of Yugoslavia.
21. It is now estimated that two thirds of Bosnia and Herzegovina is under the control of Serb forces, leaving some of the central area, three enclaves in the east and the north-western area of Bihac in the control of government forces.
22. The Special Rapporteur would like to emphasize that not only Croats and Muslims are the victims of ethnic cleansing; Serbs who refuse to cooperate with this policy have also been victimized. There are reports of the arbitrary execution of such Serbs, for example in Teslic on 2 June 1992 when three Serbs were reportedly killed for refusing to cooperate with the Yugoslav National Peoples’ Army (JNA) and Serbian Democratic Party militia in persecuting Muslims and Croats. It has also been reported that the Serbian Neskovic family, accused of hiding Muslims, as well as a commander of the Serbian police were killed because they opposed the killing of Muslims in Bratunac and the surrounding area.
23. Ukrainians in the Banja Luka region were reportedly subjected to psychological pressure which included the blowing up of the Ukrainian church in Prnjavor, the destruction of the old church in Dubrava and of a village church near Omarska. The homes of Ukrainians were regularly shot at and they were repeatedly asked: “When are you planning to leave, you Ukrainians?”. It is reported that by August 1992, all 1,100 of them had decided to do so.
24. Over and over again in their testimonies, witnesses express their incomprehension at what has happened between neighbours who previously had not made distinctions based on nationality. In January 1993, the Special Rapporteur met a Muslim man and his two daughters in the Croat refugee camp at Reznik, near Zagreb. They came from Prijedor and had fled only a few days previously. This man’s testimony speaks for very many:
26. Prijedor used to have a population of 120,000 of whom approximately 65,000 were Muslims and 10,000 were Croats. Today it is estimated that there are only 10,000 Muslims and Croats left and it is reported that, to all intents and purposes, those remaining desperately wish to leave. While visiting the refugee centre at Reznik, the Special Rapporteur himself heard, from refugees who had fled Prijedor only days previously, how life there had become impossible: “We were threatened by neighbours. Fear reigns in Prijedor”. They were unable, as Muslims, to find work, intimidated and terrorized on the streets, afraid to use local restaurants, had their homes destroyed and were bereft of their old community of friends and relatives. One family, which had arrived in Croatia only four or five days previously, described how their 15-year-old son had sustained the family by trading fruit on the street. They recounted how, on 7 January 1993, New Year, the last mosque in Prijedor was blown up. There had been about 50 mosques. It is reported that now even moderate Serbs are being forced to leave.
27. It is also reported that, in the mainly Muslim village of Cela near Prijedor, 10 villagers have been shot and killed in their homes in the last few months. Random shootings, bombings and house burnings are reliably reported to be the norm there.
28. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur is gravely concerned by reports that ethnic cleansing is currently being carried out by Serb forces especially in towns such as Cerske, Kamenica, Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Problems of access by international monitors and the severing of communications with the outside world have led to grave concern for their inhabitants’ safety.
29. According to current reports the relatively good relationship which previously existed between Muslims and Serbs in Trebinje, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been destroyed. In recent days a large number of the town’s Muslim population has fled due to the climate of fear which seems to have developed. The main mosque in the town was reportedly destroyed on 26 January 1993 and a Serb was beaten to death for defending his Muslim friend against civilians.
30. There are accounts of ethnic cleansing being carried out by Croat forces in the area of Prozor towards the end of 1992. Clashes between Muslim and Croat forces resulted in as many as 3,000 Muslims fleeing into the mountains in October 1992. There are reports of large-scale arbitrary detention of Muslim men, women and children by Croat forces. Muslim detainees were also reportedly asked to sign an oath of allegiance to the Croat authorities. It is estimated that 70 to 80 Muslim homes were destroyed in Prozor even after combat had stopped. Non-violent attempts by Muslim residents to return to the town after the fighting were reportedly blocked by Croats. The freedom of movement of those Muslims who remain in Prozar has reportedly been severely restricted.
31. The following sections portray some of the major component parts of ethnic cleansing as well as other violations of human rights and war crimes. For the most part, they are based on the accounts of witnesses. These are but a few selected examples of the testimonies received by the Special Rapporteur, which are used here to illustrate the scale of human rights abuses in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
32. The Special Rapporteur has received a large number of reports of arbitrary execution by the armed forces of all sides when new towns and villages are taken. It appears that prominent members of the community are targeted in particular. The reports relate to all areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Summary executions which allegedly took place in detention camps are reported in later sections concerning treatment of prisoners.
33. It is reported that many of the villages around Foca, in south-east Bosnia and Herzegovina, suffered large-scale summary executions by Serb forces around March 1992. A witness from the village of Jelec reports that all the men were rounded up and shot with machine-guns. She reportedly lost her husband, his five brothers and their four sons. The women and children had reportedly escaped to the mountains and returned to the village four days later to bury the men.
34. On 6 April 1992 most of the town of Zvornik was taken by Serb forces. According to one report, a Serb woman, her Muslim husband and several neighbours were forced to lie face down in their orchard by a group of 30 Serb paramilitaries. The woman’s husband, two elder sons and three neighbours were then allegedly strangled by the Serb forces.
35. A Muslim pensioner from the town of Visegrad reports that in mid-April 1992 she watched for 36 hours from the window of her house as Serb forces executed groups of people on the old Visegrad bridge. Victims were either pushed off the bridge and shot in the water, or shot and then pushed. Groups of people were reportedly picked up by car and killed on the bridge every 30-60 minutes. The witness managed to leave the town but had to cross the bridge to do so. She vividly describes walking through the remains of victims as she crossed it. The Special Rapporteur has been informed that, due to the many atrocities which have taken place along its banks as it winds its way through Foca, Bratunac and Bijeljina in central and eastern Bosnia, the river is locally known as the river of death.
36. Reports from the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina include the testimony of a witness from Srebrenica who gives 21 April 1992 as the date when “organized killing of the Muslim population began with the emphasis on younger people and distinguished Muslims”. According to the account, dozens were killed. Another witness from the nearby village of Gostilj reports that he witnessed the beating to death of his neighbour when Serb forces took the village.
37. Zaklopaca is a village near the town of Vlasenica in eastern Bosnia which had a mainly Muslim population of about 150 prior to the conflict. Reports state that on 16 May 1992, at least 83 Muslim men, women and children were arbitrarily executed by Serb forces there. Surviving eye-witnesses have provided the names of 83 victims but one witness reportedly counted 105 bodies including 10 members of one family, 8 members of another and 7 members of a third. Witnesses were returning from the fields at about 5 p.m. when the first of seven or eight cars carrying Serb forces arrived. One car reportedly had the word pokolj (massacre) written on it.
38. It is reported that on 26 May 1992 about 200 Muslim refugees from Visegrad hoping to reach Macedonia were turned back at the Mokra Gora border crossing into Serbia. An employee of the bus company transporting the refugees said that later that day the group was stopped outside Bosanska Jagodina by Serb forces. The witness alleges that 17 men were taken from the buses and executed on the spot.
39. There used to be six small mountain villages called Hambarne, Rizvanovic, Rakovcani, Sredice, Carakovo and Bisceni near Kozarac in north-west Bosnia and Herzegovina. When Serbian forces took these villages around May 1992 three quarters of the 4,500 inhabitants are reported to have been executed. One survivor provided a list of 282 people killed at this time. In Bisceni 75 people from 50 houses were reportedly executed. A boy aged 16, now a refugee in France, was taken by the Serb forces to help loot houses there. Together with a neighbour, he witnessed the death of his uncle, 61 years old, and a neighbour aged 58: “They made them punch each other’s head before hanging them from a bridge”. In the village of Blagaj, near Bosanski Novi, at least nine Muslim men were reportedly shot when several hundred people were rounded up by Serb forces on 9 June 1992.
40. Mostar is the second largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, situated in the south-east. In June 1992 a number of arbitrary executions are reported to have taken place in the parts of the town then controlled by Serb forces. A number of mass graves have reportedly been discovered since Croat forces took these areas in late June. One such grave containing 150 bodies was reportedly found at Sutina due to the testimony of the sole survivor. Serb forces allegedly interrogated and killed several men at the morgue in the graveyard there. A local pathologist stated that almost all of the dead had been shot at close range with automatic weapons. The witness reported being forced to carry the bodies to a rubbish dump where he was himself shot at. He escaped by throwing himself down an embankment.
41. It is alleged that massacres by Serb forces frequently took place on forced journeys from Kotor Varos to Travnik. A Serb bus driver reports that on 18 August 1992, 70 Croats were executed by Serb forces near the cliffs on the River Ugar. Six people reportedly survived the massacre and the driver is said to be in a state of deep shock. In his third report (at para. 44) the Special Rapporteur described witnesses’ accounts of another alleged massacre on the road to Travnik, south of Skender Vakuf. On or about 21 August 1992, 200 detainees travelling in a convoy of buses were reportedly executed along the edge of a ravine by Serb forces. Five witnesses apparently escaped by throwing themselves into the ravine.
42. The Special Rapporteur has received reports of summary executions being carried out by government forces in villages near Bratunac as recently as December 1992. It appears from reports that government forces attacked and entered the villages, conducted a house-by-house search and killed many of those they found. After the government forces retreated, Serb forces entered the villages to collect the dead and wounded. The remains, reportedly mutilated, were taken to Bratunac Hospital before burial. Reliable estimates put the number of dead at 100 and the wounded at 320.
43. The Special Rapporteur has also received reports of the alleged summary execution of Serb combatants by Muslim forces in the village of Bradina on 26 May 1992. Between 85 and 100 Serbs reportedly surrendered after 30 hours of fighting at the predominantly Serb village and were immediately executed. Reports state that the remaining villagers were protected by Croat forces who had already gained control of the territory.
45. In addition, some 2,500 persons are believed to have been released or exchanged without an ICRC presence. However, the ICRC was not informed of where these exchanges took place nor of the circumstances. The practice of exchanging prisoners encourages all sides to engage in the arbitrary and unlawful rounding-up of civilians.
46. There has recently been public discussion of allegations that a large number of detention camps exist which have not been declared to international organizations. Despite the continuous efforts of the ICRC, it has not been possible to verify these allegations.
47. It is doubtful whether anyone knows the exact number of prisoners and hostages held by all sides. The ICRC does not have access to all parts of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the failure of the parties to guarantee the security of ICRC delegates. This problem of access is particularly acute in the eastern part of the country, in and around Foca, Zepa, Gorazde and Srebrenica.
48. Furthermore, the parties to the conflict have consistently refused to notify the ICRC of all places of detention as well as the names of all those detained. This is so despite their own repeated, public commitments to do so. It is evident from several reports that when the military forces of any of the parties to the conflict enter a newly taken town or village, men are detained, for example in the local school, for later exchange. It is also suspected that undeclared prisoners are kept by all parties along the confrontation lines.
49. The Special Rapporteur believes that only a very small percentage of detainees are genuine prisoners of war. The remainder should never have been imprisoned. Most prisoners are innocent people who have been seized for exchange, which furthers ethnic cleansing.
50. After the ICRC visited camps in early August, the parties agreed on 1 October that 1,560 prisoners would be released and transferred to Karlovac in Croatia, which has served as a transit camp pending the granting of asylum by a third country. About 5,000 other detainees had also been targeted for release and were waiting for the Karlovac camp to empty. In an attempt to free all of these 6,560 people, the ICRC and UNHCR launched several urgent appeals for asylum to which 25 countries responded positively. The Special Rapporteur was deeply disappointed by the slow and inadequate response of the international community to these appeals. The delay seriously hampered efforts to free detainees in October 1992.
51. It is alleged that in some camps in August 1992, some prisoners, whose appearance would have revealed too clearly ill-treatment and under-feeding, were executed. At the same time, it reportedly became the practice for prisoners to be transferred from camps as soon as the ICRC announced they would be visited. Convoys were formed which brought prisoners to be exchanged for detainees in the hands of opponents, often leaving them to make their own way across the battlefield at the confrontation line. Furthermore, it is alleged that some convoys ended in mass executions, such as the massacre of several hundred detainees which is reported to have taken place south of Skender Vakuf on or around 21 August 1992.
52. On 27 August 1992 the three parties to the conflict agreed that all civilians who had been illegally detained were to be liberated and the sick and wounded evacuated from the camps. On 1 October 1992 the parties signed an Agreement on the Release and Transfer of Prisoners which this time committed them to liberate all detainees including the small percentage of combatants detained - except those who were accused of committing grave breaches of international humanitarian law. The Special Rapporteur would like to reiterate his concern that internationally recognized fair trial standards be applied in all such cases. The parties also repeated their commitment to notify the ICRC regularly of all places of detention and all detainees. On 9 December 1992 the three leaders orally and individually reaffirmed their commitment to release all detainees. When he met with representatives of the parties during his second mission in October 1992, the Special Rapporteur emphasized the importance of honouring these commitments and one leader gave a personal promise to do so.
53. In mid-September 1992, the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina held 1,024 known detainees and by the end of December had released 137 of them; Croat forces held 894 known detainees and by the end of December had released 357 while Serb forces held 6,373 known detainees and by the end of December had released 5,040.
54. By now all detainees should have been released, but the process has come to a standstill. As of 22 January 1993, the releases are blocked with 2,757 persons still detained in 19 known places of detention.
55. The Special Rapporteur has received many testimonies which substantiate his earlier reports and amplify their detail. In describing the treatment of prisoners in the present report the Special Rapporteur focuses on testimonies concerning places of detention which have not been referred to in his other reports. Some of these are now closed, but others are still in use. The closure of the camps did not always mean the liberation of prisoners, as exchanges and transfers frequently emptied the camps on the eve of their “closure”. An example of this procedure is the December 1992 closure of the camp at Manjaca which is described in the following sections.
56. Although it is difficult to assess conditions in camps currently in use, testimonies from recently released detainees referred to in the following sections give rise to fears for the health and safety of all those presently detained, particularly those to whom the ICRC has not been accorded access.
(a) Known places of detention
57. According to the ICRC, there are presently 1,333 persons detained in five known camps run by Serb forces: Banja Luka Tunjice, Doboj, Kotor Varos, Vlasenica and Batcovic (where 17 Croats who were reportedly imprisoned during the first military conflict in Croatia are now held).
58. In December 1992 Serb forces emptied the Manjaca detention camp by releasing a total of 2,435 detainees to the ICRC. Conditions at Manjaca camp before it was closed are reliably reported to have been extremely poor, with life-threatening neglect of prisoners, lack of food and inadequate hygiene. Just before the closure of the camp, 532 persons were transferred from Manjaca without prior notification to the ICRC despite the undertaking of 9 December 1992 that all prisoners visited and registered by the ICRC in Manjaca camp were to be released, unilaterally and unconditionally, along with all other prisoners held by all sides. The majority of the transferees, 401 people, were received by Batcovic camp; 131 prisoners were not accounted for by Serb forces for more than a month. Finally, the ICRC was informed that the missing 131 were at Kula camp near Sarajevo airport in preparation for an exchange of prisoners. However, the ICRC has as yet been unable, for security reasons, to verify this information.
59. At Batcovic camp, in the north-eastern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1,163 prisoners were kept in what the Special Rapporteur described, after the visit there by his second mission, as two cavernous, unheated storage buildings. Temperatures there dropped to between -10E and -12E C at the beginning of January 1993 and prisoners there face a fight for survival against such temperatures in the winter months still to come.
60. There are reports that all parties to the conflict have closed off entire villages segregated by ethnic background to make them function as detention camps. Sixty Muslims are reported to have been so detained by Serb forces in Ripac, near Bihac. In these villages, detainees are guarded, harassed and kept in complete isolation.
(b) Some testimonies regarding treatment of prisoners
61. The town of Bileca, in the south-east of Bosnia and Herzegovina, had a population of over 13,000 prior to the conflict, of whom 80 per cent were Serb. There were reportedly three waves of detentions of Muslims in the town: in June, October and December 1992. In the most recent wave, women and children were reportedly detained. Several men reportedly turned themselves in to be with their families but were kept in detention even after their families were released three days later. They were never told the reason for their detention. On 19 December 1992, 51 ex-detainees, who had been held in the police station and at a boarding school, were transferred from Bileca to Montenegro under ICRC supervision. The accounts of their detention included allegations by some that they were tortured with electric shocks as guards interrogated them.
62. One hundred and seventy Croats and Muslims were reportedly imprisoned in a cellar in Bileca which measured 120 square metres and had three small windows. The detainees were reportedly beaten by their Serb guards three times on the night of their arrival and one is reported to have died 10 days later from the injuries received. Detainees were also reportedly beaten as they went to the toilet by three or four soldiers. During the whole period of his captivity, from 1 June to 18 August 1992, the witness reports that he was given the opportunity to wash himself only once and never had a change of clothes. The guards reportedly closed the windows of the cellar and turned on reflectors of 2,000 watts: “We did not know what to do so we started to roar in an attempt to get one of them to beat us up because they would then open the door so that fresh air would come into the room. We used to lose about four litres of liquid per night and they would not give us any water until late in the afternoon of the next day”. One prisoner reportedly went into a coma and died as a result. The witness states that everything improved when the ICRC arrived and the detainees were registered.
63. In north-east Bosnia and Herzegovina lies the town of Brcko, which had a population of 87,000; 44 per cent of the inhabitants were Muslim, 25 per cent Croat and 21 per cent Serb. Reports from one source state that from May to June 1992, between 2,000 and 3,000 mainly Muslim men, women and children were arbitrarily executed by Serb forces at a brick factory (the Luka camp) on the Sava river and at a pig farm near Brcko. The Luka camp reportedly consisted of three hangars enclosed by an electric fence which the prisoners themselves erected. The guards had laid mines around the outside. Approximately 1,000 prisoners, mainly Muslims, were reportedly kept there at any one time. Due to overcrowding, prisoners in one hangar reportedly had to sleep standing up. It appears that neither the ICRC nor international observers ever visited the camp. Witnesses claim to have seen the execution of up to 50 prisoners at a time. One witness’s account of what he saw during 50 days’ imprisonment at the Luka camp includes the following: people who had been beaten to death were brought in the trunks of cars and dumped in the middle of the warehouse; the witness himself had to carry out the bodies of those who had died from night-time beatings and throw them into the Sava river; he saw the corpses of 15 young men whose genitals had been mutilated; the leader of the territorial defence force was killed by soldiers who jumped up and down on his torso; the witness also reports seeing at least 30 people taken to the sewage canals outside the warehouse where their throats were cut. Testimonies include reports of rape and sexual assaults against women and children. Until May 1992 bodies were reportedly dumped in the Sava river or buried in a mass grave whose location has allegedly been identified by a former camp guard, but thereafter they were transported at night by two-ton refrigerated meat lorries to be burnt at the old and new “Kafilerija” factories near Brcko.
64. Another witness, who spent 27 days at Luka camp around mid-May 1992, described the food as consisting of a piece of bread about every three days. He also reports seeing one woman in her mid-thirties die of starvation.
65. The Special Rapporteur has received reports that after the mass arrest of about 2,000 Muslims by Serb police in Bratunac in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina on 9 May 1992, 500 to 600 men were detained in the hall of an elementary school there. Those who could not fit inside were reportedly shot with automatic weapons in front of the hall. Beatings were reportedly carried out according to lists naming those most influential in the community. Between 30 and 50 people reportedly died from their injuries the first night while nine others suffocated in the crush as the 500-600 detainees struggled to escape the beatings. An imam was allegedly beaten and stabbed to death in front of the 500-600 prisoners after refusing to take the Christian faith and raise three fingers in the Serb manner. After three days of beatings the group was transferred to Pale, where the ill-treatment continued until they were exchanged. It is alleged that before they left Pale, the detainees were tied in groups of 10 and had to pass between lines of soldiers who beat them with cables, clubs and iron batons.
66. A witness reports being arrested by Serb forces and brought to Kula camp near Sarajevo airport in May 1992. Fifty people, including women and children aged from 3 to 13 years old, were also detained there. Elderly Serbs and Serb women were released, while young male Serbs were forcibly recruited under threat of death. Muslims and Croats were reportedly kept in an overcrowded room without beds and with only a can for a toilet. Their one meal a day reportedly consisted of a cup of tea and a piece of bread. The witness states that they were heavily beaten during interrogation and that one person died from his injuries. The witness himself reports fainting from beatings and being denied medical help.
67. Men from Gacko were reportedly imprisoned by Serb forces in the basement of the Hotel Rudnik and the Gacko power plant from June 1992. The detainees were reportedly beaten constantly, especially at night, to prevent them sleeping. At least 10 detainees are reported to have disappeared after the guards called them by name. The witness reports that he saw the arbitrary executions of five detainees on separate occasions.
(a) Known places of detention
68. According to the ICRC, there are 887 persons being held by the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 10 known places of detention: Bihac, Breza, Konjic, Tarcin, Tuzla, Tesanj, Travnik, Visoko, Zenica and Kupra. It refuses to release the remainder of its detainees, saying they are accused of grave violations of international humanitarian law.
69. The Government-run camp at Tarcin was notified to the ICRC, despite the clear obligation to notify promptly, and visited for the first time in November 1992. Conditions there are reported to be appalling with inadequate heating and insufficient coverings for those detained. In Visoko, detainees are locked in houses in the town and come under shell-fire. In Kupra, detainees are also reported to be at risk because of the proximity of the camp to the confrontation line.
70. A total of 279 prisoners are still in detention at Government-run Zenica prison. The building is over 200 years old and is a former maximum-security prison. The Special Rapporteur described conditions there in his third report (at para. 36). Since then, testimonies from Serb ex-detainees who were released on 23 December 1992 have been received. They include allegations of beatings and under-feeding.
71. Croat forces are detaining 537 persons in four known places of detention even though their leaders had stated that they held no further detainees. They are: Livno, Mostar Rodoc, Orasje and Rascani.
72. A total of 367 people are “assigned to residence” in de facto detention in the villages of Livno and Rascani. Rascani lies in the south-west Bosnia and Herzegovina and has 250 Serb inhabitants, mostly women and children, and is reportedly guarded by Croat police. There is reported to be no communication with the outside world whatsoever and no freedom of movement. All of the inhabitants reportedly wish to go to a Serb-controlled area. They do not feel safe and allege provocations, shooting and intimidation by Croat forces.
73. ICRC delegates who visited the Croat-run camp at Orasje on 9 December 1992 found 161 prisoners who had been transferred from Bosanski Brod. Fifteen prisoners are reported to have died at Orasje while being forced to dig trenches under constant shelling near the confrontation line. Ten days before the 9 December 1992 visit 60 prisoners were reportedly transferred to Slavonski Brod on Croat territory in preparation for an exchange.
74. Ninety-five Serb civilians and one child have reportedly been kept in Stupari, 8 kilometres north of Kladanj, central Bosnia, since May 1992. According to the Mayor of Kladanj this has been “for their own security, to protect them from retaliation by the Muslim population”. A team from the European Community Monitoring Mission (ECMM) has visited the three buildings in Stupari where the detainees are held. Their own homes were burnt by Muslim forces. They are guarded by five armed soldiers and allowed to go outside for one hour a day. It is reported that their food consists of rice and some bread, but that sometimes they have nothing to eat for three days. The detainees stated that the guards were frequently violent towards them and no medical care is offered. They appeared to the visiting team to be “psychologically worn out and very weak”. The ICRC registered these detainees in December 1992.
(b) Some testimonies regarding treatment of prisoners
75. The Special Rapporteur has received reports that torture and ill-treatment were suffered by Serbs in places of detention in Konjic between June and July 1992. Two young Serbs were reportedly eye-witnesses to five deaths from beatings by Muslim guards. They did not want to specify the exact location of the prison out of concern for the safety of relatives who were still detained. Thus it is unclear whether the allegations relate to the Konjic camp where 106 detainees are currently being held by government forces and which is visited by the ICRC. Both witnesses stated that they themselves were beaten when they left the building to go to the toilet.
76. A Serb witness has recounted how he was detained by government police when they found him in the basement of his house in Visoko on 6 June 1992, while the town was under attack by Serb forces. At a local military barracks the witness states that he was put in a chair with his arms tied by ropes, then beaten and interrogated by soldiers and police for four hours. During the beating, the police revived him by throwing water over him. He reports that he was the first detainee in the barracks but that over time the number grew to 150 people detained in two rooms. The witness reportedly saw two prisoners beaten to death with the camp commander participating in these killings. There are also reports that Muslim civilians in Zenica and Visoko were allowed free access to the camps in order to beat prisoners.
77. On 7 July 1992, men and women from the village of Presjenica, near Sarajevo, were reportedly taken prisoner by government forces and held in a camp in Decic for two months. A 95-year-old Serb man was reportedly beaten to death by guards just before the prisoners were exchanged. Conditions of life at the camp reportedly involved under-feeding, beatings for “anything and everything”, humiliations and intimidation.
78. The Special Rapporteur has received the direct testimony of a 58-year-old Serb woman from Mostar who was taken prisoner by Croat forces in her appartment there on 31 July 1992. The soldiers had a list of names of those who were to go to detention camps. She was first taken to a Croat-run prison in Mostar where she reports being beaten on the left side of her body during interrogation. She was still unable to lift her left arm six months later. She reports that younger women there were forced to perform sexual acts before Croat forces and other prisoners. When later transferred to Capljina, south of Mostar, the witness was kept with about 100 other women in barracks separate from the male detainees. All the women were Serbs except for a Muslim and a Croat who both had Serb husbands. At night, one bucket served as the women’s toilet. It is alleged that at times, male prisoners were forced to drink its contents, and at others, forced to eat grass and act like sheep. It is alleged that beatings at the camp sometimes ended in the death of the victim. It appears that on 31 July 1992 the camp was first visited by an international delegation and on a second visit, the women were reportedly locked in their barracks and hidden. The witness was exchanged on 18 August 1992.
79. Detainees released from Konjic on 23 December 1992 have provided the following detailed accounts of their earlier detention at the Celibici camp between May and September 1992. Prisoners were kept in three buildings in the camp. One is reported to have been a ventilation tunnel about 120 centimetres wide, 30 metres long and 2.5 metres high. Air entered through a small glass window in the door and there was no light. Prisoners in the tunnel used a bucket as a toilet but were not allowed to empty it regularly. Thus, as the tunnel inclined, up to 10 centimetres of human waste accumulated at the bottom. For the first 20 days the detainees were not allowed to wash. For the first three days the ex-detainees reported that they were not provided with any food. For the next one and a half months they were given stale pieces of bread the size of a matchbox, with some vegetables, three times a day. For about the following two months they were given only bread. One witness states that prior to his detention in Celebici camp, he weighed 96 kg. By the time he was transferred, he weighed 60 kg. Accounts of the beating to death and mistreatment of prisoners are common to all testimonies which the Special Rapporteur has received regarding this camp. One witness describes the torture and beating to death on 4 July 1992 of a man accused of running a radio station and transmitting information to Serb forces.
80. Incidents of arbitrary detention of Muslims by Croat forces have been reported during clashes between Croat and government forces in and around Prozor, near Gornji Vakuf, in October and November 1992. These include the case of a 14-year-old Muslim boy who was reportedly detained by HVO (Croatian Defence Council) military police. He was reportedly only released four days later when his father and others surrendered their arms.
81. Many reports have been received of the arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of civilians by government forces in and around Sarajevo. The Special Rapporteur has obtained direct testimony from a Serb refugee who arrived in Serbia from Sarajevo in December 1992 regarding the use of prisoners as human shields. The witness states that Muslim forces took Serbs prisoner in order to use them as human shields against snipers when going to and from their military posts. The witness reportedly saw this from the window of her home which was situated next to the Muslim forces’ headquarters.
82. An alarming number of allegations of the widespread occurrence of rape have been made, particularly in the context of the confict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was repeatedly stated that rape was being used as an instrument of ethnic cleansing. Many documents have been received by the Special Rapporteur in this connection. Wide-ranging estimates of the total number of rape victims had been made.
83. Gravely concerned at the nature of these reports, the Special Rapporteur decided to send an international team of medical experts to investigate the allegations and report to him on their findings. The report of the medical experts who visited the former Yugoslavia from 12 to 23 January 1993 is attached, in extenso, as annex II. The Special Rapporteur strongly endorses the observations, conclusions and recommendations of the team of experts.
84. In particular, the Special Rapporteur would like to emphasize the following from among their conclusions:
“The team of experts is not aware of any attempts by those in positions of power, either military or political, to stop the rapes.
“There is clear evidence that Croat, Muslim and Serb women have been detained for extended periods of time and repeatedly raped.
“In Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatia, rape has been used as an instrument of ethnic cleansing.”
86. The Special Rapporteur feels that it is not possible at present to determine the number of victims of rape in this conflict. However, it is clear that there are large numbers involved and care for them must be the first priority. The importance of respect for the victims was highlighted by the team of experts thus: “While the media have been helpful in bringing the issue of rape to international attention, some women have been revictimized through repeated interviewing without consideration of the psychological consequences or social support available to them.” Furthermore, the experts noted that a number of missions to investigate allegations of widespread rape had been undertaken in the previous two months. These included missions by the following: the European Community, the World Council of Churches, Amnesty International, Helsinki Watch and two French physicians. The team of experts found that “lack of coordination has led to duplication of effort and has contributed to ‘mission fatigue’ among victims, care-givers and personnel involved in delivery of services and assistance to refugees.”
87. In January 1993, during his stay in Zagreb, the Special Rapporteur was informed of joint endeavours by governmental and non-governmental agencies in Croatia, including charitable organizations, to provide medical care for victims of rape. Their urgent needs must be addressed. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur endorses the view of the medical experts that “establishing health services that are designed specifically for rape victims will lead to further stigmatization. Therefore, programmes should be created for all women and children who have been traumatized by war. These considerations should be taken into account by the international community when awarding aid for specific programmes”. Women should not be required either to declare or prove that they have been raped in order to qualify for health care or other assistance.
88. Many women have sought refuge outside the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While each application for refugee status should be considered on its merits, it should be clearly stated that a well-founded fear of rape is a well-founded fear of “persecution” within the definition of refugee contained in the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 and the 1967 Protocol thereto if the persecution is due to the victim’s “race” or “nationality”. This is certainly the case where it is used to further ethnic cleansing. In countries of asylum, refugees who have in fact been victims of rape in connection with ethnic cleansing should be accorded appropriate medical and psychological care.
89. Article 27, paragraph 2, of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault”. Rape in this context is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention (art. 147) and as such, a war crime (Additional Protocol I).
90. The Special Rapporteur is gravely concerned at the violations of the human rights of children in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He supports the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and, in particular, to raise international awareness of the effects of armed conflicts on children. The Convention, inter alia, prohibits the torture, abuse or neglect of children and provides for their protection in all circumstances.
91. The indiscriminate targeting of civilian population centres has particularly profound consequences for the children involved. They have themselves been killed and wounded in these attacks; witnessed the death and injury of others including close family members and neighbours and have seen their homes destroyed. They have been arbitrarily imprisoned in appalling conditions and there are reports of rape of children in and out of detention camps. This war has created countless orphans and a generation of refugees.
92. A particular problem arises with regard to the children who have been born, or are expected to be born in the near future, as a result of rape. Suggestions have been made that adoption of these children should be facilitated. At present, there would appear to be difficulties under national adoption legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, as well as in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In order for a married woman to place her child for adoption, her husband’s consent is required by law. While this provision may be regarded as serving the best interests of the child in peace-time, circumstances are fundamentally different in times of armed conflict and in the context of rape. Wives may not wish to inform their husbands that they have been raped. Husbands fighting at the front may be impossible to contact, in detention or disappeared. The national parliaments concerned may wish to consider this matter in view of the circumstances currently prevailing.
93. In any event, inter-country adoption may be considered, although only “as an alternative means of child’s care, if the child cannot be placed in a foster or an adoptive family or cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the child’s country of origin” (art. 21 (b) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child). The Special Rapporteur has been informed by religious leaders of Muslim communities and by concerned individuals and organizations in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina that there is a strong will to raise these children within the local communities. However that may be, in considering international assistance, the Special Rapporteur emphasizes that the wishes of the mother and the efforts of local communities should be identified, respected and supported by the international community. It goes without saying that the guiding principle in any such discussion must be the best interests of the child, as provided for in article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
94. The Special Rapporteur supports the work of UNICEF as the lead agency in this field and shares its concern to avoid, at all costs, the stigmatization of, or trafficking in, babies who are born as a result of rape.
95. The following are just some of the accounts which the Special Rapporteur has received mainly from witnesses’ testimonies, regarding the forced transfer of populations. These are forced transfers which those involved were compelled to “accept” owing to the climate of fear.
96. Since the Special Rapporteur detailed events in Kozarac in his third report, information has become available describing how women, children and old people from the villages in the area were detained in camps such as Trnopolje and then forcibly transferred towards government lines in cattle trucks in June 1992. The first convoy which left Trnopolje consisted of five cattle trucks filled with 1,800 people. During the two- to three- day journeys there was reportedly no ventilation and nothing to eat or drink. Many old people and babies are reported to have suffocated. It is reported that Serb forces systematically asked for ransoms, asking each truck to put together a certain amount of money while threatening that the children would be killed. At Doboj they were marched in groups along a mined road before crossing the river Bosna by an old suspension bridge. One woman fell from the bridge with her two children and was carried away by the water which was in full flood. Another threw herself from the bridge when a Serb soldier reportedly ordered her to throw her baby into the water. Finally, the group had to walk 15 to 20 kilometres and cross the confrontation line in great peril in order to reach Government-held territory.
97. Before the conflict 62 per cent of the 11,000 inhabitants of Gacko, in the south-east of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were Serbs and 35 per cent Muslims. In June 1992, when Serb forces took the town, local authorities issued certificates purporting to allow unhindered passage to Macedonia. A convoy of 100 cars was organized by those wishing to leave. Five or six kilometres outside the town, Serb forces were waiting. The men were reportedly dragged out of their cars and severely beaten about the head with iron rifle butts, jumped on by the soldiers, forced to beat each other and set on fire with petrol. Women and children were watching from the cars. The convoy was robbed and their cars confiscated. Women were reportedly detained in a nearby hotel for 20 days where their money and valuables were stolen. Some of the women were reportedly taken to the bedrooms and raped.
98. Muslim witnesses from the region of Zvornik in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina report that their registration as residents was cancelled at the local police station after the region was taken by Serb forces. One witness reported that the words “deregistered from Zvornik, departing for Subotica” were written on his identity card at the police station. Subotica is a border-crossing point between Serbia and Hungary. The Muslims from this witness’ village were reportedly given an ultimatum to leave, accompanied by the burning of several houses and the firing of shots into the air as warnings.
99. In June 1992 deportees from Kozluk and Zvornik, towns which had a Muslim majority, gave the following account of their forced deportation to Hungarian border guards. The towns were sealed by Serb forces. Muslim families were told they had six hours to pack their belongings and go to a certain gathering point. In the case of Zvornik, it was a farmyard. At these gathering points, the names of the deportees were put on a list, and everyone was individually ordered to sign this list. They were informed that by their signature they “voluntarily” gave up all their belongings. The deportees were then ordered, some at gunpoint, to board buses and trucks and later trains until they arrived at Palic (Vojvodina) where they were put up at the local camp site. Although the deportees apparently did not so request, they were provided with Yugoslav passports after photographers came to the camp site for this purpose. For some deportees, the issuing authority of their Yugoslav passport was “MUP (Ministry of Internal Affairs) of the Republic of Serbia, Secretariat in Subotica”. Deportees reported that between 26 June and 1 July 1992 there were about 1,200 persons from Kozluk and another 1,800 from Zvornik at the Palic campsite. After being taken to the border, these persons were admitted to Hungary as refugees.
100. A large number of Muslim and Croat men, women and children were released from the Serb-run detention camp at the Mlakve football stadium in Bosanski Novi on 22 July 1992. They had reportedly been subjected to regular beatings there. On release, they were taken to Croatia in a convoy and some ex-detainees reported that they were forced to sign a declaration stating that they were leaving the town voluntarily.
101. Some 3,500 Serbs reportedly lived in the mainly Muslim town of Kladanj, in central Bosnia and Herzegovina, before the present conflict. On 22 January 1993, an ECMM team visited the Mayor of the town who said that all but 100 had left the town, mostly voluntarily, while others had left “under pressure or even violence from Serb extremists”.
102. In this conflict, civilian population centres have frequently been the object of sieges in violation of international humanitarian law.
103. Hospitals in towns such as Goradze, Srebrenica and Sarajevo, which have suffered for months under siege, are reported to be under constant shelling and artillery and rocket fire. A team of European Community monitors who visited Gorazde on 20 January 1993 has reported that there are about 70,000 people living there, of whom about 35,000 are displaced persons. The town has had no electricity or water since May 1992 and many people living in cellars or in the remains of burnt houses. Telephone lines are cut and all roads are closed. The only communications possible are through amateur radio operators. The use of the “Red Cross” symbol is now widely regarded by medical and aid workers as a disadvantage as it seems to attract attacks instead of helping to protect these humanitarian and medical activities.
104. A medical doctor from Sarajevo has emphasized that 15 per cent of the wounded he treats are children. Furthermore, his testimony describes the absurd situation whereby those in the hospital, who have already been injured by shooting and shelling are shot at and shelled again. He refers to this as “the wounding of the wounded”.
105. The frequent and deliberate destruction of houses cannot be justified as an action against “military targets”. In some cases, the homes of those who have fled ethnic cleansing have been destroyed to prevent them from returning, while others have been destroyed to force residents to flee. The weight of evidence is against Serb forces for the majority of these acts with reliable reports of such destruction being carried out in all areas under Serb control from Kozarac in the west to Jajce in the centre and Bratunac in the east. All parties to the present conflict have been responsible for the ethnically selective destruction of houses. For example, Serb houses were reportedly burnt in the village of Bradina by government/Croat forces in July 1992 as were Muslim houses in Prozor by Croat forces in October 1992.
106. Although the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not regarded as a religious one, it has been characterized by the systematic destruction and profanation of mosques, Catholic churches and other places of worship, as well as other sites of cultural heritage. This has been reported to be the case particularly in areas currently or previously under the control of Serb forces. The destruction by Serb forces of the Muslim cultural heritage museum of Trebinje in November 1992 and of its mosque on 26 January 1993 may be cited here to represent very many other examples. However, it has been reported that some Orthodox churches have been destroyed in areas of central Bosnia and Herzegovina which were, or are, under the control of government and/or Croat forces.
107. Another method of indiscriminately attacking civilians which has been used in this conflict is through threatened environmental disasters due to military action. Examples include the reported mining of the hydroelectric power station at Bijelo Polje in Mostar. The consequences of destruction would be catastrophic for civilians over a wide area. In addition, the large chemical plant in Tuzla has been shelled many times by Serb forces, threatening the lives of the civilian population for miles around as well as an environmental disaster.
108. Humanitarian convoys have been and still are being attacked, harassed and prevented from reaching those in need. In that regard, the Special Rapporteur recalls that at various times during the conflict it has been necessary for agencies such as the ICRC and UNHCR to suspend provisionally all or part of their operations in order not to endanger the lives of their delegates. UNPROFOR personnel have also at times been prevented from carrying out their mandate. The latest tragic incident occurred on 2 February 1993, when one person died and another was seriously injured in an attack on a UNHCR convoy near Mostar.
109. The killing and wounding of journalists has reached unprecedented levels during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. The independence and safety of members of the press should be guaranteed by all parties to the conflict. The Special Rapporteur appreciates the role which the media are playing in informing and mobilizing international public opinion regarding human rights abuses in this conflict.
110. In December 1991, 100,000 refugees from the conflict in Croatia had fled to Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the outbreak of fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina around March/April 1992, the number of refugees and internally displaced increased to 300,000. It was in the second half of 1992 that the situation reached truly crisis proportions and by December, there were over 810,000 refugees and internally displaced men, women and children in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The policy of ethnic cleansing, including forced transfers of populations, was being pursued to devastating effect.
111. Large numbers of people are still moving from areas of intense ethnic cleansing, such as the Banja Luka region, towards central Bosnia, despite the perilous crossing of the confrontation line which this involves. This has long been a recognizable pattern but it is not possible to say whether it is the result of the closing of Croatia’s borders, leaving those seeking refuge no option but to go in this direction, or whether these people are being deliberately pushed towards the confrontation line by ethnic Serb forces.
112. UNHCR is in constant negotiation with the Croatian Government to allow the admission of those who seek refuge. By way of exception the Government has admitted particular groups. However, Croatia already has 700,000 refugees on its territory and it is clear that more international aid for these refugees is needed as well as more international burden-sharing in the acceptance of refugees.
113. In October 1992, the release of detainees (described above) had led to impossible overcrowding at the Croatian transit camp at Karlovac. However, negotiations with the Swiss Government have borne fruit allowing, as a special temporary measure, a transit camp to be set up on Swiss territory. This relieves some of the pressure on the Karlovac camp which now houses some 1,600 persons. However, this agreement applies only to ex-detainees who are assured of asylum in another country.
114. Humanitarian organizations are providing aid under very difficult conditions. The problem of access is particularly acute. Some places have been inaccessible to aid convoys owing to snow or bad roads; others have been made inaccessible by the refusal of the parties to the conflict to allow convoys to pass.
115. There is a constant threat of epidemics in many cities due to the destruction of their infrastructure.
116. It is especially worrying that some places in eastern Bosnia have been inaccessible to aid convoys, human rights monitors and journalists since the beginning of the conflict in March or April of 1992. It may be feared that grave human rights violations have taken place.
117. Furthermore, the humanitarian nature of aid convoys is being respected less and less and all parties to the conflict are creating obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.
118. The Special Rapporteur presented in his report to the General Assembly at its forty-seventh session (A/47/666) the main points of non-respect of fundamental rights in Croatia. He expressed his concern, in particular, about the discrimination against minorities who have been refused citizenship and are subjected to verbal and physical abuses. The strict control by the Government over radio and television and the situation of refugees are other areas of concern mentioned by the Special Rapporteur in this report.
119. During his third mission to the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the Special Rapporteur travelled once more to Croatia. Members of his delegation met with officials of the Government in order to gather information and to follow up on the development of the situation of human rights in that country.
120. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur received considerable material from non-governmental organizations concerning violations of human rights and war crimes committed by both belligerents during the war between Croatia and Serbia. These cases are being passed on to the Commission of Experts established in accordance with Security Council resolution 780 (1992).
121. The EC Monitoring Mission (ECMM) reported to the Special Rapporteur that in the town of Dubrovnik, a number of Serbian houses have been set on fire, damaged or destroyed. Furthermore, Serbian civilians have been evicted from their homes so that Croats can move in. In this respect, according to the ECMM, “at best the evidence indicates that the army condones such action by its troops. At worst the army itself is acting in a manner incompatible with democratic principles and common justice”. Moreover, the ECMM provided the Special Rapporteur with a list of Yugoslav Army soldiers taken as prisoners of war who have allegedly been ill-treated and tortured by the Croatian Army.
122. Representatives of the Serbian minority explained to the delegation that the main issue of concern to them was still the procedure for obtaining Croatian citizenship. They claimed that the time-limit prescribed by the Constitution was not respected and that applicants had to wait for months.
123. The Special Rapporteur received copies of documents issued by the Ministry of the Interior of Croatia refusing citizenship to Serbs living in Croatia. A number of persons were refused Croatian citizenship by virtue of article 26, paragraph 1, of the Law on Croatian Citizenship adopted by the Croatian Parliament on 26 June 1991 and published in the Croatian Narodne novine, Nos. 28/91 and 53/91 [article 26, paragraph 1: “The Ministry of the Interior shall reject any application for the acquisition or loss of Croatian citizenship if the required conditions have not been fulfilled, unless otherwise provided for by the terms of the present Law”]. The Croatian authorities did not give the reasons for these refusals, referring to paragraph 3 of the same article [”the decision to reject the application for acquisition [of Croatian citizenship] does not necessarily have to state the reasons for such rejection”]. In some cases the Croatian authorities stated that the person did not comply with the general conditions for acquiring Croatian citizenship as listed in article 8 of the Law on Citizenship, which reads as follows:
1. He must be at least 18 years of age and be capable of leading an active life;
2. He must have lost his original citizenship or produce a document proving that he will cease to possess his original citizenship if he acquires Croatian citizenship;
3. He must prove that he has been legally resident in the Republic of Croatia for at least five consecutive years prior to the date of signature of the declaration of acquisition;
4. He must know the Croatian language and the Latin alphabet;
5. He must, through his conduct, demonstrate that he respects public order and the customs observed in the Republic of Croatia and that he adopts Croatian culture.
125. The Special Rapporteur also received documents concerning the implications of refusal of Croatian citizenship, notably that such persons are not entitled to social allowances.
126. Officials of the Ministry of the Interior explained that, until 8 October 1991, every resident of Croatia, regardless of his or her nationality, could have obtained Croatian citizenship upon rejecting the republican citizenship (under the Socialist Federal system all citizens of the Federal Yugoslavia also had a republican citizenship).
127. Croatian officials further pointed out that due to lack of facilities, the time-limit envisaged by the law could not be respected and applicants had to wait a longer time for the regularization of their status; however, until June 1993, all applicants would not be restricted in exercising their civil, economic and social rights. Those who allege to be victims of discrimination had the right to petition the courts. According to the official records of the Ministry, of 194,000 applications filed, almost 30,000 remain pending. Nevertheless, the Serbian community claim to be victims of discrimination and accuse Croats of having an attitude of rejection and dislike.
128. Since the Ministry of the Interior is in charge of security throughout the country, the police also falls under its control. With regard to dismissal on the basis of ethnic origin, a representative of the Ministry asserted to the mission that almost 15 per cent of the police force are Serbs. No dismissals on those grounds had taken place. He also explained that the secret police had been abolished.
129. The members of the Special Rapporteur’s delegation also met with representatives of the Ministry of Justice who described the current judicial system. Death sentences had been abolished. Since the outbreak of war, six Military Courts have been established to deal with military offences, abuses of civilians by the military, terrorism practised by civilians, sabotage, deaths in prison, etc. It is compulsory for three civil judges to be present at every trial. Each defendant has the right and the obligation to be represented by an attorney. An attorney is nominated by the court whenever the defendant cannot afford one. With regard to the harassment of minorities, according to Ministry officials 800 Croats have been charged with nationalistic propaganda and incitement to hatred, terrorism and armed assault against civilians while 40 officers of the Croatian Army were charged with war crimes.
130. The civil judiciary system consists of 99 District Courts which handle minor crimes (up to 10 years of imprisonment) and 14 Regional Courts which handle more important crimes and sit as appeal courts to the lower courts. There is one Supreme Court. Judges are elected by a Commission of Parliament upon the recommendations of the Ministry of Justice. According to the new Constitution, judges are elected for a life term.
131. In the last two years the rate of criminality has risen, due mainly to the state of war and the difficult economic situation which encourages people to commit theft and similar crimes.
132. The economic situation has worsened over the last few years due to several factors. With the exception of Slovenia, Croatia has lost the Yugoslav market for its exports, as well as its former Eastern European and Middle East markets. Slavonia, the richest agricultural region, is not under the State’s control. Tourism, one of the most profitable industries, has disappeared over the last three years. Educated people leave the country while instability, due to war, discourages foreigners from investing in Croatia. The present average salary is equivalent to 80 DEM (one fourth of the average salary of a few years ago). Inflation is very high and rising constantly. There are 261,000 registered unemployed who receive either a minimum salary or welfare assistance.
133. Although the law grants independence and autonomy to the mass media, many journalists, conditioned by the old system, practise self-censorship. For example, one reporter said that certain questions would not be addressed to a member of the Government at a press conference so that further invitations to other press conferences could be expected. It has also been reported that some journalists have been dismissed because of their political opinions. The Special Rapporteur has been informed of the case of five Croatian women intellectuals who were among the first people to denounce soldiers of all sides, including Croatians, for rape. Consequently, they were vilified in a Zagreb weekly magazine. This example, among others, confirms that the Croatian media frequently incite extreme nationalist sentiments.
134. Printing and distribution are in the hands of the VJESNIK printing house, now called TISAK. The chief editors of all dailies and periodicals are appointed by the Board of Directors, which is nominated by the Government.
135. The Radio and Television Council is appointed by Parliament and is in charge of approving the programmes as well as the internal policy of each station. Both radio and television are State-owned and supervised by the same General Director who is, at present, the Vice-President of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union. The Government thus exercises full control over the mass media, in particular radio and television. Journalists believe that the independence and freedom of the press were more respected during the period between 1989 and 1990.
136. The Special Rapporteur visited the Reznik Refugee Centre outside Zagreb. A number of refugees had arrived five days before from Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Centre, a former industrial complex which has been empty for the last 15 years, is accommodating some 3,000 refugees. Once a month they receive food and clothing from UNHCR. The Croatian Red Cross and the Austrian Red Cross take care of their needs together with other humanitarian organizations like Caritas. Aid from individuals is also received from abroad. The entry of refugees into Croatia has been restricted by the Government to those holding a letter from a third country guaranteeing their settlement. Croatian Red Cross records show 700,000 registered refugees and displaced persons, constituting 17 per cent of the Croatian population; 80 per cent of them live with Croatian families. Host families receive material aid from the Croatian Red Cross to enable them support their guests. The refugees (estimated at 540,000) are mostly Muslims from Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the displaced persons (estimated at 260,000) are Croats from UNPAs.
137. The conclusion to be drawn on the basis of the information gathered recently is that the human rights situation in Croatia has not changed significantly since the Special Rapporteur’s last report. A considerable number of Serbs are still waiting to obtain citizenship. Various cases of harassment of Serbs have been reported. Freedom of expression in the media has not been fully realized. The economic situation is difficult and the influx of refugees, most of whom are living with Croatian host families, constitutes a considerable burden for the society.
138. As the Special Rapporteur explained in his report to the General Assembly at its forty-seventh session (A/47/666), UNPAs are regions within the territory of Croatia. UNPAs have been established in western Slavonia (Sector West), eastern Slavonia (Sector East), and Krajina (Sectors North and South). In most of the areas within UNPAs Serbs exercise de facto rule. The tasks of UNPROFOR and UNCIVPOL stationed in these areas are mainly geared towards demilitarizing the population, demining the region and facilitating the return of refugees. The difficulties they are experiencing in this regard have not diminished since the Special Rapporteur presented his report to the General Assembly. On the contrary, the renewed outbreak of hostilities has created additional obstacles for the fulfilment of UNPROFOR’s mandate.
139. Manifestations of ethnic cleansing as described in the previous report continue in this sector which is part of the so-called “Republic of Krajina”. The de facto authorities practise discrimination and there is no independent political system.
140. Reliable sources have informed the Special Rapporteur of a number of recent incidents in this sector as follows:
(b) On 20 November 1992, in Gornje (near Zeminik), two Serbs were found dead. Both bore head wounds. Footprints leading to and from the Croatian front line were found;
(c) On 22 November 1992, in Skrbrnja, five members of the Serbian militia were shot dead. Due to this incident, the existing tension increased, and UNPROFOR has to ensure the security of the Croatians living in the area;
(d) On 2 December 1992, in Sopok near Benkovac, four Croats were shot dead;
(e) On 5 December 1992, in Goles near Benkovac, a Serb was found shot dead;
(f) On 6 December 1992, in Murvica, one Serb was killed and three others wounded;
(g) On 8 December 1992, in Perusic Gorinja, a Croat was badly wounded in his house.
141. The main concern expressed by the Special Rapporteur in his previous report (A/47/666), was the policy of ethnic cleansing practised by militias and local Serbian authorities. The non-Serbs who had not yet left were victims of constant harassment. Catholic churches were destroyed and Serbian refugees were lodged in the houses of those who had left.
142. The Special Rapporteur is also concerned with the unresolved problem of missing persons who disappeared during or immediately after the battle of Vukovar. The ICRC has been seized of those cases and the Special Rapporteur hopes that all authorities and forces concerned will cooperate with the ICRC in its attempts to determine the fate of the missing persons.
143. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions visited the sector from 15 to 20 December 1992. According to his findings, the de facto authorities of the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Krajina (RSK) are vigorously pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing. The local militia has not been disarmed. On the contrary, a territorial defence force is being re-established. Members of the militia openly carry long weapons an have repeatedly stopped UNPROFOR personnel. The local population is subjected to harassment and intimidation and told not to report to UNPROFOR. In the southern part of the sector, fighting is still going on along the confrontation line. The local police do not cooperate when UNPROFOR passes to them allegations of violations of human rights. A renewed escalation of ethnically motivated violence is feared.
144. The Special Rapporteur has not received recent information concerning Sector North.
145. With regard to Sector West, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has observed that UNPROFOR has excellent working relationships with both Croatian and Serbian authorities. The local police, monitored by CIVPOL, has become a really professional police force, eager to carry out its tasks properly and fully cooperating with UNPROFOR.
146. In his third report (A/47/666-S/24809) the Special Rapporteur, commenting on the human rights situation in Serbia, stated that “there is a considerable discrepancy between legal rules and norms and the actual implementation of such standards ... The absence of a democratically approved constitutional order and a firm commitment to the Constitution on the part of some political authorities, together with a lack of effective procedures and mechanisms for the protection of the human rights and freedoms recognized in the Constitution, are two factors which contribute to this situation” (paras.89-90). It would seem that these observations are still valid.
147. The local, regional, republic and federal elections that were held on 20 December 1992 were intended to provide democratic legitimacy. The election was observed by international experts, who were assisted by representatives of the CSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The observers made the following conclusions:
“- The electoral process through 21 December 1992 has been seriously flawed.
“- The pre-election campaign was tainted by shameless propaganda in the state-run media, especially television, that exclusively supported the governing party and either ignored or distorted the message of the opposition.
“- The governing party effectively shortened the opposition’s pre-election campaign period by bureaucratic delaying tactics.
“- Voter registration problems were widespread on election day. Observers have estimated that 5 per cent or more of prospective voters were not allowed to participate. A disproportionate amount of these would likely have supported the opposition (considering that many were young people - often first time voters - or those who joined in the boycott of the 31 May elections) ...
“- Other election-day problems noted by some observers included intimidation of voters and low standards for secrecy at polling places.
“- In general, election campaign and election-day problems have not been as severe in Montenegro as they have been in Serbia.”
148. The CSCE mission pointed out that “there seems to be sufficient evidence in support of a conclusion that election irregularities have been widespread, enough to invalidate an election in any traditional democracy. At the same time, there are reasons to believe that there has been a groundswell of support for [President] Milosevic, the Socialist (ex-Communist) Party and the Radical Nationalist Party”.
149. Independent observers report that instability and tensions in various regions of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are caused by a lack of respect for the rule of law by the law enforcement organs, in particular the police. There are also reports that large numbers of weapons are in the possession of private persons.
150. The situation with respect to the mass media has not improved. The authorities still exercise firm control over television and radio. It has recently been reported that purges are being undertaken in all the media. In addition, universities, theatres and other cultural institutions are being purged of so-called “ideological opponents” under different pretexts. There are warnings from some independent intellectuals that Fascist-like ideologies are enjoying broader and broader social support.
151. The Special Rapporteur is convinced that human rights problems in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should not be limited to the situation of minorities or inter-ethnic relations. The influence of the military conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatia is obvious. There is growing fear among the population in response to increasingly difficult living conditions and aggressive propaganda.
152. It will be recalled that the human rights situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) was examined by the Human Rights Committee at its 1202nd meeting, held on 4 November 1992. On that occasion, the Committee noted the existence of links between Serbia and Serbian nationalists responsible for massive violations of human rights in Croatian territories controlled by Serbian forces and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This means that the Federal Government cannot be exempt from responsibility for ethnic cleansing conducted in those territories.
153. In his report to the General Assembly at its forty-seventh session (A/47/666), the Special Rapporteur expressed his concern about the situation of human rights in Kosovo following a brief visit to Prishtina. The main issues raised concern the mass dismissal of Albanians from the public sector, police brutality, the lack of freedom of the media and problems concerning education. The situation of human rights has been constantly worsening since Kosovo lost its status as an autonomous province in July 1990. The Albanian population has been enduring various forms of discrimination as a result of new laws adopted by the Republic of Serbia and the economic situation has deteriorated to the extent that even the subsistence of many Albanian families is threatened.
154. Since his visit, the Special Rapporteur has continued to receive information from international monitors, in particular the CSCE mission, concerning the human rights situation in Kosovo.