8 January 1996


Press Release
SC/6158



SECURITY COUNCIL STRONGLY CONDEMNS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN CROATIA'S FORMER SECTORS NORTH AND SOUTH

19960108
Pays Tribute to Late French President François Mitterrand, Friend of UN, Strong Defender of its Principles and Objectives

The Security Council this morning strongly condemned violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in Croatia's former sectors North and South, including killings of civilians and widespread looting and arson.

In a statement read out by its President, Sir John Weston (United Kingdom), the Council urged the Government of Croatia to make every effort to arrest all perpetrators and bring them promptly to trial. It expressed grave concern at reports of harassment and intimidation, looting of property and other forms of abuse and reaffirmed its demand that the Government of Croatia must take urgent measures to stop all such acts immediately.

The Council also reaffirmed its demand to the Croatian Government to respect the rights of the local Serb population, including their right to remain, leave or return in safety and urged it to refrain from measures which would adversely affect the exercise of the right to return.

Further by the statement, the Council reaffirmed its call on the Croatian Government to lift any time-limits placed on the return of refugees to reclaim their property, and noted as a step in the right direction that Government's decision of 27 December 1995 to suspend the deadline set in that regard. The Secretary-General was requested to report to the Council no later than 15 February on Croatia's implementation of the demands set out in the statement.

At the outset of the meeting, the Council paid tribute to the memory of former French President François Mitterrand who died this morning.


Security Council Press Release SC/6158 3617th Meeting (AM) - 2 - 8 January 1996

The Council President said President Mitterrand had played a pivotal role in the history of his country and of the world. In a political life spanning five decades, he had played an active and influential role, as a Cabinet Minister, as a political leader and as a statesman. In recent years, he had been instrumental in the process of the unification of Europe.

President Mitterrand was a friend of the United Nations and a strong defender of its principles and objectives, he said, adding that "today, the world mourns the passing away of this great man". On behalf of Council members he expressed deepest sympathy to the family of President Mitterrand and to the Government and people of France.

After the Council observed a minute of silence in memory of President Mitterrand, the Permanent Representative of France, Alain Dejammet, read out a statement issued this morning by the President of France, Jacques Chirac. He said that for 14 years President Mitterrand had written an important page in the history of France. Also, he had brought forward the construction of Europe with determination. Mr. Dejammet thanked Council members for their tribute to the memory of President Mitterrand.

The meeting was called to order at 11:41 a.m. and adjourned at 11:54 a.m..

The full text of the statement on the situation of human rights in Croatia, which will be issued as document S/PRST/1996/2, reads as follows:

"The Security Council has considered the report of the Secretary-General of 21 December 1995 (S/1995/1051) submitted pursuant to its resolution 1019 of 9 November 1995 on Croatia and in particular the humanitarian situation and human rights violations described therein.

"The Security Council strongly condemns the violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in the former sectors North and South in the Republic of Croatia as described in the report of the Secretary-General, including killings of several hundreds of civilians, systematic and widespread looting and arson and other forms of destruction of property. The Council expresses its deep concern that there is a considerable discrepancy between the number of perpetrators that have so far been brought to justice and the number of reported violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. The Council urges the Government of the Republic of Croatia to make every effort to arrest all perpetrators and bring them promptly to trial.

"The Security Council is disturbed by the humanitarian and security situation of the mostly elderly Serb population who have remained in the former sectors in the Republic of Croatia. The Council is gravely concerned at the information contained in the report on continuing extensive harassment and intimidation, looting of property and other forms of abuse. It reaffirms


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once again its demand that the Government of the Republic of Croatia take urgent measures to stop all such acts immediately and calls on the Government of the Republic of Croatia to provide urgently needed food, medical assistance and proper shelter to the Serb population.

"The Security Council reaffirms that all those who commit violations of international humanitarian law will be held individually responsible in respect of such acts. It recalls with dismay the failure to date of the Government of the Republic of Croatia to transfer to the custody of the International Tribunal established pursuant to its resolution 827 (1993) persons indicted by the Tribunal, and expresses its concern at the recent appointment of one of those indicted to a position in the Croatian army. The Council reiterates that all States must cooperate fully with the International Tribunal and its organs.

"The Security Council expresses its deep concern at the situation of the refugees from the Republic of Croatia who wish to return. The Council shares the Secretary-General's view that the rights of the members of the Serb population who fled during the military occupation to return to their homes in safety and dignity are being severely curtailed by the absence of constructive measures to facilitate their return. The Council reaffirms its demand that the Government of the Republic of Croatia respect fully the rights of the members of the local Serb population, including their right to remain, leave or return in safety, and demands that that Government create conditions conducive to the return of those persons and urgently establish procedures to facilitate the processing of requests by persons wishing to return. It also urges the Government of the Republic of Croatia to refrain from any measure which would adversely affect the exercise of the right to return.

"The Security Council reaffirms its call on the Republic of Croatia to lift any time-limits placed on the return of refugees to reclaim their property. It notes the decision of the Government of the Republic of Croatia of 27 December 1995 to suspend the deadline set in the relevant Croatian law as a step in the right direction. The Council will follow closely whether the Republic of Croatia will lift any such time-limit in a definitive manner.

"The Security Council takes note with appreciation of the decision of the Government of the Republic of Croatia of 30 December 1995 to suspend criminal proceedings against and release 455 local Serbs detained on suspicion of armed rebellion. The Council calls on the Government of the Republic of Croatia to take the appropriate measures to ensure that the right to a fair trial of those Serbs who remained and have been arrested and accused of war crimes or armed rebellion is safeguarded.

"The Security Council affirms that it is necessary to ensure that the rights of persons belonging to the Serb minority are adequately safeguarded in the legal and constitutional framework of the Republic of Croatia. It urges


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the Government of Croatia to rescind its decision to suspend several articles of the 'Constitutional Law on Human Rights and Freedoms and the Rights of National and Ethnic Communities in the Republic of Croatia' as described in the report of the Secretary-General. The Council stresses that strict respect for the rights of persons belonging to the Serb minority will also be of great importance to the implementation of the Basic Agreement of 12 November 1995 on the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (S/1995/951, Annex).

"The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to keep the Council regularly informed on the progress of measures taken by the Government of the Republic of Croatia to implement resolution 1019 (1995) and the demands set out in this statement, requests the Secretary-General to report to it no later than 15 February 1996 on this matter and expresses its intention to act as appropriate.

"The Security Council will remain seized of the matter."

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