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Neighbourly murders, forced forgetting and European justice: Marguš v Croatia.

Lyons, Carole



On 27 May 2014, a Grand Chamber of the ECtHR, in Margus v Croatia, pronounced upon the contentious issue of the use of amnesties in post-conflict settings. The case concerned a Croatian army commander who had been convicted of several murders of civilians in 1991. He had benefited from an amnesty in relation to the murders in 1997 but in 2007 was convicted of war crimes. Just two months before Croatia became a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in November 1996, the Croatian Parliament had passed a Law on General Amnesty. Under the provisions of the latter, immunity from prosecution was granted in relation to crimes committed during the war which took place between 1991 and 1995 after Croatia's declaration of independence from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The resort to institutionalized forgetfulness and amnesty in conflicted entities and troubled communities is neither new (for example, all of the army personnel involved in the wrongful conviction of Alfred Dreyfus in France in 1894 were granted amnesty from prosecution) nor exceptional in Europe (see the continuing enforcement of Spain's 1977 Amnesty Law) and such resort was not uncommon in the Western Balkans after the 1990s conflicts. However, the recourse to amnesty is a very divisive issue in itself (see the recent revelations about the so-called "on-the-run letters" in Northern Ireland), pitting those who see the need for reconciliation and the need to prevent the past from endlessly haunting communities, against victims and survivors seeking justice and reparation (for example, the family of Luis Dorado Luque seeking compensation for his death in 1936 at the ECtHR).


LYONS, C. 2014. Neighbourly murders, forced forgetting and European justice: Marguš v Croatia. [Blog post]. Posted on Strasbourg Observers [online], 30 June 2014. Available from:

Digital Artefact Type Website Content
Online Publication Date Jun 30, 2014
Publication Date Jun 30, 2014
Deposit Date May 13, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 19, 2022
Keywords Amnesty; Human rights; Human rights violations; International criminal law; Europe
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