Social cohesion is still hampered by impunity for war-related crimes, unsolved cases of missing persons and lack of access to reparations for all war victims more than 20 years after the Kosovo war, said the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, following a visit to Kosovo from 30 May to 3 June.
Its report was released on Tuesday and also noted obstacles to the sustainable return of displaced people and ethnic division in the country, according to a Council of Europe press release.
“All civilian victims of war, without exception, should have access to reparations, and safe conditions should be put in place for victims of war-related sexual violence crimes to come forward,” he said. she stated.
The Commissioner pointed to shortcomings in war crimes investigations and prosecutions and said that they must be addressed effectively.
With regard to missing persons, the Commissioner encouraged Belgrade and Pristina to resolve their differences and to cooperate in resolving the remaining cases, placing the families of missing persons at the center of all their considerations. More than 1,600 Kosovo Albanians are still missing.
Regarding freedom of the media, the Commissioner called for the full implementation of the legislation, in particular with regard to access to information. “Journalists should be able to carry out their vital work free from strategic public participation lawsuits (SLAPPs) and violence. Harassment and impunity for crimes against journalists must end, including for the 13 murders and disappearances of Kosovo Albanian and Serb journalists, which occurred between 1998 and 2005,” she said.
On issues related to women’s rights and gender equality, the Commissioner noted a significant gap between national legislation and the situation on the ground, due in particular to the persistence of deeply rooted patriarchal norms in society.
Finally, the Commissioner stresses the need for harmonization of domestic law with the Istanbul Convention and its effective implementation, as well as continuous training of members of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies in this domain.