[Marxism] Human rights violations in Kosovo

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 14 10:58:13 MDT 2004


NY Times, July 14, 2004
Kosovo Report Criticizes Rights Progress by U.N. and Local Leaders
By NICHOLAS WOOD

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia, July 13 - The United Nations mission in Kosovo and 
local Albanian leaders have been extensively criticized in an annual 
report on human rights in the internationally administered province.

The report, a 96-page document, was released by the Ombudsperson 
Institution in Kosovo, a branch of the mission. The report says that the 
United Nations and the local authorities that have run Kosovo for the 
past five years have failed to achieve even a minimal level of 
protection of rights and freedoms, in particular for the province's 
Serbian minority.

The report, issued Monday, was published four months after thousands of 
ethnic Albanians took to the streets across the province to attack 
Serbian communities. The violence left 19 people dead and more than 800 
injured. The head of the United Nations administration, Hari Holkeri, 
resigned his post last month, citing fatigue. His replacement, Soren 
Jessen-Petersen, a Danish diplomat, has yet to begin the job.

The annual report is the fourth to be published since the United Nations 
took responsibility for running the province in June 1999 and covers 
security and social rights issues. The United Nations mission was 
established after Yugoslav and Serbian security forces, accused of 
committing wide-scale atrocities, were forced out of the region by a 
two-and-a-half month NATO bombing campaign.

The United Nations and NATO troops were widely praised for helping to 
return more than 800,000 ethnic Albanian refugees to Kosovo at the end 
of the war in 1999. Since then, the United Nations has established a 
provincial police service, courts, a parliament and local councils, and 
has devolved some governing powers to local politicians. At the same 
time, both NATO and the United Nations have been criticized for failing 
to protect the province's minority groups, especially the Serbs.

The report lays much of the blame for the human rights failings on the 
international community for failing to resolve Kosovo's final status.

A large part of the report focuses on the inability of Serbs and other 
minorities to live, travel and work freely in the province. They have 
been confined to their homes, relying mostly on escorted transport for 
occasional visits to other places populated by minority ethnicities, the 
report's author, Marek Antoni Nowicki of Poland, said in a foreword to 
the document. He said that both United Nations and ethnic Albanian 
leaders were responsible, but he also noted that the international 
community's policy in the province was compounding the problem.

In an interview, he said many areas of human rights were unlikely to 
improve until the province's final status had been resolved, a question 
that international policy makers have put off until at least next year. 
Kosovo is still nominally a part of Serbia, but ethnic Albanians - who 
make up more than 90 percent of the population - want independence.

"We cannot wait too long a time for the moment in which final status is 
decided,'' Mr. Nowicki said in a telephone interview. "It is not only 
the Albanian community, but my impression is that also Serbs have been 
quite exhausted by this uncertain situation. Clarification for the 
future would be helpful in many respects, including the protection of 
basic rights of people.''

The failure to resolve the status has helped to sustain distrust between 
the communities and has delayed the return of Serbian refugees, forced 
out of Kosovo in 1999, he said. It has also prevented the economy from 
growing and has helped to keep unemployment levels high.

A United Nations spokesman, Niraj Singh, declined to comment about Mr. 
Nowicki's statements.


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