Many Serbs displaced from Croatia by war in the region in the early 1990s are now living in Republika Srpska (RS) in Bosnia. This group of Serb refugees has recently received notice to give back their Croatian ID cards through direct contact with either Croatia or its consulate in Banja Luka.
This is a result of Croatia’s new Law on Residency recently coming into effect, which states that ID cards are not be held by – and therefore must be taken away from – individuals who do not reside at the address listed on the government document. Revoking these ID cards poses greater issues for these Serb refugees: they lose their right to vote, as well as no longer have the right to reclaim their apartments, repair damaged property or receive compensation for the loss of their farmland.
According to news source B92, approximately 7,000 Serb refugees residing in RS are affected by this Croatian government decision. What’s more interesting is the manner in which this is taking place: policemen in Croatia have been given the authority “to simply erase (from registers)” any individual discovered to not be living at the address listed on the government ID card.
Heading the Association of Serb Refugees from Krajina and Croatia, Petar Dzodan explains that the coalition of refugee associations in Serbia have sent a request to the Serbian government to sign a bilateral agreement with Croatia, in hopes of protecting refugee property rights. He explained that Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina already have an agreement of this type, while Serb refugees remain defenseless.