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Amnesty International
June 30 1998 report on Yugoslavia and Kosovo


As of June 1998, the international community is looking on as the security situation in Kosovo province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia rapidly deteriorates and even minimal respect for human rights is withdrawn. Recent Serbian police and military operations, although ostensibly directed at the armed opposition Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), have led to hundreds of civilian deaths, many apparently a result of deliberate or indiscriminate attacks. Attacks on civilians have been part of the reason why tens of thousands of people have fled their homes. Members of the KLA have also been responsible for human rights abuses.

Developments as of June 1998 cannot be isolated from more than a decade of unaddressed human rights violations in Kosovo province. Throughout that time Amnesty International has been documenting and campaigning against a systematic pattern of human rights violations in Kosovo province - including torture and ill-treatment by police, deaths in police custody, and unfair trials of political prisoners. The lack of effective redress for these and other violations of basic human rights in the province must be counted among the sources of frustration and anger which have culminated in the present conflict.

In addition to its ongoing research, media work and the campaigning initiatives of its members worldwide to respond to events unfolding as of June 1998, with this series of reports Amnesty International delves beneath today's headlines and continues its detailed scrutiny of the long-standing patterns of abuses in Kosovo province. Four documents in the series now being published simultaneously are:

  1. Background: A crisis waiting to happen (AI Index: EUR 70/32/98). A summary analysis of the causes of the present crisis, and Amnesty International's recommendations to the international community, the Yugoslav authorities and the KLA.
  2. Violence in Drenica (AI Index: EUR 70/33/98). A detailed analysis of arbitrary killings and extrajudicial executions during police and military operations in February-March 1998 in the Drenica region (a precursor to events in June), and reports of KLA abuses.
  3. Deaths in custody, torture and ill-treatment (AI Index: EUR 70/34/98). A survey of the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment against detainees and on the streets against demonstrators, including recent detailed victim testimony and photographic evidence from 1998.
  4. Unfair trials and abuses of due process (AI Index: EUR 70/35/98). A survey of ongoing failures in the administration of justice in political cases, including details of four political trials in 1997-98.

[Editors remark: you can download all reports and read them offline. See the menu]

These reports are based largely on information gathered during an Amnesty International mission to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in March 1998 to investigate human rights violations, including those perpetrated in the context of police and military operations in the Drenica region, and on updated information from Amnesty International representatives in the field in June 1998. In addition, information was supplied by local human rights monitors in Kosovo and Belgrade, local lawyers, foreign and local journalists and other individuals. Amnesty International is grateful for the assistance it has received from these sources.

A further series of reports, now in preparation, will address the human rights situation in Kosovo from June 1998.


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