United Nations

A/51/206


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

10 July 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                      A/51/206
                                                      S/1996/539
                                                            


GENERAL ASSEMBLY                                            SECURITY COUNCIL
Fifty-first session                                         Fifty-first year
Items 94 and 108 of the preliminary
  list*
THE SITUATION IN THE OCCUPIED
  TERRITORIES OF CROATIA
REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH
  COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES,
  QUESTIONS RELATING TO REFUGEES,
  RETURNEES AND DISPLACED PERSONS
  AND HUMANITARIAN QUESTIONS

*    A/51/50.


            Letter dated 10 July 1996 from the Permanent Representative
                 of Croatia to the United Nations addressed to the
                                 Secretary-General


     Upon instructions from my Government, I have the honour to refer
to your report to the Security Council of 21 June 1996 on the
situation of human rights in Croatia pursuant to Security Council
resolution 1019 (1995) (S/1996/456).

     In paragraph 25 of the report you write:  "According to the report
by the Government, as of 10 June 1996 only 7,065 persons had returned
to Croatia following Government authorization.  International
observers report that the number of Croatian Serbs who have actually
returned to their homes in the former Sectors appears to be
considerably lower than this figure."  My Government is deeply
disappointed that when such reservations existed, the international
observers did not seek to verify the authenticity of the number,
especially when the number is in effect the crux of the issue at hand.

     The Croatian Government has well-documented files in this regard,
and invites the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to
visit the Government's Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees and
verify the authenticity of the number that the Government had
submitted.  A file on each returnee will be available to him. 
Out of the total documented returnees:  5,192 returned to
Croatia after receiving security clearance from the Office for
Displaced Persons and Refugees; 586 returned on the basis of Croatian
citizenship; and 1,287 returned on the basis of other documentation. 
I should also like to add in this regard that my Government estimates
that several thousand more ethnic Serbs returned to Croatia for whom
there is no documentation.

     My Government has shown extraordinary transparency in respect of
human rights.  It has given an open door to more than 300 humanitarian
organizations that in one way or another monitor and report on human
rights.  We did so with the hope that transparency would translate
into disciplined, balanced, thorough and coordinated investigations. 
The delicate issue of human rights cannot be treated lightly.

     The return of displaced persons and refugees is one of the
cornerstones of the international community's policy in the region. 
We are pleased to note in this regard that the number of repatriated
refugees to Croatia has been unmatched in the region.  The returns
would be proceeding at an even faster rate if there were no legitimate
security concerns associated with the unmanaged influx of persons that
were associated with the party that started the conflict in Croatia in
the first place.  The risks regarding the safety of 38,000 non-Serb
returnees presently in the liberated areas and the right of return of
80,000 more non-Serb expellees from the liberated areas are serious
and significant and have wider implications.

     Furthermore, the number of Serb returnees to Croatia must be
considered within the context of the generally accepted norms and
standards regarding the return of displaced persons and refugees. 
Their return should be safe, dignified and voluntary.  My Government
has in the past actively contributed to the debate on this position of
the international community.  Croatia's managed return policy,
therefore, should be viewed with this in mind.

     In conclusion, it is the position of my Government that the human
rights situation in Croatia does not in any way constitute a threat to
peace and security in Croatia, nor in the region, and should
therefore, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, be
addressed exclusively by the United Nations forums dealing with human
rights.

     May I ask for your kind assistance in circulating the text of the
present letter as a document of the General Assembly, under items 94
and 108 of the preliminary list, and of the Security Council.


                                                  (Signed)  Mario NOBILO      
                                                             Ambassador       
                                                      Permanent Representative


                                     -----
 

This document has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 28 December 1999 17:35:10
Comments and suggestions: esa@un.org