Croatia v Serbia: ICJ Establishes Criminal Acts Of Genocide But Finds No Genocide Proven!

ICJ Room

ICJ Room


UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) chief judge Peter Tomka read the court’s judgment February 3, 2015 in the case for genocide, Croatia v Serbia and Serbia’s counterclaim, which dismissed (15 to 2) Croatia’s claim that Serb forces committed genocide during Croatia’s war of independence and dismissed (unanimously) Serbia’s counterclaim which claimed that Croatian forces during 1995 Operation Storm (which liberated Serb occupied Croatian territory) had committed genocide.


Criminal acts of genocide established but these do not constitute genocide by the court’s interpretation
Judge Tomka said Serbs and the Yugoslav People’s Army under Belgrade’s direction committed mass killings, sexual violence/rape, forcible displacement/ethnic cleansing of Croats (found by the court to constitute criminal acts of genocide) in the Eastern Slavonia, Western Slavonia, Banovina/Banija, Kordun, Lika and Dalmatia during the early 1990’s, but that Croatia had not proved genocide, which “pre-supposes the intent to destroy a group, at least in part“. Similar conclusions were made for the killings of Serbs that occurred during the fleeing of Serbs from Croatia after Operation Storm, although the latter were at a much smaller scale than those systematically committed by Serbs against Croats across Croatia over a prolonged period of time.
So, according to ICJ there was genocide but it was not genocide because no such intent was proven in accordance with ICJ standards of proof that would include “destruction of a whole people or significant part of a whole people”.


Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman vindicated
In relation to Serbia’s claim of genocide against Serbs during the 1995 Operation Storm Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman and his leading team have been vindicated in this judgment. In the ICJ Judgment article 504 it says: “….President Tudjman’s reference — on which Serbia places so much emphasis — to the aim of the Croatian forces being ‘to inflict such blows that the Serbs will to all practical purposes disappear’ must be read in context, and specifically in light of what immediately follows: ‘that is to say, the areas we do not take at once must capitulate within a few days’. Taken as a whole, that sentence is clearly more indicative of the designation of a military objective, rather than of the intention to secure the physical destruction of a human group”.


Attempts to create ethnically pure Greater Serbia involved forced deportation of Croats and other non-Serbs
The ICJ found without doubt is that the concept of creating Greater Serbia existed and within this frame multitudes of crimes were committed against Croats (and other non-Serbs) in Croatia – primarily war crimes, crimes against humanity. ICJ found that these acts do not represent the act genocide (as defined by the Genocide Convention) but Serbia did engage in aggression against Croatia and occupation of Croatian territory and the instruments for these were the Yugoslav People’s Army and Chetnik and other Serb formations, that everything was directed from Belgrade – people were killed and forcefully deported from their homes. Also, and very importantly, the ICJ has finally put a stamp on the 1995 Operation Storm as a legitimate military operation that liberated the Croatian occupied territory.


Excerpts from ICJ Judgment dated 3 February 2015
It’s worthwhile here to quote some articles from the ICJ Judgment dated 3 Fenruary 2015:
In Article 401 of the ICJ Judgment 3 February 2013 “The Court is fully convinced that, in various localities in Eastern Slavonia, Western Slavonia, Banovina/Banija, Kordun, Lika and Dalmatia, the JNA and Serb forces perpetrated against members of the protected group acts falling within subparagraphs (a) and (b) of Article II of the Convention, and that the actus reus of genocide has been established”.
403. Croatia contends that the crimes committed by the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) and Serb forces represent a pattern of conduct from which the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is an intent on the part of the Serbian authorities to destroy in part the Croat group. It maintains that the Croats living in the regions of Eastern Slavonia, Western Slavonia, Banovina/Banija, Kordun, Lika and Dalmatia targeted by those crimes constituted a substantial part of the protected group, and that the intent to destroy the protected group “in part”, which characterizes genocide as defined in Article II of the Convention, is thus established.
426. According to the ICTY, the leadership of Serbia and that of the Serbs in Croatia, inter alia, shared the objective of creating an ethnically homogeneous Serb State. That was the context in which acts were committed that constitute the actus reus of genocide within the meaning of Article II (a) and (b) of the Convention. However, the conclusion of the ICTY indicates that those acts were not committed with intent to destroy the Croats, but rather with that of forcing them to leave the regions concerned so that an ethnically homogeneous Serb State could be created.
428. The Court therefore concludes that Croatia’s contentions regarding the overall context do not support its assertion that genocidal intent is the only reasonable inference to be drawn.
In simple words, even though Serbs carried out ethnic cleansing and mass killings (found by the same court to have been criminal acts of genocide) of Croats and other non-Serbs in Croatia this does not constitute genocide largely because Serbs did not in the act of ethnic cleansing go about killing everyone they locked into concentration camps or deported forcibly from their home!
As to Serbia’s claim that Croats committed genocide against Serbs during the 1995 Operation Storm in its Judgment, article 472. “The Court concludes from the foregoing that it is unable to find that there was any indiscriminate shelling of the Krajina towns deliberately intended to cause civilian casualties. It would only bein exceptional circumstances that it would depart from the findings reached by the ICTY on an issue of this kind. Serbia has indeed drawn the Court’s attention to the controversy aroused by the Appeals Chamber’s Judgment. However, no evidence, whether prior or subsequent to that Judgment, has been put before the Court which would incontrovertibly show that the Croatian authorities deliberately intended to shell the civilian areas of towns inhabited by Serbs. In particular, no such intent is apparent from the Brioni Transcript. Nor can such intent be regarded as incontrovertibly established on the basis of the statements by persons having testified before the ICTY Trial Chamber in the Gotovina case, and cited as witnesses by Serbia in the present case.
475. The Court concludes for the foregoing reasons that it has not been shown that “killing[s] [of] members of the [protected/Serbs] group”, within the meaning of Article II of the Convention, were committed as a result of the artillery attacks on towns in that region during Operation “Storm” in August 1995.
485. The Court’s conclusion is that killings (of Serbs) were in fact committed during the flight of the refugee columns (after Operation Storm ended), even if it is unable to determine their number, and even though there is significant doubt as to whether they were carried out systematically. These killings, which fall within the scope of subparagraph (a) of Article II of the Genocide Convention, constitute the actus reus of genocide.
515…Accordingly, the Court finds that it has not been proved that genocide was committed during and after Operation “Storm” against the Serb population of Croatia.
523…The Court encourages the Parties to continue their co-operation with a view to offering appropriate reparation to the victims of such violations, thus consolidating peace and stability in the region.


One cannot but draw a conclusion that this UN court (ICJ) has in this judgment failed humanity and the truth for all it did is provide a licence for mass killings to occur worldwide without the responsibility for genocide – if the “masses” killed fall a bit short of some numerical criteria the court sticks to and is obviously unwilling to consider re-visiting the definitions of genocide as they might fit better the modern world. This judgment only serves the utterly unfair political agendas that promote sharing of guilt and the equating of victim with the aggressor. This court decided to give its final ruling against genocide on the “forcibly deported” Croats not killed and ignore the Croat masses killed across Croatia in an obvious genocidal campaign that lasted for years, as well as masses tortured and raped in its definition of genocide. An ugly face of modern “justice” that is deeply unsettling. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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