HUMAN rIGHTS cOMMITTEE
consideration of reports submitted by states parties UNDER ARTICLE 40 OF THE COVENANT
Further information received from the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on the implementation of the concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/UNK/CO/1) *
[10 December 2008]
GE.09-40535The following information, compiled from inputs by relevant UNMIK sections, pertain to (a) access by relatives to information about the fate of victims, and measures taken to secure adequate resources for victim compensation schemes; and (b) measures taken to implement the strategies and policies to ensure safe and sustainable returns, in particular for minority returnees, as well as to ensure that minority returnees benefit from the special rental scheme of the Kosovo Property Agency.
The Office of Missing Persons and Forensic (OPMF) has included the families of missing persons and family associations in the search for missing persons, bringing increased transparency, public scrutiny and accountability to the process. Families have access to the morgue and can ask any type of information. Regular meetings with family associations are organised to keep them informed of the process and progress.
As soon as a body is identified, OMPF informs the family without delay. Family members are provided with information pertaining to exhumation place, identification and cause of death (and injuries). OMPF issues for the families an identification certificate and medical Death Certificate (stating the cause of death if known).
However, there is still no information regarding the fate of 1940 missing persons.
Generally, if a missing person incident has been reported or classified as a criminal offence and criminal proceedings (investigation or trial) are ongoing, article 143 of the Provisional Criminal Procedure Code of Kosovo (PCPCK) applies. It states that the injured party shall be entitled to access case files including records or physical evidence under certain circumstances and within certain limitations.
To date there is no "victim's compensation fund" established in Kosovo for families or relatives of missing persons. Although claims for compensation by family members of victims can be addressed to the Kosovo courts, as a practical matter the judges handling criminal cases usually do not resolve compensation issues on the basis that doing so would "considerably prolong criminal proceedings (PCPCK art. 107, para. 1 and art. 111). Generally the criminal courts state in criminal judgments that injured parties can pursue property claims in civil litigation. However, many families of missing persons do not have the financial resources to hire private attorneys to represent them in compensation claims. These shortcomings are expected to be addressed in the Draft Law on Missing Persons with the Ministry of Justice. As its stands, it proposes a framework that includes the creation of missing person status and a fund for victim compensation. For the time being there is only the law on martyrs, war victims, etc which allows to provide compensation, however this law is highly discriminatory (minorities are excluded).