On the 26 and 27th of June, YUCOM participated in the Fifth Assembly of the Coalition for REKOM and in the Forum for Transitional Justice in Post-Yugoslav Countries, which were held in hotel Holiday Inn in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Amir Kulaglić and Vesna Teršelič opened the Assembly, noting that the consultation process is completed successfully adopting statute of REKOM at the last session, when new strategy was defined and important decisions were made for routing further course of action. Vesna Teršelič expressed hope that the Assembly would pose as an incentive, since the need for establishing REKOM still exists.
The cardinal points of the adopted agenda were related to the amendments to the statute of Coalition for REKOM and to the reporting on the activities of REKOM. The proposed statute changes are cosmetic and structural, but more importantly also quintessential. The latter is related to former Art. 14, which is Art. 15 in the proposed statute, Art. 26 or Art. 32, Art. 27 or Art. 33 in the proposed new statute, while Art. 22 was removed. Upon completion of the hearing on the amendments and it was concluded that the changes relate to Article 3 of the former statute, Article 9, paragraph 3 and paragraph 5, Art. 23, paragraph 1, paragraph 2, paragraph 10 and paragraph 12.
Reports on the activities of REKOM i.e. Reports about the campaign to collect signatures, campaign on advocacy and media campaign were presented by countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. As for the campaign to collect signatures, 85 thousand has been collected in Bosnia and Herzegovina, below the expected number, of which 26 thousand in Banja Luka and 17 thousand in Sarajevo. In Montenegro, the campaign has had both political support and the support of citizens, 30,000 signatures were collected in 13 municipalities. The lowest recorded number of signatures-only 20000 was noted in Croatia. Negative response to the initiative was explained by the strong influence the verdict by ICTY to General Gotovina and Markač had on citizens, but also due to the absolute lack of political support, except for the support of the President of Croatia Ivo Josipović the President of the Parliament, Slobodan Uzelac. The people of Kosovo have given over 100,000 signatures. Macedonia and Slovenia reached the expected number of 5,000 signatures; while in Serbia 236,000 citizens signed Initiative for REKOM.
During the advocacy campaign in Croatia, meetings with all parliamentary parties were held, of which the HDZ 1990 gave open support to the initiative for RECOM. The campaign in Montenegro was marked by the successful meetings with the Prime Minister, the President of the State and the President of the Parliament, as well as with all parliamentary parties, unlike the situation in Croatia, where the only high state officials that gave a positive response were Ivo Josipović, Slobodan Uzelac and former President Stjepan Mesić, and of political parties the Independent Serbian Party sustained the initiative. Support to the campaign in Kosovo was exceptional. It was obtained from the LDK, parliamentarians, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, Rada Trajković and the Minister of Health. On that occasion Atifeta Jahjaga, the President of Kosovo, said that the support represents a constitutional obligation, and that such an initiative is in accordance with the Constitution of Kosovo.
A visible lack of reaction in the media was noted in Bosnia and. In contrast, in Croatia in late 2010, and in Kosovo, as in other countries media campaign was successful. The time before the start of the campaign in Croatia was marked by the numerous debates in the media, and promotion of the initiative for REKOM in the local media, while the Croatian Television (HRT) remained impenetrable. The media campaign in Kosovo was focused on cooperation with the victims and their families, in addition to regular television reports and interviews.
In addition to these the Assembly also decided on report on the financial implementation of the project, and on the proposal of new members of the Coordination Council of the Coalition for REKOM. Activities of the Coalition for REKOM for the period 01.07.2011-31.12.2012 were also discussed and planned. Vesna Teršelič considers it necessary to increase political support, improve coordination, but also to gain support on a larger level. In this regard, at least one public event in the country has to be held such as forums, a round table in parliament, and the conferences that focus on the public hearing of victims. In addition to these recommendations, Vesna Teršelič suggested meetings of the Coordination Council to be held three times a year and a minimum of one Assembly. Nataša Kandić believes that the campaign of collecting signatures should not be extended, since it is already over, but that it is possible to go online. It is proposed the future activities of the Coalition to be directed towards assisting in the work of NGOs dealing with transitional justice, as well as continuing work on the website and social networking sites facebook and tweeter. In her opinion, the organization of these assemblies should be approached with a clear consciousness of what can be done, noting that it is not possible to collect more money for campaign of collecting signatures. According to Nataša Kandić, the reason for her resignation from the Coordinating Council was the collision in the working way of this body with the past and future activities of the Coalition. This issue has received undue media attention. But clearly it was confirmed that the Fund for Humanitarian Law and Nataša Kandić continue to provide great support to establish the commission.
Behmen Ali, Mayor of Sarajevo, Dzenana Karup Druško the BH Journalists Association and Nataša Kandić, the President of the Fund for Humanitarian Law have opened the International Forum for Transitional Justice in post-Yugoslav Countries. In his speech, Ali Behmen said that dealing with the past is necessary so that the truth and justice come to light, and that RECOM exists to realise these ideas, adding that the crackdown on war criminals is the core issue for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dženana Karup Druško emphasized the contribution that journalists had given to the events of the nineties, and believed that they were now able to further contribute to the process of dealing with the past and transitional justice. President of the Fund, Nataša Kandić eventually added that this forum is an attempt to approach the process of dealing with past in front of the institutions, as NGOs can not lead this process. According to her forum is an attempt for representatives of institutions to realize public dialogue, whereas the role of international institutions is to transfer knowledge and experience of this process to local institutions.
Participants at the forum presented problems related to several entities. Speaking of justice from the perspective of victims, Munira Subašic of the Association of Mothers of Srebrenica and Žepa Enclaves presented her vision of justice as the memory of committed crimes and identification of the perpetrators of the crime. In a panel discussion on the establishment of justice from the perspective of local institutions of transitional justice the representatives of the Ministries of Justice and Defence took part, as well as prosecutors from states on the territory of former Yugoslavia. On this occasion, Deputy Prosecutor Stanojković Snežana from the Prosecutor’s Office of the Serbian War Crimes pointed out that every crime is viewed from the perspective of victims, because regardless of who represents the victim, he /she is always in a subordinate position, not regulated by mechanisms.
Looking at justice from the perspective of epistemological community exhibitors have attempted to answer questions about critical evaluation of our knowledge of war crimes and how to find out facts that are unknown to us, without falling into the trap of ideology during a cognitive process, and on the question which players can help us in improving this knowledge. Participants, who come from academic backgrounds in the region and the world, wanted to show that without objective cognition there is no reconciliation with the past and no transitional justice. Justice was also considered from the perspective of the international organizations dealing with transitional justice, where representatives of the OSCE missions in the region, Amnesty International, the ICTY shared their opinions. The Forum ended with hearing on the results, lessons learned and strategies for transitional justice in post-Yugoslav countries.