Information Note on the Court’s case-law 187
Žarković and Others v. Croatia (dec.) - 75187/12
Decision 9.6.2015 [Section I]
Striking out applications
Acknowledgment of violation in a unilateral declaration: struck out
Facts - The applicants’ relative disappeared following military action by the Croatian authorities in 1995. No investigation was opened into the circumstances of his disappearance or death. The applicants brought a civil claim against the State seeking damages but this was dismissed by a municipal court which found that their relative’s death had to be considered war damage in the absence of proof that he had been killed by Croatian soldiers or police. The judgment was upheld by a county court which stated that the presence of Croatian army and police itself could not be accepted as proof that the applicants’ relative had been killed by them. The Supreme Court dismissed the applicants’ appeal and their subsequent constitutional complaint was declared inadmissible.
Law - Article 37: The applicants had alleged that the Croatian authorities had failed, in breach of Articles 2 and 14 of the Convention, to take appropriate and adequate steps to investigate the circumstances of their relative’s death. By a letter of 17 December 2014 the Croatian Government made a unilateral declaration acknowledging a violation of those provisions and offered to pay the applicants EUR 18,900 jointly to cover any non-pecuniary damage and costs and expenses. The applicants rejected the offer considering the sum too low and insisted on the examination of their other complaints.
The Court reiterated that it could strike out an application under Article 37 § 1 (c) on the basis of a unilateral declaration by a respondent Government even if the applicant wished the examination of the case to be continued. It noted that the Government had explicitly acknowledged violations of Articles 2 and 14 of the Convention and that the proposed sum was not unreasonable in comparison with the awards made by the Court in similar cases. The complaints raised were based on the Court’s clear and extensive case-law finding violations of Articles 2 and 14 of the Convention for inadequate investigations into the killings or ill-treatment of applicants or their relatives. As the Committee of Ministers remained competent to supervise the implementation of judgments, the Court was satisfied that it was not required to continue its examination of the inadequacies in the investigation into the killing of the applicants’ relative. Instead, it decided to strike this part of the application out of the list without prejudice to the Government’s continuing obligation to conduct an investigation in compliance with the requirements of the Convention.
Conclusion: struck out (unanimously).
Article 6 § 1: The applicants had been afforded the possibility of bringing judicial proceedings for compensation. The domestic courts had examined the applicants’ claim on the merits and found that they had failed to prove that the victim had actually been killed by Croatian soldiers. That conclusion of the national court was not arbitrary or manifestly unreasonable.
Conclusion: inadmissible (manifestly ill-founded).
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