News 31 Jul 14

Kosovo Wins Public Support for War Rape Report

A total of 115,759 people in Kosovo have signed a petition urging the United Nations to produce a report about rapes committed during the late 1990s conflict.

Edona Peci

The announcement of the petition results.

Photo: Edona Peci.

Kosovo’s outgoing deputy prime minister Edita Tahiri said on Thursday that the petition will be filed to the UN in September, with the aim of finally establishing the facts about rapes by Serbian fighters during the 1998-99 war.

“We aim [to hand it over] to the secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, but if he won’t have time, then we will want to meet [the secretary-general’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict], Mrs. [Zainab] Bangura,” Tahiri said.

In February this year, the UN special envoy for sexual violence in conflict launched a report covering 21 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East, but Kosovo was not included.

The petition was launched on July 14 and has attracted 115,759 signatures in Kosovo, which has an estimated population of 1.8 million people. It was organised by the authorities and human rights campaigners.

It is being seen as possible step towards asking the UN to establish a special court to prosecute rapes committed by Serbian forces during the conflict.

“Once the petition is handed over to the UN, we will have the careful job of encouraging [raped] women to cooperate with the internationals who will establish the official report,” Tahiri said.

Interest in the petition was highest in the capital Pristina, and lowest in the Serb-dominated municipality of Novo Brdo/Novoberde – the only Serb-majority area in which signings were organised.

Some critics have argued however that the campaign to urge the UN to investigate wartime rapes shows the failure of local institutions to do anything about the issue themselves.

Around 15 years after the Kosovo war, there is still no accurate estimate of the number of women and girls who were raped or suffered other forms of sexual violence.

The Kosovo authorities also haven’t established any official figures on the number of people who were killed, injured or went missing during the conflict.

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