Information Service

October 19, 2002


Contents:
1. Diocese of Raska and Prizren deeply hurt by behavior of U.S. KFOR in Klokot
2. Association of Independent Journalists of Serbia protest against mistreatment of journalists in Kosovo
3. Ivanovic: Split decision on Kosovo Serb vote
4. Council of Europe - High Commissioner on human righst publishes a report on the situation in Kosovo


DIOCESE OF RASKA AND PRIZREN DEEPLY HURT BY BEHAVIOR OF U.S. KFOR IN KLOKOT
It is unacceptable for KFOR troops to beat unarmed people

COMMUNIQUE

Gracanica, October 19, 2002

The Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren is deeply hurt by the rough behavior of U.S. KFOR troops in the Serb village of Klokot following the recent crime by extremists leading to the death of Svetlana Stankovic. It is absolutely unacceptable to apply force against unarmed civilians who were only trying to return to their homes, deeply embittered because of the attack. Especially pathetic was the humiliation of two Serb women, Radmila Dimic and Dobrila Milenkovic, who were, according to their own statement, kept handcuffed for serveral hours. Klokot residents confirmed to the representative of the Church that the U.S. soldiers beat the Serbs using sticks and feet.

We are also concerned regarding information by the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) that Radio Television Serbia (RTS) reporters who filmed the incident in Klokot were reportedly abused and kept for two hours, handcuffed, in the mud.

Such unsuitable behavior on the part of U.S. KFOR troops is undermining their moral reputation and the trust of the Serbs in peacekeeping forces. We therefore appeal that this incident be thoroughly investigated and that measures are taken to prevent similar excesses from reoccurring.

It is quite incomprehensible that KFOR troops are blocking the Serb village and abusing its residents, including the family members of the deceased woman, instead of seeking the perpetrators of the most recent attack against the Serbs. A similar situation occurred following the recent attack by Albanian extremists in which five Serb houses were blown up in July. Kosovo Albanian extremists have killed no fewer that 12 Serbs from the village of Klokot since the end of war despite the presence of KFOR forces. Despite claims that the security situation in the region is improving, the Serb people live in increasing uncertainty, especially after the recent incident in Klokot. Regrettably, this is not the first time that Albanian extremists plant land mines in Serb fields. The claim that the mine remained in the field from the war in 1999 is unfounded because the field has been regularly cultivated by Stankovic family since 1999 and no explosive devices were found in this area after a thorough KFOR search. That is one reason more why the residends of Klokot were shocked by the reaction of peacekeepers.

=========================================

Politika,
PROTEST BY INDEPENDENT ASSOCIATION OF JOURNALISTS
Unacceptable behavior towards journalists

October 18, 2002

The Independent Associationa of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) addressed a protest letter yesterday to UNMIK head Michael Steiner regarding the arrest, abuse and threat of imprisonment of Radio Television Serbia (RTS) reporter Zarko Joksimovic and photographer Boban Sekulic by US KFOR troops in the village of Klokot despite the fact that both possessed valid accreditation.

In the letter NUNS states that Joksimovic and Sekulic were in the village of Klokot for the purpose of filming a report regarding the death of Svetlana Stankovic. It advises Steiner that there is no justification for forcing the two men to lie for two hours on the wet earth while handcuffed with 20 rifles pointed at them before they were expelled from Klokot.

UNS emphasizes that the public is justifiably awaiting an investigation of the incident and emphasizes that UNMIK's task "is anything but the violation of human rights of residents of Kosovo and Metohija, and the human and professional rights of Joksimovic and Sekulic".

===========================================

B92 Belgrade
Split decision on Kosovo Serb vote

October 19, 2002

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- Saturday – The Serb member of the Kosovo Parliament’s joint presidency, Oliver Ivanovic announced today that Kosovo Serbs will vote in the province’s local government elections in only five municipalities.

In most municipalities, including the segregated town of Kosovska Mitrovica, Serbs will boycott the elections.

Ivanovic blamed the international community for the boycott, saying that Serbs in the province were still unable to exercise their national and collective rights.

He called on UN governor Michael Steiner and UNMIK to proceed with their plan for decentralised administration of the province and to call new elections in six months in municipalities which had been reorganised and decentralised.

Serbs would certainly vote in such elections, if they were provided with adequate protection, said Ivanovic.

============================================

COUNCIL OF EUROPE
The Commissioner for Human Rights publishes a report on the situation in Kosovo

Deplorable human rights situation in post-war UN administered Kosovo


Alvaro Gil-Robles has just released a report entitled ''Kosovo : the human rights situation and the fate of persons displaced from their homes''. The report was prepared in response to Recommendation 1569 (2002) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the ''Situation of refugees and internally displaced persons in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia'' and is based on the findings of two visits in the region.
"The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Alvaro Gil Robles required in a report on Kosmet to urgently implement an investigation on crimes which, as quoted, were executed over the Serbs and other non-Albanians in the province following the creating of the UN Mission.
Robles stated in an analysis made for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that the victims and their relatives were interrogated, and rarely were any steps undertaken to shed light on the crimes. This undermines the confidence of ethnic minorities in the protection of KFOR and UNMIK, as well as their objectivity, the report quotes. Robles pointed out the problem of missing persons was not solved and that the expelled Serbs did not return to Kosovo and Metohija.."

The full text of the report: KOSOVO - THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION is available in PDF format at:
http://www.commissioner.coe.int/docs/CommDH(2002)11_E.pdf

Extracts:

c. Investigations into crimes committed in the beginning of the international mandate

52. “Post-war Kosovo was characterised by a climate of impunity: crimes were not investigated and criminals went unpunished”29. The victims were mostly ethnic Serbs and Roma, as well as Albanian Kosovans suspected of collaboration with the Serbs. We have read and heard numerous reports, including by international personnel, of serious crimes, including murder, arson, assault, that were committed during the first few months of the international presence30, sometimes in front of international personnel. When victims or their families came to report to KFOR, their depositions were frequently heard, but rarely acted upon31. Indeed, only very few successful investigations into such serious crimes committed in retaliation have been reported to date. This has gravely undermined the ethnic minorities’ trust in the protection offered by KFOR and UNMIK, as well as in their impartiality.

53. It is urgent that serious investigations into crimes committed against minorities since the beginning of the international administration of and responsibility for Kosovo in June 1999, including abductions and disappearances, be given a higher attention by the police and the judiciary, than they have to date. Investigations should take place by all available means, and make use of the declarations that have been made over the years to KFOR, UNMIK, and all kinds of other authorities (the ICTY, the OSCE, various embassies, etc.)32. To me, this appears to be the only way in which the confidence of the minorities in the non-discriminatory, fair and efficient functioning of the international administration of Kosovo can be regained. Also, as UNMIK’s Office of Returns & Communities rightly points out, “full reconciliation [between the communities] cannot take place in the absence of accountability for past crimes”33.

p. Places of worship and cemeteries

132. The fury of destruction has not halted before places of worship and cemeteries in Kosovo85. While some mosques are being repaired and quite a number of new ones have been and are being built, mostly with the help of Islamic countries, orthodox churches and cemeteries of ethnic Serbs are either totally destroyed or severely damaged and I have not seen reconstruction work underway. In addition, many of the orthodox churches that could be used, are simply closed in order to protect them. It seems to me highly desirable to set signals by starting reconstruction and repair of orthodox churches and cemeteries and by trying to protect those that have not been destroyed in a manner which allows worshippers to enter them, especially in the very centres of the cities.

b. Security and Policing

45. The most important challenge for policing in Kosovo is security, especially the security of the ethnic Serb and, to a lesser extent, the ethnic Roma, Egyptian and Ashkalie minority. All observers agree that the situation is still far from satisfactory, although it has much improved. Serb Kosovans by and large can still not enjoy their freedom of movement in Kosovo. They are confined to their KFOR protected enclaves or to the region of North Mitrovica where they are
the majority population. Only very few multi-ethnic localities exist. When they leave their enclaves, ethnic Serbs and Roma are felt to need police or KFOR escorts. This puts a terrible constraint on their lives as regards their access to public services (schools, health care, social services, administrations, … ) and their private lives (visiting friends, relatives … ). The majority of elected Serbian Kosovan representatives use armed escorts all the time.

Information Service of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren
Kosovo and Metohija