To the Government of Croatia

On “housing care” for former tenancy right holders

  • As an urgent matter, issue decisions on applications by former tenancy right holders for housing care in the areas of special state concern.
  • Amend the priority list (the “Rulebook”) governing the provision of housing care in the areas of special state concern so that the former tenancy right holders are accorded the same status as the other groups.
  • Implement the June 2003 housing care program that would enable former tenancy right holders outside the areas of special state concern to rent or purchase government-owned apartments at below-market rates.
  • Enable those beneficiaries of the June 2003 housing care program who opt for renting apartments to purchase those apartments at a later stage, at a rate comparable to the rates at which other former tenancy right holders were given after the war.

On ethnic incidents

  • Take appropriate preventive measures to protect Serb communities from attack, such as increased patrols in vulnerable areas, and the establishment of telephone hotlines to report incidents for quick response.
  • Investigate promptly and thoroughly all reports and incidents of ethnic violence and prosecute those responsible to the full extent of the law.
  • Publicly and unequivocally condemn ethnically-motivated violence and express support to minorities at risk.

On employment

  • Make positive efforts to ensure that Serbs are aware of employment vacancies in government offices and public enterprises.
  • Provide leadership to local, county, and state administration in developing strategies to improve the representation of Serbs in employment in the sectors specified by the Constitutional Law on National Minorities.
  • Ensure a greater minority representation on recruitment panels in the public services and government-owned enterprises, as a means toward facilitating greater participation of the minorities in the workforce.
  • Recruit qualified experienced ethnic Serb judges who seek positions in the Croatian judiciary.
  • Make public the statistical data, broken down by geographical area, on the implementation of the legal provisions on the representation of minorities in all state agencies covered by the Constitutional Law on National Minorities.

On infrastructure

  • Make good on the announcement to complete the electrification of majority-Serb villages by mid-2008.

On the illegal use of agricultural land

  • Take responsibility for returning occupied agricultural land in the Benkovac area to its owners, where the occupation was authorized by the local commission on takeover of temporarily abandoned property on terms that have now expired.
  • Publicly condemn the illegal use of agricultural land and take all necessary steps to ensure that local police enforce the law to remove illegal users of land owned by Serb returnees.

On repair and reconstruction

  • Expedite the process of issuing first-instance decisions on reconstruction applications for post-war damage to property.
  • Expedite the appellate procedure when the first-instance decisions on such reconstruction applications are negative, if necessary by increasing the number of staff working on the appeals in the headquarters of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Traffic, Tourism and Development.
  • Establish a procedure that would enable the house owners of properties damaged in the pos-war period who are not on the list, compiled by the Directorate for Expellees, Returnees and Refugees, of beneficiaries of the repair program, to apply for and receive reconstruction assistance.
  • Allow house owners to prove, where necessary, that the damage at the time of repossession differed from that indicated in the PP-11 forms, and authorize repair of the excess damage.
  • In those instances in which the returnees made repairs themselves, provide financial compensation where the returnees have receipts proving the purchase of fixtures or materials used for the repair.

On legal services

  • In the new law on free legal aid, specify that returnees are covered by the general provision that permits persons owning property to obtain qualified legal assistance where their financial status or reasons of justice so demand.
  • Consider funding drop-in legal aid clinics to provide general advice on legal matters as a supplement to individual legal aid.

To the European Union

  • Call on the Croatian authorities to take the following actions, and include the actions in the next European Partnership document for Croatia:
    • Expedite the implementation of the June 2003 program that would enable former tenancy right holders in the areas outside the areas of special state concern to rent or purchase government-built apartments at below-market rates.
    • Develop a strategy to address the housing needs of Serb returnees in the areas of special state concern, whose tenancy rights were abolished by the legislation in September 1995.
    • Take appropriate preventive measures to protect Serb communities from ethnically motivated violence, and promptly and thoroughly investigate all reports of ethnic violence.
    • Take positive steps to ensure greater minority representation in government employment.
    • Intensify efforts to ensure greater participation of minorities in the judiciary.
    • Resolve the unlawful occupation of Serb-owned agricultural land in the Benkovac area.
    • Ensure that all intended beneficiaries have access to the program designed to repair post-war damage to previously occupied properties.
  • The European Commission should include progress on the above issues in its next regular report on Croatia.

To the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

  • The OSCE Mission to Croatia should continue regular and public reporting on conditions and policies related to refugee returns and non-discrimination, and the Permanent Council should ensure that its conclusions and recommendations receive adequate consideration and follow up.

To the International Community

  • Take every opportunity to raise the concerns expressed in this report in bilateral and multilateral dialogues with the Croatian authorities, and press the authorities to take specific steps to address them.