Report on the human rights situation in northern Kosovo Report for October 2023

During the reporting period, it was observed that human rights violations and the use of hate speech are increasing as a resonating effect of incidents in Banjska, leading to numerous police searches which created additional fear in the Serbian population, and related issues. Hate speech, primarily targeting Serbian but also Albanian communities in Kosovo on online media, was noted. Inflammatory rhetoric and a blame game from high-ranking officials in ruling institutions, both from Kosovo and Serbia, were prevalent. Hasty actions by stakeholders resulted in the demolition of old Serbian graves in Mitrovica, causing a significant wave of hate and further eroding the already minimal trust in institutions, reinforcing the fears of the local population in Mitrovica.


NGO Aktiv has gathered information about the potential instances of hate speech and human rights violations through the monitoring of the media outlets in Serbian and Albanian languages and by directly interviewing the residents of four northern Kosovo municipalities who have reported potential human rights violations. In our work, we have relied on the universally accepted terminology and definitions vis-à-vis human rights, as defined and outlined by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a milestone document, but also other UN conventions and documents, and also the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and all relevant Kosovo legal framework that regulates the human rights and protection from discrimination, including the hate speech.

Inflammatory rhetoric


The effects of Banjska remain highly visible, particularly in the comments made by senior officials in Serbia and Kosovo. This blame game dynamic creates a situation where people become collateral damage. These statements vary from misinformation to a lack of careful consideration when explaining the situation, neglecting the conditions of the people living there. Additionally, there are dangerous generalizations that fuel online hate speech.

Old graveyard in Mitrovica


During a housing renewal initiative for Albanian refugees, one project included constructing a new road to access some of these homes. However, in this process, the route chosen led to the destruction of an old graveyard of Orthodox Serbs in Mitrovica. What exacerbated the situation was the slow response from institutions, which failed to properly address the destruction of the graves. There was no public apology; the only action taken was halting the construction, with no clear promise of future steps.


Adding to the stress for Serbs in Kosovo is the perception that while there’s a significant effort and support from the central government for renovating houses of Albanian refugees, the same level of attention is not given to renovating houses for Serbian refugees from other parts of Kosovo. This disparity leads to feelings that Kosovo is deliberately making it difficult for Serbian refugees to undergo the renovation process.

Peace protestors

During protests in Zvecan this year, two individuals were arrested while peacefully demonstrating against the forcible intrusion of mayors into municipal buildings. They are awaiting trial in a court case that has been extended by an additional two months, which deviates from standard procedure. Many believe that these individuals have not committed a crime aside from protesting, and this extension is perceived as an attempt to intimidate minorities and deter them from protesting, thus it is believed that this is severely violating the right to peaceful protest.

New police stations

New police stations have been appearing in North Kosovo, with the latest one under construction in Zubin Potok. This action by the police is alarming the local population due to years of declining trust in Kosovo institutions, which has exacerbated the situation. Additionally, there has been little to no information provided on the reasons for building these stations. Even though police stations are meant to provide a sense of safety, people in Zubin Potok are more scared than ever. Since the Banjska incidents, the police have been more active but less cautious in conducting their work, adding to the anxiety of the local residents.

NGO AKTIV Mitrovica

NGO AKTIV Priština