1. I was reappointed rapporteur on the situation in
Kosovo on 6 October 2011. To date, two and a half years after the
adoption of my first report in June 2010 and four years after Kosovo’s
unilateral declaration of independence in 2008, some progress has
been made but many concerns remain, in particular in the areas of the
rule of law and human rights.
2. Several important developments have occurred both at the internal
and the international level. The situation has evolved as regards
political stability, governance and democracy in Kosovo, and the
attitude of the international community as a whole vis-à-vis Kosovo.
The issue of the status of Kosovo, however, continues to be divisive.
The aim of the present report is twofold:
- to assess the developments since
the adoption of Assembly Resolution
1739 (2010) and Recommendation
1923 (2010) on the situation in Kosovo and the role of the Council
of Europe, in particular with regard to the situation of democracy,
human rights and the rule of law;
- to identify a possible way forward, in particular with
regard to the relations between Kosovo and the Council of Europe.
I had the opportunity to make a number of fact-finding visits
to the region:
- 28-30 November
2010, on the eve of the elections (Pristina, Gracanica);
- 1-4 November 2011 (Pristina, Gracanica and Mitrovica);
- 18-20 January 2012 (Belgrade);
- 28-31 October 2012 (Pristina, Peja/Peç);
- 15-16 November 2012 (Belgrade).
5. On 15 December 2010 and on 30 May 2012, the Committee on Political
Affairs and Democracy organised hearings with the participation
of representatives of the political forces elected to the Assembly
of Kosovo. On the second occasion, civil society representatives
also took part. The committee organised a further exchange of views
in Paris on 14 November 2012, with the participation of the Ombudsperson
of Kosovo, representatives of the political forces elected to the
Assembly of Kosovo and a representative from the Directorate General
of Programmes of the Council of Europe. A fourth exchange of views
with representatives of the political forces elected to the Assembly
of Kosovo took place at the committee’s meeting in Turin, on 14
6. Throughout 2011 and 2012, during the Assembly’s part-sessions,
I had the opportunity to meet a number of interlocutors in Strasbourg,
in particular ambassadors, the Secretary General of the Council
of Europe, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights,
as well as civil society representatives, who have proved to be
important sources of information. I have also made extensive use
of reports of the United Nations Interim Administrative Mission
in Kosovo (UNMIK), the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo
(EULEX) and the OSCE.
7. Over the past five years, my intention as rapporteur on the
situation in Kosovo has remained unchanged, namely to promote consensus
on the necessity that people in Kosovo enjoy good governance, democracy,
rule of law and the same legal and human rights as other people
in Europe. Despite some developments, this has yet to be achieved.
2. Recent institutional
To date, four and a half years after Kosovo unilaterally
declared its independence, 96 countries of the 192 United Nations
member States have recognised Kosovo as an independent State, including
34 of the 47 Council of Europe member States,
22 of the 27 European Union member States.
9. Kosovo became a member of the World Bank and of the International
Monetary Found in 2009 and, on 16 November 2012, the Board of Governors
of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) decided
to allow Kosovo to become a member of the EBRD, without prejudice
to the positions of EBRD members on the status of Kosovo.
Although the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found, on
22 July 2010, that Kosovo’s declaration of independence “did not
violate general international law, Security Council Resolution 1244
(1999) or other Constitutional Framework”,
decision to recognise Kosovo, or not, will always remain a political
matter for each State to decide.
11. I have therefore deliberately decided to leave the issue of
recognition outside the scope of my report and limit myself to giving
an overview of the institutional architecture in Kosovo, which remains
complex. The Kosovo authorities do not have a monopoly on the use
of force and still share power with an international presence, which
has gradually been reduced over the years.
On 2 July 2012, the International Steering Group (ISG) for
Kosovo, a 25-nation group that has recognised Kosovo and supervised
the implementation of the “Ahtisaari Plan”, announced that the Comprehensive
Settlement Proposal (CSP)
been successfully implemented and authorised the final steps to
end supervised independence and to close the International Civilian
Office (ICO) by the end of 2012.
13. The ISG underscored that the principles and spirit that had
governed the CSP needed to continue in the period after supervised
independence. In this regard, the ISG welcomed Kosovo Prime Minister
Thaçi’s statement confirming Kosovo’s ongoing commitment to respect
and actively implement these principles.
The European Union plays a prominent role in the reconstruction
and development of Kosovo and concentrates on fostering Kosovo’s
development of stable institutions and sustainable economic development and
ensuring its European future. It is present in Kosovo through:
- the EU Office in Kosovo and
the European Union Special Representative (EUSR), who, under the authority
of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,
ensures that a political and technical dialogue is maintained with
the Brussels institutions, offers support to the government of Kosovo
in the political process and contributes to the development and
consolidation of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- EULEX, which assists
and supports the Kosovo authorities in the area of the rule of law,
specifically the police, judiciary and customs; its mandate was
recently extended until 2014 with a staff reduction of about 25%
(2 250 officials); EULEX is currently undergoing major reforms aimed
at prioritising certain rule of law areas, such as fighting corruption
and organised crime, in particular in northern Kosovo, and supporting
the EU agenda in terms of visa liberalisation, the Pristina-Belgrade
dialogue and the rule of law structured dialogue;
- the EU member State representations (currently 17 embassies
and liaison offices).
15. EULEX operates under the overall authority, and within the
status-neutral framework, of the United Nations, whose presence
has been steadily reduced over the years. However, the Special Representative
of the UN Secretary General, head of the 418-staffed UNMIK, still
enjoys civilian executive power and ensures the co-ordination of
the international civil presence operating under United Nations
Security Council Resolution 1244.
16. The OSCE retains the status of UNMIK's pillar for institution
building, human rights protection and promotion, democratisation
and access to services by all Kosovo communities. It also advocates
timely and effective municipal responses to security incidents affecting
minority communities throughout Kosovo, including Serbian communities,
but also Albanian communities who live as a minority in Serbian
17. For the past 12 years, the mission of the NATO-led Kosovo
Force (KFOR) has contributed to maintaining a safe environment in
Kosovo. Its troops have been gradually reduced over time to approximately
5 576. KFOR is also training the Kosovo Security Force, an all-voluntary,
professional, multi-ethnic, lightly-armed force, and maintains the
conditions necessary for other international organisations to operate.
As shown by the deterioration of the situation in northern Kosovo
in 2011, tensions remain and KFOR’s action is still required to guarantee
the population a stable environment, freedom of movement and security.
18. In September 2012, the
Kosovo Agency of Statistics published the final results of the Population
and Housing Census conducted in Kosovo, excluding the north, in
April 2011. This provided the first internationally recognised census
data for Kosovo since 1981. According to the census, 88% of the
population are ethnic Albanians, 7% ethnic Serbs, and 5% belonged
to other ethnic groups, including Bosniaks, Gorani, Roma, Ashkali,
Egyptians and Turks.
19. The Serbian authorities continue to have an impact on the
lives of the Kosovo Serbs and Serbian-funded structures still exist
in the north, mainly in the areas of health and education, municipal
administration, security services and judicial structures. However,
their efficiency and effectiveness are more and more called into question
by the local leaders themselves, whom I met during a visit to Mitrovica-north
in November 2011. The local population faces a dire economic situation
and remains dependent on social assistance from Belgrade.
During and since the Serbian parliamentary and presidential
elections, which were held on 6 and 20 May 2012, four important
developments have taken place, namely:
- During the election campaign, the issue of Kosovo was
of marginal concern in relation to questions ranging from socio-economic
issues, unemployment, privatisation,
alleged corruption and, to a lesser extent, EU accession;
- The efforts of Belgrade and Pristina, which demonstrated
a good sense of responsibility and leadership with the support of
the international community, allowed the Serbian citizens living
in Kosovo to exercise their right to vote; furthermore, Serbia decided
not to organise local elections in Kosovo;
- The newly elected President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić,
shortly after his election, reaffirmed his country’s commitment
to honour fully all agreements reached in the European Union facilitated
dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and to resume negotiations
at a higher political level. This was confirmed more recently by
Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, appointed in October 2012 as the head
of Belgrade’s negotiation team, who said that the Government of
Serbia was working to “build new bridges with Pristina”, and “wants
a peaceful settlement for Kosovo and a resumption of the dialogue
between Belgrade and Pristina, which should encompass political
issues along with technical ones”, and stressed that “good will,
preparedness to compromise and wisdom are necessary for finding
a definite solution to the Kosovo issue”;
- Prime Ministers Dacic and Thaçi met in Brussels on 19
October, 7 November and on 4 December 2012, in meetings chaired
by the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, and undertook to
work together to normalise relations and to implement all the agreements.
3. Democracy, good
governance and political stability
21. Important developments in terms of governance and
political stability in Kosovo have taken place over the past two
years and major reforms have been implemented, bringing Kosovo closer
to European standards. However, sustained efforts are needed to
improve the functioning of the democratic institutions, in particular the
Assembly of Kosovo, as well as to build an efficient public administration
and judicial system and to implement effectively the rule of law.
3.1. Free and fair elections
22. The last general elections were held on 12 December
2010, following the withdrawal of the Democratic League of Kosovo
(LDK) from the coalition government led by the Democratic Party
of Kosovo (PDK) and the decision of the then acting President Krasniqi
to dissolve the Assembly and to hold extraordinary elections.
23. The elections took place without violence, but were marred
by irregularities, as highlighted by several international observers.
The Parliamentary Assembly did not observe these elections. For
my part, I went to Kosovo from 28 to 30 November 2010, namely two
weeks before the elections, in my capacity as rapporteur, and met, inter alia, all seven main players
in the elections, including the two new parties, the Movement for Self-Determination
(Vetevendosje) and the liberal
FER party (which later merged into the Vetevendosje).
24. These were the first parliamentary elections since the declaration
of independence and were run without the involvement of the international
administration. Incidents of irregularities and fraud included multiple
voting and vote manipulation. As a consequence of the reported irregularities,
the Central Election Commission (CEC) decided to recount votes from
681 polling stations throughout Kosovo and to repeat the vote in
five municipalities, on 9 January 2011. The level of irregularities
in these contests was much lower.
25. On 10 January 2011, a European Parliament delegation that
monitored the elections issued a statement stressing that “some
serious shortcomings underscored insufficient political will, including
at the grass-roots level, to conduct a genuine election in line
with international standards and good electoral practices”. On 12 January
2011, the European Network of Election Monitoring Organisations
announced that “a high number of irregularities during the Assembly
of Kosovo elections have severely affected the trust in the democratic process
26. The CEC announced that 47.8% of the 1 630 000 registered voters
cast their ballots, representing an increase of 18.3% compared to
the 2007 elections. The Democratic Party of Kosovo of Prime Minister
Hashim Thaçi won 34 of the 120 seats in the Assembly, followed by
the Democratic League of Kosovo with 27, Vetëvendosje (self-determination
movement) with 14, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) with
12 and the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) coalition with 8 seats.
27. Kosovo Albanian political parties won a total of 95 seats
and Kosovo Serb parties won an extra 3 (2 for the Independent Liberal
Party and one for the United Serbian List), in addition to the 10
seats reserved for them. The “other communities” won 2 seats (one
for the Kosovo Turk Democratic Party (KTDP), and one for the Ashkali
Integration Party (PAI)), in addition to the 10 seats set aside
for them (4 for the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, 3 for
the Bosniak community, 2 for the Turkish community and one for the
28. The participation of the Kosovo Serb community was mixed.
Over 21 000 Kosovo Serbs voted south of the Ibar River, the largest
turnout since the 2001 elections, while in the north the turnout
29. Since the LDK and the AAK refused to participate in a PDK-led
coalition, the PDK eventually formed a governing coalition with
the AKR and with the overwhelming majority of the Kosovo Serb and
“other communities” parties, thus enjoying the support of 64 deputies.
Of the 19 ministries, the Kosovo Serbs head three ministries, compared
with two in the previous government, including the Ministry for
Local Government Administration, whose Minister is also one of the
six Deputy Prime Ministers. Among the Deputy Ministers, three are
Serbs and eight come from other communities.
30. On 22 February 2011, the Assembly of Kosovo elected AKR leader
Behgjet Pacolli as the President of Kosovo, with 62 votes, and appointed
a government led by Prime Minister Thaçi. In March 2011, opposition members
challenged the legality of the presidential election process, which
was subsequently found to be in violation of the constitution by
a Court ruling, due to the absence of a second candidate and the
lack of the necessary quorum.
31. In April 2011, the name of Ms Atifete Jahjaga, until then
the Deputy General Director of the Kosovo police, was put forward
as the consensual candidate, following a compromise agreement between
the government and the LDK which involved further electoral system
reforms. Ms Jahjaga was then elected by the Assembly of Kosovo with
80 votes in favour and 101 deputies present. In July 2012, Kosovo's
Constitutional Court held that President Jahjaga should serve a
full five-year term, until 2016, and not until 2013, when the electoral
reform is to be in place, as previously agreed in a political deal
by PDK, LDK and AAK.
32. The Assembly of Kosovo established an ad hoc committee dealing
with general electoral reforms, which, in May 2012, produced a first
draft of an amended law on elections with the assistance and guidance
of an election working group of international and local stakeholders,
co-ordinated by the OSCE. Draft amendments establishing the direct
election of the president and the reshaping of his or her constitutional
powers are currently being discussed.
33. The nationalist movement Vetëvendosje, which obtained 12.66%
of the votes in the 2010 elections, continues to be active and opposes
the international presence, the decentralisation process, the Belgrade–Pristina
dialogue mediated by the European Union and the negotiation for
the final status of Kosovo. Its President, Mr Albin Kurti, is also
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. The
movement has often been responsible for incidents of violence.
3.2. The functioning
of democratic institutions
34. Democratic institutions in Kosovo are still developing.
A number of bodies and independent institutions complain of political
interference. There is still no clear division of powers between
the legislative, the executive and the judiciary branches of power.
It is worth noting that the separation of powers is not only a key
feature in any democracy but also a prerequisite to move the economy
forward, attract foreign investment and create wealth.
The OSCE mission is working to support the functioning of
the Assembly of Kosovo and of the independent institutions and actively
supports political parties’ development. This includes strengthening
the capacity of non-Albanian parliamentary groups to increase their
legislative and oversight input in the work of the Assembly.
the capacity of the Assembly to scrutinise draft legislation and
the work of the government has been called into question by several
observers, due to the dominant role of the governing coalition,
and there are concerns that the rules of procedure are not always
followed. A better scrutiny of legislation and monitoring of the
implementation of policies and law are needed and the financial
independence of the Assembly has to be strengthened.
Our committee, for its part, has initiated a dialogue with
representatives of the political forces elected to the Assembly
of Kosovo on the basis of Resolution
, and has since held four hearings on the situation in
Kosovo. At least one representative from the majority and one from
the opposition took part in these meetings and the committee strove
to ensure that the Serb component was also represented. In my view,
the Parliamentary Assembly should deepen its engagement with the
Assembly of Kosovo and find ways to involve members of the Assembly
of Kosovo in its debates.
37. A number of independent institutions, including the Kosovo
Judicial Institute, the Independent Media Commission, the Central
Election Commission, the Ombudsperson institution and the Independent
Oversight Board for Civil Service of Kosovo are also operational
in Kosovo. It remains of key importance to build their capacities,
to strengthen the relations between them and the Assembly of Kosovo
and to safeguard their independence from political interference.
3.3. The situation in
38. The situation in northern Kosovo, which has always
been tense due to a long stand-off over “cross-border” trade, degenerated
in July 2011. Clashes and episodes of violence began when the Kosovo
Police crossed into the northern municipalities in an attempt to
control two custom gates along the administrative checkpoint to
enforce an embargo on imports from Serbia as a reciprocal measure
in response to Serbia’s refusal to admit goods originating from
Kosovo since 2008. This attempt had not been co-ordinated with the international
presence nor with the communities on the ground.
39. In reaction, local Kosovo Serbs set up roadblocks to block
access to the gates and on all major roads in northern Kosovo, thus
severely restricting freedom of movement and access by road. Clashes
erupted on several other occasions in the last year, leaving dozens
of peacekeepers and protesters injured and two dead.
On 6 October 2011, following a debate under urgent procedure,
the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 1839 (2011) on the political situation
in the Balkans
, calling upon the people in North Kosovo to act with
restraint and to co-operate without delay with KFOR and EULEX, and
urging the authorities in Belgrade and Pristina to resume the EU-mediated
dialogue on all outstanding issues in a spirit of co-operation and reconciliation.
Although almost all roadblocks were removed following the
intervention of KFOR forces, tension remained high until the end
of 2011 and, to date, the situation remains fragile. Despite some
improvements, it is regrettable that the implementation of the EULEX
mandate is still hampered by roadblocks and recurrent security incidents.
42. Inevitably, the flare up of tension has slowed down Serbia’s
bid to obtain EU candidate status, which was delayed at the EU summit
in December 2011 but eventually granted in March 2012.
43. It is regrettable that, on 14 and 15 February 2012, despite
criticism from the Government of Serbia, the Kosovo authorities
and the international community, the northern Kosovo municipalities
conducted a “referendum” on the question “Do you accept the institutions
of the Republic of Kosovo?”. UNMIK and other international institutions
stressed that the “referendum” had no legal consequences.
44. Looking forward, Belgrade and Pristina must continue to seek
ways to minimise the risks of further conflict and focus on the
implementation of an agreement reached in 2012 on “Integrated Borders
Management (IBM)” in the EU-mediated dialogue, thus building confidence
and leading to a diplomatic and gradual resolution of the stand-off.
In my view, this should be done in consultation with the community
leaders, regardless of their legitimacy, as they are the only representatives
on the ground that enjoy the trust of the people.
Only a gradual integration, resulting from comprehensive and
inclusive talks, political compromises and agreement, can ensure
durable and peaceful results which will be accepted by all parties
and by the population. Forceful methods may create further tensions
and dangers and should be avoided in a still fragile region.
46. The fact that Serbia did not organise local elections in northern
Kosovo in 2012 is a welcome development. It is worth recalling that
local elections in 2008 had led to parallel municipal governments
in the Serbian municipalities in the north.
47. My talks with the community leaders, as well as with the authorities
in Belgrade and Pristina, strengthened my belief that a continuing
stand-off does not serve the medium- and longer-term interests of anyone
involved and that a political agreement on how to run northern Kosovo
is a prerequisite for a sustainable solution and for the realisation
of the EU aspirations of both Belgrade and Pristina.
At the same time, as I stressed after my 2011 visit to North-Mitrovica,
there is a strong need to inspire a sense of confidence in Kosovo
Serbs living in the north and intensive and sustained efforts must
be made by the authorities both in Pristina and in Belgrade, with
the support of the international community, to ensure equal rights
and opportunities for all people living in this area.
49. The initiative of the Kosovo authorities, announced on 23
May 2012, to set up an administrative office in northern Mitrovica,
diverting funds from the UNMIK Administration Mitrovica, was rejected
by northern Kosovo Serb leaders, who called on the population to
boycott it. On 6 July 2012, the office was opened and began providing
services such as registration services, cadastre records and construction
permits. This move seems to me too precipitate and I can only reiterate
the conclusions of my visit to northern Kosovo: imposed solutions will
not work and will not deliver reconciliation, co-operation and progress.
Kosovo leaders must be willing to discuss compromise solutions,
in a spirit of dialogue and reconciliation, with the support of
the international community.
I therefore very much agree with the outgoing International
Civilian Representative in Kosovo, Peter Feith, whom I met in Pristina
last year, and who recently warned the European Union not to allow
the stand-off in northern Kosovo to become “a frozen conflict in
the heartland of Europe”, the north Kosovo Serb community should
be allowed to have “privileged relations” with Belgrade in health
care and education but any financial transfers between them should
be done transparently and “not in brown envelopes”, while partitioning
Kosovo is “not an option”.
also to be the intention of the Serbian Prime Minister, Mr Dacic,
whom I met in Belgrade on 15 November 2012.
Municipalities in the north could co-operate with each other,
as foreseen in the Ahtisaari plan, and form associations, in accordance
with the European Charter on Local Self-Government (ETS No. 122),
while continuing to co-operate with the institutions in Belgrade
and receiving financial and technical assistance.
4. Rule of law
My talks with EULEX and other interlocutors confirmed
that several weaknesses affect the rule of law system, namely:
- the still fragile link between
the prosecution and police offices on investigations;
- insufficient co-ordination between relevant ministries
on rule of law cross-cutting matters and between police and customs
on border management issues;
- the lack of proper implementation of the legal framework
to curb political interference in judicial authorities;
- the need to strengthen the anti-corruption legal, institutional
and policy framework;
- the need to develop an adequate witness protection system;
- the need to ensure public administration reforms, including
the necessary funding and staffing;
- the persisting difficulty in generating reliable data
53. According to UNMIK, the number of murders, cases of unauthorised
possession of weapons, and shooting incidents remained significant
in 2012. Organised crime continued to be of concern throughout Kosovo,
mainly involving smuggling and narcotics trafficking. Crime affecting
minority communities continued to include low-level harassment,
intimidation, simple assaults, and property-related crime, mainly
committed in the minority-populated areas south of the Ibar River.
The OSCE found that trafficking remains a serious human rights
concern because the Kosovo justice system often does not correctly
apply the legal framework regulating the crime of trafficking. Correct
analysis and application of the law would increase the likelihood
of ending impunity for traffickers and reducing the number of new
55. On 30 May 2012, the European Commission launched a “Structured
Dialogue on the Rule of Law” with a focus on the judiciary, the
fight against organised crime and corruption, and with the aim of
ensuring the necessary co-ordination between the key actors. This
forum meets twice a year, sets priorities for reform in the area
of the rule of law and monitors results.
On 30 October 2012, the European Court of Auditors levelled
criticism against EULEX’s action in Kosovo alleging that crime and
corruption are still rampant and that the police are not yet capable
of dealing with serious financial crimes, such as money laundering.
The judiciary continues to suffer from political interference, inefficiency
and lack of transparency and enforcement. Kosovo’s limited capacity
to protect key witnesses and the difficulties of relocating witnesses
abroad are important shortcomings. EU member States are judged to have
seconded insufficient and unqualified staff to EULEX, and for too
According to the aforementioned report, improved legislation,
policy and practice, including the management accountability and
performance of the international community and EULEX in particular,
are needed notably in the following areas:
- money laundering;
- financing of terrorism;
- trafficking in human beings, drugs and weapons;
- asset confiscation.
58. In this respect, the work of the Council of Europe’s Group
of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), the Committee of Experts
on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing
of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), as well as the Pompidou Group on combating
drug abuse and drug trafficking can prove useful to the Kosovo authorities,
also in the framework of the EU “Structured Dialogue on the Rule
4.1. Impunity, accountability
and access to justice
Important developments have taken place in the prosecution
of war crimes in the past two years. However, a culture of impunity,
often encouraged by members of the Kosovo Government, remains one
of the most serious human rights concerns and the presence of international
investigators, prosecutors and judges, especially where cases involve
high-profile defendants, remains crucial in eradicating this culture.
60. Impunity persists for war crimes committed by both sides in
the 1999 armed conflict. Only a few of the Serbian military, police
and paramilitary forces responsible for war crimes against Kosovo
Albanians have been brought to justice. Mr Vladimir Vukcevic, Serbia’s
War Crime Prosecutor, whom I met during my last visit to Belgrade,
stressed the need to sign an operational protocol between Serbia
and EULEX to allow the Prosecutor’s Office to gather evidence from
61. Even fewer members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), responsible
for war crimes against Kosovo Serbs, Roma and members of other minority
communities, have been prosecuted and convicted. On 16 November
2012, three former KLA rebel fighters, current members of the NATO-trained
Kosovo Security Force (KSF), were arrested by EULEX police over
war crimes committed against civilians in 1999. On 21 November 2012,
Kosovo's Supreme Court ordered the retrial of Fatmir Limaj and three
other members of the KLA for war crimes, overturning a court ruling
which had found that evidence by a key witness, Agim Zogaj, who
apparently committed suicide while under a witness protection scheme,
62. Despite significant progress made by EULEX in the investigation
and prosecution of war crimes, the number of cases brought to prosecution,
when compared to the number of outstanding cases, is small. Cases of
enforced disappearances and abductions have not yet been investigated,
while the bodies of over 1 700 persons have still not been exhumed,
identified, and returned to their relatives. Witness protection,
before, during and after proceedings in cases of crimes under international
law, is still considered inadequate. Furthermore, access to justice
represents a special concern in northern Mitrovica, where the district
court functions with limited capacity, with the help of EULEX.
63. Furthermore, I discussed with the authorities in Belgrade
the introduction of a “Balkan Arrest Warrant”, a pan-Balkan extradition
treaty similar to the European Arrest Warrant, which is meant to
speed up extradition procedures and curb political influence over
the judiciary. I believe that Kosovo should not be left out and remain
a safe haven for the perpetrators of cross-border crimes. Serbia’s
internal politics should not dictate decisions concerning criminal
investigations related to organised crime.
In January 2011, the Assembly adopted Resolution 1782 (2011)
on the investigation of allegations of inhuman treatment
of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo, based
on a report by Dick Marty. The report alleged an extensive range
of crimes in the period between 1998-2000, including abductions,
illegal detentions, inhuman treatment and extrajudicial killings
of detainees, and murders for the purpose of harvesting and trafficking
of human organs.
65. I believe that establishing the truth about the crimes committed
is an essential precondition for lasting stability. However, the
allegations contained in Mr Marty’s report fall outside the scope
of my report. I shall merely limit myself to taking note that, in
May 2011, an EU Special Investigative Task Force (SITF) was set
up in Brussels to investigate and prosecute any offences alleged
in the Marty report and that, on 17 October 2011, Mr Clint Williamson
was officially designated by the EULEX Head of Mission as a Prosecutor
under the legal authority of the Special Prosecution Office for
Kosovo. A further welcome development is that Albania has recognised
the exclusive authority of the SITF to investigate and prosecute
all crimes alleged in the report through the adoption of a Law on
co-operation with the SITF, passed unanimously by the Albanian Parliament on
10 May 2012.
66. On 4 June 2012, the Government of Kosovo announced the establishment
of the Inter-ministerial Working Group on Dealing with the Past
and Reconciliation to deal with human rights violations that occurred during
the 1998-1999 war and the transition period. The investigation and
prosecution of war crimes must be a priority for EULEX, along with
an effective and well-funded witness protection programme, without
which prosecutions cannot take place. EULEX must also ensure that
it leaves behind an independent, impartial and effective justice
4.2. The fight against
organised crime and corruption
67. Over the past two years, mixed panels of local and
EULEX judges have adjudicated several cases involving abuses of
official position. Corruption, misuse of official duty or authority,
mistreatment in exercising duties, misuse of economic authorisation,
the issuing of unlawful judicial decisions, solicitation of bribes
or attempt to obtain bribes, tax evasion and money laundering are
among the main criminal charges. Corruption remains widespread and
it affects access by citizens to public services and often involves
68. The authorities have started to tackle this issue. In February
2012, President Jahjaga inaugurated a National Anti-Corruption Council
tasked with setting strategic priorities in the fight against corruption
in Kosovo, suggesting legislative amendments and regulations and
facilitating inter-agency co-ordination.
69. The legislative framework for the fight against corruption
has been improved (new legislation includes public procurement,
financing of political parties, whistle-blowers, declaration of
assets, preventing conflict of interest) but needs to be further
strengthened and fully implemented. Anti-corruption bodies have
weak powers, the supervision of public procurement is complex and,
according to the European Court of Auditors, the complexity and
fragmentation increase the risk of corruption.
Furthermore, according to UNMIK reports, the impasse between
the Ministries of Justice in Kosovo and Serbia on mutual assistance
in corruption cases persists, despite the active involvement and
mediation of UNMIK.
I raised this issue during my
talks with the Serbian State Secretary at the Minister of Justice
and Public Administration, who seems to have no reservations in
co-operating with the Kosovo authorities through the mediation of
71. In my view, the EU-Council of Europe joint project against
economic crime in Kosovo (PECK) needs to be upgraded and given the
necessary political support, including through the input of the
Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the active involvement
of the Kosovo authorities, both at the technical and the political
4.3. The judiciary
Since the adoption of Recommendation 1923 (2010)
, progress has been made. The Division for International
Legal co-operation in the Ministry of Justice has increased its
capacity and the Kosovo Judicial Council has started addressing
key priorities. All members of the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council
have been appointed and the Council has started to function. The
salaries of judges and prosecutors have been increased.
73. The Ministry of Justice invited EULEX to participate in a
working group to review a “judicial package” (Law on the Kosovo
Prosecutorial Council, Law on the State Prosecutor, Law on the Kosovo
Judicial Council, Law on Courts and Law on the Special Prosecution
Office of Kosovo).
74. Despite these positive developments, the justice sector is
still perceived as being corrupt and untrustworthy. Significant
backlogs of cases persist and there are still reports of threats
and intimidation of judges, especially in sensitive cases, such
as property rights, and political interference in the work of the judiciary
is still an issue of concern. Despite an increasing interest by
the Serbian community to join the judiciary, only 9.37% of staff
belong to minority communities.
75. Recently, while the Assembly of Kosovo was considering constitutional
and election law amendments, the Kosovo Constitutional Court complained
of political interference. The independence of the Constitutional Court
is crucial especially in times of reform. In my view, the Constitutional
Court could benefit from the expertise and advice of the European
Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), the Council
of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters.
76. The Assembly of Kosovo has adopted important legislation such
as laws on witness protection, on criminal liability of legal persons
for criminal offices and the law on international legal co-operation.
Kosovo should be urged to pursue judicial reform to further
strengthen independence, impartiality and transparency. Among the
key priorities are:
reducing the backlog of cases;
- ensuring a sufficient budget for the proper functioning
of the courts, including the Mitrovica district;
- restructuring the prosecution offices and filling vacant
positions for minorities;
- upgrading the case-management system and fast-tracking
the flow of data concerning corruption cases;
- providing security and protection to judges, prosecutors,
litigants and witnesses;
- improving awareness of human rights in judicial decision-making.
78. During my talks with the management of the Kosovo Judicial
Council, I realised that there is scope for further Council of Europe
involvement through training programmes for judges on the application
of the European Convention of Human Rights (ETS No. 5), both with
regard to initial training and further professional development.
Polling data in 2009 and 2010 found the Kosovo Police
to be the most trusted Kosovo institution.
has led to an improved perception of the Kosovo police by the public.
The police has met its training targets and achieved diversity in
terms of ethnicity and gender, with 10% of ethnic Serbs and 15%
of women officers. It has a low level of corruption.
80. However, obstacles remain due to the lack of judicial personnel,
which impedes the prosecution, conviction, and punishment of criminals,
despite successful police investigations. One of the biggest challenges
resides in the north, where Kosovo Serbs do not accept EULEX as
a neutral force and the Kosovo Police is rejected, leaving NATO
reservists to do the job.
81. Better resource management, increased multi-ethnicity, retention
and promotion of community representatives in the police, targeted
community policing and the fight against organised crime and witness protection
remain priority areas for the Kosovo police.
5. Human rights
5.1. Law and policy
82. Kosovo is a member neither of the United Nations
nor of the Council of Europe. It is not in a position to ratify
relevant international human rights instruments, nor is it subject
to regular reporting put in place by international bodies. The government
strategy to incorporate key international human rights instruments
into domestic law, as foreseen in the constitution, was part of
the action plan on human rights 2009-2011.
83. The Human Rights International Contact Group, under the joint
co-ordination of UNMIK and the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights in Kosovo, advocates remedial action by the Kosovo
authorities, in particular with regard to property rights and security
84. However, a lack of focus and a multitude of different bodies
dealing with the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms
characterise the human rights institutional set-up. Even the non-governmental organisation
(NGO) and advocacy sector is inefficient as it is quite politicised.
Furthermore, general knowledge of human rights instruments remains
85. In September 2012, the Council of Europe and the European
Union launched a joint capacity-building project aimed at improving
the implementation of human rights standards in Kosovo. The Ombudsperson Institution,
ministerial and municipal human rights units and civil society organisations
are directly involved. This is a welcome development which will
hopefully strengthen the human rights guarantees in Kosovo.
86. However, the fact that there is no legal basis for the exercise
of jurisdiction by the European Court of Human Rights represents
a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by the people
of Kosovo. This should be given proper consideration by all stakeholders,
including Serbia and the Council of Europe.
5.2. The Ombudsperson
87. The Ombudsperson and five deputy Ombudspersons are
appointed by the Assembly of Kosovo. All public institutions in
Kosovo are obliged by law to respond to the Ombudspersons’ inquiries.
88. The institution faces challenges in terms of budget. Close
co-operation between the Ombudspersons and the Assembly of Kosovo
is crucial and adequate financing and strong political support are
prerequisites for its proper functioning.
Presenting the 2011 Ombudsperson’s annual report,
Mr Sami Kurteshi, elected Ombudsperson
in 2009, regretted the lack of impact of the Ombudspersons’ recommendations
on the State authorities. He underlined a worrying “tendency of
various State authorities to minimise the role of the national independent institutions,
in general by disregarding their findings, by not implementing their
findings or by even putting unlawful efforts to affect their independency
stipulated by the constitution”.
It is deeply regrettable that, according
to the Ombudsperson, over the years, no reaction has been received
by any public institution regarding the implementation of his office’s
90. When addressing the committee in Paris on 14 November 2012,
Mr Kurteshi complained about judicial performance and non-implementation
of court decisions and the Ombudsperson’s recommendations. On a positive
note, the Ombudsperson stated that, in co-operation with local NGOs,
he has set up a task force which acts as a national prevention mechanism
in Kosovo and also stressed his institution’s efforts to promote
the integration of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in
public and social life.
5.3. Human rights accountability
of international organisations
In June 2009, as chairperson of the committee, I
asked the Venice Commission to prepare a follow-up opinion on the
mechanisms to review the compatibility with human rights standards
of acts of UNMIK and EULEX in Kosovo, which was adopted on 17 and
18 December 2010. The Venice Commission welcomed the establishment,
in November 2007, of the UNMIK Human Rights Advisory Panel, largely
in line with its own recommendations of 2004, and urged this Panel
and UNMIK to find a solution so that the over 450 cases currently
pending before the Panel may be processed before UNMIK leaves Kosovo.
As at 1 October 2012, progress has been made and out of 587 cases
received, only 287 remain pending.
The Venice Commission also welcomed the establishment of the
EULEX Human Rights Review Panel in November 2009, and encouraged
this Panel to maintain its proactive attitude. It nevertheless advised
the Council of the European Union to reconsider some of the features
of the Panel, in particular with regard to its independence, the
non-binding nature of its recommendations as well as the review
of the insurance procedures to allow financial compensation for
human rights violations.
6. Minority rights
93. A wide range of institutions and mechanisms deal
with minority issues, both at the local and central levels, including
the Communities Consultative Council (CCC), the Advisory Office
on Good Governance, Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Gender
(AOGG), the Office for Community Affairs (OCA), the Ministry of
Communities and Returns (MCR), the Ministerial Human Rights Units
(HRUs), the Human Rights co-ordinator (HRC), the Ombudspersons,
the Committee on the Rights and Interests of Communities (CRIC),
and the Ministry for Local Governance and Administration. However,
as also stressed by the Director of the European Centre for Minority
issues (EMCI) during the hearing organised by our committee on 30
May 2012, the lack of effective implementation of the provisions
enshrined in the legal and institutional framework for the protection
and promotion of minority rights and insufficient institutional
capacities remain major challenges with a view to fully ensuring
the integration of minority communities in Kosovo.
94. As I myself experienced during my last visits to Kosovo, the
sentiments of the Serbs living south of the Ibar River are changing
since Kosovo has embarked on a decentralisation process which has
allowed more autonomy to the Serb municipalities, resulting also
in a higher voter turnout. Many Serbs feel more involved and told
me that they “come from Kosovo and want to have a say”. However,
concerns for their safety and the full respect of their rights still
exist and interactions between the Kosovo Serb and Albanian communities remain
very limited. The situation in the north is especially complex,
as I have outlined above, and the sentiment of isolation remains
As I learned during my visit to the region, some practical
problems persist and raise questions. In Kosovo, two types of licence
plates are currently in use. “KS” (Kosovo) licence plates, which
allow entrance into the territory of Serbia proper, and “RKS” (Republic
of Kosovo) licence plates which are not allowed into Serbia. The
general belief is that local Serbs would opt for the “KS” plates,
but in reality this would make them easily identifiable when travelling
within Kosovo. For this reason, the majority of Serbs living south
of the Ibar river have opted for RKS licence plates, in the hope
of safeguarding anonymity. However, it turns out that RKS licence
plates assigned to residents of Serb villages are nevertheless clearly
identifiable by the last two letters of the licence plates. In this
way, it is sufficient to look at the last two letters of the RKS
licence plates to know the ethnicity of the persons travelling in
the vehicles. This raises issues under Articles 2 and 5.i of the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
and Article 4 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of
National Minorities (ETS No. 157), which are directly applicable
The new generations mostly learn only one of the two official
languages (Albanian or Serbian), which creates a significant barrier
to inter-community communication and integration. There is no curriculum
available in the Serbian language in Kosovo institutions; the Serb
and other non-Albanian communities (Roma, Gorani) make use of a
parallel education system run by Serbia. The lack of high quality
textbooks and curricula in Turkish and Bosniak is a further problem.
In addition, discrimination, lack of effective implementation of
the curriculum in the Romani language, low attendance and high dropout
rates continue to be key challenges facing the Roma, Ashkali and
Egyptian communities. Finally, the Gorani community, which mostly
makes use of the Serbian parallel system of education, is in a particularly
vulnerable situation. In Dragaš, Gorani teachers have been prevented
from using Kosovo-administered school premises, as they have not
signed contracts with the municipality.
I would like to stress that isolation prepares the ground
for future conflict. History teaching is an essential tool to overcome
isolation, promote tolerance, prevent hatred and avoid history becoming
the hostage of nationalistic feelings. As stressed by Mr Pietro
Marcenaro in his report on reconciliation and political dialogue between
the countries of the former Yugoslavia,
we must continue to support the
relevant work done by the Council of Europe in conflict and post-conflict
regions on the revision and development of textbooks and teacher
manuals, the organisation of teacher seminars and source material
The OSCE Community Rights Assessment Report, published in
also underscored that, despite an
advanced legislative framework in place to protect and promote the
rights of communities in Kosovo, only limited progress has been
made in its implementation since 2010. The OSCE also issued an assessment of
the viability of returns and security concerns, which are important.
Security incidents against returnees are continuing and have increased
in some areas, which adds to the general perception that return
is not welcome. Budgetary constraints, property issues, compliance
with the legislative framework and the lack of political will are
the major challenges in the protection of the rights of the communities.
99. Around a hundred Kosovo Roma and Ashkali families have been
resettled from the lead-contaminated Česmin Lug and Osterode camps
to the Roma Mahalla neighbourhood, in southern Mitrovica, which
I visited in November 2011. However, Kosovo Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian
communities still have limited access to housing, health care, education,
social protection and employment and several Kosovo Roma and Ashkali families
still live in a lead-contaminated camp in Osterode. Sustained efforts,
funds, political will and better co-ordination between central and
local level institutions are needed to improve the situation. The
European Commission and the Kosovo Ministry for European Integration
have identified 40 actions to boost the implementation of the Roma,
Ashkali and Egyptians Strategy and Action Plan, which needs to be
implemented at central and local level.
100. On a positive note, the Kosovo authorities have allocated
€3.4 million to aid repatriated persons, including minority communities,
and the Kosovo police provide 24-hour protection at 23 Serbian religious
and cultural heritage sites.
It is of key importance to facilitate more interaction between
the communities living in Kosovo with a view to promoting the cultural
and social inclusion of all of them, in particular by:
- recognising the fundamental
importance of inter-ethnic dialogue to promote tolerance and mutual understanding;
- ensuring that communities’ members are employed in public
administration, including at senior level;
- further investing in language training in Albanian and
Serbian targeted at municipal officials;
- allocating adequate resources to civil registration offices,
reaching out to vulnerable communities and ensuring affordable registration
- promptly investigating attacks motivated by ethnicity
or religion, and improving data collection;
- continuing to implement decentralisation;
- allowing children to receive education in their mother
tongue in public schools and establish a procedure for registration
of private educational institutions providing education in a language
of their choice;
- allocating a budget to the Office of the Language Commissioner,
responsible for monitoring the Law on the use of languages;
- ensuring broadcasting of the Kosovo public broadcaster
in the Serbian language;
- supporting the work of the Kosovo Property Claims Commission
dealing with conflict-related and mainly inter-ethnic property claims
with a view to reducing the backlog of cases;
- allocating funds for the implementation of the strategy
for the integration of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities;
- implementing legislation on protection of cultural heritage
and of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
102. A variety of projects aimed at supporting minority communities
are currently funded by the European Union (including EU-Council
of Europe joint projects), the OSCE, United Nations bodies as well
individual foreign affairs ministries.
103. According to Kosovo’s Constitution, the Council of Europe
Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is
directly applicable to Kosovo and takes precedence over Kosovo legislation.
Kosovo has clear obligations to ensure that its own legislation,
policies and practices meet Council of Europe requirements.
7. Missing persons
and displaced persons
104. The issue of missing persons continues to be a major
obstacle to reconciliation. Out of 6 024 cases reported to the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the fate and whereabouts of 1 766
missing persons has yet to be clarified. Over the past year, the
authorities in Belgrade and Pristina have pursued their efforts
to account for missing persons in accordance with their commitments
within the Belgrade-Pristina Working Group on Missing Persons, a
humanitarian forum chaired by the ICRC. However, the group’s Chairperson
is concerned about the slow pace of the process and has called for
more resources and regional co-operation to help identify the fate
of the missing.
105. Several challenges also remain with regard to repatriated
persons, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), with
over 17 000 people concentrated mainly in the Mitrovica region, in Gracanica
and the surrounding Kosovo Serb-populated villages. At the local
level, although several municipalities have established municipal
offices for communities and working groups on returns, they frequently
lack adequate staff, resources and initiatives and are dependent
on other stakeholders or international organisations.
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since
2010, 24 020 persons “voluntarily” returned to
The lack of available land and the limited
number of houses being built constitute major obstacles for returnees.
Returns based on re-admission arrangements for both majority and
minority populations have decreased over time (1 079 returns in
2010, 751 in 2011 and 362 in 2012) and the same can be said for
“assisted” voluntary returns.
“Forced returns” from Western European countries remain steady,
and this is a specific problem for those communities which are considered
at risk (around 600 persons in 2010, 2011 and 2012). In particular, significant
challenges remain with regard to reintegrating and providing sustainable
solutions for persons from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities
forcibly repatriated from Western European countries, a trend which has
increased over recent years. The situation is especially hard on
children, few of whom stay in school due to the lack of language
skills, curriculum differences and poverty.
States should comply with the recommendations of the Assembly
the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and stop the forced
returns of Roma until a return can be shown to be safe and sustainable.
The process of post-conflict property restitution is not yet
complete and some 70% of the pending cases are from the Mitrovica
area, according to the Kosovo Property Agency (KPA), the mass-claim
mechanism established in Kosovo to resolve specific categories of
conflict-related property claims. Apart from the cases awaiting
adjudication before the KPA, a significant number of conflict-related
property claims are also dealt with by the local courts and the
great majority of claimants are IDPs. Local authorities should provide
unimpeded access to a court for everyone, regardless of a person’s
status and this right should be interpreted in the light of the
international standards governing post-conflict property restitution,
and recognise the specific obstacles faced by IDPs.
positive note, in 2012,
government mandated a property rights co-ordinator to develop a
strategy and action plan for the protection of property rights in
Kosovo, particularly those of IDPs and vulnerable groups.
Additional issues that were brought to my attention during
my last visit to Belgrade concern the situation of IDPs in Serbia,
which seems to have been forgotten against the backdrop of the larger
picture of normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
According to the UNHCR’s IDP needs assessment of February 2011,
97 286 IDPs in need live in Serbia, in urban areas. They are Serbs
in majority, followed by Roma. 74.5% of the Roma IDP population
are in need, in comparison to 41.7% of non-Roma IDPs. Unemployment
among IDPs in need is 39%, while unemployment among the general
population is around 20%. Housing is the main need for IDPs and
49% of the IDPs in need own an apartment/house in Kosovo, which
in most cases has been destroyed or occupied. 24.1% of IDPs in need
suffer from chronic diseases, while 8.5% could be classified as
disabled. 8% of IDPs lack basic documents (identity card or birth
certificate). This percentage is much higher among the Roma (17.6%)
than among the non-Roma (5.5%). A small percentage (20%) of IDPs
expressed a willingness to return to Kosovo. Very few Roma expressed
an interest to return to Kosovo (8.8%).
110. Until the IDP issue is addressed and resolved, there will
always be a human and tangible legacy of the conflict. Finding durable
solutions for and assisting the local integration of IDPs living
in Serbia, where many want to stay, could accelerate the “normalisation”
process between Belgrade and Pristina. The European Union could
provide further assistance in this area.
8. Freedom of expression
111. Freedom of expression remains a source of concern.
Pressure and threats against independent media have continued. The
media company Koha Group, which broadcasts the Kohavision television
channel and publishes the daily newspaper Koha
Ditore, has been particularly targeted. The public broadcaster
Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) is vulnerable to political interference
as its independence and financial sustainability are not yet guaranteed.
112. The Association of Professional Journalists of Kosovo (APJK),
the Press Council of Kosovo (PCK) and the Independent Media Commission
have raised their voices against political interference.
113. Kosovo has introduced a number of improvements in the area
of legislation with the establishment of the law on access to information,
the decriminalisation of libel and improvement of the criminal code.
I also welcome the adoption by the Assembly of Kosovo of the laws
on Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) and on the Independent Media
Commission (IMC), in March 2012. The law on RTK provides the public
broadcaster with safeguards for its editorial independence, as well
as public responsibility, and also envisages a sustainable solution
for its financing. The law on the IMC guarantees that this regulatory
body will be able to exercise its competences in promoting ethical
and technical standards among Kosovo's broadcast media and will
hopefully preserve the IMC’s necessary independence. It is crucial
that these laws are now fully implemented.
Furthermore, the Kosovo Ministry of Interior should draft
a handbook detailing the proper procedures for communicating with
and handling cases of violence against journalists and the Kosovo
Prosecutorial Council should draft, enact and ensure the implementation
of a policy detailing methods of dealing with cases of violence
against journalists. This policy also needs to ensure that prosecutors
understand the pressing importance of ensuring the adequate protection
115. Kosovo has a law on access to official documents which is
not fully implemented and journalists are still denied access. Access
to information for non-Albanian communities needs to be further
9. The situation of
116. With the support of the Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Kosovo and the United Nations Entity
for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the
Agency for Gender Equality in the office of the Prime Minister has
established a working group to develop an action plan to implement
Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women’s protection and
participation in decision-making and peace-making processes.
117. 33% of the members of the Assembly of Kosovo are women. Speaking
at a hearing organised by the committee on 14 November 2012, Ms
Teuta Sahatqija, member of the Assembly of Kosovo and Chairperson of
Women Caucus, a group of women parliamentarians working towards
strengthening the position of women in politics and in society,
under the auspices of the OSCE, wished to establish a dialogue with
women parliamentarians in the Serbian Parliament. When I discussed
this issue with women parliamentarians from the Serbian Parliament
in Belgrade, I found an opening and an interest in organising such
a meeting with the Women’s Caucus of the Assembly of Kosovo, which
can only but be encouraged.
118. UNMIK, the OSCE, UN-Women, UNDP, the Kosovo Women’s Network,
as well as a number of women’s organisations are actively engaged
in an effort to promote gender equality, combat violence against
women and improve access to justice.
119. At the beginning of 2012, the Action Plan on Domestic Violence
for 2012-2015 was finalised. Greater financial and human resources
are needed to assist victims of domestic violence and I can only
but welcome the Kosovo Agency for Gender Equality’s plans to organise
training in 2012 on preventing domestic violence, with the support
of the OSCE, and the appointment in July 2012 of a national co-ordinator.
The Kosovo authorities should finalise standard operating procedures
for victims of domestic violence and consider developing reintegration
programmes for victims who decide to leave shelters
120. According to UNICEF data, Kosovo is a place of origin, destination
and internal trafficking in girls and women for sexual exploitation.
Whereas the existence of trafficking into Kosovo of foreign women
and girls has been known since 1999, the existence of trafficking
in Kosovar women and girls has only recently been fully acknowledged.
121. In this regard, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing
and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CETS
No. 210) as well as the Convention on Action against Trafficking
in Human Beings (CETS No. 197) can indeed be useful tools which
could help Kosovo improve the situation of women.
122. During a meeting with a number of chairpersons of the Assembly
of Kosovo on 30 October 2012, I discussed with Ms Suzan Novoberdaliu,
Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights, Gender Equality, Missing
Persons and Petition, the possibility for members of the Assembly
of Kosovo to join the Parliamentary Assembly’s Parliamentary Network
“Women Free from Violence”. This may help Kosovo raise its legal
and policy standards in the area of the prevention of violence against
women, the protection of its victims and the effective prosecution
of the perpetrators.
10. Cultural and religious
123. Kosovo has started implementing the Council of Europe
and UNESCO conventions on cultural rights.
124. According to KFOR, the Kosovo police have managed well the
transfer of responsibility for guarding historical and religious
sites from KFOR. However, acts of vandalism and religious intolerance
persist, especially against Serbian Orthodox Churches. Serbian Orthodox
sites have been renovated in co-operation with the Church and the
Serbian authorities and donations from the Russian Federation. Turkey
and Albania also funded the restoration of Islamic and Catholic
sites. In April 2012, the law on the Velika Hoča/Hoçë e Madhe and
the law on Prizren Historic Centre, aimed at protecting religious
and cultural heritage, were approved. However, according to the
OSCE, there are very few municipalities which actively promote the cultures
of non-majority communities, particularly the numerically smaller
communities such as the Ashkali, Egyptians or Kosovo Montenegrins.
125. On 31 October 2012, I visited
the monastery in Peja/Peć, spiritual home of the Serbian Orthodox
Church, with its beautiful 14th century frescos, which should be
a reason for many tourists to visit this region. In 2006, the Patriarchate
was placed on UNESCO's “World Heritage List” as an extension of
the Visoki Dečani site, which was overall placed on the “List of
World Heritage in Danger”.
126. I am firmly of the view that the protection of religious and
cultural heritage is an issue of great political significance and
is an integral part of the cultural identity and the history of
127. The Council of Europe is doing important work in this area,
mainly through the “EU–Council of Europe Joint Programme Support
to the Promotion of Cultural Diversity in Kosovo”.
128. During my last visit to Kosovo, I was informed by the Greek
Ambassador, Head of the Liaison Office of Greece in Pristina, that
the Greek Government, notwithstanding the fact that it does not
recognise Kosovo, actively supports the establishment of the Implementation
Monitoring Council, a supervisory structure on the implementation
of the plans regulating special protection zones and other cultural
heritage sites. This body includes the European Union, the OSCE,
the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as the Kosovo Ministries of Culture
and of Environment and Spatial Planning. It is regrettable that
the Council of Europe, despite its efforts on the ground to promote
cultural diversity and liaise with the Kosovo municipalities, does
not take part in this body on account of its status neutrality.
However, this does not prevent other international organisations,
or individual non-recognisers, such as Greece, from actively participating
in this initiative.
11. Kosovo and the
129. The European Union has given a clear European perspective
to the whole of the Western Balkans, including Kosovo.
130. On 14 June 2012, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs,
Cecilia Malmström, handed over a road map for visa liberalisation
to the Kosovo authorities and Kosovo has already submitted its first
131. In the period 2010-2012, Kosovo received €206 million of financial
aid under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance. Kosovo also
benefits from a wide range of EU programmes, such as Tempus and Erasmus
Mundus, as well as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human
Rights. Following the agreement of the EU Foreign Affairs Council
of 15 October 2012 on Kosovo's participation in programmes of the
European Union, negotiations are due to start for the conclusion
of a framework agreement on Kosovo’s involvement in the EU programmes
which are open to all countries of the Western Balkans.
On 10 October 2012, the European Commission adopted a Communication
on a Feasibility Study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement
(SAA) with Kosovo, a process launched in 2009, which confirmed that “Kosovo
is largely ready to open negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association
Agreement”, in a situation where EU member States maintain different
views on status. With a view to negotiating and implementing this agreement,
Kosovo needs to make progress in a number of important areas, namely:
- the implementation of all agreements
reached between Belgrade and Pristina;
- a visible and sustainable improvement in the relations
between Kosovo and Serbia;
- addressing the problems in northern Kosovo, while respecting
the particular needs of the local population;
- in the fields of the rule of law, public administration,
protection of minorities and trade capacities and intensified reforms
on the judiciary, electoral legislation, the Assembly’s capacity,
human and fundamental rights (in particular freedom of expression,
property rights and data protection), trade and internal market
133. Belgrade and Pristina began a dialogue under the auspices
of the European Union in March 2011, which led to several agreements
to improve the daily life of the Kosovo population. The agreements
reached include certification of diplomas, civil registry books,
cadastre records, integrated management of crossing points, regional
representation and co-operation, and free movements of goods.
Regrettably, not all agreements have been implemented. Some
of them depend on the promulgation of related legislation and others
are not being implemented in good faith, such as the provisions
covering vehicle licence plates and high insurance costs, which
effectively reduce free movement. Different interpretations of how
to implement the agreement on regional representation and co-operation,
also known as the “asterisk agreement”, which allows Kosovo to represent
itself at all regional meetings with the nameplate of “Kosovo*”,
resulted in problems regarding the participation of Pristina and
Belgrade delegations in regional meetings, which now seem to be
resolved. However, the agreement has not addressed the key bones
of contention between the parties, namely the status of north Kosovo
and Pristina, and the situation remains unstable.
135. The dialogue was put on hold due to the Serbian elections
in May 2012. On 19 October and on 7 November 2012, Mr Thaçi and
Mr Dacic, meeting in Brussels at the invitation of Baroness Ashton,
undertook to work together to implement the agreements reached and
normalise relations with a view to improving the life of the citizens,
finding a solution for north Kosovo and advancing the European agenda.
On 4 December 2012, the Prime Ministers reviewed progress made on
the implementation of the IBM (Integrated Borders Management) agreement
and agreed to each appoint a liaison officer at the gates. The EU
Delegation in Belgrade and the EU Office in Pristina will provide
offices for the liaison officers. Prime Minister Thaçi confirmed that
he has already established a multiethnic special police unit within
the Kosovo Police that will be tasked with the protection of religious
and cultural heritage. Both sides also agreed to look into ways
to ensure a transparent flow of money in support of the Serb community
in Kosovo. They also agreed to intensify co-operation between the
respective commissions for missing persons and to continue work
on energy and telecoms at the level of experts.
136. The Kosovo Prime Minister obtained a parliamentary mandate
to negotiate with Belgrade through a resolution adopted on 18 October
2012 by 68 of the 120 members of the Assembly of Kosovo, which supports the
process of normalisation between the “two independent and sovereign
States”, with the aim of resolving the problems between them, improving
citizens' lives and moving forward on the path to EU membership.
137. There is, however, internal opposition to the EU-mediated
dialogue by the Self-Determination Movement (Vetevendosje), which
has led to a number of protests and clashes. In my view, as the
dialogue aims at normalising relations and establishing co-operation
on practical issues, this should not represent a threat but rather
an opportunity for Kosovo.
12. Kosovo and the
Council of Europe
The Committee of Ministers, in its reply to Assembly Recommendation 1923 (2010)
, confirmed its own commitment to the European perspective
of all the people living in Kosovo, who should benefit from the
same level of standards for democracy, human rights and the rule
of law as all other Europeans.
139. In particular, the Ministers stressed that “the Council of
Europe monitoring process would only be truly meaningful if the
relevant and competent authorities in Kosovo are directly involved
in the monitoring process and responsible for following up the recommendations”.
The Ministers also instructed the Secretariat to prepare a feasibility
study on the implementation of other Council of Europe monitoring
mechanisms in Kosovo and align its interaction with the relevant
and competent authorities in Kosovo to the practice of other status-neutral international
organisations. As a result of this engagement, the Council of Europe
Office in Pristina has been strengthened, including in the areas
of analysis and project development.
140. Monitoring activities in Kosovo take place under special agreements
concerning the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture
and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (ETS No. 126) and
the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities,
which were signed with UNMIK in 2004.
141. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a number
of visits to Kosovo in 2007, 2010 and 2011. It received very good
co-operation from all competent authorities in Kosovo, including
UNMIK, EULEX and other relevant authorities (including the Ministers
of Justice, of the Interior and of Labour and Social Welfare) and
had immediate and unrestricted access to all places of detention.
In its October 2011 report, the CPT found persistent ill-treatment in
police custody and lack of legal safeguards for those forcibly placed
in psychiatric facilities. Special attention needs to be paid to
the prevention of torture and ill-treatment. Problems of lack of
space in prisons and overcrowding also need to be addressed.
142. Two monitoring cycles on the implementation of the Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minorities have taken
place since 2004, which led to two resolutions adopted by the Committee
of Ministers in June 2006 and July 2011. Official contacts are maintained
with UNMIK. During the visits, the Advisory Committee also meets
the competent authorities and institutions at central and local
level, including the Kosovo Police Service and municipal authorities.
Recent developments in the implementation of the Framework Convention
include: the Strategy for the Integration of the Roma, Ashkali and
Egyptian communities, adopted in 2008; the closure of one of the
lead-contaminated camps, Česmin Lug, in Northern Kosovo in October
2010 and the provision of alternative housing to remaining residents;
the ongoing reconstruction of all damaged Serbian Orthodox religious
sites by the Reconstruction Implementation Commission; the inclusion
of the Montenegrin community within the scope of application of
the Framework Convention through an amendment of the Law on Communities
of December 2011. The third cycle monitoring visit of the Advisory
Committee on the Framework Convention took place in December 2012.
In terms of co-operation programmes, the engagement of the
Council of Europe in Kosovo is significant and has increased in
recent years. The volume of projects amounts to around €10 million,
mainly funded by the European Union, and they focus on three main
- enhancing Human Rights
Protection in Kosovo, aimed at improving the implementation of standards enshrined
in the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Convention
for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment and the Framework Convention for the Protection of
- Project against Economic Crime in Kosovo (PECK), aimed
at strengthening institutional capacities to counter corruption,
money laundering and the financing of terrorism, in accordance with
- support to the promotion of cultural diversity in Kosovo.
144. A possible project on “Support towards the implementation
of anti-discrimination legislation” has also been developed but
is still unfunded. Such a project would combine support to the anti-discrimination mechanisms,
technical training for lawyers and NGOs on how to apply the provisions
of the anti-discrimination law and draw from the case law of the
European Court of Human Rights. Wider work on public perception
would also be carried out. A number of multilateral/regional initiatives
are also implemented in Kosovo, focusing on the protection of minority
and vulnerable groups.
145. In the field of justice, possibilities for a co-operation
project on the independence and efficiency of the judiciary is being
discussed with the Kosovo Judicial Council and funding is needed.
Another project has been proposed to provide capacity-building expertise
in the implementation of CPT standards and is also still unfunded.
In order to be more efficient in the implementation of projects,
the Council of Europe Office in Pristina has been reinforced both
in its capacity, staff and capacity for political analysis and early
warning, as requested by both the Assembly and the Committee of
Ministers (see Recommendation
and the reply to it). I was able to appreciate myself
the high level of professionalism and competence of the Office during
my visits in 2011 and 2012.
147. In 2011 and 2012, the Committee of Ministers Rapporteur Group
on Democracy (GR-DEM) discussed for several months a draft agreement
between UNMIK and the Council of Europe on the framework for the implementation
of Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms in Kosovo, but could
not reach consensus on the competences of UNMIK or on the implementation
of the draft agreement. Despite this failure, there seems to be
a shared will among the Ministers’ Deputies to enhance the standing
of Council of Europe standards in Kosovo, in accordance with the
reply adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 12 January 2011.
148. Speaking in the free debate during the June 2012 part-session,
while welcoming the commitment of the authorities in Belgrade and
Pristina to resolve outstanding issues through EU-mediated dialogue,
I wondered where the Council of Europe stands and whether it cannot
or should not do more to raise the living standards in the region
and develop good neighbourly relations.
149. I welcome the recent informal discussion held by the Committee
of Ministers during a working lunch on “Protection of Human Rights
in Europe: closing the gaps”, which took place on 13 June 2012.
The Ministers rightly identified a number of problems in Europe,
particularly the implementation of Council of Europe standards in
post-conflict areas, such as Kosovo, that are partially or wholly
beyond the reach of the Organisation. They stressed that the Council
of Europe should enhance its action regarding the promotion of human
rights standards in those areas.
150. On 10 October 2012, the Secretary General of the Council of
Europe, speaking at the meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies in Strasbourg,
briefed them on the bilateral meetings he had held in New York between
22 and 28 September 2012 with the Serbian Foreign Minister, Mr Ivan
Mrkic, and the Kosovo Prime Minister, Mr Thaçi. I am pleased that
the Secretary General stressed the importance of focusing on what
the Council of Europe can do in Kosovo in a constructive and pragmatic
way, in order to support the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina,
and that he reaffirmed his strong belief that no European should
be excluded from the benefits provided by the European Convention
on Human Rights.
151. The meeting between the Secretary General and Prime Minister
Thaçi opened a new chapter in the relations between the Council
of Europe and Kosovo. However, to date, the question remains unanswered: how
can all people in Kosovo benefit from the European Convention on
It is worth noting that there are a number of Council of Europe
expert bodies or networks, in addition to the CPT and the Advisory
Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities, which can be of great value to the people of Kosovo,
- the Group of Experts
on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA);
- the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO);
- the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money
Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL);
- the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional
or Minority Languages;
- the Venice Commission;
- the Pompidou Group on combating drug abuse and drug trafficking;
- the European Committee of Social Rights;
- the Council of Europe Development Bank.
153. The whole region is losing out on important benefits that
can be offered by the rule of law, a more secure and stable political
and economic environment, a strong legal framework, and an efficient
and effective justice system, police and public administration.
154. I call on the Committee of Ministers to play its role, along
with the international community, and to ensure that Kosovo remains
high on its agenda.
155. As a matter of fact, it is worth noting that some of the non-recognisers,
such as Greece, already have direct interaction through project
frameworks. Recently, the Council of Europe’s Secretary General
and the Serbian Foreign Minister, Mr Mrkic, reached an agreement
to introduce a new footnote (agreement on regional representation
and co-operation) related to Council of Europe documents issued
in the framework of the implementation of the Council of Europe–European
Union joint programmes in Kosovo.
156. A greater engagement could, for instance, be achieved by intensifying
co-operation programmes and widening their scope and their reach.
From my discussions with Council of Europe officials, including
the Secretary General, I understand that there is scope for expanding
Council of Europe programmes if the necessary funding is made available.
13. Closing remarks
157. As I said, following my recent visit to Kosovo, my
impression is that the democratic interplay has improved over the
years, but democracy needs time. Sustained efforts are needed to
improve the functioning of democratic institutions, to build an
efficient public administration, independent institutions and judicial system,
to do away with a culture of impunity and to implement effectively
the rule of law. The legislative framework for the fight against
corruption needs to be further strengthened and fully implemented.
158. Kosovo faces a number of challenges, including the normalisation
of relations between Pristina and Belgrade within the framework
of the European Union-mediated dialogue, freedom of movement in
northern Kosovo, media freedom, returnees, refugees and internally
displaced persons, and access to information and education for all
communities living in Kosovo, including vulnerable groups.
159. The main challenge lies in the implementation of human rights
and rule of law standards. In my view, the Council of Europe is
well placed to play a significant role if all member States, recognisers
and non-recognisers alike, can agree, in good faith, that all those
who live in Kosovo cannot be forgotten and should enjoy the same human
rights protection and benefit from the same standards of democracy
and the rule of law as all other people living in Europe who enjoy
the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights and other Council
of Europe conventions.
In its reply to Assembly Recommendation 1923
(2010), the Committee of Ministers stated that “[t]he monitoring
process will only be truly meaningful if the relevant and competent
authorities in Kosovo are directly involved in the monitoring process
and responsible for following-up the recommendations. Furthermore,
the Committee of Ministers shares the view of the Parliamentary
Assembly that the implementation of other Council of Europe monitoring
mechanisms is an indispensable component of a Council of Europe
contribution to raising standards of democracy, human rights and
rule of law in Kosovo”.
161. Despite positive developments with Council of Europe–European
Union programmes, to date, this objective has not been achieved.
There is no implementation of “other Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms”
and only limited direct interaction with the Kosovo authorities.
162. Status-neutral organisations, such as the United Nations,
the OSCE and the European Union, have direct interaction with the
Kosovo authorities and this is also the case with 34 Council of
Europe member States which have recognised Kosovo as well as certain
non-recognisers. I must therefore conclude that the Committee of
Ministers has not aligned its interaction with the competent authorities
in Kosovo to the practice of the above-mentioned status neutral
international organisations, as explicitly pointed out in its reply
to our recommendation.
I therefore call on the Committee of Ministers to be flexible,
pragmatic and ready to engage in genuine and constructive direct
interaction with the Kosovo authorities, while respecting status
neutrality. In this respect, I welcome and fully support the recent
proposal by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to introduce the
possibility of direct interaction between Council of Europe officials
and the relevant and competent authorities in Kosovo on the basis
of the functional responsibilities exercised by them; a proposal
that ensures the implementation of Assembly Recommendation 1923 (2010)
and of the Committee of Ministers’ reply thereto.
164. I also expect the Organisation to implement the Committee
of Ministers’ reply and put forward concrete proposals on ways to
expand co-operation programmes in the areas mentioned above, with
special emphasis on human rights and the rule of law, and to allow
the competent authorities in Kosovo to be directly involved in the
implementation of Council of Europe activities and programmes.
165. For its part, the Assembly should expand the dialogue with
representatives of the political forces elected to the Assembly
of Kosovo and invite its Bureau to define the modalities thereof
in full respect of the policy of status neutrality. It should remain
committed to promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law
in Kosovo and continue to closely follow both developments in these
areas and the relevant Council of Europe activities.