The Secretary General of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, is in Brussels on Tuesday to meet top officials in the EU Council, Parliament and Commission. Irene Khan will address the role of the EU in ensuring accountability for war crimes in Croatia, following her High Level Mission to the country last week and ahead of accession talks scheduled for this month in Brussels. She will also highlight Amnesty International’s concerns about the implementation of human rights commitments in EU policies and institutions. “Croatia is a prime example of how the EU can use its leverage within the accession process to push for an end to impunity for war crimes ”, said Irene Khan. “The EU should use this leverage in all its relations with third countries and, for the sake of coherence and credibility, also look at its own human rights record,” she added. Amnesty International is particularly concerned about the slow pace of prosecutions for war crimes in Croatia and the apparent ethnic bias of investigations, most involving only Croatian Serb perpetrators. The organization is also worried about harassment and intimidation of victims and witnesses, as well as journalists reporting on war crimes. Croatian authorities have not made accountability for war crimes a clear political priority. The EU has a responsibility within the accession process to demand that they do so. Regarding human rights shortcomings in EU policies and institutions, the head of Amnesty International highlights the failure of the Union to implement its decision to include human rights in all its policies. The organization is also concerned that EU and Member States’ policies in crucial areas like asylum and counter terrorism may be undermining their human rights commitments. The Secretary General of Amnesty International, therefore:calls on the Commission to press the Croatian Government to actively pursue the investigation and prosecution of war crimes, provide assistance for the necessary judicial reforms and continue to monitor the situation beyond the conclusion of accession talks. calls on the Commission and the Council to fulfil the EU’s commitment to include human rights in all its policies, including the Common Foreign and Security Policy. calls on the EU Parliament, as co-legislator with a specific human rights mandate, to ensure that EU policies do not undermine compliance with the human rights obligations of its Member States and that the Commission and Council are accountable for any violation thereof.
While in Brussels, Irene Khan will also introduce the screening of an Amnesty International film documenting impunity for war crimes in Croatia and address the European Policy Centre on EU asylum policies in the context of security. Media materials available: – Amnesty International film “War crimes in Croatia”. For further comment/background and interviews: Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels): Tel: 32-2-502 1499 Fax: 32-2-502 5686 Email: [email protected]