There were numerous reports of police ill-treatment and torture. The majority of victims were ethnic Albanians in Kosovo province but they also included Serbian and Montenegrin political opponents of the government. At least three people died following ill-treatment in detention by police. Some 30, and probably more, ethnic Albanians sentenced to prison terms of up to 60 days for non-violent political activity were prisoners of conscience. Over 90 other ethnic Albanians were detained on charges of seeking the secession of Kosovo by violence. By the end of the year 18 of them had been sentenced to up to five years' imprisonment, often after unfair trials. Some were prisoners of conscience. About 25 people, mainly Muslims from Montenegro, "disappeared" on the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina.
On 1 June the federal President, Dobrica Cosic, was ousted after he lost a vote in the federal Parliament. Opposition to him was led by deputies of the Socijalisticka Partija Srbije (SPS), Socialist Party of Serbia, and the ultra-right-wing Srpska Radikalna Stranka (SRS), Serbian Radical Party. A new federal President, Zoran Lilic, was appointed on 25 June.
Elections were held for the Serbian parliament in December after the Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, dissolved parliament. The SPS increased its representation in the parliament but failed to win a majority over the opposition parties.
Around 450,000 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia remained in Serbia and Montenegro. The majority were Serbs who had arrived in 1991 or 1992. Non-Serbs continued to leave some areas of Serbia and Montenegro, particularly Muslims from the Sandak region and Croats and Hungarians from Vojvodina, who continued to suffer threats or attacks on their property by supporters of extremist Serbian parties, although less frequently than in 1992.
Economic sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro, which had been imposed by the UN in 1992 because of their involvement in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, were strengthened in April. The sanctions, in combination with high military expenditure, had a drastic effect on the economy.
The long-term monitoring mission of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) in Kosovo, the Sandzak and Vojvodina was forced by the federal government to close down in July. The government also refused to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on the former Yugoslavia to set up an office in Belgrade, the capital.
Ethnic tension in Kosovo persisted and there were a number of shooting incidents involving ethnic Albanians and police in which several police officers and more than 12 ethnic Albanians were killed in disputed circumstances. Tension increased after the departure of the CSCE mission in July, with a new wave of arrests and political trials of ethnic Albanians. Lidhja Demokratike e Kosovës (LDK), the Democratic League of Kosovo, the main ethnic Albanian party, continued to call for Kosovo's independence from Yugoslavia.
Almost daily reports were received of ill-treatment of ethnic Albanians by police in Kosovo. Victims were commonly arrested and held for periods ranging from a few hours to several days in police stations where they were beaten or otherwise ill-treated. Systematic searches were often carried out on the pretext of searching for hidden arms or draft evaders. These sometimes involved large-scale police actions against whole villages or parts of towns. In other cases identity checks in the street were followed by ill-treatment and detention. Political and human rights activists were often deliberately targeted. For example, Sami Kurteshi, an activist in the Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms, an ethnic Albanian human rights group, was arrested in July during a raid on the Priátina office of the group. He was taken to a police station where he was severely punched and beaten about the body with truncheons, including on his genitals and the soles of his feet. Schools organized privately by ethnic Albanians, who rejected the curricula and education in the Serbian language laid down by the Serbian authorities, were targets for police raids in which directors, teachers and pupils were reportedly ill-treated.
Some of those arrested in Kosovo were beaten so severely by police that they required hospital or other medical treatment. For example, Selajdin Braha, an ethnic Albanian, was arrested in Prizren in August and beaten so severely that police took him to hospital where he was treated and held under guard until the following afternoon, when he was returned to the police station for further interrogation.
One detainee, Arif Krasniqi, died as a result of ill-treatment in police custody in August. Following his death, in the first known instance in recent years, two policemen were sentenced in December to three years' imprisonment for causing his death; they were released pending appeal.
Police were reportedly responsible for numerous other cases of ill-treatment in a variety of circumstances throughout Serbia and Montenegro. In Belgrade on the day of the ousting of President Cosic, 1 June, supporters of one of the main opposition parties, the Srpski Pokret Obnove (SPO), Serbian Renewal Movement, clashed with police in demonstrations around the federal parliament building. One policeman was killed and 16 policemen and at least 32 demonstrators were injured. Some of the demonstrators were allegedly beaten by police as they tried to flee the area. Some hours later police arrested about 30 people at the headquarters of the SPO, including the party leader, Vuk Draskovic, and his wife Danica. They were beaten by police as they were taken from the office to waiting cars. Later medical examinations confirmed that they were also repeatedly beaten in the first few days of detention and that, among other injuries, Vuk Draákovic received head injuries and Danica Draákoviç injuries to her spine. Both were released on 9 July. Criminal charges against them were dropped.
Ljubiáa Petroviç, a 65-year-old refugee from Bosnia-Herzegovina and a local activist in the Democratic Party, was arrested in ajetina on 12 August. He was beaten by police and charged with "obstructing officials" before being released that evening. A doctor reportedly confirmed injuries apparently consistent with him having been beaten. Ljubiáa Petroviç died five days later; the autopsy confirmed the injuries although it did not state that they had been the cause of his death. No action was known to have been taken by the authorities to investigate the alleged beating or prosecute those responsible.
In Montenegro a number of police officers were investigated for allegedly ill-treating people in their custody, including Boro Bojaniç, who died in custody in September.
Some 30 ethnic Albanians, and probably more, were sentenced to up to 60 days' imprisonment for non-violent political activity: they were prisoners of conscience. For example, Hysen Matoshi, Naim Canaj and Muharrem Hoda, all political activists, were each imprisoned for 40 days for organizing a concert to celebrate Albania's national day in November.
A number of men were sentenced to terms of imprisonment for avoiding military service. It was not clear, however, whether they included individuals who had refused to undertake military service on grounds of conscience.
Between July and September some 90 ethnic Albanians were arrested on charges of being members of organizations which the authorities said were seeking Kosovo's secession by violent means. Many of them were local political activists or former political prisoners, including former prisoners of conscience. By the end of the year at least 18 had been brought to trial and sentenced to up to five years' imprisonment. Some were prisoners of conscience. None was accused of having used violence. Many of the defendants were convicted partly on the basis of confessions and other statements which they alleged had been extracted under torture during pre-trial detention. The trials were also unfair in other respects: for example, lawyers were apparently denied access to their clients following arrest and during part of the investigation.
About 25 men, mostly Muslims from towns in Montenegro but also non-Muslim refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina, "disappeared" after they were abducted from a train travelling between Belgrade and Bar in February. This occurred as the train travelled on a 10-kilometre section of track which passes through Bosnia-Herzegovina but in territory under the control of Bosnian Serb forces. The abductors, alleged by some sources to be paramilitaries who also operate on Yugoslav territory, boarded the train when it stopped and were allegedly assisted by Serbian police and Yugoslav Army soldiers who had been travelling on the train to identify the victims. The Yugoslav, Serbian and Montenegrin authorities all condemned the abductions and said there would be an investigation, but no outcome had been announced and the victims remained "disappeared" at the end of the year.
In June the federal criminal code, which previously allowed the death penalty for crimes such as "genocide" and "war crimes", was brought into line with the federal Constitution of April 1992, and the death penalty was removed. However, the death penalty could still be imposed under the republican criminal codes of Serbia and Montenegro for "aggravated murder". No death sentences were passed or executions carried out during the year.
Amnesty International appealed to the Yugoslav authorities for independent and impartial investigation of all allegations of "disappearance", torture and ill-treatment and called for the perpetrators of such abuses to be brought to justice. It called also for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoners of conscience and for other political prisoners to receive fair and prompt trials or be released. In September Amnesty International publicly urged the Yugoslav Government to allow the CSCE long-term mission to return to Yugoslavia. Amnesty International delegates were refused permission to visit Yugoslavia for research purposes in October but an Amnesty International observer was able to attend the trial of three ethnic Albanians in Prizren in November.
In oral statements to the UN Commission on Human Rights in February and to its Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities in August, Amnesty International included reference to its concerns in Yugoslavia.
Amnesty International welcomed the establishment by the UN of an ad hoc international tribunal to try individuals responsible for committing serious violations of humanitarian law in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1 January 1991 (see Working with international organizations). The organization appealed to the Yugoslav authorities to do all possible to bring an end to human rights abuses by Bosnian Serb forces whom they supported. It also renewed appeals for the investigation of "disappearances" committed by forces under the control of the Yugoslav Army during the war in Croatia in 1991 (see Amnesty International Report 1992).
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