Practice Relating to Rule 161. International Cooperation in Criminal Proceedings
According to the Report on the Practice of Croatia, Croatia has concluded treaties on extradition with a number of States. The report also notes:
According to Article 134 of the Croatian Constitution [which provides that “international agreements concluded and ratified in accordance with the Constitution and made public are part of the Republic’s internal legal order and are in terms of legal effect above law”], Croatian courts should directly apply the European Convention on Extradition with its two additional protocols and also existing bilateral agreements on extradition.
Croatia’s Constitution (1990) and Code of Criminal Procedure (1993) prohibit the extradition of a Croatian national.
Under Croatia’s Code (1993) of Criminal Procedure, the Minister of Justice will not allow extradition for a political offence.
The Report on the Practice of Croatia, with regard to the Code of Criminal Procedure’s provision prohibiting extradition for political offences, states:
The European Convention on Extradition and its Protocols are directly applicable in the Croatian legal system, judges as well as the Minister of Justice are bound by their provisions. Consequently war crimes, genocide and violations of the laws of war and customs of war should not be considered as political offences.
Croatia’s Cooperation with the ICTY Act (1996) states:
This Constitutional Act regulates the co-operation of the Republic of Croatia which the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, hereinafter, the Tribunal, and the fulfilment of the commitments of the Republic of Croatia pursuant to Security Council resolutions 827 (1993), the Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Tribunal.
Croatia’s ICC Statute Adoption Act (2003) states with regard to the jurisdiction of Croatian courts and the ICC:
(1) The perpetrators of the criminal offences referred to in Article 1 of Act committed in the Republic of Croatia, the perpetrators who are the nationals of the Republic of Croatia and the perpetrators whose victims are the nationals of the Republic of Croatia shall be prosecuted in the Republic of Croatia and tried before the Croatian court which has jurisdiction with respect to the committed criminal offences.
(4) To the exclusion of paragraph 1 of this Article, prosecution shall not take place in the Republic of Croatia when the proceedings have already commenced before the International Criminal Court. In such a case, the Republic of Croatia shall defer the prosecution to the International Criminal Court in accordance with the Statute and this Act.
The Law further states: “After the International Criminal Court has initiated proceedings against an accused person, no proceedings shall be initiated for the same criminal offence in the Republic of Croatia.”
In 1997, during plenary discussions in the UN General Assembly on a report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Croatia stated:
Croatia was among the first countries to enact implementing legislation so as to institutionalize its cooperation with the [ICTY]. The Tribunal opened its Liaison Office in Zagreb, and the Croatian Government established its own office for Cooperation with the Tribunal …
Croatia does not condition its cooperation with the Tribunal upon the reciprocal cooperation of any other country. Croatia considers cooperation to be a legal, political and moral duty …
It should be duly noted that the Republic of Croatia recently used its good offices in the transfer of 10 additional Bosnian Croat indictees into the custody of the Tribunal.
… The work of the Tribunal, just like that of the future international criminal court and the international protection of justice in general, depends upon the cooperation of individual countries. It is the duty of the United Nations to encourage such cooperation or to take appropriate steps if needed.
According to the Report on the Practice of Croatia, a suspect of Croatian nationality was surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on the basis that such surrender was not to be considered an “extradition” since the suspect was surrendered to an international tribunal rather than to another State.
In 2001, in its third periodic report to the Committee against Torture, Croatia stated: “The Republic of Croatia has, in the last few years, strengthened its cooperation with the Hague Tribunal [International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)] and expressed full cooperation with it”.