In 1999, we, the international community, took full control of the rule of law and security in Kosovo, but we failed to protect Serbs and non-Albanians and investigate crimes against them. As a former NATO officer, let me once again repeat my sincere personal apology.
The case of the Serbian mother S.C. in Prizren, who had her husband and son kidnapped and murdered by what was most probably members of the UÇK, is not much different from all the other cases of murder and ethnic cleansing of Serbs and non-Albanians after 1999. However, the difference with this case is that it has been through a thorough evaluation.
The Human Rights Advisory Panel, established to examine complaints of alleged human rights violations committed by or attributable to UNMIK, carried out an exhaustive investigation of this case, and you can also read its complete opinion and recommendations. Although it uses a lot of legal language, we can see very strong language for the failure to investigate these crimes. The panel has also published a press release with easier language on March 1, 2013.
We went to war against Yugoslavia in 1999, but we were not at all prepared to take responsibility for the rule of law in Kosovo. Our politicians thought war was an easy solution, but we kicked out Serbian police, judges and other law enforcement mechanisms, creating a power vacuum. As the panel writes in paragraphs 18 and 92, the necessary police and justice structures were not in place before January 2003! Of course, we are suffering with this failure also today when we see that organized crime suffocates Kosovo.
Let me finish with the recommendations.The panel unanimously recommends that UNMIK:
- urges EULEX and other competent authorities in Kosovo to take all possible steps in order to ensure that the criminal investigation into the disappearance and killing of the complainant’s family members is continued in compliance with article 2 of the ECHR and that the perpetrators are brought to justice;
- publicly acknowledges responsibility for its failure to conduct an effective investigation into the disappearance and killing of the complainant’s family members and makes a public apology to the complainant and her family;
- takes appropriate steps towards payment of adequate compensation to the complainant for moral damage;
- takes appropriate steps towards the realisation of a full and comprehensive reparation programme;
- takes appropriate steps at the United Nations as a guarantee of non repetition;
- takes immediate and effective measures to implement the recommendations of the panel and to inform the complainant and the panel about further developments in this case.
Thank you to Branko Ilić for making me aware of this case. Read his article UNMIK: KLA murders in Kosovo were never investigated.