[JURIST] Croatia’s parliament on Friday passed a law that grants compensation to victims of rape during the country’s war of independence from Yugoslavia more than 20 years ago. Despite its lateness, the move has been hailed as an important step [AP report] in recovering from the damage of the 1991-1995 conflict. The bill, which was passed with 86 votes in favor and three abstentions, entitles each victim [Reuters report] to a one-time payment of 100,000 kuna (USD $14,504), a monthly allowance of 2,500 kuna, and access to free counseling, healthcare and legal aid. Matic War Veterans Minister Fred Matic last week told lawmakers that, “Such legislation is rare in the world, and it is the first of its kind in this region whereby the victims will get a dignified one-off financial compensation.” The law will take effect next January.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] and the Balkan States continue to prosecute those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced. In February Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said [JURIST report] that Croatia would block Serbia from joining the EU unless it chaned a 2003 law allowing Belgrade to prosecute Croatians for war crimes committed against Serbs in Croatia. Earlier in February the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] ruled [judgment, PDF] that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide [JURIST report] against one another’s citizens during the 1990s wars that erupted after the division of Yugoslavia. In January the ICTY upheld [JURIST report] the genocide convictions of two Bosnian Serbs during the 1995 Srebenica massacre. In July a Dutch court found the government responsible for 300 deaths [JURIST report] in the Srebrenica massacre. The ICTY was created in 1993 by UN Resolution 827 to adjudicate the alleged war crimes perpetrated in the region of the former Yugoslavia since 1991.