Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo and Youth Initiative for Human Rights Kosovo expressed their concern regarding the situation created on the occasion of the return of Dragica Gasic to the city of Djakovica/Gjakova and in particular for the legal actions undertaken by the Municipality of Djakovica towards her.
“We consider that such actions are not in line with the legislation in force and is not in the spirit of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, namely, it violates Article 156, entitled ‘Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons’, which states that The Republic of Kosovo should promote and facilitate the safe and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons and assists them in the return of their property and possessions,” reads the joint reaction of HLC Kosovo and YIHR.
The municipality of Djakovica filed a lawsuit with the Basic Court in Djakovica earlier this week, requesting that “Dragica Gasic’s contract on leasing an apartment be annulled with a request for an interim measure,” the spokesperson of the Basic Court confirmed for Radio Free Europe.
Earlier, Alternativa, the party of Mimoza Kusari Lila, which is part of the current government in Kosovo, published decisions on allocating an apartment to Dragica Gasic. The decision, dated May 1997, states that the Assembly of the Municipality of Djakovica leased the apartment that year, for a certain period of time, to Dragica Gasic, who worked as a hygienist in the Djakovica police at that time.
On the other hand, HLC and YIHR stated that Gasic possesses the necessary documents, with which she confirms her right to use the property, a right which was given to her by the decision of the Kosovo Agency for Comparison and Verification of Property.
On June 9th, 2021, this Agency, based on the request of Gasic, had vacated her apartment by removing the family that had been there, to enable the return of Gasic to that property, HLC and YIHR wrote in a statement.
“Given that the actions of Gasic have been in accordance with the procedures for returnees, without harming or endangering any other person, we consider that the situation created as a result of her arrival and for the legal action that were taken, are in contradiction with the democratic and multiethnic spirit of the state of the Republic of Kosovo and does not contribute to the process of dealing with the past.”
These organizations called on the local authorities of Djakovica to act in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo by withdrawing the lawsuit against Gasic, and facilitating her safe return and stay in Djakovica.
In late June, eleven NGOs in the municipality of Djakovica announced that they would be filing a petition to the Kosovo government, demanding that the first Serb returnee to Djakovica, Dragica Gasic, move out as soon as possible.
As to the reason why Djakovica is not ready to welcome Serb returnees, the NGOs pointed out that this municipality still has open graves awaiting the return of the remains of people who died during the war.
Natasa Kandic from the Humanitarian Law Center also reacted to the request of the eleven Djakovica-based NGOs.
The Association of Families of the Missing „Mother’s Calls“ held a press conference at the time, at which they announced a complaint against the municipality and the mayor of Djakovica, due to the return of Dragica Gasic to that town.
The head of the Kosovo Office, Petar Petkovic, met with Dragica Gasic in Gracanica on Vidovdan.
Petkovic told Gasic that the Kosovo Office and Serbia would ensure, in any way possible, that her security and quality of life are improved.
Gasic emphasized that attacks on her home are taking place on a daily basis and that she only goes to the store and the bakery when accompanied by the police. She added, however, that she cannot complain about the behavior of the market and bakery workers or the police.
„I never hurt anyone and that’s why I dared to return to my apartment. Despite everything, I plan to stay here,“ Gasic stressed.
However, two days later, on June 30, as the Kosovo Office reported, she faced a „new kind of pressure and problems“.
The Kosovo Police prevented new doors from being installed in Gasic’s apartment. The same doors were then seized by the municipal inspection, the Kosovo Office announced at the time, noting that Dragica filled out the request in the municipality, but that the local labor inspectors nevertheless came and seized them.
„Before the door is installed, they are asking for evidence of some kind of attestation to be submitted to the municipality, as well as evidence from the manufacturers about paid taxes, along with numerous other documents,“ they wrote in a statement.
The Kosovo Office assessed that this was an „unprecedented scandal and direct torture“, as well as an open type of pressure on Dragica to move out of Djakovica.
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