By Ljiljana Kovacevic
Bosnian media reports that Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) Director Natasa Kandic resigned from RECOM after spending 2.5m euros without being accountable to donors, has caused a stir.
RECOM is a regional project of over 1,500 civil society organisations and individuals that assist governments in forming a regional commission to establish the truth about war crimes in the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001.
“It is not true that I withdrew from the RECOM process. I am no longer a member of RECOM’s co-ordinating council, but I am in the secretariat of the Coalition for RECOM, which implements its activities,” Kandic told SETimes.
She explained she intends to work full time on representing war crimes victims in court and characterised her move as pragmatic.
“The RECOM process should last a long time and future generations will enjoy its results so as when remembering the war will mean respect for the victims, not an introduction to a new war,” she said.
Kandic also said she is satisfied with the RECOM campaign to collect a million signatures in support of establishing the regional truth commission. Nearly half a million signatures have been collected in Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), she said
Some RECOM members have left since its founding, accusing Kandic of willful disregard as well as of misuse of the institution and its money for self-promotion.
Association of Bosniak Was Victims, “Izvor”, President Edin Ramulic claims Kandic transformed RECOM into her private initiative.
RECOM did not have a [bank] account registered, and all the funds were channelled through the HLC account, Ramulic told the Bosnian media.
“Kandic’s goal was to spend RECOM’s funds to create media [interest] leading to her candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize for contributions to reconciliation in the region,” Ramulic told SETimes.
He also cast doubts about the veracity of the number of signatures collected. Based on his information, he said, there were only 14,000 signatures in BiH and 100,000 overall.
Kandic denied the charges, and told SETimes she has “won so many awards and recognitions that one more is not needed”.
All claims about financial impropriety are negated by the financial reports and audits available online on the HLC website, she said.
“The entire RECOM project is envisioned completely wrong, too ambitious and is completely unrealistic,” Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of Republika Srpska head Branko Todorovic told SETimes.
He also said that the fact neither the BiH government nor war crimes victims’ associations support RECOM, giving Belgrade and Zagreb a monopoly on both the facts-determining process and the reconciliation process.
“RECOM’s only strength lies in the money, not in accepting the victims’ associations. It is a blown up balloon which has damaged the fact-finding process, reconciliation and confidence building,” Todorovic said.