Developments today, 6 December 1999 - Updated
3:30 p.m. EST
Democracy and institution building
Kosovo reports document grim catalogue of human rights violations: The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) released today two human rights reports that document extensive human right violations in Kosovo. The reports give a grim account of human rights violations including murder, mutilation, rape, abductions and house burning. OSCE said in a press release that the reports present probably the most extensive and systematic survey to date of human rights in Kosovo.
The first report, "Kosovo/Kosova - As Seen, As Told", covers the period from December 1998 to June 1999 and concludes that Yugoslav and Serbian forces committed extensive human rights abuses and violated the laws of armed combat. Their victims were overwhelmingly Kosovo Albanians. The second report, "As Seen, As Told, Part II", covers the period between 14 June and 31 October 1999 and details human rights violations, the majority against Serbs and other minorities deemed to have supported the Serbs. The violations include executions, abductions, torture, expulsions and house burning committed by elements of ethnic Albanians in search of revenge. The report calls for thorough investigations into the allegations and an increase in international police and judicial experts.
The Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Dr Bernard Kouchner describes the second report in his foreword as "sobering reading" and a "challenge to everyone in Kosovo and UNMIK to do more to address the root causes of abuses". Dr. Kouchner further says that impunity cannot be tolerated and those involved must be punished. The human rights abuses now cannot be compared to the situation before the war when there was "a systematic policy of apartheid" in Kosovo.
In a foreword to the first report, former Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Justice Louise Arbour says the report is an important contribution to the documentation of human rights abuses in Kosovo. "A reliable database of this kind goes a long way towards establishing a solid foundation for deciding upon appropriate measures to restore and maintain international peace and security in the region," she said.
Kouchner visits regions of Kosovo to meet with local people: The Head of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), Dr Bernard Kouchner today made the first in a series of visits to the regions of Kosovo in order to meet with local people, UNMIK staff, local municipal councils and administrators.
Dr. Kouchner visited Glogovc and Skenderaj where he also viewed the work under way on a $9 million winterization and rehabilitation project, UNMIK deputy spokeswoman Daniel Rozgonova told journalists in Pristina today. Thousands of villagers are purchasing materials to rebuild their houses, with funds provided by the Japanese and French governments. So far in Glogove, 420 houses have been rehabilitated or are in the process of being rehabilitated, while in Skenderaj 419 houses have been completed or a nearing completion.
Later in the week, Dr Kouchner will also visit Prizen and Gnjilane.
Kosovo may get a mobile phone system by Christmas: Kosovo will have a prepaid mobile phone system possibly before Christmas, the Director of Economic Affairs and Natural Resources, Mr. Gerard Fischer told journalists in Pristina today. A contract between the local telecommunication office, PTK, and Alcatel of France, was due to be signed today or tomorrow, he said. "We believe that from the date of the signing of the contract... it will take about two to three weeks in order to have a better mobile system in place," he said. Alcatel will install equipment worth $30-$35 million for the GMS (Global System for Mobile Communications).
UNMIK Police reports several deaths: UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Police today reported several murders and other incidents over the last 48 hours. On Saturday a dead man was found in the Pristina region and a crowd of Kosovo Albanians in Pristina assaulted three Kosovo Serbs. They suffered minor injuries. In the Gnjilane region on Saturday, a Serb woman was found dead in front of her house in Zaskok village. She had been shot five times in the back at close range. Two other Gnjilane Serbs, reported kidnapped by four Albanians males, were found on Saturday, one had been beaten and the other stabbed to death in what police said was the settling of a family conflict. In Mitrovica, several shops in the southern part of the town were set on fire on Saturday. Also on Saturday, 111 weapons and tear gas were seized from a Turkish bus attempting to cross the border from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at Blace.
For further information, contact the Spokesman's Office: tel (212) 963-7161/2; fax (212) 963-7055.