Front pages of newspapers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, June 11, 2015. Chris J Parsons Photography,

HRW: Serious human rights abuses persisted in Kosovo in 2016

Curbs on media freedom and slow progress in war crimes cases marked human rights in Kosovo during 2016, according to Human Rights Watch World Report.

Threats against journalists, Assembly sessions marred by tear gas, and abuses against minorities marked Kosovo during 2016, states a Human Rights Watch, HRW, World Report published on Thursday.

“Talks over the ratification of a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro were marred by repeated tear gas attacks in the Kosovo Assembly by the political opposition, blocking free debate, impeding the passage of legislation and halting progress on the Kosovo’s s visa liberalization agreement with the European Union,” the report says.

Media freedom and slow progress in the resolution of war crimes cases remain a problem Kosovo and other regional countries, including Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the report claims.

HRW also reported that discrimination against minorities, especially Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, persists, and that the Kosovo government’s plan to integrate minorities was not adequately implemented.

“A lack of political will and insufficient allocation of funds resulted in the failure to adequately implement the 2009-2015 Strategy and Action Plan for the Integration of Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities,” the report says.

It further states that tensions between Serbs and Albanians continued in 2016, particularly in the north.

HRW also reported on intimidation faced by journalists, specifically Vehbi Kajtazi, who claimed to have been threatened by Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa after publishing a critical story involving the PM’s brother.

Following the report’s publication, Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch, urged Balkan governments to strengthen human rights in their countries, particularly regarding justice and media freedom.

“The Western Balkans governments should take concrete steps to improve media freedom, protect minorities and refugees, and deliver justice for wartime abuses.”

13/01/2017 - 11:44

13 January 2017 - 11:44

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