Women demonstrate to demand action on war missing
Past human rights violations and abuses must urgently be resolved on both sides to ensure the “normalisation” of the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia. This would also build on the political agreement reached between the two countries in April 2013.
The EU must facilitate a human rights agreement between Serbia and Kosovo
(Brussels, 22 January 2014) The European Union (EU) must facilitate top-level negotiations on a human rights agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, says Amnesty International.
Amnesty International is urging Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who facilitated the political agreement reached between Serbia and Kosovo in April 2013, to call on both parties to continue high-level talks, specifically on outstanding cases of human rights violations and abuses. This is essential to provide answers and justice for the victims and their families, ensure the perpetrators of such crimes are brought to justice, and for the future of political relations.
“Past human rights violations and abuses must urgently be resolved on both sides to ensure the “normalisation” of the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “This would also build on the political agreement reached between the two countries in April 2013.’’
Almost 15 years after the end of the armed conflict more than 1,700 people remain missing. ’’The fate of each and every one of these people must be unearthed as a priority. Relatives of the missing need to know what happened to their loved ones, to grieve, and lay them to rest,” said Beger. “Efforts must be made on both sides to find the bodies; that is to say of Albanians disappeared by Serb forces, and of Serbs, Roma, and members of other ethnic communities abducted by the Kosovo Liberation Army.”
Attempts on both sides to identify and locate the remaining burial sites and mass graves has significantly slowed in recent years. Amnesty International believes that high level negotiations involving the Prime Ministers of both Serbia and Kosovo are essential for both countries to move forward. Both Prime Ministers should ensure that former military, paramilitary and police commanders make information on the location of remaining burial sites and mass graves available to relevant bodies including the International Commission of the Red Cross and the commissions for missing persons in both Serbia and Kosovo.
The next stage of any talks would be to address impunity to ensure the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice under international law, and the relatives of the missing are provided with reparation, including compensation
In a separate process, Serbia began negotiations on 21 January with the European Commission on EU membership. These talks will begin by looking at outstanding issues relating to the political agreement under Chapter 35 of the acquis communitaire. Subsequently, priority will be given to negotiations on judiciary and fundamental rights (Chapter 23), and justice, freedom and security (Chapter 24).
In April, Amnesty International will publish a report proposing a programme of measures for Serbia to take to ensure the justice system has the capacity and resources to address impunity for crimes under international law which occured during the 1990s wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo.
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