The second seminar of the School of Transitional Justice was held from 25 to 27 November 2022, with the support of the Embassy of the Swiss Confederation in the Republic of Serbia and in Montenegro. The seminar started with a conversation with school participants about the data collecting process for their research stories. The participants were divided into three groups that worked on the topics of three war crimes: Deportation, Kaluđerski laz and Attack on Dubrovnik. Following the instructions from Milan Žugić, the participants worked on collecting information that is relevant for the preparation of their research stories, which includes the research of available documentation, interviews and testimonies.
Prof. Miloš Vukčević, from the Faculty of Law of the Mediterranean University, explained to the participants the definition of genocide and the crimes it includes, in accordance with the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Prof. Vukčević particularly highlighted the situations where it is possible to initiate proceedings and prove genocide, i.e., cases where it can be proven that the person who committed the genocide had the intention to do so. Also, answering the participants’ questions, he spoke about the difference between state and individual responsibility and how the state can be held responsible for genocide.
Mr. Adrijan Vuksanović from the Croatian Civic Initiative spoke about the war crime committed in the Morinj camp in 1991. He cited the examples of systematic torture that took place in this camp, but also examples of humane treatment of its prisoners. Mr. Vuksanović emphasized that Montenegro must face its wartime past, as well as the importance of the participants contributing to that process.
Describing in detail the war crime in Kaluđerski laz, that is, the killing of Albanian civilians in 1990, and citing concrete examples of people and entire families who suffered, lawyer Velija Murić left a strong impression on the School participants, who were also able to hear about court proceedings launched in connection with this event. During a very interactive lecture, Velija Murić pointed out the necessity to recognize this crime and thus obtain justice for all victims.
Mr. Džemal Perović from NGO Mogul spoke about the anti-war movement in Montenegro, which represents one of the most positive achievements of the 90s. Today, we believe that the primary driver of the anti-war movement was the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, which gathered prominent political and civil activists. Mr. Perović spoke about what it was like to oppose the official state policy during the 90s stating that one of the main goals of the 90s protests was to reduce ethnic distance, as well as national, religious and hatred on other grounds. However, considering the gravity of the situation in today’s Montenegro regarding divisions, Džemal Perović is not satisfied with the effect the protests had on our society at that time.
The participants, together with journalist and editor Milan Žugić, continued working on investigative stories (Deportation, Kaluđerski laz and Attack on Dubrovnik), and received additional instructions on how to finalize them. Investigative stories will be published on the Civic Alliance website and offered to the media for publication, as well as kept in the Information and Documentation Center archives.
Alen Bajrović, the son of the murdered and never found Osmo Bajrović, a victim of the war crime known as “Deportation” that took place on the territory of Montenegro, spoke about his experience and struggle related to finding his father. Alen described the situation from the moment his father was taken from their family home in Bijela, Herceg Novi. He spoke about his mother’s futile attempts to obtain information about Osmo Bajrović, as none of her questions to the then police and competent ministries about her husband’s whereabouts had been answered. When he grew up, Alen Bajrović started his fight for the truth to find his father. As this did not yield results, he expressed his huge disappointment in the justice system, blaming the state of Montenegro for all the horrors that his and all other families had to endure. What Alen hopes is to win a case before the European Court of Human Rights and thus get the long-awaited justice for his father, his family and all others victims of the war crime of Deportation, as well as other crimes.
Ms. Ljupka Kovačević from the NGO ANIMA spoke on the topic of a feminist approach to transitional justice and the fact that when speaking about transitional justice, the suffering of women, who are not on the battlefield, is rarely discussed. Ms. Kovačević presented the idea and the establishment of the Women’s Court, which deals with violence committed during the 90s. Women’s testimonies showed that there is a continuity of injustice and violence, starting from the war to the post-war period. A film about the work of the Women’s Court was also presented, which was produced by numerous organizations from the region, and which showed various testimonies of women related to the war and post-war events during the 90s.
The awarding of certificates on the successful completion of the School of Transitional Justice will take place in December, when the participants will also present their research stories.