News 27 Aug 13

UN ‘Failed to Probe Murders of Kosovo Serbs’

Rights group Amnesty International has criticised the UN mission in Kosovo for allegedly failing to investigate the abductions and killings of Kosovo Serbs after the 1998-99 conflict.

Edona Peci

The UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, did not properly probe reports that Serbs were being seized and killed in the aftermath of the war despite being tasked with protecting human rights, Amnesty International said in a new report published on Tuesday.

“Amnesty International considers that between June 1999 and December 2008, UNMIK international police and prosecutors, who were charged with the investigation of crimes under international law, failed to initiate prompt, effective, independent, impartial and thorough investigations into many, or perhaps even the majority of reports of enforced disappearances and abductions,” the report said.

This failure to probe what Amnesty International called “a widespread, as well as a systematic, attack on a civilian population and, potentially, crimes against humanity” has contributed to “the climate of impunity prevailing in Kosovo”, said Sian Jones, the rights group’s expert on Kosovo.

The report, entitled ‘Kosovo: UNMIK’s Legacy: The Failure to Deliver Justice and Reparation to the Relatives of the Abducted’, was published ahead of a UN Security Council debate on Kosovo on Thursday.

It was based on the initial findings of UNMIK’s human rights advisory panel, which discovered that in several cases, out of 150 complaints from relatives of missing people, UNMIK was not able to present any evidence that an investigation took place.

In other cases, UNMIK police appeared to have given up on their investigation after the victim’s body had been handed over to the relatives.

The report focuses on the abductions of Kosovo Serbs, allegedly by the Kosovo Liberation Army.

But Amnesty International said that its own research “has led to similar findings with regard to UNMIK’s failure to investigate enforced disappearances of ethnic Albanians by Serb forces”.

The rights group said that all these cases must be investigated because “there is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity”.

“The UN should not be allowed to shirk its responsibility any longer,” Jones insisted.

More than 1,700 people from different ethnic backgrounds remain missing since the end of the Kosovo conflict in 1999.

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