Doc. 8537

21 September 1999

South-East Europe following the Kosovo conflict : political situation

Opinion1

Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

Rapporteur: Mr Cevdet Akçali, Turkey, European Democratic Group

I.       CONCLUSIONS OF THE COMMITTEE

1.       The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights only partly approves the draft recommendation submitted by the Political Affairs Committee. It proposes the following amendments:

Amendment A

In paragraph 4, replace the words «the organised and systematic violence against the remaining Serb and Roma population» by the words «acts of violence against Serbs, Roma and other minority groups», add the word «Force» after the words «The International Police», and replace the last sentence of the paragraph by the following sentence: «Regrouping of the national minority communities in determined areas should not lead to the partition of Kosovo along ethnic lines or « cantonisation»”.

Amendment B

In paragraph 5, replace the words «all Kosovo Albanian political forces» by the words «all Kosovo political forces», and the words «against Serbs and Roma» by the words «against Serbs, Roma and other minority groups».

Amendment C

At the end of paragraph 6, add the following phrase:

Amendment D

Replace paragraph 11 by the following text:

Amendment E

Add the following new paragraph after paragraph 13:

      “The Assembly expresses its full support to the new General Prosecutor of the ICTY, Mrs Carla Del Ponte, who took up her duties on 15 September 1999”. II

II.       EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

      by Mr Akçali

1.       In Resolution 1244 (1999) of 10 June 1999, the United Nations Security Council authorised the UN Secretary General to establish a United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). On 2 July 1999 the UN Secretary General appointed Mr Bernard Kouchner as his Special Representative for Kosovo.

2.       UNMIK is responsible under Resolution 1244 (1999) for protecting and promoting human rights in Kosovo. In assuming that responsibility it must be guided by internationally recognised standards in the field of human rights. It must incorporate respect for human rights into all areas of its work and adopt appropriate principles for its administrative functions.

3.       Respect for the rule of law is a problem in Kosovo, as is clear from various examples.

4.       The overall situation in Kosovo is becoming more stable. Many Serbs, fearing reprisals, have left for Serbia. There have been various incidents in which Kosovars have turned on Serbs. The media have reported murders and kidnappings, but looting, arson and the appropriation of apartments by force are the main reasons why people are leaving. Serbs have virtually deserted a number of towns, while others have been split along ethnic lines.

5.       The security problem in Kosovo is largely due to the absence of public institutions and services with the capacity to keep order. A great deal of crime and injustice goes unpunished. Organised gangs of criminals compete for control of the black market with impunity. KFOR, which is responsible for safety and public order, has difficulty carrying out its mission. On 3 July 1999 the first members of the International Police Force were deployed in Kosovo. A police training school was opened in Vučitrn on 16 August 1999 to train future senior officers for Kosovo.

6.       There have been serious violations of property rights in Kosovo. Numerous cases have been reported of buildings being illegally occupied, and it appears that organised criminal gangs are seizing abandoned homes and belongings, flagrantly breaching the rights of property owners and former tenants.

7.       UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) made the civilian Interim Administration Mission (UNMIK) responsible for administering the territory and population of Kosovo. UNMIK was thus invested with full legislative, executive and judicial powers. On 20 June 1999, the acting UN Special Representative took the first steps towards re-establishing a multi-ethnic judicial system in Kosovo.

8.       UNMIK undertook to review and evaluate arrangements for public administration, and for post and telecommunications services and public utilities, in co-operation with the United Nations and the Council of Europe.

9.       Most public services in Kosovo are incapable of functioning. Municipalities operate inadequately or not at all.

10.       Kosovan Serbs, who had been over-represented in the management of public services, are now excluded from many of them or suffer intimidation intended to drive them out of Kosovo, and the result is a shortage of expertise. Reintegrating technical personnel from the two communities is a serious problem in most sectors.

11.       A Kosovo Transitional Council (KTC) has been set up and has met several times. The purpose of this consultative body, comprising representatives of the main national communities and political forces, is to give the people of Kosovo a voice in the decisions and activities of the UNMIK. The KTC will also have the task of fostering democratisation and the establishment of democratic institutions.

12.       UNMIK co-operates closely with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Tribunal collects evidence and inspects sites where crimes have been committed, in order to build the cases against persons already charged or to bring new charges. More sites are uncovered almost every day, and KFOR guards them until all the evidence present has been gathered.

Conclusions

13.       Kosovo urgently needs the restoration of the rule of law and particularly the immediate re-establishment of an independent, impartial, multi-ethnic judiciary. Only if the judicial system works can it win public trust and contribute to reconciliation in Kosovo.

14.       The new judges should receive in-service training on international human rights legislation and its application, with particular emphasis on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and its Protocols. The ECHR should be distributed throughout Kosovo in the local languages (Albanian, Serbo-Croat, Turkish and Romany).

15.       It is vital that Kosovo should have democratic, professionally run media organisations. A media advisory council, comprising representatives of the media and civil society, should be set up as quickly as possible in order to promote a media culture based on democratic principles.

16.       UNMIK and KFOR must continue to co-operate with the ICTY under its new General Prosecutor, particularly in investigating the fate of missing persons.

17.       A human rights ombudsman’s office, in which national ombudsmen would be assisted by international administrators, should be established as soon as possible. The ombudsmen could hear complaints of human rights violations and would be empowered to conduct their own investigations either on their own initiative or in response to allegations.

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Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee

Committee for opinion: Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

Reference to committee: Doc 7553, 7734, 7986, Res 1146, Rec 1400, Ref No 2082, 2154, 2158, 2251, 2303, 2355, 2370, 2402

Opinion approved by the committee on 21 September 1999

Secretaries to the committee: Mr Plate, Ms Coin and Ms Kleinsorge


1 See Doc 8533.