30 September 2009
The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) continued to undertake monitoring, mentoring and advising activities in the area of rule of law, and to implement its executive mandate as per its mandate. The Mission completed the first six-monthly report on the results of its monitoring, mentoring and advising activities on rule of law issues, and presented it to the Kosovo authorities, the media and civil society. EULEX began consultations with the Kosovo counterpart s on the implementation of the recommendations of the report, which have been well received by them.
EULEX closely monitored the reintegration into the Kosovo Police of 318 suspended Kosovo Serb police officers, who returned to work in June, and discussed with the Kosovo authorities the re-employment of approximately 60 Kosovo Serb correctional officers. The Counter-Terrorism Unit was transitioned from EULEX Police to the Kosovo Police in July. EULEX prosecutors and investigators focused their action on a number of organized crime and war crime cases as a priority. EULEX judges presided in numerous trials, including several ethnically motivated and war crime trials. From June to August 2009, the Office for Missing Persons and Forensics, which is jointly led by a EULEX and a Kosovo head, conducted 67 new autopsies, 3 death scene investigations, 16 forensic clinical examinations, 24 field assessments, 21 exhumations, 43 autopsies of war victims, and handed over 17 remains to families. In total, since December 2008 EULEX has handed over remains of 61 deceased persons to families.
EULEX Customs have been collecting and copying data on commercial traffic at Gates 1 and 31 in northern Kosovo without interruption, despite attempts by Kosovo Serb demonstrators to block access to the Gates, and have started to upgrade infrastructure at both crossing points.
On 31 August 2009 the EULEX Mission had 2,649 staff (1,651 international staff and 998 local staff). Having become fully operational on 6 April 2009, the Mission continued to implement its monitoring, mentoring and advising activities in rule of law throughout Kosovo. It also implemented its executive mandate. EULEX has cooperated closely with UNMIK, including on exchange of information and property issues in the north of Kosovo; and has also coordinated its activities with other international actors in Kosovo and in the region. S/2009/497 09-52120 13 At the Joint Rule of Law Coordination Board meeting on 23 July, EULEX shared with the Kosovo authorities the first six-monthly report on the results of its monitoring, mentoring and advising activities. The same day the report was published on the EULEX website. The report is based on over 2,500 inputs provided by 400 monitoring, mentoring and advising personnel. It identifies strengths and weaknesses, and makes over 70 key recommendations to improve the performance of Kosovo rule of law institutions. EULEX’s Kosovo counterparts have shown a high level of interest and support, and the Kosovo counterparts are involved in the planning of further action, with joint working groups defining their scope and specification. Training has been provided for monitoring, mentoring and advising action teams. The EULEX Police Component expects to start implementation of over 90 per cent of the recommendations for monitoring, mentoring and advising by the end of 2009. Preparatory work began for the implementation of a number of customs recommendations. The Justice Component began examining the 27 justicerelated recommendations to determine priorities and resource allocation. EULEX has identified opportunities for civil society/NGOs to link up with and support targeted monitoring, mentoring and advising action teams. EULEX also met with international donors to familiarize them with the monitoring, mentoring and advising report and its recommendations, drawing attention to areas where donors could provide support.
EULEX legal advisers reviewed a number of draft laws and made recommendations as to how they might be improved. EULEX experts presented proposals for Kosovo’s anti-money-laundering regime to the Kosovo authorities, and discussed issues of judicial corruption with other stakeholders. The EULEX Human Rights and Gender Office looked into access to justice for vulnerable categories of people in Kosovo, including women and ethnic minorities. Research by NGOs has revealed that 75 per cent of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian
women in Kosovo are illiterate, and thus are ill-informed of their rights; 61 per cent acknowledged that domestic violence occurs in their community; only 1 per cent are aware that free legal aid is available for victims of domestic violence, 4 per cent are aware that shelters exist, and only 26 per cent are aware that police can be called on in such cases. The Human Rights and Gender Office also looked into legal aid provision in Kosovo.
EULEX continued technical discussions with rule of law authorities in Belgrade. EULEX Police held technical talks with the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs and prepared a technical arrangement on exchange of information. Kosovo government leaders and the local media have criticized the arrangement. Activists from the organization Vetëvendosje vandalized 26 EULEX vehicles in protest of the conclusion of the arrangement. Several more EULEX vehicles were damaged in subsequent acts of vandalism in Pristina.
On 22 July the Counter-Terrorism Unit was transitioned from EULEX to the Kosovo Police. EULEX is monitoring the unit. EULEX, the Kosovo Police and KFOR further coordinated operational responses to civil disturbance situations. On a few occasions EULEX acted as second responder to maintain public order and security in Brdjani/Kroi i Vitakut. S/2009/497 14 09-52120
EULEX assisted the Kosovo Police in preparing a threat assessment and operational order in relation to the envisaged handover of responsibility for the security of the Gazimestan Monument from KFOR to the Kosovo Police.
EULEX monitored, mentored and advised the Kosovo Police in relation to the reintegration of Kosovo Serb police officers into the service. Out of the 325 Kosovo Serb Kosovo Police officers suspended after they left their posts in early 2008, 317 had returned to work by 30 June (and one more shortly after). EULEX has since been monitoring their reintegration closely. So far the process has gone smoothly, and most officers have now been recertified and assumed their previous positions. With the active encouragement of EULEX, several Kosovo Serb police officers were recently appointed to senior positions, including that of Deputy Regional Director, in Mitrovicë/Mitrovica region.
Operational cooperation between the Kosovo Police north and south of the river Ibër/Ibar is improving. Kosovo Police station commanders will, however, continue to report through EULEX for the time being. Efforts will be made to encourage more Kosovo Serb Kosovo Police officers and civilian staff to take up their former positions in Kosovo Police Mitrovicë/Mitrovica regional police structures. Only 2 out of 47 staff who were redeployed to the four northern police stations after 17 February 2008 have so far returned to their former positions.
By August EULEX prosecutors and investigators had reviewed and assessed the war crime files received from UNMIK. EULEX is investigating 50 active cases. A further 1,009 cases were inactive. Of these, 158 were dismissed for various reasons, such as lack of evidence. The injured parties will be informed about the dismissals in due course. In total, 851 of the inactive cases are to be investigated. EULEX prosecutors and investigators identified a number of organized crime and war crime cases for priority action. In August EULEX launched investigations in a war crimes case, in which over 150 people were killed in and around Çyshk/Ćuška village near Pejë/Peć in May 1999. Kosovo Police investigators will be assisting the investigation.
UNMIK and EULEX staff worked together in the UNMIK Interpol Office. EULEX established closer relations with Southeast European Cooperative Initiative Centre (SECI) and the European border management agency, FRONTEX, and liaised with and assisted the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. EULEX considered proposals for an Executive Agency for data storage and document issuing in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and contributed to the completion of strategies and action plans on integrated border management, organized crime, drugs, terrorism and most recently migration.
EULEX judges, prosecutors, legal officers, and law drafters monitored, mentored and advised colleagues in the Kosovo justice authorities. EULEX judges and prosecutors worked on a number of cases received from UNMIK and also new cases, including in mixed panels with Kosovo judges and prosecutors. By August 2009 verdicts had been passed in approximately 30 cases. EULEX judges plan to complete all the UNMIK cases that were passed to EULEX ready for trial by early 2010. The 20 cases inherited by the Supreme Court will be completed in late 2009. S/2009/497 09-52120 15
Since December EULEX prosecutors, working alone or with their local counterparts, have been involved in 467 prosecutions. The cases have included corruption, organized crime, war crimes, terrorism, inter-ethnic crime, weapons and drugs-smuggling and murder.
EULEX justice staff were active in all Kosovo courts and at all instances. Mixed panels of EULEX and Kosovo judges held pre-trial and trial hearings at district courts throughout Kosovo as well as at the Supreme Court. War crimes cases were among those dealt with. EULEX judges have so far issued more than 100 judicial decisions at all phases of the judicial proceedings, including pre-trial decisions/rulings and verdicts.
EULEX judges dealt with several inter-ethnic crime cases. On 30 July EULEX judges at the Pristina District Court found a Kosovo Serb guilty of inciting national or ethnic hatred. He received a four-month suspended sentence. On 11 August a Supreme Court panel, at which a EULEX judge presided, dismissed an appeal by a Kosovo Albanian convicted in 2007 by the Pristina District Court in a trial related to the March 2004 riots. The convicted person withdrew his appeal after the presiding judge presented the report on the case. The person was found guilty of participating in a group which committed a criminal act, serious criminal acts against public security, and incitement to national, racial, religious or ethnic hatred, and received an aggregated suspended sentence of one year and nine months imprisonment. EULEX judges working in civil justice in the district and municipal courts in Kosovo have taken over 20 civil property cases, including 16 cases involving allegations that property has been transferred on the basis of forged documents. The majority of these cases have an inter-ethnic dimension. EULEX property claims commissioners and EULEX Supreme Court judges who sit on the panel dealing with the Kosovo Property Agency-related appeals continued to work in accordance with their mandate. The claims commissioners are now moving forward with more complex cases. The local member of the Kosovo Property Agency Supreme Court panel has not yet been appointed. EULEX judges continued to work within the Special Chamber of the Supreme Court of Kosovo on privatization-related matters; however, there is only one local member of the Special Chamber of the Supreme Court, and a further six local members need to be appointed to the court.
The Kosovo Judicial Council, of which two out of the five members are a EULEX judge and prosecutor, was constituted on 25 August. The Kosovo Judicial Council proposes judges and prosecutors for appointment, at present following the recommendations of the Independent Judicial and Prosecutorial Commission. The challenge ahead for the Kosovo Judicial Council is to assert itself and safeguard its independence in relation to all stakeholders. There is a backlog of disciplinary cases involving members of the Kosovo judiciary which need to be dealt with, and for this reason the Kosovo Judicial Council has established a Judicial Disciplinary Committee.
EULEX Justice continued to assist in re-establishing a functioning District Court in Mitrovicë/Mitrovica. EULEX judges and prosecutors completed three trials; a fourth trial is in progress. Two Kosovo Albanian and two Kosovo Serb administrative staff have been producing an inventory of the files in the Mitrovicë/Mitrovica Courthouse, under the supervision of EULEX staff. Four priority cases were selected to be processed by the Mitrovicë/Mitrovica District Court and the Supreme Court. S/2009/497 16 09-52120
EULEX judges put forward a recommendation that decisions in Supreme Court appeal cases be pronounced in open court at the end of the hearings. At present decisions are delivered in writing, sometimes after significant delays. The new practice will increase transparency and improve timely access to information for all involved parties, as well as the public. EULEX judges also gave formal advice on the timely distribution to all Kosovo courts of the Official Gazette and new laws.
From June-August 2009, the Office for Missing Persons and Forensics, which is jointly led by a EULEX and a Kosovo head, conducted 43 autopsies of war victims and 67 new autopsies; death scene investigations, forensic clinical examinations, field assessments and exhumations; and handed over 17 remains to families. It had a number of meetings with Family Associations and families. Together with the Kosovo Police and EULEX Police, the Office for Missing Persons and Forensics assessed and exhumed a site near Gjilan/Gnjilane, recovering the remains of at least 11 individuals, presumed to be missing persons, and sent bone samples for DNA analysis. The exhumation received significant attention in the local media. In total, since December 2008, EULEX has completed 88 field operations and 45 exhumations, taken 405 bone samples for DNA analysis, exhumed 66 bodies, and handed over remains of 61 deceased persons to families. An UNMIK forensic expert responsible for liaison with Belgrade works in the Office for Missing Persons and Forensics.
Since June EULEX judges have monitored the work of the Conditional Release Panel, regularly attending its hearings. Each month they monitor around 50 cases. The EULEX Correctional Unit provided monitoring, mentoring and advice to the Kosovo Correctional Service in various areas of their work, and provided prison escorts. EULEX discussed with the Minister of Justice and the Kosovo Correctional Service Commissioner the re-employment of approximately 60 Kosovo Serb correctional officers to their original posts.
EULEX Customs monitored, mentored and advised the Kosovo Customs Service at border and boundary crossing points with the exception of north Mitrovicë/ Mitrovica, and at Pristina Airport. For the first time, monitoring, mentoring and advising took place with the Kosovo Customs Post Audit team at companies in Ferizaj/Uroševac and Pristina. A number of significant seizures of jewellery and other items, including unlicensed pharmaceuticals, were made by Kosovo Customs.
The Director General ascribes these successes to monitoring, mentoring and advising by EULEX mobile teams, who have transferred skills and given local anti-smuggling personnel the confidence to conduct detailed and in-depth searches.
EULEX continued the practice of copying commercial invoices and stamping documents at Customs Gates 1 and 31 in the north of Kosovo, which began in May 2009. The copied documents are shared with the Kosovo Customs Service and the Serbian Customs Administration. The latter has already been able to use the information to investigate a significant number of cases of serious criminality. In addition there has been a sharp drop in the amount of fuel smuggled across the border/boundary. EULEX Customs personnel were able to continue their activities in all locations despite several attempts to block the roads to Gates 1 and 31 by Kosovo Serb protestors, which started on 22 June.
Approved by Yves de Kermabon
Head of Mission