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This report was written on the basis of field research carried out in Croatia in August and September 2001, June 2002, and June 2003, and information gathered through ongoing telephone communication. Interviews were conducted with returned refugees, temporary occupants of their houses, Serb civic associations, representatives of the Croatian government and local authorities, and representatives of international governmental organizations and Croatian human rights groups. The report was written by Bogdan Ivanisevic, Human Rights Watch researcher on the former Yugoslavia, who carried out the research, and edited by Elizabeth Andersen, executive director of the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch, James Ross, senior legal advisor for Human Rights Watch, Iain Levine, program director for Human Rights Watch, and Alison Parker, acting director of the Refugee Policy division. Johanna Bjorken, consultant to Human Rights Watch, contributed research and reviewed the manuscript. Production assistance was provided by Leslie Smith and Dorit Radzin, associates for the Europe and Central Asia division; Fitzroy Hepkins, mail manager for Human Rights Watch; Andrea Holley; and Veronica Matushaj, photo editor and associate director of creative services for Human Rights Watch.

This report would not have been possible without the help of the many organizations and individuals who shared their knowledge and experiences. Human Rights Watch would like to thank the following organizations and institutions for their assistance throughout Human Rights Watch’s research: the Dalmatian Committee of Solidarity, the Serbian Democratic Forum, the Center for Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights - Osijek, the Committee for Human Rights - Karlovac, the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Mission to Croatia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Human Rights Watch

Europe and Central Asia Division

Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world.

We stand with victims and activists to bring offenders to justice, to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom and to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime.

We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable.

We challenge governments and those holding power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law.

We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.

The staff includes Kenneth Roth, executive director; Carroll Bogert, associate director; Michele Alexander, development and outreach director; Rory Mungoven, global advocacy director; Barbara Guglielmo, finance and administration director; Lotte Leicht, Brussels office director; Maria Pignataro Nielsen, human resources director; Iain Levine, program director; Wilder Tayler, legal and policy director; and Joanna Weschler, United Nations representative. Jonathan Fanton is the chair of the board. Robert L. Bernstein is the founding chair.

Its Europe and Central Asia division was established in 1978 to monitor and promote domestic and international compliance with the human rights provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. It is affiliated with the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, which is based in Vienna, Austria. Elizabeth Andersen is the executive director; Rachel Denber is the deputy director; Veronika Leila Szente Goldston is the advocacy director; Matilda Bogner, Julia Hall, Bogdan Ivanisevic, Diederik Lohman, Acacia Shields, and Jonathan Sugden are researchers; Anna Neistat is the Moscow office director; Sasha Petrov is the Deputy Moscow office Director; Marie Struthers is a consultant; Jane Buchanan is a fellow; Leslie Smith, Emily Letts, Dorit Radzin, Kristina Alessi, and Anna Sinelnikova are associates. Peter Osnos is the chair of the advisory committee and Alice Henkin is vice chair.

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September 2003