News 01 Mar 12

Serbia Requests UN Convention on Organ Trafficking

Serbia has called on the UN to establish convention that would treat organ trafficking as a crime against humanity and a war crime.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

Vuk Jeremic, Serbian Minister for Foreign Affairs, filed a proposal on Wednesday before the UN Council for Human Rights to adopt a common document that will treat organ trafficking as a crime against humanity and, when committed during war,  as war crimes.

According to Jeremic, Council of Europe is already working on its convention on organ trafficking, but a strong global initiative is required as well.

“We need a global convention which will condemn such heinous violation of fundamental basis of our civilization. The discoveries of Dick Marty of events in Kosovo shocked the whole world,” said Jeremic.

“Serbs were victims of this monstrous crime and as such, we have a full moral right to initiate a global convention,” explained Jeremic.

A report by Dick Marty, the Council of Europe rapporteur, has claimed that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, in 1999 and 2000 kidnapped Serbs and members of other minorities in Kosovo, killed them in northern Albania and harvested their body parts to be sold on the black market.

This case is currently being investigated by EULEX.

The Serbian Minister again requested that further investigation into organ trafficking should be lead by the UN team, in accordance with the UN Resolution 1244 on Kosovo, dating from 1999.

“Those who are in charge of investigation should not be limited in any way- neither with time or territorial jurisdiction or on the basis of legitimacy of mandate. Our view is that it cannot be achieved without explicit backing of the UN Security Council,” explained Jeremic.

At the UN Security Council meeting held on February 8th, members were split on whether the jurisdiction on organ trafficking should be given to the UN or the EULEX.

China and Russia backed Serbia's call for the UN-led probe, while Britain, France and the US wanted the EULEX to continue with the investigation.

Serbia’s Prosecution Office for War Crimes is currently conducting its own investigation related to organ trafficking in Kosovo in 1999.

According to Bruno Vekaric, Serbian deputy prosecutor for war crimes, Serbia is running investigations in four countries, together with Russian prosecutors, and the outcome can be expected soon.

Former ICTY Chief Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, stated recently that some of the evidence in the organ trafficking case in Kosovo were destroyed within the Tribunal, but that it is up to the current prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, to reveal who is responsible.

“NATO and UNMIK did not allow us to access important documents on Kosovo, while Albania did not let us enter its territory,” said Del Ponte.

However, Brammertz has been quoted as saying that he has no information about the destruction of evidence and that only Del Ponte could shed light on the matter, as it allegedly happened during her time in office.

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Background

Kosovo's Organ-Harvesting Controversy

Here is a sequence of events leading up to the organ-trafficking charges in Kosovo and the release of the Council of Europe report.

Fatmir Limaj, Kosovo's Road-Builder

Corruption allegations have not dented the popularity of the KLA- fighter-turned-PDK politician who has made it his mission to transform the country’s traffic arteries.

KLA : From Guerilla Wars to Party Plenums

The Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, was an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group that came to the fore in the mid-1990s, demanding the unification of Albanian territories in former Yugoslavia with Albania.

KLA Ran Torture Camps in Albania

The Kosovo Liberation Army maintained a network of prisons in their bases in Albania and Kosovo during and after the conflict of 1999, eyewitnesses allege. Only now are the details of what occurred there emerging.

The Drenica Group

Crime gang allegedly headed by Prime Minister Thaci is said to have run a range of mafia-like enterprises, from cigarette smuggling to trafficking in organs.

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