United Nations

A/51/80


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

14 March 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                      A/51/80
                                                      S/1996/194
                                                            


GENERAL ASSEMBLY                                            SECURITY COUNCIL
Fifty-first session                                         Fifty-first year
Item 113 (c) of the preliminary list*
HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS:  HUMAN RIGHTS
  SITUATIONS AND REPORTS OF SPECIAL
  RAPPORTEURS AND REPRESENTATIVES

*    A/51/50.


       Letter dated 13 March 1996 from the Permanent Representative of 
       Croatia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General


     On 1 March 1996, the House of Representatives of the Croatian
Parliament adopted a Declaration stating that the issue of missing and
imprisoned persons and persons taken away by force is a political
issue of primary importance for the Republic of Croatia.  A copy of
the Declaration is provided in the annex to the present letter.  The
status of these persons, especially those who disappeared in 1991, has
not been clarified and continues to be a matter of utmost concern for
the Republic of Croatia, and especially for the families of these
persons.

     The Foreign Ministers of the Republic of Croatia and the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) signed an Agreement on
Cooperation in the Search for Missing Persons.  However this has not
achieved any meaningful results, largely owing to the intransigence of
the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and
Montenegro).  It is because of this lack of progress that the Croatian
Parliament has asked that a direct appeal be made to you to help
effectuate measures designed to make known the fate of the missing and
imprisoned persons and persons taken away by force in the Republic of
Croatia.  Despite improvements in relations between the Republic of
Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and
Montenegro), bilateral discussions alone on the subject of missing
persons have not borne fruit and a multilateral approach is,
therefore, necessary to resolve this problem.

     Discovering the fate of these persons is critical in the
implementation of the Dayton peace agreement, and especially to the
Basic Agreement on the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and
Western Sirmium in the Republic of Croatia.  In this specific
region, ensuring protection of mass grave sites, such as the
one at Ovcara, and beginning the process of exhumation, would be
helpful.

     Another measure which would facilitate the search for missing
persons in Croatia consists of establishing a regional centre for this
purpose in Vukovar.  Furthermore, the proposal by the expert member of
the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
responsible for the special process dealing with the problem of
missing persons in the territory of the former Yugoslavia,
Mr. Manfred Nowak, that a multilateral commission be established to
speed up the exchange of information on missing persons, would also be
of great assistance.

     In conclusion, it is necessary to discover the fate of the missing
persons in the Republic of Croatia not only in order to alleviate the
suffering of their families and loved ones, but also to contribute to
the process of peace in the Republic of Croatia and in the entire
region.

     I would be grateful for your kind assistance in circulating the
text of the present letter and its annex as a document of the General
Assembly under item 113 (c) of the preliminary list, and of the
Security Council.


                                                  (Signed)  Mario NOBILO      
                                                             Ambassador       
                                                      Permanent Representative


                                     ANNEX

              Declaration adopted by the House of Representatives of
              the Croatian Parliament at its session of 1 March 1996,
              after the discussion of 28 February 1996 on the Croatian
              Government's report on the search for Croatian soldiers
              and civilians missing, taken away by force or imprisoned,
                          conducted in 1994 and 1995


     The issue of missing and imprisoned persons and persons taken away
by force is the most painful humanitarian and the most important
political issue in the Republic of Croatia.  Since the onset of the
Serbian aggression against Croatia, there have been 2,792 missing
persons of whose fate nothing is known.  Most of them disappeared
during the barbarous destruction and occupation of Vukovar.

     Despite great efforts by the Croatian Government, the Government's
Commission for Imprisoned and Missing Persons and the associations of
families of persons missing, imprisoned and taken away by force, the
fate of these persons, particularly those who disappeared in 1991, has
not yet been clarified.  Many members of these families have fallen
seriously ill, and the insecurity is directly damaging their health. 
This is the reason why the search for persons taken away by force and
the clarification of the fate of missing persons was an issue of
utmost concern for the Croatian delegation during the negotiations in
Dayton and during the search for an overall peaceful solution for the
former Yugoslavia.  It has also been raised during numerous bilateral
talks.

     These efforts have resulted in the signing of the Agreement on
Cooperation in the Search for Missing Persons by the Foreign Ministers
of the Republic of Croatia and the so-called Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia.  However, despite its clear commitment within this
Agreement, the Serbian side has not done anything to fulfil it.

     The Croatian Parliament recalls that the Serbian side keeps
suspending negotiations on the exchange of prisoners and missing
persons in order to exert political pressure and, by refusing to admit
the presence of prisoners in prisons under its control, obstructs the
process of prisoner exchange and opposes the main principles of the
Dayton peace agreement.  In order to solve this problem, support by
the entire international community is necessary.  The Croatian
Parliament requested from the Transitional Administration for Eastern
Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) to make the issue of
imprisoned and missing persons of the utmost priority in the
implementation of the UNTAES mandate and suggested that a regional
centre for the protection of human rights of persons imprisoned,
missing and taken away by force - "Vukavarske majke" ("Vukovar Mothers") -
 be established in Vukovar.  The Croatian Parliament supports the
proposal of the United Nations special envoy for missing persons,
Mr. Manfred Nowak, to establish a multilateral commission to speed up
the exchange of information on missing persons.

     It is the position of the Republic of Croatia that all future
negotiations with the so-called Federal Republic of Yugoslavia must
primarily resolve the issue of persons who disappeared or were
imprisoned during the recent war in the Republic of Croatia.  Without
a solution to that issue the peace process for the former Yugoslavia
is not possible.

     The Croatian Parliament commits the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
the Republic of Croatia to approach the Secretary-General of the
United Nations once again and ask for assistance in solving the
biggest humanitarian problem in the Republic of Croatia.  When
adopting a document on the human rights situation in Croatia, the
United Nations should bear in mind and express an opinion on the human
rights of persons who disappeared during the aggression against
Croatia and of thousands of people who are still searching for the
truth as to their dearest.

     The Croatian Parliament commits the Government to mark
appropriately the sites of mass graves and the sites where bodies of
Croatian soldiers and civilians were exhumed.  It is essential to
secure additional teams to identify the remains, and therefore the
Parliament requests the provision of additional funds for the work of
the Government's Commission for Imprisoned and Missing Persons.  A
representative of the Parliament should also participate in the work
of the Commission.  For the purpose of better public information, the
Parliament commits the Government to inform the Parliament on the work
of the Government's Commission within three months.

     The Parliament of the Republic of Croatia calls upon the United
Nations and all its human rights organizations, as well as the
parliaments of all democratic countries, to raise their voices in the
name of humanism and international humanitarian law for the protection
of these people, whose fate is unknown, and to exert further pressure
upon the so-called Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to cooperate in
solving these issues.


                                            House of Representatives of the   
                                         Parliament of the Republic of Croatia

                                               Chairman of the House of       
                                                   Representatives            

                                                   Vlatko PAVLETIş            


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