HLCK-Press release 1-06.07.2021

Press release: Zoran Vukotić is issued his second conviction for war crimes in Kosovo


The Trial Panel of the Special Department of the Basic Court in Prishtina (with Judge Valbona Musliu Selimaj1 presiding), on July 5, 2021, found the accused, Zoran Vukotic, guilty of the criminal offense of sexual assault as a war crime against the civil population and sentenced him to ten (10) years of imprisonment.

The Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLCK) has regularly monitored the trial of the accused Vukotic. Based on the monitoring of the trial, which was closed to the public, HLCK concludes that the trial was fair, impartial, and conducted within a reasonable time. The judgment was announced after seven (7) court hearings, and seven (7) witnesses proposed by the prosecution were heard, including the injured party D.1.

The trial panel confirmed that the accused, Zoran Vukotic, as a member of the reserves unit of the police force of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, on 22 May 1999, at the Vushtrri/Vučitrn cemetery, in cooperation with the Serbian military, police and paramilitary forces, gathered the Albanian civilian population, after having previously been expelled from their settlements, ordered them to sit on the ground and, while in that position, the accused used violence and started beating them with a wooden stick, hitting them on their heads and other parts of the body, and then, in co-perpetration with other members of the said unit, separated the young men, put them in trucks and removed them towards an unknown direction, and forced women, children and the elderly to wait in line in front of a two-story house, purportedly to provide them with identification cards. When he approached victim D.1, the accused took her by force and put her in a room on the second floor of the house, where there were also other women naked and raped by other police officers. In the presence of those women and other police officers the accused raped her.

Since the end of the armed conflict in Kosovo, four (4) indictments for rape as war crimes against the civilian population have been filed by the local judiciary, including international missions, against five (5) persons. In three (3) earlier indictments the defendants were acquitted. The last indictment against the accused Zoran Vukotic was filed on March 6, 2020, by the Special Prosecution of the Republic of Kosovo.2


1 Members of the trial panel, judges: Valon Kurtaj and Suzana Çerkini
2 The indictment was filed by the special prosecutor, Drita Hajdari.


Index of ethnic stereotypes in Kosovo


This research is a part of the Kosovo Coalition for Reconciliation project, funded by the European Union Office in Pristina. It was conducted by students of the University of Pristina and their colleagues in northern Kosovo, under the mentorship of NGO AKTIV experts. The main objective of this research is to mobilize students and young leaders in Kosovo in initiatives aiming to identify and deconstruct ethnic stereotypes.

Kosovo report 2019 ALB SRB ENG cover (1)-page-001



Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLCK) invites you to participate in the online conference on the topic:

“Challenges in prosecuting war crimes in Kosovo-what is the way out?”

HLC Kosovo has published its annual report for 2019 on the monitoring of conflict related crime trials in Kosovo, on 13th of May 2020. A short presentation of the report and main findings will be presented during the online conference.

The conference will be organized online, via ZOOM platform on the 14h of July 2020 from 10:30 hrs.

Please find the agenda for the conference attached to this invitation.

Please find the link to join the conference: https://zoom.us/j/93560389814

With respect,

Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo

Abdula 1

Safe. At home

May, 2020

Incredible times. In just few months, almost the whole humanity got isolated. Inside their own houses. Quite some reflection will be needed to be able to crystalize all the learning and insights we have all gained in these, rather odd times. In meantime, we have heard many reports of the nature reviving, as we, the humans, have been calmer than usual…

By the power of our own fear, in a hostile setting, we are being forced to stay where we truly belong – home. We are re-discovering our freedom from the attachments outside that we have perceived as necessary parts of our days. We are re-discovering the cosiness of the place where we are being obliged to stay. Re-discovering our own duties toward that place. We have been missed, home.

How important in these fragile times to remember those that have lost the luxury of having that safe space called “home”; milions of refugees in camps near the borders, many more IDPs, just not being able to go back home, and massive number of homeless people, all around the world, that have never had such a feeling of belonging to a place. Also to remember those that in such times feel abandoned; at the beginning of the “pandemic panic”, a journalist from Gracanica, central Kosovo, writes:

At a time when almost the entire world is panicking about the spread of the Covid-19, for whom not much is known, my question is: to whom do Serbs from central Kosovo belong? Whom to contact and whom to listen to? In fact, the real question is – is anyone interested in them?

Such a feeling of not belonging is a consequence of longer hostile relations between the governments these ordinary people’s lives are related to; in Prishtina, and in Belgrade. This is a small indicator of the need for relationship-building between the two. Otro mundo es possible; we have discovered in these odd time that, if we invest some will and creativity, it is possible to do many things differently, better.

Sure, this situation will end, and many say that world will not be the same. We don’t know how that will look like, but we do know we will go back outside, and our chaotic rush between the “inner” and the “outer” of our lives, will continue. And let it be so, that is us, the humans; needing a place to call home, yet eager to explore everything outside of that home. But, keep in mind that just because we, the humans, are not disturbing it, the nature is reviving… And also keep in mind – you are not stuck home, you are safe there. Hold on, few more days…

Abdullah b. FERIZI
for KCR. May 2020
Abdullah comes from Mitrovica, lives in Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje, and is engaged in peace work in Kosovo and wider, for the last twenty years.

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of NGO AKTIV and members of the Kosovo Coalition for Reconciliation, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Kosovo report 2019 ALB SRB ENG cover-page-001

HLCK – “War Crimes Trials – Still at The Beginning”


Within the regular activities of the “Monitoring Conflict Related Crime Trials in Kosovo and the Inclusion of the Youth in the Justice Sector” project, in the second half of February 2020, the Humanitarian Law Center in Kosovo (HLCK) finished drafting its planned yearly report on the most significant trials monitored during past year, titled “War Crimes Trials – Still at The Beginning”.

The report itself includes an analysis of trials monitored by HLCK monitors during 2019. In addition, we have analyzed the results of attempts by the Kosovo judicial institutions to prosecute war crimes. We have also included recommendations for the country’s judicial institutions, should they be interested in overcoming the major issues faced by the Kosovo judiciary and achieve the best possible results in prosecuting war crimes in the coming period – this based on our experience both as monitors of war crimes trials over many years and the HLC’s wider experience in monitoring war crimes in the Western Balkan region.

Sadly, the previous year was also marked by a very small number of sessions held in cases related to war crimes charges. The HLCK report for 2019 included 19 cases, in all stages of criminal procedure.  Pretrial procedure was initiated against eight (8) persons who were arrested during the year on the basis of a reasonable doubt of having committed war crime against civilian population. They were mainly arrested at border crossings, when entering the territory of Kosovo. On this occasion, they were placed in detention and investigations were also initiated against them. In relation to two (2) of the arrested persons, and after obtaining evidence, investigations were suspended and they were released from detention. In relation to four (4) suspects, late in the year, three (3) indictments were filed, while the investigative procedure continued in relation to the remaining two (2).

Two (2) main trials initiated in previous years in relation to war crimes continued in the reporting period. The report includes published an analysis of appeals procedures in relation to these charges, as well certain cases connected with war crimes cases, that are politically or ethnically motivated. You may find more details on these and other observations that, according to the HLCK, marked the Kosovo judiciary in 2019, in the online version of our yearly report “War Crimes Trials – Still at the Beginning”.

The Project “Monitoring Conflict Related Crime Trials in Kosovo and the Inclusion of the Youth in the Justice Sector” is funded by Foreign and Commonwealth Office through the British Embassy in Pristina and the European Union in Kosovo through the project “Transforming conflicting perceptions through increased civic and community engagement in Kosovo”.


The Foundations of the Reconciliation Process Must be Laid Among Local Communities


Darko Dimitrijevic is the Editor-in-Chief of Radio Goraždevac. He is a longtime journalist, NGO and human rights activist. During his career, he was president of the Kosovo Media Association and subsequently chairman of the Community Advisory Council. He has won several prestigious journalism awards in Serbia. He lives and works in Goraždevac, in the Peć/Peja municipality.


That morning the Prokletije Mountains were illuminated by the first morning rays of the sun. I have worked on many programs and activities over the past two decades, but I was never as excited as I was that morning. I was drinking my first coffee of the day and thinking about what lay ahead, when my wife and daughters informed me that they were ready to go. Their excitement was palpable as it was the first time that I was going on an inter-ethnic excursion with my children. This time we’re going by bus and not by car. Our neighbors arrive with their kids. And they want to be part of this unusual excursion. We get on the bus in the center of Goraždevac, the passengers who had already arrived from the neighboring village stare at us with a curious look in their eyes. We greet each other with a nod and a smile.

After a short drive, we arrive in front of the City Museum in Peć/Peja, where we still hesitate to mingle, but nonetheless visit the museum as a joint group. Since the exhibits of the museum are mono-ethnic and reflect the heritage of just the majority community, there weren’t too many topics for discussion. In the Decani Monastery we are welcomed by a curator who tells the Albanian part of the group the history of the monastery, after which we head to Prizren. We’ve got all day ahead. Having visited religious and historical monuments, we sit down not far from the stone bridge to summarize impressions and get to know each other better. We sit together at lunch and discuss various topics. Teachers, mothers with children and young people who were part of this group find common ground.

After a dynamic day and new acquaintances, the bus heads towards Peć/Peja. The passengers are no longer so quiet. There are jokes and laughter in the front, while in the back youngsters chat about the latest hits from abroad.  

Summarizing impressions, thoughts wander back to the post-war years. At a time when something like this was almost unimaginable without a long and difficult mediation.

Immediately after the war, Fabrizio, an Italian and his organization came to Goraždevac and began to work for reconciliation between Serbs and Albanians. In that period, only someone with extensive experience could do such a thing.

Often, at that time, we as 20-somethings, spent time with Fabrizio and his colleagues. We hung out late at night drinking and playing guitar, and throwing barbecue parties during the day. Our new Italian friends had the same group in the town. About ten of them were from the surrounding villages as well as from the town itself. At that time, only a select few were willing to meet someone belonging to another ethnic group. The overall environment itself, that could brand us as traitors, had an enormous influence on our willingness to mingle.

Fabrizio somehow managed to get us together. He made us able to listen to each other. To start from ourselves, to face ourselves and others. Every week for several years in a row, we organized focus groups to talk about the past and what we experienced as children during the war. Some of those “confessions” were not easy to listen to, but they brought us closer. We began to appreciate and respect each other.

We become friends that travel together and spend time together. Today, all the actors in this story are accomplished personalities, parents… Everyone has learned the most important lesson in life, to “value their own” and respect others.

Fabrizio left Kosovo long ago. A bus that drives a new group twenty years later is one of the few to accommodate such diverse passengers heading somewhere with a clear purpose.

I’m driving from Prizren and think to myself; will my children, when they grow up, have the opportunity to meet someone like Fabrizio, who will teach them to value their own and respect others and to become familiar with the environment they live in?

Optimism betrays me, I don’t think they will have such an opportunity because the circumstances in this regard are much worse than they were 18 years ago, where almost nothing is happening at the local level in this regard. It all comes down to the initiatives of central-level institutions and politicians who in this case have only the motive of scoring political points.

Some cities, such as Đakovica/Gjakova, are still out-of-bounds for Serbs, and villages like Mushtishte are no exception.

In addition to dialogue, reconciliation is now one of the most loaded words in Kosovo in the Western Balkans. Often, “reconciliation” is used as a political bargaining chip. Often, the ruling elite uses “reconciliation” as a means to manipulate. It is an encumbered word that can be susceptible to manipulation and should therefore at times be discussed quietly and out of the public eye.  The concept of “dealing with the past” has been mentioned in the region over the past eight years, something that has emerged out of the context of reconciliation. The Office of the President of Kosovo has established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which, aside from its more obvious aims, has started working in three directions through the establishment of a number of working groups: “The Right to the Truth”, “The Right to Justice”, “The Right to Compensation” and “the Elimination and Prevention of Re-occurrence of Human Rights Violations.”

One wonders, after taking all of these facts into consideration and keeping track of developments in the area, is it enough? Are we ready to “pay” for the road to reconciliation? All processes must be built from the bottom-up, and reconciliation, which needs to start locally, is no exception to this. Despite significant investments into its construction, the path that we currently find ourselves on, which winds its way from central authorities in Pristina to local institutions, has almost certainly set us on collision course.  Current political leaders use and abuse nationalism, patriotism, and chauvinism as a means of getting as many votes as possible, all of which runs counter to the spirit of reconciliation. The reconciliation is mentioned pro-forma, while the other side is discussed in the worst manner possible in closed political circles.

Therefore, working with ordinary people locally is the only safe and painless path to a successful reconciliation process.  The is clearly demonstrated by the excursion that I recently went on with my children and memories from long ago. The foundations of such a process cannot be secure if they are built at the central level. Central institutions must be a mediator and promoter of the process between local communities. Focus groups should be organized at all levels of society such as with local leaders, war victims, farmers, educators and health care professionals.

In this process, it is necessary to build a foundation locally, among communities. The process must be comprehensive, with focus groups in which different members of society participate. The mediators must be people who have extensive experience and knowledge in this field. Without this model and the direction of the reconciliation process, for which there is currently no enthusiasm, we will remain slaves of superficial reconciliation and politics for a long time yet.

Darko Dimitrijevic

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the, European Union.




A beginning of the work of the Coalition for Reconciliation was solemnly marked today in Prishtina.

The Coalition was established aiming to encourage and support the reconciliation process in Kosovo.

Kosovo Humanitarian Law Center, Aktiv, and Art Polis are the founders of the coalition aiming to improve ethnic relations and at the same time raise awareness on civic initiatives’ participation within communities.

Kosovo Humanitarian Law Centre Executive Director Bekim Blakaj noted they have identified for years the joint values that these organizations share and thus decided to join forces and establish this coalition.

“The collation would be open for cooperation with all other organizations and individuals who identify their values with joint values of the coalition, and I am sure by the time we will get stronger. This project is just the beginning of joint work, and the final aim is to reach sustainable peace and give a contribution to the reconciliation in Kosovo in the future,” Blakaj said.

Aktiv Executive Director Miodrag Milicevic said the only way to reach the level of true reconciliation is to show the readiness to face the past and find the way to open a path towards dialogue, that could lead further to the better society.

Founder and Director of Art Polis Zana Hoxha said this coalition came out naturally, as a synergy of the three organizations that worked for many years not only to achieve inter-ethnic trust but also on building the peace and creating opportunities for cooperation between different communities.

Representatives of embassies, local and international institutions, civil society and the media participated in an event.



Forum Future 2019 – Reconciliation process and transitional justice, perception, problems and perspective

11-12. DECEMBER 2019.

The Conforencë FORUM FUTURE 2019

Dealing with the past, the present and future relations between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo was the subject of the 2-day conference held in Mitrovica north. Other topics such as reconciliation process and transitional justice were broadly discussed between representatives of civil society, opinion makers and students from both communities.


Workshop on effective communication and role of Ethnic Stereotypes in reconciliation

Aktiv – 16 – 19 June, 2019

NGO Aktiv conducted the workshop from 16th of June to 19th of June, 2019 in Igalo, Montenegro with participation of young individuals of Serbian and Albanian ethnicities from different municipalities of Kosovo.

The general aim of training was to promote critical thinking about what are stereotypes, prejudices and behaviors of discrimination, how they are formed by people and how communication without prejudices could affect negativities in relationship between different communities, respectively among Serbians and Albanians.

3. Forum future-Perceptimet

Mutual Perceptions of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo

Aktiv – 2019

Today, despite the tangible progress achieved in stabilization of ethnic relations and cooperation at political level, Kosovo still remains a divided society with deeply rooted inter-ethnic prejudices. Such a state of affairs is intentionally or inadvertently sustained and fueled by more or less all community actors, while the structural reconciliation and cooperation efforts are limited to the low-scale civil initiatives or narrow professional clusters (e.g businesses). There are many factors that contribute and fuel the lingering ethnic conflicts in Kosovo. They vary in intensity and effects on ethnic relations.

There have been many works and research in examination of the conflict drivers, but very poor efforts have been made in identifying the prejudices and misperceptions burdening ethnic relations in Kosovo, let alone engage in public dialogue aimed at their deconstruction. The study presented in this paper aims exactly at this – to label prevailing ethnic stereotypes and instigate an open dialogue that leads toward their understanding and their rejection in shaping ethnic perceptions.

The research was conducted on 527 subjects from the area of North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zvecan, Zubin Potok, and the enclaves (Strpce, Gnjilane and Gračanica) on one side (233 total), and Mitrovica and Pristina (a total of 299) on the other.

Here you can download the document and Serbian and Albanian languages: