YIHR: Citizens must know the content of the agreement on opening secret archives between Serbia and Kosovo

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FOTO: YIHR.rs

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights Serbia (YIHR Serbia) and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights Kosovo (YIHR Kosovo) demand from the negotiating teams of Belgrade and Pristina to publish a document in Serbian and Albanian on the exchange and/or opening of secret archives as soon as possible, as the families of the missing, above all, need to be informed about further steps in the search for missing persons.

The Pristina and Belgrade delegations met in Brussels last week, where they discussed, among other things, the missing persons issue.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo and the head of the Pristina delegation, Besnik Bislimi, announced, following two days of talks, that they reached an agreement with the Serbian side to open all archives – both of Belgrade and Pristina. The news was also confirmed by the Serbian delegation leader and the head of the Kosovo Office, Petar Petkovic.

This statement triggered negative reactions from the largest opposition parties in Kosovo, as well as the KLA Veterans Association and some individuals.

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights Serbia (YIHR Serbia) and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights Kosovo (YIHR Kosovo) reacted on the occasion with a joint statement today, demanding that the negotiating teams of Belgrade and Pristina publish a document in Serbian and Albanian on the exchange and/or opening of secret archives, so that the families of the missing are informed about further steps in the search for missing persons.

“Our two organizations demand that the Governments of Serbia and Kosovo, with the mediation of the EU, via an agreement, establish cooperation of all institutions in resolving the issue of missing persons from the last war in Kosovo, which would clearly regulate and harmonize national regulations in order to find and open various archives,” they said.

The organizations further underlined that such an agreement must have control mechanisms, which will be provided by the EU as a facilitator, as well as periodic implementation reports.

Additionally, they add, the Governments of Serbia and Kosovo must initiate changes in the Criminal Code, as well as in the laws on missing persons, so that enforced disappearance becomes a separate crime in accordance with the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, in order to speed up the finding of missing persons and prosecute those who hide information.

Not just an agreement, where are the archives?

In an op-ed published by the KoSSev portal this morning, Beta journalist, Velimir Perovic, claimed that families, who have been trying to learn the location of the bodies of their loved ones for more than 20 years, will „be left in pain once again and without hope that burial sites or mass graves will eventually be discovered with the help of some new secret documents, so that they can bury the remains of their loved ones.“

„Most likely, KFOR and UNMIK missions also do not have archives on crimes in Kosovo and missing persons after the arrival of international forces. Although they had all the power, for the first few years they went on a wild goose chase, they did not shed light on any crime and their documentation is equal to an empty folder. After the arrival of KFOR and UNMIK in Kosovo, the disappearance of 701 people was reported, 420 of whom are still listed as missing,“ Perovic wrote in the op-ed.

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