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AI INDEX: EUR 70/009/2004     1 April 2004


Serbia and Montenegro (Kosovo)
The legacy of past human rights abuses

1.1 Failure to investigate "disappearances" and abductions

Amnesty International is extremely concerned at the lack of progress made in the last four years by the Kosovo authorities in bringing to justice those responsible for the abduction of some 1,200 Serbs, Roma and members of other minority communities believed to have been carried out by the KLA or other ethnic Albanians.

Article 14 of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance , resolution 47/133 passed by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1992 states:

      "Any person alleged to have perpetrated an act of enforced disappearance in a particular State shall, when the facts disclosed by an official investigation so warrant, be brought before the competent civil authorities of that State for the purpose of prosecution and trial unless he has been extradited to another State wishing to exercise jurisdiction in accordance with the relevant international agreements in force. All States should take any lawful and appropriate action available to them to bring to justice all persons presumed responsible for an act of enforced disappearance, who are found to be within their jurisdiction or under their control, to justice."
However, investigations of "disappearances" and abductions - especially the investigation of individual cases - have been given low priority by the UNMIK Police, and were considered, until 2003, to be outside of the mandate of the Central Criminal Investigative Unit (CCIU) which was charged with the investigation of crimes which took place up to the entry of KFOR into Kosovo in July 1999, (thus excluding the majority of the abductions of Serbs and Roma - and some "disappearances" of ethnic Albanians - which took place after the entry of KFOR into Kosovo). In 2003(3) such cases were moved within the remit of the CCIU but without any additional capacity given to it to resolve the huge backlog.

In April 2003, Amnesty International released a report " Serbia and Montenegro (Kosovo): "Prisoners in our own Homes". AI's concerns for the Human Rights of Minorities in Kosovo/Kosova ", (AI Index EUR 70/010/2003), in which the organization urged that sufficient resources - including trained personnel - should be made available to UNMIK Police to strengthen the CCIU in order to ensure the prompt, impartial and thorough investigation of both ongoing and outstanding ethnically motivated crimes, including "disappearances" and abductions.(4)

On 23 May 2003, UNMIK Police announced the creation of "a special squad to re-examine unsolved murders that occurred years before", which was "expect[ed] to make progress in some of the still-unsolved crimes committed during 1999 and 2000."(5) On 3 September 2003 Barry Fletcher, then UNMIK police spokesperson, informed Amnesty International that the squad would address murder cases mainly from 2000-2001, and not for "disappearances and abductions" which took place mainly in 1999, and that there was still a need for facilities for adequate forensic investigations, DNA analysis, a centralized database and connection with Interpol.


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