13. July. 2017. | 06:31 | NGO AKTIV

Panel discussion on the topic of protection of non-majority communities rights

On Thursday 13.07.2017 in Civic Energy Centre a panel discussion was organised to present the document “The institutional mechanisms existent in Kosovo for the protection of the non-majority communities’ rights with a special focus on the Serbian community”. The speakers at the discussion were:

  • Caleb Waugh, co-author of the research
  • Adrian Zeqiri, Executive Director of European Center for Minority Issues
  • Aleksandra Dimitrijević, legal advisor, Ombudsman institution

The document on the mechanisms for the protection of non-majority communities rights is available in Serbian, Albanian and English language.

Law on Use of Languages, the right to citizenship, property and education and respect for these laws are some of the key issues faced by members of non-majority communities in Kosovo. Although the laws are advanced, their implementation is absent.  This was the conclusion of a conference organized yesterday in the premises of the Civic Energy Center in North Mitrovica.

On this occasion, the study “The institutional mechanisms existent in Kosovo for the protection of the non-majority communities’ rights with a special focus on the Serbian community’’ was presented, published by the non-governmental organization AKTIV.

This implementation is very poor everywhere in Kosovo. It is very difficult for any member of any non-majority community in Kosovo to exercise their rights, especially in the public sector. Under the public sector I mean the court or any public institution. There is a huge gap between the law, what is written on paper and how it is implemented in practice. The civil sector in the Serbian community in Kosovo should be much more activated. There is the lack of political and social will of the political elite in Pristina to implement all of this properly, said Caleb Waugh, co-author of the research, for RTV Mir.

Non-governmental organizations need to take a more proactive role in monitoring implementation of laws regarding non-majority community rights and increase their cooperation with other organizations and state institutions dealing with the same problem, , it is one of the recommendations  of the research published by AKTIV.

The study also recommended that international community must also become more vigilant in monitoring the implementation of relevant legislation and that the European Union should secure the participation and reflect the import of Serbian CSOs in their reports, and especially in Kosovo Progress Report.

Aleksandra Dimitrijevic from the Office of Ombudsperson explained particular problems. She said that during the year they receive thirteen percent of complaints from non-majority communities, about 150-200. This does not indicate that there are no problems and that rights are respected, but that people are not sufficiently informed about the purpose of Ombudsman institutions and how they can help them. 

Aleksandra pointed out that the issue of property is one of the biggest problems faced by non-majority communities in Kosovo,and that this is a difficult process, so many citizens often give up and sell their property. According to her, the prosecutor's office, the court and the police do not work in accordance with the law, which leads to the situation that the cases of proving ownership of property last for ten to fifteen years.

’’The police have the power to commit the perpetrator to custody, file a criminal charge and forward it to the prosecutor for further action. However, when you get your property back, the same person gets into it and the police ask the owner of the usurped property to go to court again and confirm his ownership of property’’, Dimitrijevic pointed out during her presentation at the conference.

Adrian Zeqiri, Executive Director of European Center for Minority Issues, pointed out that one of the mechanisms for the protection of the non-majority communities’ rights in Kosovo should be local self-government.

’’Municipalities could carry out their competencies through networking, in order for the Serbian community to ease exercise of their rights, which is one of the goals of establishing the Association / Community of Serb Municipalities", Zećiri said.

The panel discussion is organised as part of the project Provide sustainable framework for civic participation and democratic decision-making on local and central institutional level in Kosovo.

This grant is financed by Democratic Society Promotion (DSP) program financed by the Swiss Cooperation Office – Kosovo (SCO-K) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (DANIDA), and managed by Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF).