BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Wednesday, 18 October, 2000, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Kosovo courts 'biased'
Kosovo Serbs
Kosovo Serbs: courts are biased against them says the OSCE
Kosovo's criminal courts have been accused of being biased and inconsistent by a European security organisation.

In its report, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) says that the United Nations-run judicial system displays clear evidence of bias against Kosovo Serbs.

OSCE findings
Kosovan law may conflict with human rights standards
Courts have inconsistent approaches to the law
Clear evidence of bias by the courts against Kosovo Serbs
Persons have been detained in violation of international standards
The report adds that Kosovan law conflicts with international human rights standards.

Although the OSCE is part of the UN administration in Kosovo, it also has the role of monitoring its human rights record.

Its latest review covers six months of work in Kosovo's judicial system and includes a series of recommendations.

The BBC correspondent in Kosovo, Nicholas Wood, says there has been added controversy over the review after it emerged that parts of it were changed at the request of the UN administration.

'Compelling evidence'

The OSCE says that despite achievements, the current system has a long way to go to meet necessary standards.

Bernard Kouchner
Bernard Kouchner: asked for changes to the report
It says that the climate of ethnic conflict impacts on the impartiality of the courts.

There is "clear and compelling" evidence of bias by the courts against Kosovo Serb defendants in particular, the report adds.

The report also accuses the authorities of adopting inconsistent approaches to the legislation and adds that some laws conflict with human rights standards.

To overcome the problem, the OSCE recommends that judges be given practical training in both domestic and international law.

The OSCE report also focuses on what it calls illegal detentions, which it says violate international standards.

It says that many people are regularly detained for more than 72 hours without a hearing, and calls on the UN police and Nato peacekeepers to prevent illegal arrests.

Controversial paragraphs

The original OSCE judicial review was said to have included a criticism of the head of the UN mission in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner.

Our correspondent says that Mr Kouchner was criticised for overruling a court decision, by ordering the arrest of a man who had already been released from jail.

He adds that the offending paragraphs were removed.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

21 Sep 00 | Europe
The Kosovo factor
11 Sep 00 | Europe
Nato to boost troops in Kosovo
06 Jul 00 | Europe
Kosovo papers defy UN
21 Mar 00 | Europe
Nato chief seeks Kosovo tolerance
14 May 00 | Europe
Serb protest for Kosovo prisoners
05 Feb 00 | Europe
Spotlight on UN's Kosovo task
25 Jan 00 | Europe
New judges sworn in in Kosovo
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories