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The first meeting of our activist network in 2024 - Discussing the Croatian Law on Legal Consequences of Conviction, Criminal Records and Rehabilitation

Large foto online sastanak 18.1. 1 razgovor o zakonu o rehabilitaciji 1

We decided to dedicate the first meeting of our activist network in 2024 to the Croatian Law on Legal Consequences of Conviction, Criminal Records and Rehabilitation. We particularly focused on the application and the consequences of this law in the context of war crimes and their perpetrators.

We briefly explained to our activists the goals of this Law, how it is applied, how it is related to human rights and what consequences it may have for society in Croatia.

We talked about rehabilitation as the right of a person who has been legally convicted or acquitted to be considered a person who has not committed a criminal offence after a period of time and conditions determined by law. A rehabilitated person’s rights and freedoms cannot be distinguished from the rights and freedoms of persons who have not committed a crime. Rehabilitation is a quantitative category that occurs after a certain period after serving the sentence and upon the onset of rehabilitation, the perpetrator of the crime is considered unconvicted. It follows from this that any use of data referencing the person as a perpetrator of a criminal offence is prohibited. The use of such data has no legal effect, and the rehabilitated person has the right to deny a previous conviction and therefore must not be held accountable or suffer any legal consequences thereof.

Although of extremely negative and long-term consequences for the victims and the society, war crimes are not mentioned as exceptions that could imply an adapted application of the Law. It is also interesting to point out that taking advantage of the right to rehabilitation is encouraged by the Croatian Government on its official website.

At the meeting, we discussed the following problem with our activists: Is applying the Law in this form a positive practice in the context of war crimes? Should it be practiced in a society which faces fundamental difficulties in dealing with its violent past - especially in the context of war crimes committed by Croat perpetrators during the war?

Given that the application of this law may influence the work of the Initiative, especially activities related to ​​dealing with the past and educating the public about the '90s war, we discussed the following issues with the activists:

If the Law forbids us to bring up information about war crimes committed by rehabilitated perpetrators - how will we advocate for changes, reparations for victims and an inclusive remembrance of the past?

What consequences will the erasure of criminal records about perpetrators of war crimes have on the already problematic application of the Law on Civilian Victims of the Homeland War, especially when it comes to victims of Serbian nationality?

We ended the meeting by discussing the ways, activities or advocacy initiatives that could be undertaken to influence the potential adaptation of the Law and its application.

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