Brussels, 26 April 2012As the Council of the European Union prepares to extend the mandate of its Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) in Kosovo, a new Amnesty International report demands that the mission should focus on prosecuting war crimes. The report, Kosovo: Time for EULEX to prioritise war crimes, charts progress made by the Mission and recommends urgent reforms ahead of the mandate’s extension in June.

“EULEX must make investigation and prosecution of the large backlog of crimes under international law its top priority”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.  “We’re asking it to establish, with help from EU countries, an effective international witness-protection programme and ensure that Kosovo’s prosecutorial and judicial system can be sustained over the long term.”

Nearly 13 years after the end of the conflict in Kosovo, hundreds of crimes under international law remain unresolved. Enforced disappearances and abductions have yet to be investigated, while the bodies of some 1,800 missing persons have not been exhumed, identified or returned to their families. 

‘AL’ was one of the few men to survive a massacre by Serbian forces in the village of Krushe ë Vogël in western Kosovo. In March 1999, more than 100 civilians were taken to a Serb-owned house and shot by Serbian police and soldiers. Their bodies were covered with hay and the house set on fire. Despite the scale and notoriety of the killing, investigations have only just begun. 

In June 1999, ‘PP’, a 57-year-old Kosovo Serb, was abducted from her flat in Pristina by men in Kosovo Liberation Army uniform. A year later her body was exhumed from a Pristina cemetery by experts working for the tribunal. Her son identified her body by the clothes she was wearing. Thirteen years after her murder, PP’s sons still await justice.  

While some progress has been made since the establishment of EULEX in December 2008, a culture of impunity, often encouraged by Kosovo Government officials, prevails. As it stands, the justice system in Kosovo is unable adequately to tackle this legacy of impunity for crimes under international law. 

Source: Amnesty International

The report is available here.