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Kosovo: Press Briefing Transcript for briefing of 18 Apr 2007

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Special Briefing by UNMIK Police Commissioner Richard Monk

UNMIK Spokesperson Neeraj Singh:

Good morning, we'll start with a briefing by the Police Commissioner and after that we'll continue with our regular weekly press conference.

To start, I have a statement from SRSG Joachim R=FCcker on the Interim Report of the Special Prosecutor. The SRSG said, and I quote:

"Yesterday, I have received the Interim Report of the Special Prosecutor regarding the deaths and serious wounding of protesters during the 10 February demonstration. I have reviewed the Report and would like to underline its clarity and comprehensiveness. The Special Prosecutor acted independently and his findings are based on an extensive investigation conducted over the past two months.

The UNMIK Police Commissioner has informed me that he had already taken several corrective measures to address some of the issues raised in the Interim Report. Other concerns of the Special Prosecutor related to UNMIK will be reviewed thoroughly.

The Special Prosecutor and his Task Force will continue their investigation and will keep the public informed."

To repeat, this is a statement from the SRSG on receiving the Interim Report. And now over to the Commissioner.

UNMIK Police Commissioner Richard Monk

Neeraj thank you very much. Good morning everyone.

I was present yesterday when the Special Prosecutor addressed you and I have since read both reports that he made public. I also acknowledged that both are Interim Reports and that further announcements will be made by the Special Prosecutor concerning the operational response by police in this incident. Both I and my senior colleagues are sincerely committed to ensuring that the deaths and serous injuries that occurred in the circumstances that prevailed on the 10th of February never occur again. I want to tell you about some of the action that has been taken by KPS and their international counterparts.

Immediately following the weekend of 10/11 February, an internal scrutiny was begun by public order experts which examined among other things whether police officers were fully briefed, whether they understood their roles, their powers, their areas of responsibility. Whether there were clear lines of command and control, whether the ground commanders had sufficient authority to take operational decisions according to the situation that confronted them at the time, whether the radio communications were adequate, whether lines of communication were clear between KPS and KPS units, and between KPS units and international police units.

The internal review found that there were deficiencies in all these areas and in other areas too. At the same the Minister of Internal Affairs requested a report. This was provided to him and ever since he has been anxious to know what changes need to be made or indeed have been made. At the same time a very much fuller enquiry into the conduct of police during the disturbances was undertaken by the Police Inspectorate of Kosovo which is an independent body long since established by the OSCE and operating within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Police Inspectorate published its reports on the 10th of March and they made seven very firm recommendations. The Inspectorate also proposed a draft law on how police should deal with public disorder in future drawing together all the necessary powers and safeguards which elsewhere appear in European legislation or are specifically mentioned in the European Code of Policing Ethics.

On the basis of the Inspectorate's inquiry the findings of the internal review and in order for me to be able to present to the Minster of Internal Affairs an assurance that operational planning and response to public disorder by police will be properly managed in in future, I have instigated a bottom to top review of how police whether KPS, International on belonging to specialised Units are trained, equipped and commanded in order to respond to escalating levels of disorders. I intend this review to look of all levels of response to public disorder. That means from police accompanying a small local protest march, to serious wide area riot when the police are themselves overwhelmed to such an extend by violence that they cannot protect innocent people or even themselves.

There is a mention in the Special Prosecutor's report of a particular type of rubber bullet that was found to have caused the deaths and injury to at least one person and on which he directed that tests be independently carried out to determine the lethality of those bullets, we have found that those bullets were manufactured in 1991 and had a shelf life of three years. That means that the rubber bullets were out of date by at least 12 years.

Now I have directed that any such ammunition currently in possession of any Specialised Police Unit be either sent home or destroyed. I have to tell you that I would also like to be able to have these forms of rubber bullets, which are smaller than rubber baton rounds and with a much higher muzzle velocity, withdrawn completely. But there are circumstances, as the Special Prosecutor remarked yesterday, in which they may be used and this probably would not be acceptable politically.

My personal concern remains an insufficient realisation that people who provoke riots or commit acts of criminal damage or inflict injury or intimidation, commit crime and every effort should be made to arrest and prosecute them. And I intend to place a very heavy emphasis on the early arrest of people who commit these offences. Such violence diminishes us all and seriously detracts from the efforts of those who pursue critical debate through compelling argument which is crucial at this stage in Kosovo's political evolution.