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UN failed to investigate Kosovo war crimes: AI

The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) [official website] failed to adequately investigate missing person reports in the aftermath of the 1998-99 Kosovo war with Serbia [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text] Tuesday. According to AI, a 1999 UN resolution charged the UNMIK with protecting and promoting human rights in Kosovo in accordance with "internationally recognized standards of human rights." AI asserts that "widespread" and "systematic" government abductions and murders after the war likely constituted crimes against humanity. Based on more than a decade of research and more than 150 complaints, AI contends that the UNMIK "signally failed" to investigate potential criminal liability, leading to a "climate of impunity" that persists in Kosovo. AI urged the UN to take immediate action [press release] to ensure that those responsible are brought to account for their alleged crimes.

Tensions remain high between the Kosovo and Serbia since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, partly due to Serbia's refusal to recognize Kosovo as an independent nation. In May the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and the Kosovo Police Special Operations Unit arrested five people [JURIST report] on suspicion of war crimes during the 1998-1999 conflict. In April UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement [JURIST report] welcoming a landmark agreement between Serbia and Kosovo regarding membership in the EU that may bring stability to the Balkans. Also in April EULEX began the retrial [JURIST report] of Fatmir Limaj, a prominent political figure in the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Nine other defendants face charges in the case.

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