Kosovo must strengthen respect for human rights, says Council of Europe

Kosovo must strengthen respect for human rights, says Council of Europe

More than twenty years after the Kosovo war, impunity for war crimes, unresolved missing persons cases and a lack of access to compensation for all war victims still hamper social cohesion.

This is the observation of Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović at the end of a visit to Kosovo from 30 May to 3 June.

His report was published on Tuesday (October 18) and also found obstacles to the sustainable return of displaced persons and ethnic divisions in the country, according to a Council of Europe press release.

«All civilian victims of war, without exception, should have access to reparations, and victims of sexual war crimes should be able to testify under safe conditions“, She said.

The commissioner highlighted shortcomings in investigating and prosecuting war crimes and said they needed to be addressed effectively.

Regarding missing persons, Ms. Mijatović encouraged Belgrade and Pristina to reconcile their differences and cooperate in resolving open cases, putting missing persons’ families at the center of her concerns. More than 1,600 Kosovar Albanians are still missing.

Regarding media freedom, the Commissioner called for the full application of the law, particularly as regards access to information.

«Journalists must be able to carry out their vital work free from strategic complaints about public participation [procédures bâillon] and violence. Harassment and impunity for crimes against journalists must end, including the 13 murders and disappearances of Kosovo Albanian and Serbian journalists between 1998 and 2005“, She said.

Regarding women’s rights and gender equality, the Commissioner identified a significant gap between national legislation and the situation on the ground, in particular due to the persistence of deep-rooted patriarchal norms in society.

Finally, the Commissioner underlines the need to harmonize national law with the Istanbul Convention and to implement it in practice, as well as to continuously train judiciary and law enforcement officials in this area.

Reference: www.euractiv.fr

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