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Ms. Alexandra Mareschi
Subject: 25.01.2006, Press release, free for publication
Sender: Alexandra Mareschi, Secretary-General
'When the conduct of the nations is taken into account the law will perhaps be found to be that only a lost cause is a crime' Judge Radhabinod Pal.
Judge Radhabinod Pal’s statement is surely cynical when compared to the high moral ground that international criminal and humanitarian law seek to occupy. If there is a legitimate moral basis for international criminal and humanitarian law, then to forget crimes of so-called victors or ignore atrocities against non-combatants is to commit a further ‘crime of silence’.
Recently the Council of Europe’s website communicated that on Wednesday 25th January 2006 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will discuss the need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communists regimes; i.e. doc. 10765, www.assembly.coe.int.
No doubt such a condemnation is necessary given the fact that since the Soviet Union's demise there has been a noticeable absence of discussion over crimes of communism. Nazi criminals were prosecuted in the Nuremberg Trials. But there has been no such justice for the tens of millions of people killed by communist regimes. Communism meant in practice genocide, ethnic cleansing, forced labour, deportations, show-trials and mass confiscations.
However, Doc.10765 has expressly excluded the obligation to restitute illegally seized property. In this respect the declaration seems to aim merely at symbolic gestures, something the many millions of victims can and will not accept, since the violations targeted their existence, survival and cannot simply be amended by moral gestures.
Apparently a further institution is trying to put a lid on this ‘tedious’ subject of returning property which was illegally seized.
Both the European Court of Human Rights as well as European Union have already decided not touch the subject, claiming that the Union and the European Court may only address measures taken or having continued legal effects after the accession to the European Union or respectively after signing of the European Convention on Human Rights. Historical acts undertaken by former communist authorities cannot be subject to any retroactive scrutiny.
It is bizarre that both institutions are of the opinion that these takings are instantaneous acts of which the effects extinguish with their implementation, in other words the latter become legal after their implementation. In contrast the International community however, acknowledges that when property has been taken by a state without compensation it is illegal and remains illegal as long as it is not in conformity with the international obligations, cf. UN A/CN4.L602, Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts.
Furthermore, there is no known legal principle which states that the holder of existing rights who has had no effective judicial remedy at his disposition should lose his title just because he has been unable to exercise his ownership rights over his property due to state prevention (reference is made to the Court's own case-law Loizidou v Turkey No. 19918/92 para.41 and Brumarescu v Romania application no. 28342/95 para 71 seq.).
This ultimately means that international and supranational institutions are precluding the victims from any measure of Justice.
Alas, international institutions have failed the victims once again, and the respect of human rights is just an empty promise; i.e. a crime of silence.
States and institutions seem to forget that a true commitment to democratic transformation requires a serious attempt at dealing with the legacy of the past, no matter how much time has gone by, since crimes against humanity are not statute barred.
Only Justice will ultimately secure peace, entrepreneurship and investments in the world.
The victims in time may pass away but their heirs will continue the fight until Justice is done.
Bund enteigneter/arisierter Juden durch die Bundesrepublik Deutschland; Schutzgemeinschaft Eigentum in Deutschland [Germany]; Savez Udruzenja Za Zastitu I Unapredenje Vlasnistva I Vlasnickih Prava U Republici Hrvatskoj [Croatia]; Lega Nazionale D'Istria Fiume Dalmazia [Italy]; Zdurzenje Lastnikov Razlascenega Premozenja [Slovenia]; American Owners of Property in Slovenia [USA], Focus
Group [USA and Canada]; Committee for Private Property Inc.[USA, Europe]; The Czech Coordinating office [USA, Europe], International Democracy Action Council [USA], Te Dehna Te Shkurtera Te Aktivitetit Te Shoqates Kombetare Te Te Shpronesuarve "Pronesi Me Drejtesi" [Albania]; Lietuvos Zemes Savininku Sajunga [Lithuania], Association for Restitution of Private Property in Macedonia [USA], Hrvatska udruga vlasnika otudene imovine za vrijeme fasistickog i komunistickog redima, Club Autoktonja [Croatia] Associazione Culturale Giuliana [Italy]; Human Rights for Minorities, in Central Europe, Vancouver Society [Canada], ProKarelia, Karelia Klubi ry, Tarton Rauha ry, Aluepalautus ry [Finland]
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