As the United Nations recently took over the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), calls for imminent justice were made earlier this week by Human Rights Groups.
UN Secretary-General meets with internally displaced people camped near the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, 5 April 2014
©UN Photo/Evan Schneider
MINUSCA officially started its mission on 15 September 2014. Adopted by the Security Council in April 2014, Resolution 2149 gives mandate to MINUSCA to ensure the security of the civilian population, contribute significantly to the establishment of the rule of law with the redeployment of the public services and help to fight against impunity. This force deployment, in majority composed of the African forces of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) placed under UN command, must continue until April 2015, date on which the mission should reach the total number of 10 000 soldiers and 2 000 policemen. Continue reading
Special Representative Farid Zarif. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
Briefing the United Nations Security Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on Friday, Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Farid Zarif said that while great strides have been made since last year toward normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, close vigilance remains essential to safeguard achievements and continue dialogue.
Zarif expressed his satisfaction that the trial of five Kosovo Serbs, charged with war crimes and murder, began its proceedings on Tuesday at the Basic Court in Mitrovica. “As I continually stress the crucial importance of respecting judicial independence, I cannot but note that public confidence in the system will be enhanced greatly when justice is perceived to be conducted professionally and expeditiously,” said Mr. Zarif. Additionally, the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Investigative Task Force released a statement on 29 July of findings which represents another “milestone in strengthening the rule of law and healing scars of war.”
The issue of a special court to try former leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes was expected to feature in the UN Security Council session. According to the Serbian news agency Tanjug, Ban Ki-moon’s report calls on Pristina and the European Union to form the special court at the beginning of the next year at the latest. The establishment of a special court to handle war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), in 1999 was asked by Ivica Dacic, Serbia’s foreign minister. Dacic warned that acquittal due to lack of evidence caused by witness intimidation must never again be allowed for individuals responsible for the crimes. All those involved in intimidation of witnesses also have to be prosecuted and found guilty, he said.
Yesterday, the Kosovo parliament approved the creation of an EU-backed special court for serious abuses committed during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. Parliament approved the special court by a vote of 82 to 22, with 2 abstentions.
The special court will adjudicate cases against individuals based on a 2010 report by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty. The report accused some members of the ethnic Albanian insurgency, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), of abductions, beatings, summary executions, and in some cases, the forced removal of human organs on Albanian territory during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. The report named some individuals currently in the Kosovo government, including Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
Thaci, who was the political chief of the former Kosovo Liberation Army, has rejected the allegations as an attempt to tarnish KLA’s reputation.
The Marty report said most of the alleged crimes occurred after June 1999, when NATO’s bombing campaign forced Belgrade to end the war and withdraw Serb forces from Kosovo.
The special court will operate within the Kosovo justice system but, prosecutors and judges will be international. It will have one seat in Kosovo and another abroad, possibly in the Netherlands, which will deal with protected witnesses.
An estimated 10,000 people died during the 1998-99 war, the great majority of them being ethnic Albanians. About 1,700 people are still missing.