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Kosovo inmates on hunger strike for improved conditions, amnesty

[JURIST] More than 560 inmates in Kosovo's Dubrava Prison [official website, in Albanian] began a hunger strike Sunday to protest poor conditions at the prison and to pressure the government to pass an anticipated amnesty law. The inmates have demanded that "prison year" terms be reduced to nine months rather than a full calendar year, that the president have the power to pardon inmates and that prisoners who have served two-thirds of their sentences be subject to conditional release; they say that the government should have addressed these demands after the Kosovar constitution [text; JURIST report] went into effect earlier this month. Officials for the Ministry of Justice said they are currently in negotiations on the proposed amnesty law [announcement, in Albanian]. Justice Minister Nekibe Kelmendi asked the prisoners to end the strike, but inmates said they would continue the protest until the government passes the law. Beta has more. Xinhua has additional coverage.

Kosovo's new constitution went into effect on June 15 after the Assembly of Kosovo [official website] adopted [JURIST report] it in April and the European Union certified [JURIST report] that it guarantees the individual and community rights of all citizens. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence [text; JURIST report] and Serbian President Boris Tadic has said that the charter of the breakaway Serbian province is legally void. Russia also refuses to recognize the new constitution, alleging that it violates international law [JURIST report].

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