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


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

1.2 Failure to investigate ethnically motivated killings

Amnesty International is concerned that a number of investigations of human rights abuses committed against ethnic minorities in Kosovo may have fallen short of requirements established in international standards concerning thoroughness, promptness and impartiality. UNMIK Police reported a success rate in resolving murders of between 57 per cent and 67 per cent,(7) yet on closer examination these figures only applied to what UNMIK Police described as ordinary, rather than ethnically motivated, murders. A spokesperson for UNMIK police attributed their failure to bring the perpetrators of ethnically motivated crimes to justice to a reluctance on the part of witnesses to come forward, fearing retribution.(8) They also claimed that such crimes generated more complex enquiries, "because they are planned and directed - possibly by terrorist groups, extremist and violent groups and no-one takes credit for them". (9) However, UNMIK police also informed Amnesty International in March 2002 that no systematic analysis of ethnically motivated crimes, assessing how many of these incidents had resulted in successful prosecutions of the perpetrators, was being conducted.(10)

The failure of UNMIK police to thoroughly investigate serious crimes has been explored in a number of ex-officio investigations by the Ombudsperson's Officewhich have examined the failure of UNMIK to investigate the killings of six members - among them an eight-year-old boy - of the minority ethnic Albanian community in Mitrovica/ë, in riots which followed a rocket attack on a bus in the first week of February 2000. According to reports to the SRSG, subsequently published by the Ombudsperson, concerning the right to life of four individuals V.S., V.N., R.C. and S.B. killed on 3 February, the Ombudsperson found that the investigation by the competent authorities into the killing of V.S. and V.N. failed to meet the requirements of Article 2 of the ECHR in guaranteeing the right to life. In particular, he noted that in these two cases the "competent authorities took no investigative actions between 11 September 2000 and 3 December 2001". Noting that Article 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) requires the state to conduct an effective investigation when individuals have been killed as a result of the use of force, whether or not agents of the State are implicated in the killings, the Ombudsperson found "that the authorities exercised proper diligence at the beginning of their investigations regarding the killings of V.S. and V.N. but that they were less diligent during succeeding months, and that even should actions taken after 3 December 2001 bear fruit, a fifteen month gap in pursuing the investigation could not be considered acceptable" . "The inadequacy of the investigation, therefore, constituted a violation of the right to life guaranteed under Article 2 of the ECHR.".(11)


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