Human Rights Watch expressed concern today over the fate of an ethnic Serbian journalist and his driver in the province of Kosovo.
Djuro Slavuj and his driver, Ranko Perinic, both of Radio Prishtina, were last seen in the city of Orahovac on Friday, August 21. According to the Radio Prishtina office, the two left Orahovac for the nearby town of Malisevo in a blue Zastava car, but never arrived. The radio station and family members have not heard from them since.
Slavuj and Perinic are the first ethnic Serbs working for the media to be reported missing in the six-month Kosovo conflict. During that period, Serbian police have detained and beaten a number of ethnic Albanian journalists. On August 19, Musa Kurhasku, correspondent for the Albanian-language newspaper Koha Ditore, was taken into police custody in Dakovica, beaten, and then released. He has since gone into hiding.
Human Rights Watch condemned such attacks on the media committed by both the Yugoslav government and the ethnic Albanian armed insurgency. "Although we can not confirm whether the KLA holds Mr. Slavuj and Mr. Perinic," said Holly Cartner, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch's Europe and Central Asia Division, "we remind the KLA of its obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and to refrain from taking hostages."