Human rights violations still occur in Kosovo. Responsibility lies with the executive, but also with the legislative and judicial institutions, be it in providing services or drafting and implementing legislation.
The OSCE Mission, which plays a significant role in the protection and promotion of human and communities rights, engages in a number of activities to help ensure that adequate mechanisms for human rights protection and public accountability are in place, and that the central and municipal governments fulfil their human rights obligations towards all Kosovo inhabitants.
The Mission monitors and supports institutions in Kosovo in their obligation to comply with international human rights, community rights and democratic standards. Monitoring in municipalities allows the Mission to issue regular reports and use these reports as an advocacy tool for positive change.
Special attention is paid to the rights of non-majority communities, displaced persons, returnees, as well as other vulnerable groups, such as women, youth and persons with disabilities.
The Mission analyses existing legislation, comments on draft laws, and proactively monitors the policies and activities of central and local level institutions in the field of human and communities rights. It promotes and protects the rights of communities in Kosovo through interventions in the areas of participation and representation in public life, decision making, access to education and other services, use of languages, as well as return and reintegration of displaced persons, security and freedom of movement.
The Mission issues specific reports to inform Kosovo institutions and international stakeholders about failures to protect the rights of communities at the municipal and central levels, and to recommend necessary improvements in performance.
The Mission’s five regional community teams serve as a bridge between different ethnic groups and facilitate dialogue between the communities and the institutions.
Property, housing and land management issues remain a challenge in Kosovo. The failure to protect property rights hinders the return process and impedes economic development and the rule of law. The Mission, therefore, supports Kosovo institutions at both central and municipal levels in their efforts to strengthen compliance with housing and property related legislation and policies. Particular attention is paid to issues of resolution of conflict-related property claims, regularization of informal settlements and illegal construction issues. Further, the Mission monitors the protection of cultural and religious heritage objects.
In an effort to prevent human rights violations at an early stage, the Mission reviews selected draft legislation and subsidiary acts for compliance with human rights standards and rule of law principles. For example, the Mission has reviewed and commented on draft laws related to readmission, civil status registry, domestic violence, the Ombudsperson and access to official documents. The Mission also reports on systematic concerns regarding adherence to human rights standards and rule of law principles in drafting legislation. Moreover, it promotes the publication and accessibility of normative acts.
The Mission supports the work of the Ombudsperson institution as the key guarantor of human rights. The Ombudsperson institution represents the final legal remedy and its decisions are binding. The Mission's special adviser provides technical expertise and advises the institution on monitoring and investigating potential human rights violations. In addition, the adviser provides analysis and recommendations concerning the compatibility of legislation with human rights standards.
The Mission proactively monitors the work of the police with the aim of fostering an effective, accountable and human rights compliant police force.
The OSCE human rights advisors, who are deployed to all six police regions in Kosovo, report on identified human rights concerns and advise on how to improve performance. The Mission provides the police with confidential reports on human rights issues, such as the rights of arrested persons, conditions in holding cells, the use of force, or child abuse, which enable the police to address shortcomings.
The Mission monitors detention facilities and supports the creation of a sustainable local detention monitoring mechanism which would help prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The Mission has deployed over 30 field teams and five specialised community teams to work with municipalities and monitor their adherence to human and communities rights and good governance standards. When an issue is observed, the teams analyse it, report on it and recommend remedial actions. In co-operation with civil society and local institutions, the teams implement projects aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of all communities in Kosovo. Their work is supported by the Mission staff working in the five regional centres and at headquarters.