Klan Kosova carries an opinion by Human Rights Watch Associate Director Fred Abrahams where he says that civilians have paid a high price of the Kosovo conflict that ended 20 years ago with 1,653 persons still missing, of which 1,092 Albanians and 562 Roma and Serbs.
“In Kosovo, Serbian and Yugoslav forces rampaged through villages burning homes, executing men and raping women and girls. Roughly 850,000 Kosovo Albanians were forcibly expelled,” Abrahams writes adding: “These were not the conflict’s only crimes. The ethnic Albanian insurgency known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) also abducted and murdered Serbian, Roma and Albanian civilians during and after the war. NATO forces used cluster munitions and its attacks killed some 500 civilians, some in legally dubious strikes.”
Abrahams says that justice for these cases is mostly missing too and although the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted several Serbian officials for war crimes in Kosovo, the Belgrade-based war crimes court has focused on low- and mid-level perpetrators, and ignored many of the most serious Kosovo crimes whereas the European Union has not made war-time accountability a top demand. At the same time, senior leaders of the KLA accused of killings and body transfers to Albania remain at-large, some in high government posts. “A new court in The Hague offers hope for justice, and Serbia’s protection of war criminals does not justify attempts to undermine that chance.”
The EU, says Abrahams, has now focused on the dialogue for normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia and while acknowledging the importance of dialogue, he considers that “justice is a critical medicine for lasting health.”