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Maximum sentence for Goran Stanisic accused for war crimes in the villages of Sllovi/Slovinje and Tërbovc/Trbovce

5.10.2021

The Trial Panel of the Special Department of the Basic Court of Prishtinë/Priština (presided by Judge Valon Kurtaj1), on October 5, 2021, found the accused Goran Stanišić guilty of war crimes against the civilian population and sentenced him to imprisonment of twenty (20) years, which is the maximum sentence for this criminal offense, according to the SFRY Criminal Law, which is more favorable in this case.


The Humanitarian Law Center in Kosovo (HLCK) has systematically monitored the trial against the accused Stanišić. Based on the monitoring of the trial, the HLCK finds that the trial was fair and the rights of the parties during the proceedings were respected, despite the difficulties in organizing the trial due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The verdict was announced after 15 court hearings, where 22 witnesses were heard, among them the injured party A1.2
Upon the process of evidence presentation during the main trial some prosecution witnesses have identified the presence of the defendant at the place and time of the deportation and killing of Albanian civilians. However, the statements of some eyewitnesses given to the UNMIK Mission, and later to the Special Prosecution of the Republic of Kosovo (SPRK), were inconsistent regarding the participation of defendant Stanišić in the killing of civilians.


HLCK is reluctant to comment on the verdict and the extent of the sentence at this point until receiving the verdict in writing along with the reasoning for this verdict. Upon the announcement of the verdict, the trial panel did not provide any reasoning regarding the announced verdict. It is therefore unknown what evidence the trial panel relied on when making its decision on the defendant’s conviction. The lack of a reasoning for the decision on

convicting the defendant is contrary to Article 366, paragraph 2 of the CPCRK. This article stipulates that after the public reading of the enacting clause of the verdict, the reasoning of the verdict must be briefly announced, respectively the evidence on which the Trial Panel was based. It is also necessary that in this case, the Trial Panel gives a reasoning regarding the aggravating or mitigating circumstances, which have influenced the defendant to be found guilty and sentenced to maximum imprisonment.
On February 6, 2020, the SPRK3 has filed an indictment against Goran Stanišić, accused of having been a member of the reserve police force of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, who during the period of 15 and 16 April 1999, as part of a broad and systematic attack by Serbian military, paramilitary and police forces against the Albanian civilian population in the villages of Sllovi/Slovinje and Tërbovc/Trbovce in the Municipality of Lipjan/Lipljane, and in cooperation with other members of this unit, participated in the deportation of the Albanian civilian population, committing the murders of 13 Albanian civilians and wounding A1. The first instance court found him guilty on all counts of the indictment.
The parties have the right to appeal against this verdict in the Court of Appeals.

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‘War crime cases before the Kosovo courts’

22.09.2021

HLCK publishes the newsletter on ‘War crime cases before the Kosovo courts’ for the period January – June 2021.

In this newsletter, you can find information related to the war crime cases before the Kosovo courts together with the HLCK observations.

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OPEN CALL FOR EXTERNAL EXPERT

Midterm evaluation of an ongoing project
Project:

Transforming conflict perceptions through increased civic and community engagement in Kosovo

Period: 
January 2019 – June 2021

Date:
As soon as possible or latest 1st of October 2021

Background:


Kosovo Coalition for Reconciliation (KCR) was established in January 2019, by HLCK, Artpolis, NGO Aktiv and Documenta, through the support of the European Union Office in Kosovo with the project “Transforming conflicting perceptions through increased civic and community engagement in Kosovo”.

KCR seeks to contribute to overall improvement of ethnic relations in Kosovo and increase understanding and participation of grass-root community actors in initiatives fostering the reconciliation process in Kosovo. Through vigorous efforts in facilitation of respectful ethnic dialogue, promotion of cultural diversity values, increased opportunities for inter-ethnic cooperation in promotion of peace and tolerance and amplified inclusion women and youth groups in reconciliation process in Kosovo, KCR aspires to introduce genuine and sustainable changes in reconciliation dynamics in Kosovo. 

The selected expert/consultant will have to conduct a programmatic evaluation, which will autonomously measure overall progress of the project, assess the indicator fulfillment, collect and review quantitative and qualitative data to determine evidence of the project impact and suggest the changes/amendments that lead to better result delivery in the continuation of efforts. This will have to be done in close cooperation with the programme manager and the KCR members. 

After more than 2 years of work, the Coalition seeks to engage an external expert who will work closely with us to:

  • Carefully review the work of the KCR for the period of 1st of January 2019 – 30th of June 2021.
  • Prepare and conduct a midterm evaluation of the partnered organizations, based on meetings with HLCK, Artpolis, NGO Aktiv, the expert’s own research and feedback collected from stakeholders and discuss the findings with the organizations.
  • Explore and recommend which interventions are most appropriate at which level(s) to achieve the desired change.
  • Analyze which organizational capacities should be strengthened in order to improve the implementation and the results of the project.
  • Define all necessary adaptations for the future project design.
  • Deliver a final report on findings and recommendations for internal use for the KCR.

Qualifications:

  • No less than five (5) years of professional experience working in the civil-society sector in Kosovo and region.
  • Demonstrated familiarity with Transitional Justice and Dealing with the Past concepts and demonstrated experience in these field.
  • Past experience in evaluating projects.
  • Fluency in English and local languages.

Interested parties should submit the following documentation to office@hlc-kosovo.org no later than the 20th of September 2021:

  • A detailed curriculum vitae;
  • A letter of interest outlining the applicant’s interest in and qualifications for the position and examples of past similar work;
  • A proposed methodology and timeline for the completion of work;
  • A financial offer;

Deadline for questions and further clarifications for the open call is 13th of September 2021 via email. All questions and answers will be available for all applicants no later than 15th of September 20201 on the webpage of KCR.

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Young women in Kosovo and Serbia engage in peacebuilding, seeking participation in dialogue

04.08.2021

Insjaderi.org; KultPlus.com; Alsat.mk

Women in Kosovo and Serbia seek to contribute to the bilateral dialogue that began ten years ago, just as they contribute to their communities on a daily basis.

An initiative of special importance regarding this process has been launched by Artpolis- Art and Community Center, from Kosovo and the Alternative Center for Girls from Serbia, supported by Kvinna till Kvinna.

These two organizations dealing with human rights, in particular women’s rights, in several online meetings have brought together young women from Kosovo and Serbia, to discuss, propose and draw conclusions and recommendations about the dialogue process and what role women will have in this. With knowledge of feminism and ready to build peace, these young women have been part of the six editions of the Feminist Spring School, which takes place twice a year in Kosovo and Serbia under the organization of Artpolis and the Alternative Girls’ Center.

One of the organizers says that political orientation is not important, but rather it is important that young women have gathered to present their ideas for the dialogue process, to compile recommendations that are handed over to the various decision makers.

“We as a women’s rights organization have been dealing with this issue for years, but unfortunately neither Serbia nor Kosovo have had any point of discussion on this. So, we are gathered here to discuss these topics freely and to present things that are proposed by you and to come up with a document that is worth talking about. Maybe we do not know what exactly the points of the talks contain, but our goal is to give you a proposal regarding the rights of women in Serbia and Kosovo”, she said.

Transparency is a feature of the ten-year dialogue, according one of the participants, who says that this process is a bit mystic, as they do not know much about it and the information from the media leaves much to be desired.

An interesting proposal for dialogue with Serbia came from her, which stated that Serbs living in Kosovo should also be part of the Serbian delegation, emphasizing that there should also be women.

“I believe that Kosovo Serbs should also be included in the dialogue, I think that this government has an interest in it. Why not be a woman from the Serb community who lives in Kosovo and is a political activist”, she said.

And the project manager in Artpolis, Venera Ismaili, showed that this organization has already taken concrete steps to include women in the Kosovo delegation.

Ismaili stated that they have the support of the President, Vjosa Osmani, for women to be included in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, while emphasizing that Artpolis has created a document in protest, addressed to the Norwegian Embassy, ​​as technical support of this process, in which case the involvement of women was requested.

“We have prepared this letter to send to the Norwegian Embassy, ​​as technical support in the dialogue process. This letter is expected to include other organizations and will be sent to the relevant institutions for this issue“, said Ismaili, on which occasion she warned that all this will be made public very soon.

“On the side of Kosovo, the girls all agree that Kosovo and Serbia should agree but without ignoring the search for justice, killings, disappearances, rapes (either on both sides). Both sides agree that they are not informed by politicians, but only by the media which receive information from the context of what is presented to the public. Both sides agree that the information should be direct, perhaps directly from the negotiating table, because in this way the media does not distribute disinformation and does not manipulate the public,” said Ismaili.

At the very end, all participants gave their opinion on this discussion.

There was a need for women to be informed as much as possible about the dialogue and to be involved in the process, as their judgment does not include at all the nationality and political grudges that these two countries have had over the years.

These discussions were conducted in the framework of the activity “Young women for participation in peace building”, which aims to unite young women interested in contributing to peace policies in the region and creating a document of recommendations in order to contribute to culture of peace from a gender perspective that supports the strengthening of democracy in Kosovo and Serbia and the building of a cross-border dialogue between young women activists.

All this was made possible by the Alternative Girls’ Center from Serbia and Artpolis- Art and Community Center, supported by Kvinna till Kvinna.

Insjaderi.org: https://bit.ly/3fDEwGW

KultPlus.com: https://bit.ly/3s04mcV

Alsat.mk: https://bit.ly/3fCLAUc

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Reaction

Pristina, 08.07.2021

Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo and Youth Initiative for Human Rights Kosovo express their concern regarding the situation created on the occasion of the return of Mrs. Dragica Gašić in the city of Gjakova and in particular for the legal actions undertaken by the Municipality of Gjakova towards her.

On July 6, 2021, the Municipality of Gjakova filed a lawsuit in the Basic Court of Gjakova, where the object of this lawsuit was “the request for annulment of the contract for renting the apartment with a request for temporary measures.” At the same time, the Municipality of Gjakova requested that the respondent be assigned a temporary legal representative, as their place of residence is not known.

We consider that such actions are not in line with the legislation in force and is not in the spirit of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, namely, it violates Article 156, entitled “Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons”, which states that The Republic of Kosovo should promote and facilitate the safe and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons and assists them in the return of their property and possessions. Mrs. Gašić possesses the necessary documents, with which she confirms her right to use the property, a right which was given to her by the decision of the Kosovo Agency for Comparison and Verification of Property. This Agency based on the request of Mrs. Gašić, on June 9, 2021 had vacated her apartment by removing the family that had been there, to enable the return of Mrs. Gašić in that property.

Given that the actions of Mrs. Gašić have been in accordance with the procedures for returnees, without harming or endangering any other person, we consider that the situation created as a result of her arrival and for the legal action that were taken, are in contradiction with the democratic and multiethnic spirit of the state of the Republic of Kosovo and does not contribute to the process of dealing with the past.

Therefore, we call on the local authorities of Gjakova to act in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo by withdrawing the lawsuit against Mrs. Gašić, and facilitating her safe return and stay in Gjakova.

#kcr#hlck#yihr#artpolis#ngoAktiv

Milena P

Multiethnicity through institutions in Kosovo

Multiethnicity in Kosovo is one of the great challenges which the entire population of this area faces. The multicultural population in Kosovo consists, in addition to the Albanian community representing the majority, of Serbs and other non-majority communities, such as Roma, Egyptians, Ashkali, Turks, and others. In such a multiethnic society, it is important to regulate relations within communities and respect the rights of non-majority communities guaranteed by the Constitution of Kosovo and certain laws, so that based on the very democratic principle of this society, the rights of all citizens in Kosovo should be equally respected.

The biggest challenge in such a society is the functioning of the Albanian and Serbian communities, as two completely different peoples, with relations destroyed during the previous war and other political conflicts, which share the same territory and live, cooperate, often depend on each other. Their diversity is reflected, first of all in language, then in culture, customs, and history. At first glance, they do not seem to have any similarities, but there is something connecting such two different peoples that makes their lives and existence itself, and that is the same territory in which they live, the same goals related to the future in the places where they live, striving for progress, and calmer and better life. These two peoples also share what their existence depends on the most, and that is work because they want to work or are already working on the same jobs, in the same institutions, and they probably spend most of the day together. In this everyday life, the lack of knowledge of the language of these peoples is one of the biggest problems and the most important conditions for successful communication and cooperation. Younger populations almost do not feel the need to know the languages of communities, but also the culture of different peoples. Moreover, they are often hostile to the customs, culture, and language of different peoples. However, what has been a source of hope for the improvement of this situation in Kosovo in the last few years is precisely the sharing of the same jobs and the improvement of the economic aspect of the citizens. Members of different communities who work in the same jobs have only one goal, and that is to do their job the best they can to keep it and get paid, on which the quality of their lives depends the most. In order to achieve that, it is necessary for their communication and cooperation to be at the highest possible level, and that also means knowing each other better. Joint cooperation and work make them get closer to each other and get to know the culture and history of different people better. WIthout their mutual interaction, they would not be able to achieve any of that and it would be difficult to overcome the barriers and prejudices that have existed for years. Mutual respect and esteem are necessary for normal functioning, but it is necessary to create enough space to accept diversity. Therefore, influence from all levels of government is important, in order to create a pleasant environment for all communities in Kosovo.

The integration, which took place in certain institutions in Kosovo, the most important of which is the judiciary, contributed to all this. Many young people from the Serbian community, including myself, were given the opportunity to work or do internships in these institutions, together with colleagues who are of Albanian nationality. In the beginning, there were a lot of problems with language skills and mutual communication, it was not possible to talk without the presence of a translator or other colleagues who know the language of another nationality, but the desire to work and personal development was stronger than all barriers. Considering that the workers in these institutions are mostly older people, the knowledge of the Serbian or Albanian language by certain workers who have been there before, made it much easier for young people to get to know each other and has enabled mutual communication. This is exactly what motivated young people to learn the language of another nation better at work and to get to know their culture better. In the beginning, there was writing down the words necessary to read and communicate, and later merging those words into sentences. As a worker in the judicial system of Kosovo, I needed to master the Albanian language as well as possible in order to do my job more efficiently, and I also wanted to “absorb” the experience of all my colleagues as much as possible. Working in a pleasant environment is necessary in order to achieve the best results at work, and that means better personal contact, bringing the cultures and customs of both nations closer. Mutual help at work is also of great importance and allows us to better cooperate and achieve the desired goals. During the previous years of working together, as long as the integration lasts, the experiences of many are positive, progress has been made on the issue of language, so many of my colleagues have learned the language and no longer need assistance in communicating with workers of other nationalities; work in certain segments is done faster and more efficiently, even the parties have more confidence in the integrated institutions in Kosovo.

Aware of the fact that we share space, work, and spend time together, we become more interested in the customs and culture of another nation, for better mutual acquaintance and respect. I have witnessed positive examples also when it comes to religious holidays and their mutual respect, culture is now better known and differences are accepted. Through doing business together, we managed to find a way to better accept each other and give a chance to our relationships. We have the confidence to turn to each other for help beyond business life, but work is the basis of our relationship, which has helped us build it better.

Because of all this, I think that work gave us a good chance to meet and if there are more such opportunities, most will go in the same direction, so in addition to improving the quality of life, there will be a more pleasant environment for mutual functioning and socializing in the future. It is a society to strive for because only in such conditions is it possible to better organize our lives, get to know the people who live next to us, and work together to help each other build better lives. I see just such a future – through creating more opportunities for employment in a multiethnic society, among which is the integration of certain institutions that took place in Kosovo and which resulted in good opportunities for many, especially young but also older citizens of this society.

Milena Petković, lawyer

Milena Petković was born on June 1, 1992. in Gjilan. She enrolled in the Law School in 2011 at the University of Pristina with temporary headquarters in Mitrovica and graduated in 2016 with a high average. She has been active in the integrated judiciary in Kosovo since 2017 and passed the bar exam in Pristina in 2019. She is now actively involved in the fight against domestic violence and cooperates with the non-governmental sector.

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(Pa) Fundësi & Ogledalo

The Kosovo Coalition for Reconciliation together with an informal group of students implemented an initiative intending to address the lack of understanding and lack of cooperation that exists in Kosovo. This was done, by introducing the wider public in each of ethnic groups with cultural works of young artists originating from different communities. We identified two young poets in Kosovo Serb and Albanian community, Dušan Zaharijevič and Agon Rexhepi, ranslated their selected work in the language of other groups. The publications were printed and disseminated throughout Kosovo to: libraries, youth centres, cultural centres, etc. enabling wider public to get introduced to the cultural values and young artist from different communities.

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Organizational meeting for FemArt 2021

12.05.2021

On 20-25 September 2021, Prishtina will be enriched with various cultural and artistic events and activities that will take place during the ninth edition of the FemArt Festival.

The staff of Artpolis, on 12 May, has held the first organizational meeting of the FemArt Festival, and decided about the motto and program scheme.

In this year’s edition, there will be a variety of activities, especially about feminism, ranging from theater plays, performances, workshops, exhibitions, concerts, conferences, and various publications.

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Request to include all victims in the memorial plaque in Lluzhan

Marking the 22nd anniversary of the tragic event on the Lluzhan/Lužane bridge, on May 1, 2021, a memorial plaque dedicated to the victims was inaugurated at the site, erected by the Municipality of Podujevë/Podujevo.

The memorial plaque bears the names of 31 Albanian victims, excluding however 13 Serbian victims who also lost their lives in this tragic event. Mayor of the Municipality of Podujevë/Podujevo, Mr. Shpejtim Bulliqi, through a Facebook post, stated, among other things “… we have unveiled the memorial plaque with all the names of victims who perished in this tragedy”.
The public should be informed that, according to the data the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLCK) have, on May 1, 1999, at around 13:00 hours, NATO strikes hit the Niš-Ekspres bus, at the time located on the Lluzhan/Lužane bridge, heading towards Prishtinë/Priština. As a consequence, 44 people lost their lives. Among them, 31 Albanian civilians and 13 Serbs, of whom 7 were civilians.
HLCK expresses its deep concern with the way the victims are commemorated, and particularly more so when local and state institutions contribute to the reinforcement of one-sided narratives, that put forward selective versions of history. The denial of victims on ethnic grounds is an insult to victims and their families and only deepens the divisions between communities in Kosovo.
Therefore, HLCK requests the Municipality of Podujevë/Podujevo to ensure that the memorial plaque correctly presents the events of May 1, 1999, commemorating all those who lost their lives in that event. HLCK also calls on all commemorative initiatives honoring victims to include all victims, regardless of their gender, race or ethnicity.

According to the findings of HLC and HLCK, the following people lost their lives in Lluzhan on this day:
Ajeti Shefqet (1945)
Aliu Kujtim (1968)
Bulliqi Behxhet (1946)
Cvetić Milovan (1949)
Filipović Božur (1948)
Grujić Života (1964)
Ilić Miroslav (1961)
Ivanović Vladica (1969)
Jakupi Ajet (1958)
Jakupi Ibrahim (1935)
Janković Miodrag (1950)
Jelić Vukosav (1950)
Jupolli Gani (1932)
Jusufi Mehmet (1960)
Kopalla Arjeta (1985)
Kopalla Fatime (1966)
Kopalla Fetije (1953)
Kopalla Florinda (1981)
Kopalla Mirjeta (1997)
Kopalla Xhavit (1984)
Kostić Bojan (1973)
Malinić Milana (1950)
Musa Drita (1977)
Musa Fexhrije (1970)
Musa Selman (1973)
Petrović Marija (1984)
Petrović Nikola (1982)
Petrović Smiljana (1933)
Podvorica Bexhet (1960)
Potera Milazim (1958)
Potera Nurije (1967)
Qerimi Ibrahim (1940)
Ramadani Besa (1991)
Ramadani Besarta (1993)
Ramadani Besnik (1983)
Ramadani Bislim (1996)
Ramadani Fatime (1963)
Ramadani Gani (1928)
Ramadani Muzafere (1986)
Ramadani Rizah (1959)
Rexhepi Serbeze (1933)
Rrahmani Halime (1964)
Uka Adem (1947)
Vukadinović Zoran (1972)
Reaction is supported by the non-formal coalition of NGO’s and experts who promotes the Principles on Dealing with the Past.

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Stronger together but rivals forever

Stereotypes affect all of us, especially in environments still burdened by conflicts.

Forum-theater performance “Stronger together but rivals forever” that took place in Civil Energy Center in North Mitrovica on 21 of April, dealt with this topic, with the idea to show how much problem of stereotypes prevents us from functioning normally. Through debate, we have tried to change our view of this problem.

Four young people end up in the jungle after the accident. Instead of cooperating together and ensuring their survival, an Albanian, a Croat and two Serb women, burdened by their stereotypes, are divided by nationality, religion and gender. Wasting time in their conflicts, they fail to solve their main problem, survival.

Actors Lidija Nikolić, Emilija Popović, Uroš Cvetković, Miloš Trifunović, Momčilo Jovanović trained by Filip Pajić, they successfully conveyed to the audience the atmosphere and problems of their characters.

This performance was fulfilled more by a discussion between the public and the actors/actresses after the end of the performance.

The activity was carried out in accordance with the recommendations for the prevention and suppression of the spread of the Covid-19 virus. This activity is supported by Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR KS), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union in Kosovo through the project “Transforming conflicting perceptions through increased civic and community engagement in Kosovo” implemented by Artpolis and NGO AKTIV as members of the Kosovo Coalition for Reconciliation (KCR).