EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: EUR 63/18/93
UA 315/93 9 September 1993
Deliberate and arbitrary detention of civilians/deliberate and arbitrary killings/fear
of torture and ill-treatment
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA:Detained Muslim civilians and prisoners of war in Bosnian Croat
controlled areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Amnesty International is concerned about the detention of Muslim civilians and the
ill-treatment and inhuman conditions to which they, together with captured combatants,
have been exposed while in detention camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The most recent information available to Amnesty International indicates that large
numbers of Bosnian Muslim civilians continue to be held by Bosnian Croat (Croatian Defence
Council [HVO]) forces. On Monday 6 September, delegates of the International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) and press were, for the first time, allowed access to the Dretelj
detention centre, a former military barracks, where they found 1,428 prisoners. However,
according to a prisoner interviewed by a British journalist, a group of 125 inmates had,
before the arrival of the ICRC mission, been removed to an unknown destination.
According to a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), by
20 August some 15,000 Muslims were reported to be held in camps in Grbavica, Dretelj,
Stolac, Ljubuški, Gabela, Rodo_ and a number of other places. The majority of them were
civilians expelled from their homes in Mostar, _apljina, Stolac and villages in the area.
Conditions were reported to be particularly bad at Dretelj camp, where some 2,500 detainees
were believed to be held by 20 August. According to eyewitness accounts, detainees were
held in conditions so cramped that they could not lie down to sleep. There have also
been reports that Muslim prisoners of war held at Rodo_ have been made to perform forced
labour for the HVO close to the front-lines.
In a letter of 7 September, Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, appealed to the HVO leader,
Mate Boban, to treat prisoners humanely and to allow aid agencies to visit detention
On 7 September, HVO commander, General Slobodan Praljak, claimed that his forces no longer
held prisoners of war and that all HVO prisoner-of-war-camps had been shut down. However,
the following day the ICRC requested urgent access to all detention camps in Bosnia,
referring to consistent reports about the existence of further detention centres to which
so far no international agencies had gained access.
It appears that a total of over 1,500 Muslim detainees were released from various HVO
detention centres in the week of 29 August 1993, including, on 1 September, some 350
from the camp in Dretelj. About a 100 of them were seen by UNHCR officials in Jablanica.