Tenth Assessment of the Situation of Ethnic Minorities in Kosovo
(Period covering May 2002 to December 2002)
Security and freedom of movement
The ninth Assessment put forward a set of recommendations regarding security and freedom of movement. Progress on implementing these recommendations should continue.
- As this Assessment documents that limitations on freedom of movement for minority communities are many times based on perceptions as well as on the actual security situation, the UNMIK Community Police Unit should be further involved in confidence-building initiatives in all minority communities, in parallel with awareness raising campaigns with regard to their mandate, functions and benefits for the community.
The ongoing efforts by UNMIK to dismantle the parallel structures in the northern municipalities of Kosovo should be continued, in co-operation with the relevant Belgrade authorities. This relates to (1) parallel criminal proceedings as they create a risk of double jeopardy and can impact the fairness of trials and (2) parallel civil proceedings as they create an environment of legal uncertainty and prevent the integration of minorities into the judiciary.
A public information campaign informing the members of minority communities about judicial integration and the establishment of the new courts would be welcome as a step toward encouraging these citizens to use and rely on the new courts. Such campaign could be organised by Pillar I, Pillar III, and/or any non-governmental organisation.
The OSCE reiterates its recommendation that, in the future, cases should not be allotted on grounds of ethnicity. All sensitive cases involving judges and defendants of different ethnicities should be closely monitored by the OSCE and any judge displaying bias or discrimination should be disciplined through the Kosovo Judicial and Prosecutorial Council.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) should, in co-operation with KFOR, UNMIK Police and KPS, develop a comprehensive plan to improve equal access to education to all community members in Kosovo. This plan should also provide security for minority students, which should also include secure bus transportation.
UNMIK and MEST should organise and implement a plan to provide for minority language education in accordance with international human rights standards.
International governmental and non-governmental organisations have had some success in organising projects, which provide remedial education for members of the Kosovo RAE communities. UNMIK and MEST should study the "best practices" of these projects to duplicate and implement them Kosovo wide, in cooperation with international experts and NGOs
The Ministry of Public Services must ensure the implementation of the Administrative Direction 2003/2 on the implementation of UNMIK Regulation 2001/36 on Kosovo Civil Service, and place a particular emphasis on the provisions enabling Community Proportional Representation (an affirmative action plan). Such a plan should include training for all civil servants on the scope of the A.D, in particular on the provisions relating to affirmative action. Further, an efficient internal system to monitor implementation will be crucial.
- In light of this new A.D, all hiring practices should be internally re-evaluated once the policies and procedures are established at all levels, as that will ensure fair hiring practices throughout the Kosovo Civil Service.
- The Omnibus Anti-discrimination Law should be approved by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), enacted by the Assembly and then implemented by the PISG.
The implementation and enforcement mechanisms within the draft Law would provide effective remedies for members of all communities, for all forms of discrimination, in particular in cases of employment discrimination.
- The OPM, in co-operation with the Ministry of Public Services, should implement a Kosovo wide minority employment outreach programme to attract qualified candidates from minority communities.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare should develop a comprehensive policy to further strengthen measures providing co-operation and flow of information between Centres for Social Work (CSWs) employees working in majority and minority areas. Initiatives such as regular information sharing meetings and common training sessions should be implemented by the CSWs Directors and supported by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.
Sustainable outreach strategies, entirely run by the CSWs employees, should be developed with particular attention to those homebound minorities living either in urban or in remote rural areas.
The CSWs should provide proportional allocation of social protection officers to areas where inhabited by minority communities.
- The Ministry of Health must take action towards the implementation of an integrated healthcare system, able to serve majority and minority communities alike, supporting those facilities already serving mixed communities and duplicating best existing practices. Coordinated efforts and the dialogue between the Ministry of Health, UNMIK and the Ministry of Health in Belgrade should lead to a sustainable solution to the ongoing presence of parallel healthcare systems in Kosovo.
- The Ministry of Health should promptly issue the "Charter of Patients Rights", currently under draft form, which includes a provision on access to healthcare without discrimination.
- The Ministry of Health must continue its efforts in raising awareness about available healthcare services among minority communities, with a special focus on Kosovo RAE communities.
Housing and property rights
The ninth Assessment put forward a set of recommendations regarding housing and property rights as they relate to minority communities. The follow-up on those recommendations, conducted by the OSCE, has shown that there has been no significant development on some of the areas touched upon by the last Assessment. Therefore, the OSCE would not restate those recommendations.
- Previous recommendations regarding resource-allocation to HPD/HPCC, increased awareness raising activities and enhanced case-management remain valid and should be addressed with priority.
- The HPD should re-establish its field office in Podgorica (Montenegro) and open an office in Skopje (fYROM) to facilitate access of minority claimants displaced outside of Kosovo.
- Every municipality should have staff in appropriate positions trained on the mechanisms and competencies of HPD mechanisms. This person should act as a contact person for the HPD within the local self-government body.
- The complementary legislation required to implement UNMIK Regulation 2002/22, creating the immovable property rights register, should be passed by the Assembly and approved by UNMIK promptly. Work towards making the cadastre fully functional should continue to be a priority of UNMIK and the PISG.
- Municipal officials and law enforcement officials should take appropriate action to remedy and prevent illegal construction and illegal use of agricultural and residential land of minority property right holders.
- Future Housing Reconstruction Guidelines should be enacted in the form of Administrative Directions. 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 the right to appeal.
- Future forms of the Guidelines should not only assess a community's overall vulnerability as criteria for reconstruction assistance, but also provide for mechanisms addressing individual assessments of vulnerability.
- NGOs operating as Municipal Housing Committees' (MHC) implementing partners, should be held accountable by both the MHCs and MESP for their conduct toward minorities. Future forms of the Guidelines should establish appropriate mechanisms accordingly. Every municipality should appoint a representative to take part in the evaluation/assessment process of the NGO and to report any irregularities to the MHC respectively to the MESP.
- The ongoing turn-over of responsibility to municipalities from UNMIK should be accompanied by the establishment of an effective interim monitoring mechanism, such as monthly reporting, to create an acceptable level of accountability of the relevant Directorates and the MHCs toward both UNMIK and MESP.
- Municipalities and the implementing partners should ensure that those who receive reconstruction assistance vacate the properties which they illegally occupy thereby enabling others to return from displacement. The HPD/HPCC and the courts should be actively involved in remedying illegal occupation.
- Municipalities and implementing partners have to ensure that property rights are confirmed prior to reconstruction. The HPD should be actively involved in this confirmation process.
- UNMIK, specifically the Office for Return and Communities, should continue its efforts to ensure coherence, transparency, and consistency in decision- and policy-making structures pertaining to returns at municipal and regional level.
- The International Community and the PISG should continue to develop solutions for returnees of all ethnicities. They also should continue to strengthen all structures which have been established to respond to returnee needs.
- Activities related to inter-ethnic dialogue and tolerance-building are key to the creation of conditions for return. Given the influence of the PISG on local attitudes, it is strongly recommended that they intensify their active involvement in such activities throughout Kosovo.
- The PISG should increase their engagement in the return process. At the same time, UNMIK should lend strong support to all return-related activities carried out by the PISG, including those related to political dialogue and consensus building.
- The central PISG and UNMIK should encourage municipalities to actively participate in the return planning process and in the implementation of return projects.
- The PISG, UNMIK, donors and other relevant actors should ensure the efficient functioning of the MWGs, as they are main co-ordinating bodies and discussion forums for minority returns.
- Coordinated efforts should be made to disseminate timely and accurate information to IDPs as developed through the UNMIK/UNHCR Information framework for IDPs. The responsibility of the Kosovo media in promoting inter-ethnic dialogue should be fully recognised.