Last Updated: Friday, 22 August 2014, 14:01 GMT

State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2009 - Kosovo

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 16 July 2009
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2009 - Kosovo, 16 July 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a66d9b042.html [accessed 22 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

On 17 February 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, a move immediately recognized by a number of EU member states and the United States but vehemently opposed by Russia. By the end of the year, the number of recognitions reached 53. The EU has failed to reach unanimity on the issue as Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain have not recognized its independence. Kosovo's Constitution, which according to the EU is in line with international standards guaranteeing full respect of individual and community rights, came into effect on 15 June.

The declaration of independence was legally challenged by Serbia, which requested that the matter be sent to the International Court of Justice. In March, violence erupted in Mitrovica, leaving at least 80 Serb civilians and 63 members of the international security forces injured.

In spite of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's promises of a democracy that respected the rights of all ethnic communities, minorities in Kosovo are left very much on the margins. Human rights advocates point out that neither the Constitution nor the new laws provide adequate protection for the small minorities in Kosovo (Bosniaks, Croats, Gorani, Montenegrins, Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, and Turks among others) and, in some cases, have served to worsen their situation. A number of laws adopted in the course of 2008 have been problematic for minorities. The new law on local self-government lacks the provision ensuring proportional representation in the civil service that had existed previously. Likewise, the new law on local elections does not provide for guaranteed political participation of ethnic communities.

The problem of the lead-contaminated camps in which Roma internally displaced persons have been accommodated since 1999 has still not been resolved. Forced repatriations of Roma, Ashkalia and Egyptian refugees, who were granted protection in several countries of western Europe, continues in 2008. Families are returned even though no housing, welfare support or employment opportunities are provided for them. The returns have a particularly negative impact on children who have grown up in the countries of asylum, were integrated into their schooling systems and have no knowledge of the Albanian language. The Kosovo school system offers no mechanisms to accommodate their needs, in particular as regards language instruction.

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