One government critic was a prisoner of conscience and two others who were convicted for exercising their right to freedom of expression appeared likely to be prisoners of conscience if imprisoned. Trials or investigations of Serbs and others accused of "undermining the territorial unity of Croatia by force" or similar offences continued. Some may not have received fair trials. A number of people were reportedly ill-treated by civilian or military police. Muslim refugees were forcibly returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina. A number of Serbian civilians may have been extrajudicially executed by Croatian soldiers. There were reports of human rights abuses by rebel Serbs, including deliberate and arbitrary killings, in the areas which they occupied. In January and September the Croatian Army launched offensives to recover small areas of Croatian territory occupied by rebel Serbs in or adjoining one of the UN Protected Areas (UNPAs), known as Sector South. Attacks on targets spread over larger areas followed. In the January offensive the populations of several predominantly Serb villages were displaced. This was followed by the expulsion by rebel Serbs of some of the remaining Croats in Sector South. The UN Security Council called upon Croatia to withdraw its forces from the UNPA. Little progress was made towards implementing the UN peace plan agreed when a cease-fire came into force in January 1992. Approximately 250,000 people remained displaced within Croatia and few were able to return to their home areas during the year. During the fighting in January, rebel Serb forces took back some of their heavy armaments which they had handed over to the UN under the disarmament provisions of the peace plan. The Croatian Government stated that around 13,000 people were missing as a result of the 1991 war. New refugees, both Muslims and Croats, continued to arrive from all areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The mandate of the UN peace-keeping force, UNPROFOR (UN Protection Force), was renewed three times. The Croatian Government threatened to veto the extensions. On each occasion it expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in implementing the peace plan and argued that UNPROFOR should be given greater powers to enforce the plan. In May the UN Security Council established an ad hoc international tribunal to try perpetrators of serious violations of humanitarian law - war crimes - in the former Yugoslavia, including those committed in Croatia since 1 January 1991 (see Working with international organizations). In response, the Government of Croatia established a commission to collect evidence for the tribunal. In November exhumations of two mass graves in UNPAs began. The exhumations were initiated by a UN Commission of Experts to provide possible evidence for the war crimes tribunal. Rebel Serb authorities in the UNPAs were reportedly willing to cooperate with the Commission in the investigation of crimes committed against Serbs, but prevented the exhumation of a grave believed to contain Croatian victims. Political opponents of the government of President Franjo Tudjman and minority groups such as Serbs and Muslims continued to face harassment and ill-treatment initiated or apparently tolerated by the authorities. For example, tenants of flats formerly owned by the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) were evicted by soldiers or military police, sometimes violently, in favour of members of the Croatian Army. In November leaders of the ultraright Hrvatska Stranka Prava, the Party of Rights, which had formed a paramilitary wing which was later incorporated into the Croatian Army, were acquitted of charges of "violently destroying the constitutional order" and terrorism. There was compelling evidence of direct Croatian Army involvement in Bosnia-Herzegovina, including sightings of Croatian Army tanks by international observers. President Tudjman, during a press conference in September, admitted aiding the Hrvatsko Vijece Obrane, Croatian Defence Council, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Three people charged with "spreading false information" appeared likely to become prisoners of conscience if convicted and imprisoned. Two were prosecuted a second time for the same offence, in violation of international law. In June Jasna Tkalec, a journalist, was sentenced to three months' imprisonment under Article 197 of the Criminal Code for writing an article in the publication Nokat in 1991, in which she accused the Croatian authorities of supporting ustasa (the Second World War Croatian fascist movement) and neo-fascist aims. At the end of the year she remained free pending appeal. In September Stjepan Kralj was imprisoned for 15 days under Article 16 of the Law on Petty Offences against Public Law and Order, after accusing a government minister of corruption in March. The real reason for his prosecution may have been other allegations he had made, which were included in a later indictment under Article 197, that the same minister had protected the assassins of a Serbian trade unionist. In November the trial of Stjepan Kralj on criminal charges was postponed owing to the defendant's ill-health. Milovan koriç, a Serb, was sentenced to 60 days' imprisonment in June under Article 16 after alleging that Serbs were being held in detention camps in Croatia. He had not served the sentence by the end of the year. In September he was sentenced under Article 197 to six months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, for the same act. Serbs and Croats returning to Croatia were subject to investigation by civilian or military police when they were suspected of having been in Serbia, Montenegro or rebel Serb-controlled areas of Croatia. In some cases these investigations resulted in criminal charges. In March Nenad Miákoviç, a Serb who had returned to his family in Zagreb from Belgrade in December 1992, was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment after being convicted of war crimes committed in 1991. He may not have received a fair trial. In July he was exchanged against his will for a prisoner held by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. A Croatian woman, Milica çuk, was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment by a military court in Osijek in April for "armed rebellion against the Republic of Croatia". Some months after returning from Serbia to Croatia she was accused of having pointed out individuals who had been seized by Serbian paramilitaries and who had "disappeared" when the JNA took control of Vukovar in November 1991. The weak and contradictory evidence which was presented raised concerns about the fairness of her trial. The civil and military police were both reported to have ill-treated people in their custody, either following arrest or while evicting tenants from ex-JNA flats. A number of Muslims from Bosnia-Herzegovina who were arrested for allegedly having invalid residence or identity documents, or for offences which might be used to justify their deportation, were reportedly beaten in custody. In September UNPROFOR soldiers discovered the charred and dismembered corpses of more than 50 Serbs killed during the Croatian offensive in the villages of Medak, Divoselo, itluk and Poitelj. At least nine of these were believed to have been extrajudicially executed. The Croatian authorities reported that their investigation found that all those killed were combatants. In the areas under the control of rebel Serbs, especially UNPAs, Croats and other non-Serbs were the target of politically motivated killings and other abuses. Information was difficult to verify, as witnesses were generally unwilling to speak and reports were sometimes contradictory. The information that was available indicated that the perpetrators were mostly uniformed local Serbs. Local Serbian police reportedly failed to provide protection and UNPROFOR soldiers and civilian police were also unable to effectively deter such abuses and were denied access to some areas. A wave of incidents followed the Croatian offensive in January. For instance, on 22 January, the day following the start of the Croatian offensive, neighbours discovered the bodies of Ante and Anela Vuksan, both aged about 80, in their bedroom in the village of opot. Reportedly both had been shot in their bed from inside the room. No one had seen the perpetrators. A number of similar killings were reported to have occurred in the areas of Benkovac and Obrovac between January and March. Rebel Serbs were believed to have held Muslim and Croat prisoners in Glina prison. Some may have been civilians held solely on account of their ethnic or national group after being detained by rebel Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992 or 1993. There were continuing reports that the Croatian authorities were forcibly returning male Bosnian refugees of military age to Bosnia-Herzegovina despite repeated objections by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Zagreb. Also, Bosnians in Croatia who did not have proper documentation were arrested and threatened with forcible return to Bosnia-Herzegovina; in most known cases the returns were averted after the intervention of the UNHCR. Although the Croatian authorities insisted that only those Bosnians "illegally" in Croatia were arrested, they did not acknowledge the difficulties many Bosnians faced in registering as refugees. Muslim refugees fleeing Bosnia-Herzegovina continued to face difficulties in entering Croatia. They were required to obtain entry or transit visas in advance which were only issued on the production of letters from guarantors in Croatia or a third country. The visas explicitly excluded any possibility that the person could apply for protection as a refugee in Croatia. In contrast, it appeared that Bosnian Croats, such as a group of 4,000 who fled Muslim-Croat fighting in Travnik in June, were allowed to enter Croatia without such advance clearance. In July Amnesty International published a report, Bosnian refugees: A continuing need for protection in European countries, in which it expressed concern about the policies of the Croatian Government and those of other European countries towards Muslim refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina. In October, as part of its worldwide campaign against "disappearances" and political killings, the organization called for the establishment of a UN commission to investigate "disappearances" in the former Yugoslavia. In September Amnesty International appealed to the Croatian authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of Stjepan Kralj. The organization also appealed to President Tudjman and the Croatian Defence Minister to stop Croatian forces committing human rights abuses in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Amnesty International called on all parties to the conflict to take action to investigate and prevent "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions.
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