Annual Report: Serbia and Montenegro 2010

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Annual Report: Serbia and Montenegro 2010

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In November UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, in considering needs for international protection, stated that Serbs, Roma and Albanians in a minority situation continued to face persecution or serious harm through cumulative discriminatory acts. During 2009, according to UNHCR, 2,962 individuals were forcibly returned to Kosovo from other European countries, including 2,492 ethnic Albanians and 470 members of minority communities. There were 193 individuals - 47 Serbs, 127 Roma and 19 Albanians (returned to a minority situation) - from communities UNHCR considered to be in need of continued international protection.

Violence against women

The OMPF reported on 400 cases of sexual assaults in Kosovo between 2003 and 2008, in which only 10 per cent of suspects were forensically examined. Over a third of victims were under the age of 16. A 2009 survey found that the majority of sexual assaults were not reported to the authorities.

Amnesty International visits/reports

Amnesty International delegates visited Serbia and Kosovo in February

Serbia: Burying the past - 10 years of impunity for enforced disappearances in Kosovo (8 June 2009)
Serbia: Human rights defenders at risk (14 September 2009)
Concerns in the Balkans: Serbia, including Kosovo, January-June 2009 (1 September 2009)
Serbia: Briefing to the Human Rights Committee (18 September 2009)

Montenegro

Some progress was made in prosecuting war crimes; freedom of expression was compromised by threats, fines and unresolved political killings; Roma suffered discrimination. The European Commission prepared an opinion on Montenegro's accession to the European Union.

Justice system - war crimes

In July parliament approved a Law on Co-operation with the International Criminal Court; a 2007 bilateral agreement providing US citizens with immunity remained in force.

In March, the Bijelo Polje Special Court for War Crimes and Organized Crime (SCWC) opened proceedings against eight former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) soldiers, accused of murdering 23 Kosovo Albanian civilians, at Kalu?erski Laz in April 1999.

In May, at Podgorica SCWC, the trial began of five former JNA Montenegrin reservists for the torture and inhumane treatment at Morinj camp of 169 Croatian civilians and prisoners of war between October 1991 and August 1992.

Proceedings had been transferred from Bijelo Polje in March, after witnesses had received threats; measures for their protection were subsequently agreed. Proceedings opened in November against nine former government officials and high-ranking police officers, with five of them being tried in their absence. They had been indicted in January for the enforced disappearance in 1992 of at least 79 refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) who were subsequently handed over to the then Bosnian Serb authorities. S.P., a former police inspector who refused to participate in the disappearances and was forced to retire from the police, had since 1992 continued to receive threats to his life, assaults, and damage to his property. In December, he was granted protection as a witness in proceedings.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In January, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) urged the authorities to guarantee fundamental legal safeguards to detainees and to promptly investigate allegations of ill-treatment.

In March, Montenegro ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and in May proposed the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms as the national prevention mechanism.

The NGO Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) confirmed a decrease in reported allegations of illtreatment, following the CAT's recommendations.