Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

PACE: There cannot be selective justice

Evelyna Topalova, January 27, 2011

There cannot be selective justice, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) stated firmly, while adopting the report of Swiss senator Dick Marty (ALDE), about possible crimes committed by Kosovo Albanian rebels.

A resolution passed on January 25th by PACE calls for an international investigation of the allegations about human organs trafficking in the aftermaths of the Kosovo conflict in 1999. The assembly highlights that perpetrators of serious human rights violations should not remain unpunished, while the fact that such crimes were committed in the context of a conflict could not justify a decision to refrain from prosecuting perpetrators.

The document insists on conducting an investigation into allegations of the existence of secret detention centres, run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), on Albanian territory where organs from Serbs and Kosovo Albanians were removed to be taken abroad for transplantation. It also urges to give the EU Rule of Law Mission to Kosovo (EULEX) a clear mandate, the resources and high-level political support it needed to carry out the investigation. The resolution also invites Albanian authorities and the Kosovo administration to cooperate with EULEX. The PACE draws the attention on the need to guarantee an effective protection of witnesses.

After the vote on the resolution, Dick Marty said that everything was up to the judiciary. He stressed that the report was not against Kosovo people and it was neither pro-Serbian nor anti-Albanian but was a report on violation of human rights. Marty also asked the reasonable question why an investigation was not opened earlier having in mind that the name of the former KLA leader and incumbent Prime Minister Hashim Thaci had been linked with the organised crime for years.

And while Belgrade hailed the adoption of the resolution by the PACE, Albanians criticised it. The Kosovo society rejected in one voice the accusations of the Council of Europe rapporteur against AOK heroes.

Kosovo Acting President Jakup Krasniqi said that Kosovo was interested in shedding light into the allegations but in the same time voiced confidence that they were groundless. He added the document would not hamper the recognition of independent Kosovo which would celebrate next month three years of its secession from Serbia. Let's keep in mind that the unilaterally proclaimed independence received the clear support of the West.

Ahead of the vote in PACE, the British daily, The Guardian, published new secret documents from the NATO-led forces in Kosovo (KFOR), which identified Hashim Thaci as one of the "biggest fish" in organised crime in his country. According to the leaks, the US and other western governments backing Kosovo government had known of these criminal connections for years.

Marty's report does not amount to criminal investigation but is important, as it opened the eyes of the international community or at least was supposed to do it. The Belgrade-based daily Danas says in its editorial on the topic that after these revelations the West would stop interpreting the events during and after the Kosovo conflict only in black and white. Because it was finally admitted that the Serbs had been victims too and serious suspicions had been raised that prominent Kosovo politicians could have been responsible for brutal crimes. "If western powers have been aware of this for more than of 10 years but have preferred to keep silence, as Marty says, we can only hope that the time has come the change this practice," the daily says in conclusion.

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