American Council for Kosovo Urges International Community to Recognize Failure of Justice System in Kosovo Following Release of Critical Human Rights Watch Report

Published on June 1, 2006

Category: News from the American Council for Kosovo

-- Human Rights Watch Report Finds Justice System in Kosovo Has Failed the Christian Serb Victims of the March 2004 Kosovo Albanian Riots --

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2006 – The American Council for Kosovo today urges the international community to recognize the failure of the justice system in Kosovo and potential future problems in the province due to endemic criminality and corruption, following the release of a Human Rights Watch report which faults the judicial system for failing Christian Serb victims of the March 2004 Kosovo Albanian riots. “Human Rights Watch’s report on the lack of a fair and functioning judicial system in Kosovo illustrates the province’s endemic corruption and criminality,” said Patrick E. O’Donnell, Chairman, American Council for Kosovo. “Corruption and rampant criminality combined with the province’s non-functioning judicial system will eventually lead to increased criminal and global jihad activities in the entire region, such as terrorism and the trafficking of drugs and humans.” The Human Rights Watch report states “despite the rhetoric of the international community and the local leadership that accountability for the March violence would be achieved—that justice would this time be done—the reality is that accountability remains a distant goal in Kosovo… The inadequate criminal justice response to violence in March 2004 symbolizes one of the greatest problems faced by Kosovo today—rampant impunity for crime, particularly where it has a political or ethnic dimension… The gap between the promise that those responsible for March would be held to account, and the reality, should be a warning sign to the international community that criminal justice in Kosovo is in crisis.” Despite 51,000 Kosovo Albanians participating in the March 2004 riots against Christian Serbs --which killed 19 and injured and/or displaced thousands, as well as destroyed 35 Orthodox Christian churches – prosecutions against rioters have been disappointingly limited. According to the Human Rights Watch report, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) statistics find only 426 individuals have been charged for the March 2004 riots, “mostly [for] minor offenses such as theft” with approximately half being punished. The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Department of Justice reports only 348 individuals have been charged, with the same percentage of guilty decisions. Of the 56 “serious” cases, the Human Rights Watch report states only 13 individuals have been found guilty. “Human Rights Watch has courageously reported on the failure of the Kosovo Albanian leadership and the international community to punish the perpetrators of the March 2004 violence against Christian Serbs,” said O’Donnell. “This report must be a focal point of any discussions amongst the United States and European Contact Group members when discussing the region’s future.” The American Council for Kosovo (www.savekosovo.org) is a U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting a better American understanding of the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija and of the critical American stake in the province's future. The Council's mission is to make accurate information and analysis about Kosovo available to officials of the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. Government; to think tanks, media, NGOs, religious and advocacy organizations; and to the general public. In particular, the Council’s educational activities will generate a heightened American awareness that an independent Kosovo – forcibly and illegally detached from Serbia, as is now being contemplated by the international community – would be harmful to U.S. national interests and to European and global security. The American Council for Kosovo is an activity of Venable LLP and Global Strategic Communications Group, which are registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as agents for the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija. Additional information with respect to this matter is on file with the Foreign Agents Registration Unit of the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. # # #


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