Amnesty International on Kosovo

Kurti3PRISTINA, Kosovo — First to mention: In its recently published Human rights report 2011 Amnesty International  still presents (the Republic of) Kosovo as a part of Serbia. However, as far it concerns Kosovo, the Amnesty report starts with the constitutionally forced resignation of former President Sejdiu, the following parliamentary elections and cases of election fraud. Partially quoting EULEX (the often disputed European Union rule-of-law mission in Kosovo), the report states that the Kosovo "justice system remained weak and is subject to political interference. Judges and witnesses received threats, and protection mechanisms were rarely invoked." This is the main statement.

Amnesty in addition says that out of 900 war crimes cases EULEX inherited from UNMIK only 60 are under prosecution. It mentions the arrest of former KLA commander Sabit Geçi, allegedly involved in war crimes in Drenas and Kukes (Albania), as well as the 7 years imprisonment of Kosovo Serb Vukmir Cvetkovic due to war crimes in Klina. Amnesty reminds that until the end of 2010 still "1822 people were considered missing" but that "a draft Law on Missing Persons failed to include provisions for reparation, including compensation, to relatives of the disappeared."

Further on the report looks back to June 2010 when several activists of the Kosovar Movement for Self-Determination (‘Vetëvendosje!’) "were ill-treated and some hospitalized during a police operation to arrest (Vetevendosje head) Albin Kurti."

In term of ‘interethnic-violence’ Amnesty refers to clashes in predominantly Serb populated municipalities in northern Kosovo: In May  2010 there were reported clashes with the police in regard of the participation of Kosovo Serbs in Serbian local elections. Further incidents were reported on 2nd. July, when "1,500 Serbs protested against the opening of a civil registration office (of the Republic of Kosovo) in Bosnjacka Mahala (Bosnian quarter), an ethnically mixed area of north Mitrovica. An explosive device killed a Bosniak pediatrician and 11 Serbian protesters were injured." Amnesty also highlights the case of the attack on a Kosovo-Serb member of the Kosovo parliament, who was "shot and wounded in both legs in front of his house in north Mitrovica" on 5th. July – whereas the motive behind this attack in the Kosovar public was widely considered to be connected with his activities within institutions of the Republic of Kosovo.

Moreover the report refers to increased tension "following the ICJ ruling on Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence" in September 2010. After "several grenade attacks and the killing of Hakif Mehmeti (a Kosovo Albanian civil society activist living in the Bosnjacka Malhala) on 7th. September … Albanians in north Mitrovica requested additional protection. A Serbian Kosovo Police officer was arrested three days later." …  "In the same month an ethnic Albanian baker was physically attacked three times," in the mainly Serb populated municipality of Zvecan: His shop was "damaged by an explosive device."

Under the topic ‘Accountability’, the Amnesty report addresses the unsuc-cessful complaints forwarded by the families of two Kosovo Albanian citizens, "who were killed by Romanian (UN) police" officers, and by two further Kosovo Albanians "who were seriously injured", during a demonstration on 10th. February 2007 in Kosovo’s capital city Prishtina. The responsible Romanian officers were said to have shot at protestors by using prohibited versions of gum bullets, containing a special iron core. The accused officers were broad out of the country, the case was not further investigated.

Another unsuccessful complaint – still pending since five years – refers to "143 internally displaced Roma and Ashkali residents of UNMIK-administered camps in northern Mitrovica … they had suffered lead poisoning and other health problems due to contamination of the camps where they had lived since 1999."

Finally in terms of discrimination Amnesty International refers to the disad-vantaged situation of minorities, particularly "Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians" who are said to have "experienced cumulative discrimination, including in access to education, health care and employment" as well as "adequate housing".

According to Amnesty also "women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people" suffer from discrimination. The report emphasizes, that "Protection orders in domestic violence cases failed to provide adequate protection or were not issued. Violations of such orders were rarely prosecuted."

As far it concerns the Serbian past in Kosovo, Amnesty International in its current report underlines the case of former Assistant Interior Minister Vlastimir Dordevic at the Den Haag Tribunal:

Dordevic was "indicted or crimes against humanity and war crimes in Kosovo. He was charged with crimes leading to the deportation of 800,000 Albanian civilians, the enforced disappearance of more than 800 ethnic Albanians, and leading a conspiracy to conceal their bodies by transporting them to Serbia for reburial."

In this context Amnesty also reports "that the remains of around 97 individuals, the majority of them Bosnian Muslims, had been recovered from the banks of Lake Perućac. The remains of six ethnic Albanians abducted in Gjakova (Kosovo) by Serb forces in 1999 were reportedly suspected to be among them." 

Positively the report remarks, that a Serbian court in September 2010 sentenced "nine members of the Jackals paramilitary unit" on "war crimes for killing at least 43 ethnic Albanian civilians on 14th. May 1999" near the Kosovar municipality of Peja.

……………………………………………

The Republic of Kosovo declared its independence on 17th. February 2008. After a NATO military intervention, Kosovo was already adminis-tratively separated from Serbia since 1999. With the NATO intervention ended a (at least) decades long ruling of a racist apartheid regime of Serbia in Kosovo. Particularly under the Milosevic presidency of Serbia respectively Yugoslavia, Kosovo Albanians faced a strong suppression, starting from the annulment of Kosovo’s autonomy status within Serbia and Yugoslavia in 1989:

Almost all workers of public enterprises (the mayor economic sector) were fired from their workplaces and the connected social and health care systems. Teachers and Professors of Albanian ethnicity were pushed out of Schools and Universities (and all cultural institutions), and – against the Yugoslav constitution – Albanian curricula were deleted and teaching in Albanian language was forbidden. Comprising about 90 percent of the Kosovar population Kosovo Albanians were forced to live in a parallel world and feel like foreigners in their own country.

At ongoing EU mediated talks in Brussels the two countries now try to come closer at least in terms of solving technical questions of their neighborhood existence. Recent clashes in Prishtina nevertheless show, that there is still a long way ahead.

Review / Opinion by Korrik Sofalia

This article was fist on Blogcritics – Politics

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