After the Pristina-based portal Zeri published a statement by the head of the Cabinet of the Kosovo Prime Minister, Avni Arifi, announcing that the convicted war criminal Sylejman Selimi, currently out of prison on parole, will be a political adviser to Ramush Haradinaj, the Youth Initiatives for Human Rights of Kosovo and Serbia reacted today. They condemned and strongly opposed the decision of the Kosovo Prime Minister, stating that it „points to the lack of seriousness and the government’s lack of commitment to justice, reconciliation and peace“.
YIHR: Persons who committed war crimes do not belong in Kosovo state institutions
Youth Initiatives for Human Rights of Kosovo and Serbia have called on all political actors in Kosovo to stop the glorification of war criminals in political and public life and that instead their main focus should be on recognizing and achieving justice for victims, survivors and missing persons from the Kosovo war.
„Apart from the fact that Prime Minister Haradinaj generously accepted him into his cabinet, other state officials, after his release, visited Selimi and described him as a hero of the Albanian people. Kosovo President, Hashim Thaci said that Kosovo is better and safer with a living hero who is free, General Sylejman Selimi.
Such statements are, at least, worrisome and strictly unacceptable. Persons who committed war crimes do not belong in the state institutions of Kosovo. The decision to appoint Selimi as a political adviser indicates a lack of seriousness and a lack of the government’s commitment to justice, reconciliation and peace,“ the initiatives wrote in a joint statement.
Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj quickly reacted to this statement, explaining that Selimi “does not owe anything to justice”.
“Sylejman Selimi does not owe anything to justice. Everyone respects him. No one escaped justice,” Haradinaj Stated after a meeting of the government, reported Koha.
HFC Kosovo: It’s not morally right
KoSSev talked about this case today with the director of the Kosovo Humanitarian Law Center, Bekim Blakaj.
Mr. Blakaj said that he is not sure whether the offer of Prime Minister Haradinaj was accepted by Selimi, or whether this cooperation was formalized, but added that it is „unacceptable“.
According to the Kosovo Labor Law, one of the foreseen reasons for termination of employment is contained in Art. 67 (1.6) which states that an employment contract will be terminated if an employee serves a sentence longer than six months. Lawyer Nebojsa Vlajic believes that in this case, by applying the same logic, Selimi could not even enter a working relationship since he is still serving his sentence – Selimi will be on parole until October 30th, 2020.
„It is certain that the Prime Minister offered the position of adviser to Selimi. My position and the position of the organization is that this is actually unacceptable, that someone who has been convicted of war crimes in a final sentence should not, in any way, hold any institutional function, and even less the important function of the prime minister’s advisor,“ Blakaj told KoSSev.
He added that regardless of whether the law permits the employment of a person who is on parole or not, it is certainly not morally right.
Selimi, who was serving a prison sentence for war crimes against the civilian population, was released on parole on January 25th after serving more than 5 years in prison out of a total of seven years.
After being released on parole, Selimi was the guest of the Kosovo president, the prime minister, president of the assembly and leader of the largest opposition party LDK, Isa Mustafa, while a celebration of his parole was also organized, which top Kosovo officials attended. Selimi was described as „the General of liberty“ and „a living hero“.
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