MINELRES: Kosovo incidents cast doubt on minority reporting, Chachipe says

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Thu Aug 20 19:28:21 2009

Original sender: Romano Chachipe <chachipe.info@gmail.com>

Kosovo incidents cast doubt on minority reporting, Chachipe says (PR)
19 August 2009 – In a report
about a series of recent assaults, on Roma in Gnjilane, Eastern Kosovo,
which might be ethnically motivated, the human rights organisation
Chachipe expressed serious about the quality and objectivity of the
reporting on ethnically motivated crime against Roma in Kosovo. During
the last weeks of July, several Roma have reportedly been assaulted and
abused by Albanian neighbours in a traditional Roma neighbourhood in
Gnjilane, without this being properly followed-up and reported by
international organisations.

Following reports on a violent incident, during which several Roma had
allegedly been injured, Chachipe started an inquiry among international
organisations aimed to identify the background and extent of the
incident. Even though the reported incident dated back already several
days, none of the contacted organisations including UNMIK, EULEX, the
OSCE, and the UNHCR, claimed to have any information about its
occurrence. But even after taking information from their field offices,
the organisations were either unable or unwilling to inform Chachipe
about it.

“The information which we received were most sketchy. They ranged from a
list of a couple of police reports, which referred to apparently minor
incidents such as “pushing” and theft, to a remark according to which
the security situation for Roma has recently deteriorated in Kosovo, and
a complaint that the police does not properly report about assaults on
Roma,” Chachipe said. 

The picture changed drastically following a TV feature which was
broadcasted, last Thursday, by Yekhipe, the Roma programme of the Kosovo
public TV. Yekhipe reporters visited the Roma neighbourhood and
interviewed several victims and witnesses. From their reports it
appeared that a series of serious incidents had taken place in Gnjilane
during which several Roma had been assaulted and abused for no apparent
motive other than hatred. 

Talking to the reporters, the Roma claimed that the situation in
Gnjilane had recently deteriorated what they linked with the arrival of
ethnic Albanian returnees in the Roma neighbourhood. One of the
witnesses alleged that the attacks were organised and coordinated. All
of the Roma claimed that the members of their community were regularly
assaulted or verbally abused, and expressed serious fears regarding
their security. 

It also transpired from their statements, that their confidence in the
police was only limited. Out of six cases, which have allegedly taken
place, in July, only three were reported to the police. Yekhipe
reporters interviewed a senior police officer working with the KPS who
qualified two of the reported cases as simple neighbourhood conflicts
and alleged that another was eventually linked with “open bills” between
black marketers, disqualifying thus the victim.

Chachipe said that, against this background, it was hard to understand
the passivity and lack of concern which went out from the reactions of
the international organisations to its inquiry. The organisation
reminded that one of the tasks of the international security in Kosovo
was protecting and promoting human rights, and that the organisations
have an explicit mandate to monitor the situation. It showed most
concerned about the fact that the EU Police appeared to have little
information about the situation in the Roma neighbourhood in Gnjilane.

Chachipe highlighted the consequences of the underreporting of
ethnically motivated violence against Roma for the Roma in Kosovo and
the refugees and asylum seekers abroad. “As it appears from the recent
incidents in Gnjilane, which is also confirmed by accounts we received
before, Roma in Kosovo have no one to turn to, when they feel under
threat. Those who left Kosovo are at odds to document the risks to which
they are exposed upon their return.”

Chachipe criticized the decision of several West European countries
including Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Austria, to forcibly
repatriate Roma, on the basis of on an incomplete and biased assessment
of the security situation. “It appears that that the recent UNMIK
reports to the UN Security Council are essentially based on police
reports, whereas UNMIK itself acknowledges that ethnic minorities have
no confidence in reporting to the police,” Chachipe said.

Chachipe called on the international organisations to try immediately to
dilute the tensions in the Roma neighbourhood in Gnjilane and to resolve
the problems which are apparently linked to the return process. It
further requested an comprehensive inquiry into the background of the
recent attacks on Roma as well as an objective and unbiased monitoring
and reporting on the security situation in Kosovo. Chachipe finally
urged the governments of the host countries to refrain from forcibly
returning Roma to Kosovo as long as the security situation for Roma
remains fragile and to grant refugees, who have been in their country
for a longer period, a permanent residence status.

Chachipe a.s.b.l.

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