Administration of Justice

In the north of Kosovo and Metohija, in the municipalities with predominant Serb majority, the holders of the judicial functions and the employees in the judicial organs of the Temporary Institutions have fully terminated employment with the Kosovo Ministry of Justice and the Kosovo High Council of the Judiciary. The aforementioned persons have joined the judicial organs of the Republic of Serbia pursuant to the Conclusion of the Government of the Republic of Serbia dated April 17, 2008. It is the case of persons of non Albanian nationality who worked in the Municipal Court in Leposavić, the Municipal Court in Zubin Potok, the District and Municipal Courts in Kosovska Mitrovica, the District and Municipal Prosecutor’s Offices in Kosovska Mitrovica and Minor Offences Courts in Leposavić and  Zubin Potok. The judicial organs neither of the Temporary Institutions nor of UNMIK exist any more in the north of KiM. This issue relates to seven judges, two magistrates, one public prosecutor and 43 employees.

            In order to maintain public law and order and the continuity of judicial work in the north of Kosovo and Metohija after February 17, 2008 the representatives of the judicial organs of the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian local self-governments  (Kosovka Mitrovica, Zubin Potok, Zvečan and Leposavić) tried to reach agreement with the representatives of the UNMIK Department of Justice so that the administration of justice in the north of the Province operated in the sense that the existing organs in the Serbian regions continued working pursuant to the regulations of the Republic of Serbia as well as to cooperate with the members of the Kosovo Police Service of Serbian nationality in the municipalities in the north. At the meeting held on April 21, 2008 in the premises of the Ministry for KiM in Kosovska Mitrovica the director of the UNMIK Department of Justice Robert Dean rejected the proposal of the Serbian judicial organs and the local self-government with a rationale that only one legal and court system may exist in Kosovo and Metohija. The building of the Municipal and District Court in Kosovska Mitrovica is still blocked by the KFOR members and UNMIK Police, and half-hour protests of the Serbian judicial workers continue to be held every day (both by those who worked in the Serbian judicial institutions and those who left the UNMIK Justice).

            UNMIK in Kosovo and Metohija established the so-called multi-ethnic justice which was until December 2005 under control of the UNMIK Department of Justice. On December 20, 2005 UNMIK promulgated the Regulation 2005/53 according to which the judicial organs in KiM are transferred to the newly established so-called Kosovo Ministry of Justice and Kosovo High Council of the Judiciary. UNMIK kept only the function of supervision – monitoring. Until February 17, 2008 the documentation of these organs had the UNMIK sign and stamp, but since the declaration of independence this documentation bears the sign of Republic Kosovo. This was mainly the reason for the members of the Serbian and other non Albanian nationalities to leave the aforementioned judicial organs.

All the employees of Serbian nationality abandoned the District Courts of Priština, Kosovska Mitrovica, Gnjilane and the Municipal Courts, the Minor Offence organs and the Public Prosecutor’s Offices of Priština, Kosovska Mitrovica, Uroševac, Gnjilane and Štrbac. According to the Conclusion of the Government of the Republic of Serbia dated April 17, 2008 the employees who abandoned these organs are to be taken over by the judicial organs of the Republic of Serbia. Together with the north of KiM it is a matter of 15 judges and magistrates, 3 public prosecutors and 96 persons employed in courts and public prosecutor’s offices.

Institutions for completion of sentences


            After February 21, 2008 the prison guards of Serbian nationality in the District Jail in Kosovska Mitrovica (north) broke off contacts with the Kosovo Ministry of Justice and stated that they would continue work only under the UNMIK authority, Department for Justice and under the control of the local Serbian self-government. The total number of these guards is 61 and they keep the building of the District Jail under control. 15 prisoners of Serbian nationality are kept in this jail.

The prison guards of Serbian nationality in the District Court of Lipljan (70 persons) and Gnjilane (17 persons) who after February 21, 2008 broke off contact with the Kosovo Ministry of Justice have also formally terminated their employment. These persons were, pursuant to the Conclusion of the Government of Serbia of April 17, 2008 taken over by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia, i.e. they were issued employment contracts.

Kosovo Police Service


            The members of the Kosovo Police Service, of Roma and Muslim nationalities in the central Kosovo municipalities (Priština, Kosovo Polje, Obilić, Lipljan) and municipalities of Pomoravlje (Gnjilane, Novo Brdo, Kosovska Kamenica, and Vitina) continue to reject cooperation with the KPS command. It is the case of 320 persons. Suspension for unlimited period of time was prolonged to these persons by the Kosovo Ministry of Internal Affairs on May 30 this year and the initiating of disciplinary procedure was announced with the ultimate result – dismissal from work of disobedient members of the KPS. The command of UNMIK police continues to reject having the Serbian members of the KPS be under the command of UNMIK police.

            The fact that the Serbian KPS members do not perform activities in the central part of the Province and in Pomoravlje has negative consequences – the members of Serbian nationality in this region are exposed to institutional mistreat by the members of the KPS of Albanian nationality, especially the traffic police which have the opportunity to prosecute the Serbs for offences if they do not have KS license plates on their vehicles.

            The KPS members from Štrbac (67 persons) continue rejecting any cooperation with the KPS command in Priština, but have kept their uniforms and arms and continued to work. The KPS members from the northern Kosovo municipalities (Leposavić, Zubin Potok, Zvečan, Kosovska Mitrovica) who are under the UNMIK police command continue performing their activities but have dead accounts in banks via which they are paid by UNMIK, and are paid via the local Serbian self-government.

Liaison Office for handling matters related to courts


            Liaison offices for handling matters related to courts in KiM were established on January 1, 2002 by UNMIK Justice with a mandate to provide access to justice to non Albanian population. The offices were opened in KiM mainly in areas inhabited by Serbian population (Gračanica, Novo Brdo, Šilovo, Vrbovac, Velika Hoča, Goraždevac, Osojane, K. Mitrovca and Prilužje). Although the Offices were established by UNMIK, they were transferred to the jurisdiction of the Kosovo Ministry of Justice pursuant to the Regulation 2005/53.  The employed in the Office (28 persons), after February 17, 2008 broke off contacts with the Kosovo Ministry of Justice requesting to be under UNMIK authority as before. Pressure on the employees was exerted by the UNMIK Department of Justice to continue work with the Kosovo Ministry of Justice and thereby accept the statehood of Kosovo. In the beginning of June this year the Office clerks officially terminated employment with the Kosovo Ministry of Justice.

The consequence of such UNMIK position is that the displaced persons of Serbian nationality living outside the region of KiM, as well as persons living in enclaves in KiM, are kept from organized access to courts in Kosovo and Metohija in the purpose of protecting their imperiled rights – regarding property, labor law, indemnification of damage, probates, obtaining documents, etc.

Human rights


            The institutional persecution of members of Serbian nationality by the KPS and the judicial organs of the temporary self-government institutions, especially minor offences organs has been intensified recently.

– Two persons of Albanian nationality stoned Тomislav Zuvić, Branimir Golac and Radomir Džolić, from the village Tučep near Istok, on May 07, 2008 and broke glass on their car. When one of the Albanians Jakup Tahiukaj was conveyed by the KPS, he stated that he had been provoked by the Serbs who showed three fingers through the car window. The Municipal Minor Offence Court in Istok sentenced the Albanian attacker to 60 days prison term, and the Serbs victims of the attack to a fine per 150 EUR each with rationale that they violated public law and order by showing the Serbian sign.

 – Мomir and Miloa Stojanović, from the village of Kusac near Gnjilane, were conveyed by the KPA at the check point Bela Zemlja on May 29, 2008 and sentenced by the Municipal Minor Offence Court in Kamenica to a fine of 250 EUR  for wearing T-shirts with inscription “Kosovo is Serbia”. This has been qualified as violation of public law and order and insult of feelings of the major Albanian community.

Property issues

            The usurpation of the Serbian property has been continued in Kosovo and  Metohija, especially in the region of Metohija. The usurpation and hindering of property return to legal owners are most often done by the local Albanian self-government.

The municipality of Dečani rejected to perform the executive decision of SRSG Joachim Rücker made on May 17, 2008 according to which 24 hectares of land taken away by the communist rule after World War II are to be returned to the monastery Dečani and according to which it was ordered that the monastery be reregistered into the cadastre as the owner. The Municipal Assembly Dečane also decided to stop any contact with the local UNMIK personnel. Bishop Teodosije informed the UN in New York about this case. Although the Government of the Republic of Serbia made the decision to return the land to the monastery in 1996, after 1999 the municipal authorities continued to treat the land as socially owned and deleted the monastery from the real estate registry as the owner.

            Three Serbian returnees Milanka Popović, Vesna Ilić and Božidar Tomić moved from Dečani on June 06, 2008. Their houses and apartments were destroyed and their land usurped. Božidar Tomić was physically attacked and injured on May 21, 2008 and his neighbors of Albanian nationality usurped a larger part of his property and did not allow him access to his house.

The UNMIK’s Department of Justice has information the municipal authorities are tearing down old Serbian family houses in Djakovica and Peć whose owners were forced to leave in June 1999. This demolition is carried out by the municipal authorities in order to clear out the area and enable the construction of commercial premises possessed by persons of Albanian nationality.

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