NINTH ASSESSMENT OF THE SITUATION OF ETHNIC MINORITIES IN KOSOVO
(Period covering September 2001 to April 2002)
- Joint OSCE / UNHCR document -
The ninth joint OSCE/UNHCR minorities assessment is written for an increasingly wide audience that includes: international civilian and military authorities; policy makers, legislators and civil servants within the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG); international agencies and organisations; the human rights community, international NGOs and local civil society organisations; and the donor community. Other members of the audience include governments which host refugees and displaced persons, including the FRY authorities, governments in neighbouring states, as well as Western European states. Our key objective with the following recommendations, linked to the chapters of the forthcoming report, is to assist these actors to formulate strategies and objectives related to improving the situation of minorities and solving the problem of displacement.
This assessment arrives at a time of transition for Kosovo, with ever-increasing authority in many areas of governance devolved to local officials of the PISG at both municipal and central levels. With this authority comes responsibility. All of the following recommendations should be interpreted with a clear understanding by all readers of the fundamental importance of empowering and encouraging the emerging local governance structures to take ownership over the issues with which they have been vested authority and responsibility. Many new initiatives are needed, and these should be undertaken in a partnership between the international community and the Kosovars of all ethnicities themselves, mindful of the imperative to facilitate and to promote local ownership.
Security and freedom of movement
· The effect of the removal of static security measures should be closely monitored by the law enforcement authorities and others, and the results discussed with the communities themselves.
· KFOR in all areas should openly discuss their security measures with the police, and all communities, and foster a spirit of openness. The removal of checkpoints should be portrayed as an increase in freedom of movement for all communities, which will open up isolated enclaves.
· Restrictions by KFOR and other authorities on freedom of movement, particular when these restrictions apply on the basis of ethnicity, should be as limited in scope as possible, explained and removed as quickly as possible.
· More co-ordinated planning between KFOR and UNMIK Police/KPS is needed. UNMIK Police and KPS need to strengthen their roles in ensuring public safety in minority areas and in facilitating freedom of movement in order to be able to take over this role from KFOR.
· In co-operation with municipal officials and community leaders, law enforcement authorities should produce a plan to address continuous low-level harassment of minorities, including stone throwing, incorporating prevention through community action as well as sanctions (e.g. prosecutions and convictions). In the case that harassment is perpetrated by minors, authorities should intervene with community leaders, school officials and parents to modify behaviour.
· The police and justice authorities should treat crimes aimed at preventing freedom of movement (such as intimidation and stone throwing at pedestrians and vehicles) as a particular priority.
· The KPS should be fully-integrated, with particular emphasis on KPS from particular communities increasingly going into areas from other communities and enhanced use of ethnically integrated and mixed patrols.
· A plan of action for normalising movement, using both public and private transport should be developed with the participation of security and law enforcement forces, local communities and municipal officials, transport providers, and entities employing and providing services to minorities. The plan should envisage a progressive reduction in high-profile escorts. However, escorts should not be reduced when this would mean a reduction in freedom of movement.
· All minorities with limited freedom of movement, should, as a minimum, have access to regular public transport (as opposed to privately-funded initiatives only), no matter whether the latter is profit-making or not.
· Resolution of the licence plate issue is needed by agreement between the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG), UNMIK and the Belgrade authorities.
· Steps are needed from both UNMIK and the Belgrade authorities to abolish the parallel system of courts. A negotiated absorption of their staff into the UNMIK system is preferable, with a clear statement from the Belgrade authorities that such courts are no longer legitimate and that inhabitants of Kosovo must use the UNMIK courts.
· Special measures should be taken by UNMIK to ensure not only that minorities are employed by the court system but that they are able to do so, including special security measures, at least at first, and escorts.
· The common practice of having minority cases reviewed only by minority or international judges should be rectified, and likewise, the practice of minority judges only being called for minority cases should be discontinued. In the first place this should be by agreement by the Presidents of the courts. Instead, all sensitive cases involving a judge and a defendant of different ethnicities should be closely monitored by OSCE and others. Any judge of any ethnicity displaying bias or discrimination should be disciplined through the Kosovo Judicial and Prosecutorial Council.
· Successful cases of arrest, trial and prosecution for ethnically-motivated crimes should be widely publicised by the Department of Justice, the media and others involved in the justice system.
· An office of the Ferizaj/Uroevac court should be opened in trpce/Shtërpcë by the Department of Justice.
· A public awareness programme targeting minorities to disseminate information on the civil justice system should be designed and implemented by the Department of Justice, with the assistance of any interested organisation.
· UNMIK and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), in co-operation with KFOR, UNMIK Police and KPS should develop and ensure the funding of a comprehensive plan to improve security and access of minority students throughout Kosovo, including a Kosovo-wide plan for minority school transport.
· Similar plans should be developed to improve the physical conditions in schools, and to supply books and school supplies to students at no charge, and to develop in-service training for minority teachers.
· UNMIK and the MEST should place priority on the integration of the education system, as a first step resolving the issues that frequently arise regarding the joint jurisdiction of MEST/UNMIK and the FRY Ministry of Education which have a detrimental effect on childrens education rights. Standardisation of the curriculum and all administrative practices including those governing employment must be achieved.
· UNMIK and the MEST should consult with educational experts who deal with Roma education issues from other European countries in order to (a) develop a specific programme to address remedial education needs, (b) create incentives to encourage, and, as a last resort, require, parents to send their children to secondary school, and (c) to consider how education in the Romani language might be incorporated into the curriculum.
· Different integrated school models should be analysed, and the best practices should be more widely used.
· The Ministry of Public Services should aggressively promote policies of affirmative action (not just hiring quotas) in minority hiring practices in the public sector. Further, all currently existing legislation that provides for quotas in hiring should be re-examined to make certain that such quotas are proportionate to the interest which the state seeks to protect, i.e. to provide effective equality in employment of minorities.
· The PISG should systematically re-evaluate all hiring practices in the public sector in order to ensure that they are effective both in theory and in practice to ensure equality.
· All grievance procedures through which minority candidates may appeal hiring decisions should be evaluated by the Ministry of Public Services, and if they are not functioning effectively, measures must be taken to ensure that they provide an effective legal remedy for anyone who suffers from discriminatory hiring practices.
· All civil servants should be trained to be able to identify discriminatory conduct and to implement policies and procedures to eradicate it within their respective offices. Further, administrative directives should be circulated throughout the civil service and mandatory training should be conducted to ensure that all civil servants understand their legal obligation to adhere to international human rights standards, particularly as they relate to equal treatment of members of minority communities.
· A comprehensive anti-discrimination law is needed in Kosovo. OSCEs proposal for the enactment of an omnibus anti-discrimination law in Kosovo should be adopted, as such a law would serve to strengthen currently existing law on discrimination by conforming it to international and European anti-discrimination laws and standards. The law is intended to promote uniformity in adjudication, and would provide effective legal remedies for victims of most forms of discrimination, as well as effective, proportionate, and dissuasive sanctions to address violations. This law should be ideally passed by the Assembly.
· Multi-ethnic secondary healthcare must be developed by the healthcare authorities, and they must enforce the cardinal rule of the medical profession that doctors must treat any patient regardless of their racial or ethnic origin.
· The Ministry should discourage unsustainable parallel systems of healthcare, whilst ensuring that everyone has equal access to health care, regardless of ethnicity.
· The Ministry of Health must ensure that information about healthcare and healthcare facilities reaches members of minority communities. The Ministry should conduct an awareness campaign for members of the Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptian communities.
· The effect of the re-registration requirement of the social assistance scheme in practice needs to be closely monitored by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. Any practice that is indirectly discriminatory (i.e. that minorities, without freedom of movement, will have more problems complying with) should be abolished. The fundamental duty on the authorities to ensure that every person can live in dignity and has sufficient funds to do so, should be the priority. UNMIK should improve transparency with humanitarian agencies that monitor minority access.
· The Centres for Social Welfare should enhance co-ordination and direct collaboration between their employees working in majority areas and those working in minority areas.
· Housing Reconstruction Guidelines should carry legal weight. The Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning (MESP) should draft laws to present to the Kosovo Assembly outlining non-discriminatory allocation criteria, transparent selection processes, and mechanisms providing accountability and appeal.
· The ongoing turn-over of responsibility to municipalities should be accompanied by the establishment of an effective interim monitoring mechanism and include accountability to UNMIK and to the MESP of both the Directorates and the MHCs through monthly reporting.
· Given the absence of quotas or floors for minority reconstruction in the 2002 Housing Reconstruction Guidelines, donors should ensure that their implementing NGOs meet appropriate targets, which can be best established through participatory consultations, which include Local Community Officers.
· NGOs, as MHCs implementing partners (and therefore agents of the state), should be held accountable by both the MHCs and the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning for their conduct.
· The reconstruction criteria should require a distribution of assistance based on vulnerability that has similar effects for each ethnicity. For example, the reconstruction criteria should require that a figure, say 20% of all houses, minority or otherwise, deemed Category IV and V should be reconstructed. Additional resources should be committed until the proportion of total houses reconstructed is similar in minority and majority communities.
· Immediate housing and reconstruction needs in the places of origin of minorities who remain displaced within Kosovo must be addressed, for all cases where reconstruction is the key obstacle to return, including those IDPs who have on their own initiative returned from outside of Kosovo into saturated host-family arrangements.
· An adequate funding mechanism responsive to reconstruction needs for spontaneous and organised minority return should be established. Funding responses should take into account the additional costs of return projects associated with crucial balancing projects for neighbouring majority communities.
· Property adjudication should be placed at the top of the agenda for financing in the KCB and by donors, with a view to both minority stabilisation and returns. Resources should be allocated to the HPD and HPCC to enable effective (a) deployment of mobile teams to minority areas, (b) awareness raising, (c) claim intake and processing, including HPCC decision-making, and (d) management of property under HPD administration, including the effective protection of vacated property in order to avoid re-occupation or damages.
· The HPD should accelerate its efforts to delegate authority to capable municipalities, including identifying and initiating the process of delegation in such municipalities.
· An HPD office should be established in Prizren as soon as possible. HPD should establish permanent or temporary satellite offices where necessary.
· There should be an increase in minority representation on HPD staff to facilitate minority access.
· Every Local Communities Officer (LCO) should be fully aware of the HPD mechanisms.
· Work towards a new and functioning cadastre should be made a priority by UNMIK and the PISG. Interim protections must be instituted to protect the property rights that exist at present. Registration fees should be adjusted according to vulnerability, and such initiatives publicised, in order to facilitate the registration of property rights.
· Reasonable accommodation should be made by all authorities dealing with property for the unique circumstances of certain minority communities. For example, Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptians with unrecognised property rights should be provided with assistance as a matter of priority to establish ownership or possession of relevant property. Immediate attention should be paid to various property disputes between these communities and municipalities.
· The Assembly and UNMIK must fill in the gaps in the property law, make the law clear, and adapt it to new realities (namely a market economy).
· Special attention should be paid by OSCE to minority participation in the electoral process leading to the Municipal assembly elections due to take place in autumn 2002, including the registration process.  Information campaigns should identify and reach out to the electorate in Serbia proper, Montenegro and fYROM with more sensitivity to language (including materials in Romani as well as other languages). Special attention should be paid to ensure that Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptian communities are better informed of the voter registration process and locations of voter registration centres, particularly outside of Kosovo.
· The strictly proportional electoral system for Municipal Elections 2002 increases opportunities for minority participation at the local level if small minority political parties get into coalition. This is so as in this system there are no set-aside seats for minorities. OSCE Democratisation Department should make sure that minority political parties are well-informed and trained on electoral law and electoral behaviour. Special emphasis should be put on minority voter registration.
· The Central Election Commission (CEC) and the OSCE should ensure a higher level of involvement of non-Serb minority observers in the forthcoming elections.
· OSCE should establish outreach teams for the forthcoming Municipal elections, who should dedicate their time and work to the various minority communities on a proportional basis.
· Lack of freedom of movement will have a much greater impact in the coming municipal elections than in the Assembly elections, as there are 30 assemblies to elect and minority communities parties need to be able to move freely to campaign among their electorate. A determined effort must be made by OSCE and others involved in the election to ensure access to those with limited freedom of movement, including equal access to use of media for campaigning.
Participation in civil and political structures
· All Municipalities should be required to set up their Community and Mediation Committees as a priority, and report on their functioning.
· If, after consideration of the levels of participation of minority communities inside and outside of Kosovo in the autumn 2002 elections, it is found that there is effective under-representation of minorities in Municipal Assemblies, special measures may be needed by the SRSG to ensure minority participation.
Tolerance, reconciliation and inter-ethnic dialogue
· A media campaign should publicise positive examples of inter-ethnic co-operation between the Assembly members, as well between leaders at the municipal level, to promote tolerance at all levels of society.
· Priority should be given to training and education to legislators within the Assembly as well as those who implement policies as civil servants, to ensure that opportunities and policies promoting reconciliation and inter-ethnic dialogue are central and not marginal features of their work.
· Kosovar civil society initiatives should be given more support to promote human rights, inter-ethnic dialogue and tolerance, and to disseminate their messages through media and mass information.
· Agencies designing economic development projects, as well as donors funding such projects, should include inter-ethnic co-operation components to foster confidence building through the pursuit of common interests. Initiatives should also be developed and supported to foster inter-ethnic youth activities such as sports events, concerts and other cross-cultural activities that are stimulating and interactive.
· The prospect of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be openly discussed in the media, led by the PISG and UNMIK.
· The central importance of creating conditions for return through inter-ethnic dialogue and confidence building must be recognised. Return planning which foresees substantial return but circumvents the dialogue process should be avoided. Priority must be placed on the quality and sustainability of first returns, not the quantity, in order to effectively lay a solid foundation for a meaningful process.
· Security planning should be harmonised with civilian efforts to stabilise inter-ethnic relations through dialogue and confidence-building. More co-operation is needed between the military and civilian agencies to better define a conceptual framework for post-return security planning (including phased reduction of security measures in returnee settlements). Security planning must consider the impact of the perception created by strict security measures among all communities, and must ensure that physical and psychological barriers between minority returnees and the majority community do not become entrenched. Highly militarised return environments that reinforce physical and psychological separation should be avoided.
· More equitable attention should be given to Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptian IDPs and refugees, as well as to the issue of Kosovo Albanians displaced from Serb-majority areas. Displacement of all ethnic groups should be addressed simultaneously, although all actors must recognise that concrete progress for actual return will vary depending on the complexity of regional political/security environments.
· The newly-formed structures of the PISG should engage themselves in and support the return process, as mandated by the Constitutional Framework. The international community should ensure that support is given to the PISG to initiate a political dialogue and consensus-building process on the issue of return.
· The PISG and the international community, especially UNMIK and donors, should encourage municipalities to constructively engage in the return planning process, by ensuring provision of municipal services to return areas and by exercising positive leadership vis-à-vis inter-community relations. The donor community should consider providing positive incentives for municipalities who support minority integration and return.
Information dissemination of accurate information on return and related issues (individual rights, rule of law, etc.) with Kosovar media and other local opinion makers is needed. Special attention should be paid to monitoring the use of media vis-à-vis minority return to ensure fair and responsible coverage.
 The international community should improve efforts to ensure the implementation of the Copenhagen document, which outlines standards for equality in chances for political entities while campaigning. See document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, Section 7.7, 1990