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Kosovo: Justice not being done

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* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *
News Service 023/00 - AI INDEX: EUR 70/07/00 - 4 February 2000
Delays in establishing a functioning, multi-ethnic, independent and impartial judicial system in Kosovo have led to a situation where human rights abuses, particularly against members of minority communities are committed with virtual impunity, Amnesty International wrote in a letter to the United Nations (UN) in Kosovo.

The organization is concerned there is a growing perception in Kosovo's communities that justice is not being done in some courtrooms where judicial decisions appear to be made with political, rather than legal considerations in mind. Members of the judiciary have been subjected to threats, intimidation and even violent attacks. And delays in the establishment of a functioning judiciary have led to extended periods of pre-trial detention.

Amnesty International welcomed the recent appointment by the UN Mission in Kosovo of new judges and lay judges as an important step towards the re-establishment of a functioning judicial system, but pointed out this is not enough to correct the current judicial problems.

In a report released today which accompanied the letter, Amnesty International urged the UN to; bring the judicial system and all applicable laws, including UN-created laws, into line with international human rights standards, place international judges and prosecutors in Kosovo's five district courts and appeals structures, and provide legal professionals with training in international human rights and humanitarian law.

ENDS.../

Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom

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