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To the Contact Group governments:

The Contact Group countries (France, Germany, Italy, Russia, U.S. and U.K), along with NATO, and the U.N. Security Council, should increase their engagement with Kosovo to improve the security of minorities.  A thorough review and reform of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) and the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) structures is urgently needed, and will require attention and support at the highest levels to be effective. The overlapping, and at times competing, roles of various international institutions are hampering Kosovo’s recovery, and it is important that the Contact Group acts in unity to carry out the necessary reforms in Kosovo. Therefore, Human Rights Watch is making recommendations to the Contact Group as a whole, rather than the individual institutions in charge of component elements of Kosovo’s governance and security.

  • Carry out a thorough, independent, and impartial review of the response of KFOR, international UNMIK police, and the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) to the March violence, focusing particularly on the failure of Kosovo’s security organizations to protect minorities from ethnically motivated violence and the shortcomings of coordination between the various security organizations in Kosovo.

  • Review the command structure and make-up of KFOR, with a view to creating a KFOR with a unified command structure able to respond quickly and uniformly to Kosovo-wide violence, by ensuring uniformity of response to security incidents, and being free of restrictions by national contingents of their “rules of engagement—commonly referred to as “caveats”—on troop deployment that hampered the KFOR response to the March 2004 violence.

  • Expand the size of KFOR and international UNMIK police to ensure an adequate number of security officers to address the security situation in Kosovo.

  • Ensure that KFOR troops and UNMIK civilian police deployed to Kosovo are experienced in riot-control situations, including graduated use-of-force response to riot situations, and have the necessary equipment to respond to riot situations and other mass disturbances.

  • Together with Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG), take immediate steps to improve the living conditions of those still displaced from the March 2004 violence. Address the continuing security concerns of the minorities displaced by the March 2004 violence in full conformity with the U.N. Guiding Principles on the Internally Displaced; ensure adequate consultation with the displaced and provide them with options, including reconstruction of their homes or relocation if the security situation so requires.

  • Take the lead in initiating and institutionalizing a dialogue between the PISG, Kosovo Serb leaders, and the government of Serbia to improve the security of minorities in Kosovo, end discrimination in the provision of public services, and resolve the issue of parallel institutions.

  • Seek accountability for ethnically motivated crimes in Kosovo, by prioritizing the strengthening of impartial investigative and judicial mechanisms in Kosovo.

  • As requested by UNMIK, increase the number of UNMIK investigators, prosecutors, and judges to give UNMIK adequate capacity to investigate and prosecute criminal acts committed during the March violence, in accordance with international standards.

  • Continue to make clear and forceful public statements that a multiethnic Kosovo in which the rights of all inhabitants are respected is one of the principal objectives of the international community.

  • Provide international protection to ethnic minorities forced to flee Kosovo for fear of persecution. Ensure that those fleeing to neighboring countries or elsewhere in Western Europe have access to full and fair asylum determination procedures and are treated humanely with full respect for their human rights. Asylum seekers from Kosovo who had their applications rejected prior to the March violence, or those who sought to voluntarily return to Kosovo, should have their applications reconsidered in light of the March 2004 violence and the changed security conditions in Kosovo.

  • Prioritize the strengthening of a credible, professional, and impartial Kosovo Police Service by improving training programs and ensuring adequate equipment for KPS officers (including riot-control equipment). Salary packages for KPS officers should be increased to professional levels to ensure the recruitment and retention of quality personnel.

    To Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions of Self-Government:

  • Commit Kosovo to a multiethnic future, and make clear that attacks against minorities will be vigorously prosecuted.

  • Take responsibility for the security of minorities in Kosovo, and make the security of minorities in Kosovo a strategic priority for the PISG. Carry out the necessary reforms within the PISG and KPS to ensure security for minorities in Kosovo.

  • Acknowledge that Kosovo’s institutions—political leaders, the media, and the PISG—were partly to blame for the outbreak of violence in March 2004 by initially making inflammatory statements, and institute reforms to prevent future anti-minority violence in Kosovo.

  • Seek dialogue with Kosovo’s Serb leadership and the government of Serbia and Montenegro to improve the security of minorities in Kosovo, end discrimination in the provision of public services, and resolve the issue of parallel institutions.

  • Seek to increase the multiethnic nature of institutions of governance in Kosovo, and act determinedly against discrimination in the provision of public services.

    To the Government of Serbia and Montenegro:

  • Seek dialogue with both the PISG and the international institutions in Kosovo to improve the security of minorities in Kosovo, end discrimination in the provision of public services, and resolve the issue of parallel institutions.

    <<previous  |  index  |  next>>July 2004