RECOM’s official Regional Expert Group held its first meeting in Zagreb on Friday, 6 September 2013. The group comprised Professor Dr Zlata Đurđević, envoy of the President of Croatia; Professor Dr. Sonja Tomović-Šundić, envoy of the President of Montenegro; legal adviser Selim Selimi, envoy of the President of Kosovo; Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo Aljoša Čampara, envoy of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH); liaison officer for the Hague tribunal Goran Mihaljević, envoy of the Presidency of BiH; and judge Siniša Važić, envoy of the President of Serbia.
On behalf of the Coalition for RECOM, the meeting was attended by the public advocates for the RECOM Initiative: Professor Dr. Zdravko Grebo; film director, Dino Mustafić; journalist, Dženana Karup–Druško (BiH); Professor Dr. Žarko Puhovski, Vesna Teršelič and Sven Milekić (Croatia); journalist, Adriatik Kelmendi (Kosovo); Nataša Kandić, RECOM Project coordinator (Serbia); journalist, Dragoljub Duško Vuković (Montenegro); journalist, Igor Mekina (Slovenia); and Midhat Izmirlija (member of the RECOM Statute Working Group, Coalition for RECOM).
The meeting focused on expert preparations for a meeting scheduled for the end of October 2013, which will be devoted to a detailed legal analysis of the articles of the RECOM Statute, as proposed by the Coalition for RECOM.
Both the envoys of the Presidents of the states in the region and the public advocates agreed that the Proposed RECOM Statute, which was adopted by the Coalition for RECOM on 26 March 2011, represents a basic document for building minimum consensus for official-level discussion.
The public advocates for the RECOM Initiative pointed out that the Proposed RECOM Statute reflects the state of transitional justice as assessed by the participants in the three-and-a-half-year long consultation process in the context of the limitations of criminal trials and the consequences of the wars: the dead, the missing and the symbolic values for which many died fighting and which are today undergoing change or breaking down.
The official envoys to RECOM said that the RECOM Initiative had a unique place in the international judicial system and the quest for peace, in that it would make it possible for several former belligerent states to hammer out a joint arrangement to acknowledge and redress the injustices of war.
The official envoys fully supported Articles 13 and 14 of the Proposed RECOM Statute, which deals with the objectives and functions of the commission.They were of the opinion that certain issues (such as the fate of the missing and reparations) could not be solved within the framework of an individual state.In their opinion, the regional commission represented a better framework for that and had greater potential.They emphasized that the commission’s independence, thanks to its regional character, made it a more effective instrument, when compared to local organizations for uncovering the truth about past events.
The envoys said that the scope of the commission’s role and that of the judicial bodies should be the subject of serious analysis. They also said that one should consider how best to integrate the potential of a regional commission into specific national state mechanisms, which have in the past shown that legal mechanisms alone are not sufficient.
The state Presidents’ envoys called on the Member of the Presidency of BiH, Nebojša Radmanović, and the President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, to join the efforts to build an official regional mechanism for establishing facts about what took place in the wars on the territory of the former SFRY.
Objectives and functions of the RECOM
Article 13 of the Proposed RECOM Statute
The Commission shall have the following objectives:
(a) To establish the facts about war crimes and other gross violations of human rights committed on the territory of the former SFRJ in the period from January 1, 1991 until December 31, 2001, the political and societal circumstances that led to the commission of these acts, and the consequences of the crimes and human rights violations;
(b) To acknowledge injustices inflicted upon victims in order to help create a culture of compassion and solidarity with victims;
(c) To contribute to the fulfilment of victims’ rights;
(d) To help political elites and society in Parties to the Agreement to accept the facts about war crimes and other gross violations of human rights;
(e) To help clarify the fate of the missing persons; and,
(f) To help prevent the recurrence of war crimes and other gross violations of human rights.
Article 14of the Proposed RECOM Statute
The functions of the Commission shall consist of:
(a) Collecting information on war crimes and other gross violations of human rights, providing a detailed account of the crimes and other violations, and describing patterns of abuses and their consequences;
(b) Collecting information pertaining to the fate of missing persons and cooperating with competent bodies of the Parties to the Agreement conducting the search for the missing;
(c) Compiling registers of human losses related to wars or other forms of armed conflict, to include:
i. Civilians whose loss of life or disappearance was caused by the war or other form of armed conflict;
ii. Combatants whose loss of life or disappearance was caused by the war or other form of armed conflict;
(c) Collecting information on places of confinement connected to the war or other form of armed conflict, individuals who were unlawfully confined, tortured or subjected to inhumane treatment, and compiling a comprehensive list of the places and victims, with the application of identity protection measures where necessary;
(d) Researching the political and societal circumstances that decisively contributed to the outbreak of wars or other forms of armed conflict as well as to the commission of war crimes and other gross violations of human rights;
(e) Holding public hearings of victims and other persons about war crimes and gross violations of human rights;
(f) Recommending measures to help prevent the recurrence of human rights abuses and to ensure reparations to the victims; and,
(g) Compiling, publishing, and presenting its Final Report in a manner that will facilitate broad access to the Report by the citizens of the states on the territory of the former SFRJ.