Civilian victims of war are amongst “the most vulnerable groups in a society” and “deserve respect”, the Croatian president, Ivo Josipovic, said on Friday.Speaking at the conference “Civilian victims of war in Croatia”, organised by the NGO Documenta, Josipovic said that “civilian victims deserve respect from a society, and if they do not get it, it shows that the society has lost its most valuable component – solidarity”.
The president of Documenta, Vesna Terselic, said that politicians in Croatia show very little interest in problems of civilian war victims, including families of those missing and killed, victims of rape and former camp prisoners.
“Why the government does not recognise the suffering of the victims?” asked Terselic, adding that “the institutions in charge of helping civilian victims have been changing names over the years, but they haven’t even started solving the victim’s problems”.
Several months ago Documenta started a campaign to rise public and government’s awareness about many unresolved problems facing civilian victims of the Croatian war.
As a result of this campaign the government brought in a decree which allows families of killed civilians, who are considered poor, to be exempt from paying court expenses in case they lose their compensation suit.
Josipovic described the decree as “insufficient” and called on the government to amend it.
There are over hundred cases in Croatia, in which families of killed civilians sued the state, but lost their cases and had to pay court expenses.
Josipovic explained that those families sued the state because “it did not do its job to find and prosecute the perpetrators”.
He added that “courts ruled against the victims, because they could not prove who perpetrated the crimes” and as a result victims were forced to pay court expenses.
“That huge injustice must be removed”, Josipovic said. “I expect the government to correct this”.