27. March. 2018. | 04:23 | Aktiv


Press Release/Public Declaration



The signatories of this public statement, a group of non-governmental organizations, after discussions with witnesses, participants in the roundtable discussion held in North Mitrovica on the 26th of March 2018 as well as analyzing video footage of the event, condemn in the strongest possible terms the unequivocal use of extraordinary force on the part of the Special Forces of the Kosovo Police against citizens, meeting participants and journalists covering the event.

The video footage aired and seen across Kosovo and the region clearly shows the ethnically motivated use of force and unprofessional actions undertaken by members of the Special Forces as well as the violence initiated against participants in the roundtable discussion, among who were both informal representatives of the Serbian community as well as official representatives of the Kosovo Government, including cabinet ministers.   The fact that people who had otherwise demonstrated an obvious willingness to cooperate with the police operation and comply with orders is indicative of the fact that this was an intentional show of force and that ethnic hatred takes precedence over professionalism in the Special Forces of the Kosovo Police.  Taking all of this into due consideration, the signatories of this statement wish to publically express their concern for the legally and institutionally unprotected Serbian community in Kosovo after a police raid that can be characterized as both repressive as well as ethnically-motivated.

Yesterday’s actions on the part of the Special Forces of the Kosovo Police that were carried out by order from relevant institutions within the Kosovo government constitute a direct assault on basic human and civil rights, including the right to protection against degrading treatment, the right to assembly and free expression as well as the right to information and reporting.  The unprofessional and violent treatment of journalists (many of whom suffered bodily injuries and whose property was damaged or destroyed) and their technical crews in the execution of their duties is of particular concern.

The group of non-governmental organizations therefore demands the following:

  1. That the Government of Kosovo and the Ministry of Internal Affairs order an urgent investigation into the use of excessive force during the event that took place in North Mitrovica on the 26th of March 2018 and use all legal means against those persons who, either by personal initiative or command responsibility, caused bodily harm and offended the dignity of participants of the roundtable discussion in North Mitrovica
  2. That the Office of the European Union and the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) actively participate in efforts to clarify the circumstances that lead to the engagement of special forces and assess the abuse of power(s) and behavior of these forces.
  3. That the Kosovo Journalist’s Association and civil society organizations across Kosovo condemn violence against journalists and the destruction of their property during their reporting of the roundtable in North Mitrovica

Of the political representatives of the Serbian community and of their representatives in the Government and Assembly of Kosovo we demand that:

  1. Representatives of the Serbian community in Kosovo institutions undertake decisive institutional steps to defend the interests and the rights of Serbian citizns in Kosovo.
  2. They use all of their influence and negotiating skills to initiate a revision of the legal framework and practices related to the actions of the Special Forces of the Kosovo Police in Serbian-majority communities in order to increase the likelihood of a strengthening of the system of civilian oversight and an increased presence of members of non-majority communities in oversight mechanisms of the Special Forces.
  3. In accordance with the forms of exclusionary political decision making that were shown during yesterday’s unfortunate events in North Mitrovica to take concrete steps to prevent the future potential similar levers of repression towards non-majority communities in Kosovo

 

North Mitrovica,                                                                                           Sigantories:

27 March 2018                                                         NGO Aktiv

                                                                                      NGO ACDC (Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture)

                                                                                      NGO “Mitrovica Humane Center”

                                                                                      NGO “Women’s Rights”