A Week of Terror in Drenica: Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo


This report is based on extensive research conducted on three field missions to Kosovo between September and December 1998 by Fred Abrahams and Peter Bouckaert, researchers at Human Rights Watch. The report was written by Peter Bouckaert. Fred Abrahams contributed to certain sections and edited the report. The report was also edited by Holly Cartner, executive director of the Europe and Central Asia division, Jeri Laber, senior adviser to Human Rights Watch, and Wilder Tayler, general counsel of Human Rights Watch. Invaluable production assistance was provided by Patrick Minges, publications director at Human Rights Watch, and Alexandra Perina, Human Rights Watch associate.

Human Rights Watch would like to acknowledge and thank the many individuals whose contributions made this report possible, especially the human rights groups that are working in Yugoslavia under difficult conditions. Special thanks go to the victims and witnesses of abuses in Kosovo who provided testimony and information in the hope that the perpetrators of war crimes will be brought to justice.

I.          SUMMARY

This report documents serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by Serbian and Yugoslav government forces in Kosovo's Drenica region during the last week of September 1998. As Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloševi- wrapped up a summer-long offensive against the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), special forces of the Serbian police (MUP) and Yugoslav Army (VJ) committed summary executions, indiscriminately attacked civilians, and systematically destroyed civilian property, all of which are violations of the rules of war and can be prosecuted by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). These atrocities took place in the face of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1199, passed on September 23, 1998, which demanded an immediate cessation of all actions by the Yugoslav and Serbian security forces against civilians.

The war crimes documented in this report are neither the first nor the last committed by the government in the Yugoslav conflict. Most recently, on January 15, 1991, government forces killed forty-five ethnic Albanian civilians in the village of Ra-ak, which has sparked the most recent round of diplomatic engagement (see Appendix A). The Kosovo Liberation Army has also committed serious abuses, including the taking of hostages and extrajudicial executions, which have been documented in previous Human Rights Watch reports and will continue to be the subject of investigation. Under no circumstances, however, can the Yugoslav government use abuses by the KLA as justification for committing abuses against ethnic Albanian civilians.

As the recent massacre in Ra-ak show, President Miloševi- and his military planners believe they can continue their abusive campaign with impunity. This disturbing pattern of abuse can only be stopped by an unequivocal message from the international community that such blatant disregard for the most basic principles of humanity is unacceptable, and that the perpetrators of these abuses will be brought to justice. Any negotiations about the future status of Kosovo must include provisions to hold political leaders and members of the security forces accountable for human rights and humanitarian law violations during the conflict.

Human Rights Watch researchers were in Kosovo at the time the abuses documented in this report were committed and conducted two additional research missions to Kosovo, in November and December 1998, to document the crimes that took place in Drenica.

The worst incident documented in this report took place in late September 1998 at the Delijaj family compound in Gornje Obrinje, a village where there had been intense fighting between government forces and the KLA that left at least fourteen policemen dead. Special police forces retaliated by killing twenty-one members of the Delijaj family, all of them civilians, on the afternoon of Saturday, September 26. Fourteen people were killed in a nearby forest where they were hiding from government shelling, six of them women between the ages of twenty-five and sixty-two. Five of the victims were children between eighteen months and nine years of age. Of the three men killed in the forest, two were over sixty years old.

Human Rights Watch visited the scene on September 29 while the bodies were being carried out of the forest for burial. All fourteen victims were wearing civilian clothing; most appeared to have been shot in the head at close range, and several of the bodies had been mutilated. In one case, the leg of sixty-two-year-old Hava Delijaj was cut off below the knee save for some skin.

In addition to the fourteen persons killed in the forest, seven other members of the Delijaj family were killed by government forces in and around the family compound. The ninety-four-year-old family patriarch Fazli Delijaj, an invalid, was found burned to death in his burned-out home. Habib and Hysen Delijaj were summarily executed by Serbian police in front of Hysen's wife and children. Adem Delijaj was found shot to death near his home in the family compound. Over the next few weeks, the decomposed bodies of two girls, Antigona and Mihane Delijaj, and of Hajriz Delijaj, were found in the general area of the massacre. One man, Sherif Delijaj, remains missing to this day.

After the forest massacre, Serbian special police forces arrived at the nearby Hysenaj family compound in Gornje Obrinje, together with four young Delijaj children whom they had apparently captured in the forest. The children were handed over to an elderly woman, Shehide Hysenaj, who then witnessed the police interrogate and beat a husband and wife before executing them with an axe. After the police left, Shehide found the body of her elderly husband near their home with a gun shot wound to his head. Human Rights Watch saw the bodies of these three persons three days after their deaths, and found the wounds on their bodies consistent with the testimony given by Shehide.

On September 27, the police also rounded up the civilians hiding in the forest near the Hysenaj compound, selected out twenty-two men, and drove them to the nearby village of Likovac, where the government forces were temporarily based. On the way, the men were repeatedly beaten by police. When they reached Likovac, a policeman walked up to the tractor, grabbed sixteen-year-old Driton Hysenaj by the hair, and slit his throat. The remaining twenty-one men were then driven to Glogovac police station, where they joined hundreds of other ethnic Albanian men who had been taken from their hiding places in the forests around Glogovac. The detainees were subjected to three days of physical abuse before being released. Several of the detainees were taken away and remain missing to this day.

On September 26, Serbian police also rounded up a group of several thousand civilians who had fled the shelling in Golubovac, a village just kilometers away from Gornje Obrinje. Fourteen men were ultimately selected out, interrogated, physically abused for several hours, and ultimately executed. The men were first sprayed with bullets from a short distance, then a police officer walked among the men, kicking them and shooting again at anyone who showed signs of life. One of the fourteen men miraculously survived by feigning death, and gave a detailed and damning testimony of the executions to Human Rights Watch, clearly holding the Serbian special police responsible. Several other witnesses corroborated his account of the day's events. Another villager, Ramadan Hoxha, was later found shot and burned in the forest outside Golubovac just meters away from where the police had encamped. All of the victims were male civilians.

The most common crime throughout Kosovo, and in Drenica specifically, has been the government's systematic destruction of civilian property, which presents further evidence of a military campaign against civilians in clear violation of the laws of war. Throughout Kosovo, the Yugoslav Army has shelled villages from a distance, and the Serbian police have followed by looting and burning. Water wells in some villages have been rendered useless through intentional contamination, and livestock have been shot. According to a recent UNHCR-sponsored assessment, 28 percent of all homes in the 210 Kosovo villages affected by the conflict have been completely destroyed.

The experience of the village of Plo-ica in Drenica, visited by Human Rights Watch on September 26 while the offensive was continuing, is typical. The villagers fled after they heard shelling and saw the police approaching, and returned the next day to find most of their village compound burned to the ground. Human Rights Watch did not find a single shell casing or any other evidence of fighting in Plo-ica, or signs that the KLA had used the village as a base. The evidence was clear: like many other villages, an abandoned Plo-ica had been systematically looted, trashed, and burned by the police.

Virtually all relevant governments and international organizations responded to the abuses in Drenica with outrage; governments threatened serious action, including possible air strikes by NATO. But, as with every other atrocity thus far in the Kosovo conflict, the international community did not back its words with serious preventative measures to discourage such atrocities from taking place again.

Although witnesses reported seeing forces of the Yugoslav Army, special police forces and special anti-terrorist forces (Specijalna Antiteroristicka Jedinica, or SAJ), both under the Ministry of the Interior, as well as the special forces unit (Jedinica za Specijalne Operacije, or JSO) commanded by Franko "Frenki" Simatovic and also under the Ministry of Interior, at the site of the atrocities documented in this report, the precise units of these forces that were responsible for the atrocities have not yet been identified. This information is clearly available to the Yugoslav authorities, who have publicly stated that its forces were in regular contact with their superiors.

Those who perpetrated crimes against ethnic Albanian civilians of Kosovo as well as those who planned them, encouraged them, tolerated or acquiesced to these crimes, must be held accountable for their intentional disregard for the laws of war. But the Yugoslav authorities, themselves deeply implicated and ultimately responsible for the abuses in Kosovo, are preventing the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia from effectively carrying out its investigations. The international community must apply the necessary pressure to ensure that the tribunal can investigate and prosecute the individuals responsible for these atrocities. The issue of accountability must be moved to center stage, in order to send the uncompromising message that brutal abuses against civilians will not be tolerated.


To the Yugoslav Government:

Compliance With International Humanitarian Law

•           Put an end tosummary executions. Investigate and prosecute those responsible for carryingout those acts;

•Stop thedisproportionate use of force against the civilian population and the targetingof civilians for attacks during military and police operations; take allnecessary steps to protect civilian populations from the effects of militaryand police operations;

•Stop thesystematic destruction of civilian property. This includes the burning,pillage, and destruction of homes and food supplies, the burning and looting ofcrops and fodder, pollution of water sources, and the killing of livestock. Thedestruction of civilian objects constitutes a serious violation of the laws ofwar, and the perpetrators of such abuses should be prosecuted;

•Withdrawimmediately from the Kosovo region all Serbian and Yugoslav forces and anyparamilitary units that have or are suspected of having perpetrated humanrights or humanitarian law violations; and

•Conduct aninvestigation in full cooperation with the ICTY, including any requests todefer prosecutions to the ICTY, and hold accountable those members of thepolice and security forces found responsible for violations of human rights andhumanitarian law, including the summary executions of civilians at GornjeObrinje and Golubovac. Such investigations should not serve as a cover tointimidate witnesses or to destroy relevant evidence.

Cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal forthe Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

Cooperate fully with the ICTY in its efforts to investigatealleged violations of international humanitarian law on both sides in Kosovo.In particular:

•Adopt themeasures necessary under Yugoslav law to implement the provisions of SecurityCouncil Resolution 827 and the statutes of the ICTY;

•Recognize theright of the ICTY to investigate all war crimes committed in the territory ofthe former Yugoslavia, including the area of Kosovo, as stated in U.N. SecurityCouncil Resolution 827 (1993), and repeatedly reaffirmed with particularreference to the Kosovo crisis in U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1160, 1199,and 1207;

•Immediatelyand unconditionally grant visas to all members of the ICTY investigative team,including members of the ICTY prosecutor's office and any independent expertsworking in conjunction with the ICTY;

•Allow theICTY investigators full and unimpeded access to the full territory of theFederal Republic of Yugoslavia, including all areas of Kosovo;

•Recognize theauthority of the ICTY to interview any witnesses and gather evidence of warcrimes, including physical and forensic evidence;

•Assist theICTY by making available relevant evidence and information about troop presenceand command structures of the Yugoslav Army, Serbian police, and any otherpolice or security unit that operated in Kosovo during the period of armedconflict, as well as such information regarding the police;

•Cooperatewith the ICTY by locating and arresting any person under indictment by theICTY.

Access for the OSCE, Human Rights and HumanitarianOrganizations, and Media

•Guaranteesafe passage and unencumbered access for humanitarian aid delivery anddistribution;

•Provideunrestricted access for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in theFormer Yugoslavia to investigate violations of humanitarian law and humanrights by both sides in the Kosovo region;

•Grantindependent human rights monitors immediate, full, and unfettered access to theKosovo region in order to investigate allegations of humanitarian and humanrights abuses. Grant independent human rights monitors the necessary visas toenable them to carry out their investigative work in the Kosovo region;

•Re-admit theOrganization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE's) long-termmonitoring mission to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;

•Provideimmediate and unimpeded access for teams of forensic experts to carry outinvestigations into allegations of human rights and humanitarian law violationsin Kosovo;

•Allow fulland unimpeded access to local and foreign journalists covering the conflict inKosovo.

Treatment of and Access to Detainees

•End thewidespread physical abuse and torture of persons in the custody of Yugoslavauthorities, and stop the practice of arbitrarily arresting ethnic Albaniancivilians during military and police operations;

•Fullydisclose the names of all persons currently detained in the course of theconflict, their ages, the circumstances of their arrest, their current place ofdetention, the status of their prosecution or investigation, and any otherrelevant details. Investigate and clarify the whereabouts and fate of allpersons believed to be in the custody of the authorities who remain unaccountedfor;

•Maintainup-to-date registers of all detainees in every place of detention, locally andcentrally; this information should be made available to relatives, lawyers andothers;

•Allow theInternational Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) unhindered, ongoing, andcomplete access to all detainees, including those who are being investigatedbut have not yet been charged with a crime;

•Allowdiplomatic and independent monitors regular and unhindered access to persons indetention and to places of detention, in order to ensure that the treatment ofdetainees and conditions of detention are consistent with internationalobligations;

•Guaranteethat detainees have regular access to their lawyers and family members, thatthey are able to meet with their lawyers in private, and that they haveadequate time to prepare their defense;

•Conduct aninvestigation into the allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment indetention. Those found responsible for such abuse should be held accountablebefore the law;

Accord due process to all persons detained and/oraccused of crimes, including ethnic Albanians accused of "violating theterritorial integrity of Yugoslavia" or "terrorist" activities; and Drop allcharges against and release from detentionthosewho have been indicted for the peaceful expression of opinion or for membershipin a group that has only performed acts which, under international human rightslaw, may not be criminalized, such as peaceful criticism of the government; andrefrain from making arrests on such grounds.

To the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA):

Because the fighting in Kosovo is an internal armed conflictcovered by international humanitarian law, both government forces and the KLAare obliged to respect, at a minimum, the provisions of Common Article 3 of theGeneva Conventions, which require that civilians and other protected persons betreated humanely, with specific prohibitions on murder, torture, or cruel,humiliating or degrading treatment. Human Rights Watch, therefore, calls on theKLA to:

Release all civilians in detention, refrain fromattacks on members of the civilian population and from using any detainees orcivilians as hostages, and treat humanely Serbian soldiers or policemen incustody;

Condemn hostage-taking and the ill-treatment ofcivilians or others placed hors de combat and renounce such tactics;

Impose a code of military conduct that punishes KLAhostage-taking, using humans as shields, and other conduct prohibited byinternational humanitarian law; take steps to inform troops of binding rulesthat violators among KLA troops will be held accountable;

Bring to justice commanders and troops guilty of theseviolations in conformity with international standards of due process;

Grant humanitarian organizations full and ongoingaccess to the conflict zone under KLA control and to people in KLA detention;

•Allow fulland unconditional access to ICTY investigators, KVM verifiers, independenthuman rights investigators, diplomatic monitors, humanitarian workers, and thepress to all areas under KLA control; and

•Cooperatefully with the ICTY and independent human rights investigators in bringing theperpetrators of human rights abuses and violations of internationalhumanitarian law to justice.

To the International Community:

•Ensure thatany negotiations about the future status of Kosovo do not serve as a mechanismto further impunity in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Negotiated solutionsmust include provisions to hold political leaders and members of the securityforces accountable for human rights abuses and violations of internationalhumanitarian law committed during the Kosovo conflict;

Preventing Further Humanitarian Law Violations

•Respond toatrocities committed against civilians with decisive and immediate action;

•Insist thatthe conditions set forth in the Contact Group statement of March 9 and in theHolbrooke-Miloševi- Agreement of October 1998 are met by the Yugoslavgovernment, and immediately respond to any violations of these agreements;

Supporting the work of the ICTY

•Put the issueof compliance with the mandate of the ICTY on the top of the internationalagenda, and in all interactions with the Yugoslav authorities insist on fullcooperation with the ICTY;

•Insist thatICTY investigators and representatives be allowed to conduct investigations,including forensic investigations, in Kosovo with unimpeded access to all sitesand witnesses. Immediately protest any Yugoslav government actions which impedeor attempt to interfere in the work of the ICTY;

•Guaranteeongoing financial and political support to ensure that the ICTY can undertaketimely and thorough investigations into allegations of humanitarian lawviolations in Kosovo;

•Assist theICTY in identifying important witnesses and evidence, and work closely with theICTY in securing evidence and ensuring the protection of important witnesses;

•Provide theICTY with any intelligence information obtained that relates to the commissionof war crimes, including the identification of specific units engaged inoperations in areas in which abuses occur, and convey relevant satelliteintelligence information to the ICTY;

•Attachhumanitarian law and human rights experts to the Kosovo Verification Mission(KVM), and ensure that any information gathered by these experts is shared withthe ICTY;

•Ensure thatall evidence relating to Slobodan Milosovic's and other political leaders'responsibility for war crimes in Kosovo, as well as in Bosnia and Hercegovinaand Croatia, is turned over to the ICTY for investigation;

•Send a clearmessage that war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide will notbe tolerated by arresting those already indicted by the ICTY for atrocitiescommitted during the wars in Bosnia and Croatia; and

•Raiseawareness about the mandate and work of the ICTY and the obligations created byinternational humanitarian law through a public education campaign in both theSerbian and Albanian languages.

To the United Nations:

To the Security Council

The ongoing conflict in Kosovo remains a threat to regionalstability and security, and the absence of a political solution to the conflictcould lead to a renewed escalation with widespread atrocities. Human RightsWatch therefore calls on the United Nations Security Council to:

•Ensure theimplementation of Security Council Resolutions 1160, 1199 and 1207, whichcalled for, among other things, an immediate cessation of hostilities and forthe president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to implement his owncommitments from the June 16 joint statement with the president of the RussianFederation not to carry out any repressive actions against the peacefulpopulation, to facilitate refugee return, and to cooperate with the ICTY;

•Call on thegovernment of Slobodan Miloševi- to invite the U.N. Special Rapporteur onExtrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions, the U.N. Working Group onArbitrary Detentions, and the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or InvoluntaryDisappearances urgently to conduct an investigation in Kosovo and to reportback to the Security Council;

•Facilitateand encourage the work of the ICTY to investigate violations of internationalhumanitarian law in Kosovo and guarantee ongoing financial and politicalsupport to ensure that the ICTY can undertake the necessary investigations; and

•Urge theYugoslav government to cooperate with the ICTY, to adopt measures necessaryunder Yugoslav law to implement the provisions of Security Council Resolution827 and the statutes of the tribunal, to transfer to the ICTY's custody thoseindicted persons on Yugoslav territory, and to facilitate an independentinvestigation of allegations of war crimes in Kosovo.

To the Commission on Human Rights

•Condemn theserious abuses committed in Kosovo and renew the mandate of the commission'sspecial rapporteur on human rights in the former Yugoslavia to vigorouslymonitor human rights conditions throughout the conflict-affected region.

To the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the FormerYugoslavia

•Investigateand condemn violations of international human rights and humanitarian lawcommitted in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and communicate unequivocallyto the parties to the conflict that there can be no justification, underinternational law, for such abuses.

To the High Commissioner on Human Rights

•Maintain asubstantial staff in Kosovo to monitor abuses of human rights and violations ofinternational humanitarian law; and

•Use yourauthority to encourage U.N. treaty bodies and mechanisms to be engaged in Kosovoand to facilitate access for these bodies and mechanisms to Kosovo.

To the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia

•Continue toseek to dispatch a high-level delegation, including Chief Prosecutor LouiseArbour, to Belgrade and Priština to put both sides on notice of the ICTY'smandate and the likely repercussions of international humanitarian lawviolations;

•Intensifyefforts to investigate atrocities committed in Kosovo in a timely manner,including by dispatching teams of investigators to Kosovo, as well as torefugee-receiving areas, to interview victims and witnesses to atrocities andto gather relevant physical evidence and by coordinating the ICTY investigationwith other international actors currently enjoying access to the conflict area;

•Ensure thatwitnesses, particularly those still based in Kosovo, are provided with adequateprotection; and

•Engage in apublic education campaign in Kosovo, aimed at informing parties to the conflictabout their obligations under international humanitarian law and ensuring thatcivilians are aware of the work of the ICTY and ways to contact the ICTY withrelevant information.

To the Organization for Security and Cooperation inEurope:

Human Rights Watch believes that in order to help prevent arecurrence of the type of abuses described in this report and to be effectivein the implementation of its mandate, the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission(KVM) must maintain a strong human rights orientation in its work. The humanrights mandate of the OSCE KVM mission should empower and oblige the missionto:

Freely monitor and investigate human rights abuses

•Receivecomplaints of human rights abuses from any person or group in Kosovo;

•Travel freelyand visit any site, including any suspected or known place of detention;

•Interviewpeople freely and in private, including detainees who have not yet been chargedwith a crime;

Monitor, report, and publicize abuses committed by thesecurity forces

•Monitor thebehavior of the Serbian police and Yugoslav army and investigate incidents ofharassment or violence against the civilian population; raise cases of abusewith the appropriate authorities; recommend corrective action, includingdismissal or prosecution; and publicize the abuses, particularly in cases wherethe authorities fail to take appropriate corrective action;

Monitor, report, and publicize KLA abuses

•Monitor andinvestigate any harassment or abuse by the Kosovo Liberation Army againstethnic Albanians, Serbs, and others; report those abuses to the KLA and theYugoslav authorities; recommend accountability or other corrective action inconformity with international standards; and publicize the abuses, particularlywhere the KLA or Yugoslav authorities fail to take appropriate action;

Monitor, report, and publicize conditions of detention

•Incooperation with ICRC, monitor the treatment of those in detention throughregular visits to prisons, police stations, and suspected places of detention,including those located outside of Kosovo but holding persons detained inconnection with the conflict; interview detainees, freely and in private,including those who have not yet been charged with a crime; raise objectionswith the authorities when access to detention facilities is denied orconditions deviate from international standards; recommend corrective action,including dismissal or prosecution; and publicize those conditions when theauthorities fail to take corrective action, including the prosecution ofresponsible officials;

Monitor, report, and publicize conduct of trials

•Observetrials, especially those of ethnic Albanians accused of "terrorism" or othercrimes related to state security; raise objections with the authorities whenaccess to trials is denied and when procedural irregularities are identified;recommend remedial measures; and publicize procedural violations, particularlywhen the authorities fail to take remedial action;

Monitor, report, and publicize conditions for return ofdisplaced persons

•Monitor andinvestigate obstacles to the right of return for the estimated 250,000internally displaced persons in Kosovo; bring those obstacles to the attentionof the authorities; recommend remedial measures; and publicize the problem,particularly when the authorities fail to remedy it;

Monitor, report, and publicize restrictions on the media

•Monitor andinvestigate restrictions on freedom of the press in Serbia, both on theAlbanian- and Serbian-language media; publicize deficiencies in freedom ofexpression and recommend needed reform to the authorities;

Work with local and international human rightsorganizations

•Maintainclose contact with local and international human rights organizations workingin Kosovo and develop procedures for regular consultation and informationsharing;

Cooperate with the ICTY

•Cooperatefully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia byidentifying possible witnesses and evidence of violations of internationalhumanitarian law. To facilitate this cooperation, mission members should be briefedon the specific evidentiary needs of the ICTY and instructed to forwardrelevant information;

Contribute to human rights institution building

•Lead orparticipate in efforts to assist in the development of nationalinstitutions-both governmental and nongovernmental-which can protect andpromote human rights after the international monitoring has ended; and

Vet the police force for human right abusers

•As part ofpolice force development as envisioned by the October agreement between FRY andthe OSCE establishing the KVM mandate, ensure that police officers responsiblefor war crimes or other serious human rights violations are not allowed toserve in any capacity in law enforcement. For purposes of the vetting of policeofficers, the OSCE should seek information regarding individual policeofficers' human rights records from the ICTY, local and international humanrights groups, and the public, as well as from the OSCE's own human rightsmonitors.

In conclusion, Human RightsWatch notes that the OSCE should not limit its engagement in FRY to theverification mission. First, the new OSCE mission to Kosovo should not beconsidered a replacement for the long-term, Yugoslav-wide OSCE mission that wasexpelled from the country in 1992. Such a mission to monitor human rightsconditions throughout Yugoslavia is essential to any viable long-term politicalsolution in FRY and should remain a central demand of the internationalcommunity. Second, while recognizing limitations on his mandate, Human RightsWatch believes that the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities mightplay an important role in Kosovo, providing an early warning mechanism forpossible renewed violence stemming from abuses committed against Albanians,Serbs or other minorities resident in the region. Finally, the OSCE shouldsupport recent efforts of its Representative on Freedom of the Media to addressthe serious violations of free expression that undermine prospects for anylasting political solution in FRY.


The Fighting at Gornje Obrinje

In mid-July, 1998, the Yugoslav Army and Serbian policebegan a major offensive against the KLA, which had assumed loose control of anestimated one-third of Kosovo. The offensive, which involved heavy artillery,tanks, and occasional air power, was highly effective in driving the KLA frommost of its established positions into pockets in the mountains and woods.

In the end, however, very few KLA fighters were killed orcaptured. The brunt of the suffering was borne by ethnic Albanian civilians wholived in the areas of conflict. More than two hundred villages were destroyedand at least 300,000 people were internally displaced. Most of the estimated2,000 people killed through September were civilians.

The dangers faced by civilians in the Kosovo conflict werearticulated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in a publicstatement issued in September:

At this very moment, as has been the case for severalweeks now, tens of thousands of civilians are caught up in a devastating cycleof attacks and displacements. They are exposed to violence, including threatsto their lives, destruction of their homes, separation from their families, andabductions. Thousands of them have nowhere left to go and no one to turn to forprotection.

From a humanitarian perspective, it has becomeapparent that civilian casualties are not simply what has become known as"collateral damage." In Kosovo, civilians have become the main victims-if notthe actual targets-of the fighting.[1][1]

By mid-September, international pressure was building onMiloševi- to halt the offensive. By that time, however, the government hadvirtually succeeded in destroying all the towns and settlements in which theKLA was present, driving the fighters into the woods. The campaign ofdestruction remained unfinished in one important area: central Drenica, wheresome of the most intense fighting between the KLA and government forces hadtaken place.

There is little doubt that the final days of the offensivewere a carefully calculated gamble. President Milosovic and his militaryplanners knew that they had little time left to complete their objectives inKosovo and then avert a Western military response by ordering a rapid anddramatic pull-back of forces. The underlying motives for the brutality of theYugoslav offensive remain difficult to discern-the Yugoslav security forcescertainly succeeded in sending a message to ethnic Albanians in Kosovo thatbrutal repression would follow any attempts to assert ethnic Albanian controlin Kosovo.

The village of Gornje Obrinje is located in Drenica'sGlogovac municipality. The 500-year-old village has approximately 300 housesdivided up among several large family compounds separated by fields and woods,including the family compounds of the Delijaj and Hysenaj families where manyof the atrocities discussed in this report took place. Three kilometers to thenorth is the hilltop village of Likovac, which served as a regional KLAheadquarters prior to the Yugoslav offensive andwas recaptured by Yugoslavforces around September 13.[2][2]

During the month of September, government forces mounted anoffensive in the Drenica region, attempting to dislodge the KLA from itsDrenica stronghold. The police and army attacked from the direction of the townof Klina, southwest of Glogovac, as well as from the -i-avica mountains in theeast, and effectively surrounded KLA forces in the hilly Obrinje region.According to Naim Maloku, a senior commander of the KLA and a former Yugoslav Armyofficer interviewed by theNew York Times,the Yugoslav forces faced stiff resistance from the KLA in the Likovac-Obrinjearea:

[T]he guerrillas, caught in a Serbian pincer movement,had decided to fight rather than surrender. The fighting-sometimes house tohouse, even room to room-took an unusually heavy toll among the Serbs... [T]heguerrillas fought, using land mines and rocket-propelled grenades. Mr. Malokusaid that he knew from a report made by rebel headquarters that at least 47Serbian soldiers and police officers were killed in the fighting between[Obrinje] and Bajinca, three miles east. "We took weapons from 47 Serbs," hesaid.[3][3]

After taking Likovac, the government forces moved on toObrinje. According to Zejnije ("Zora") Delijaj, who was in Gornje Obrinje withher family at the beginning of the offensive, government forces began shellingthe Delijaj compound from the direction of Likovac at around 8 a.m. on Friday,September 26, with various types of artillery and mortars.[4][4]Most of the inhabitants of the compound fled to the forest to escape theshelling. Bashkim Delijaj, twenty-one, was one of the only civilians whoremained behind in the Delijaj compound at the time of the attack in order tocare for his elderly father, the ninety-four-year-old Fazli, who was aninvalid. Bashkim described to Human Rights Watch how the attack continued onSaturday morning:

When it got dark on Friday, the police returned toLikovac. During the night, they continued shelling. Around 7 a.m. the next day,they started shelling again. Half of the tank convoy based in Likovac, aboutsixty-eight tanks, started moving toward the Delijaj compound. They were firingground-to-ground missiles at us from the tanks. The infantry was moving behindthe tanks; many of them had beards. I was staying with my father who washandicapped and needed food and water. We were smoking a cigarette when agrenade fell on the roof.

I jumped out of the second floor of the house and rantoward the gate. I was looking through a hole in the gate and saw the army wasburning the neighborhood. I saw soldiers coming from about thirty meters away.They had [brown] army uniforms, and many of them had either huge knives orsmall axes, I couldn't see clearly. I started fleeing toward the Berdolak neighborhood.[5][5]

For the next several days, the Yugoslav forces remained ineffective control of the Obrinje area, and carried out the abuses described inthis report. Because most villagers fled the oncoming offensive, it isdifficult to identify precisely which government forces participated in theabuses. However, those present in the area at the time identified at leastthree types of forces: the Serbian special police under the jurisdiction of theMinistry of Interior (MUP), distinguished by their blue camouflage uniforms;the special anti-terrorist force (SAJ), also under the control of the Ministryof Interior, distinguished by their darker brown camouflage uniforms; andcontingents of the Yugoslav Army (VJ), recognizable from their green uniformsand the presence of tanks and other heavy artillery. According to a senior KLAcommander for Drenica interviewed by Human Rights Watch at the funeral ofDriton Hysenaj (see below), the special forces unit (Jedinica za SpecijalneOperacije, or JSO) headed by Franko "Frenki" Simatovic and popularly known as"Frenki's boys," were also present during the fighting in the Obrinje area. TheJSO wear irregular uniforms, often appearing in the uniforms of other militaryor police units, and are reputed to carry large knives, something severalwitnesses mentioned seeing near Obrinje. The JSO have a reputation forruthlessness. In the words of a Serbian policeman who spent six months inKosovo near Deçan, interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Belgrade, "Frenki'sboys kill everything. Believe me, you do no want to see them."[6][6]

On September 26, Human Rights Watch observed a convoy offorty-seven heavily armored military vehicles and sixteen supply or supportvehicles leaving Drenica around the village of Mle-ane, a few miles west of Glogovac.The convoy included numerous tanks, heavy artillery, anti-aircraft guns,pontoon bridges, and armored personnel carriers.

According to the Priština Media Center, a media center withclose ties to the Serbian government, at least seven policemen died in theObrinje area on September 25, 1998, the day prior to the massacre of theDelijaj family and the summary executions at nearby Golubovac. Five policereservists were also killed near Likovac when their vehicle hit an anti-tankland mine that was probably placed by the KLA. The names of the policereservists killed are:[7][7]

•GoranZivadinovi-, born in 1969, from Soko Banja;

•SlavomirBojani-, born in 1970, from Priboj;

•OgnjenPetrovi-, born in 1975, from Novi Sad;

•DragoslavTadi-, born in 1962, from Vrbas;

•AleksandarPantovi-, born in 1973, from Vrbas.

The Media Center further reported that two policemen werekilled on September 25 "at about 2 p.m. by a heavily armed group of Albaniansnearby Donje Obrinje village."[8][8]They were:

•MiroslavSlovi-, born in 1974, from Zubin Potok;

•RajkoRadovanovi-, born in 1973, from Srbica.

On September 27, 1998, the day after the Obrinje massacrebut before the site had been discovered, the Priština Media Center put out thefollowing statement that three Serbian policemen had been killed in the Obrinjearea on September 26, and that the police had succeeded in capturing thevillages of Gornje and Donje Obrinje:

Three [Serbian] policemen were killed in an attack byAlbanian extremists near the village of Donje Obrinje, west of Glogovac, ataround 15:30 yesterday. The three policemen killed, who came from the town ofKruševac were Veljko Mijkovi- [probably Miljkovi-] (1968), Sreten Mili- (1970)and Ljubomir Ljumirovi- [probably Ljumbomirovi-] (1966)... According toGlogovac municipal authorities, the police captured Albanian extremiststrongholds in the villages of Gornje and Donje Obrinje, as well as the widerarea of Glogovac. During the operation against the terrorist stronghold in thearea, at least ten members of the secessionist Kosovo Liberation Army werekilled, the municipal authorities reported.[9][9]

On September 26, Human Rights Watch researchers observed aYugoslav army red cross helicopter fly over the village of Plo-ica in thedirection of Gornje Obrinje, which could be seen burning in the distance, andreturn approximately twenty minutes later.

Yugoslav authorities certainly are able to identify thepolice and army units responsible for the atrocities documented in this report.While denying the police were responsible for the massacres, spokesman for theMinistry of Interior, police colonel Bo-idar Fili-, confirmed that "policeunits which took part in breaking up terrorist bands were under the directcommand of their superior officers who submitted regular reports about theiractivities."[10][10]Sharing information with the ICTY about police units in the area and theircommand structures, as well as the regular reports filed by these units, wouldhelp in identifying those responsible for these abuses.

The village of Gornje Obrinje was largely destroyed duringthe Yugoslav offensive. The village was still smoldering when Human RightsWatch researchers arrived around 11 a.m. on September 29, and sporadic gun firecontinued nearby. Most of the homes in the village had been destroyed, and thevillage bore the marks of a heavy assault. Many of the homes were pockmarked bybullets or shrapnel and some had been hit by tank fire. However, as in manyother villages, Human Rights Watch also observed signs of damage inflicted onthe village in the aftermath of any fighting. Shot cattle lay strewn around thetown, and many free-standing hay stacks and other food supplies had beentorched. Some homes appeared to have been set on fire, judging from the factthat they had not sustained any visible bullet or mortar damage.

The Dead at the Delijaj Compound

When Human Rights Watch researchers arrived at the scene ofthe massacre, local villagers were removing the bodies of the victims from theforest to a burial site in a field called Lluga e Ferizit (in Albanian) nearthe Delijaj compound. Human Rights Watch observed the bodies of three victims,wrapped in blankets, being carried out from the site on home-made stretchers.One of the bodies was that of an infant, Valmir Delijaj, eighteen months old.Seven other bodies, identified by family members as Zahide, Gentjana, Donjeta,Mehonija, Menduhija, Lumnija, and Hamide, were still lying in the forest,apparently where they had been killed three days before.

Fazli Delijaj - Family Patriarch, Burned to Death

Human Rights Watch encountered a group of internationaljournalists while walking to the forest, who said that they had seen threebodies inside Gornje Obrinje. One body was found inside a home, they said, andhad been severely burned. According to the evidence available, this was thebody of Fazli Delijaj, the ninety-four-year-old patriarch of the Delijajfamily. Family members told Human Rights Watch that Fazli Delijaj was aninvalid who had remained behind in the village because he was unable to runaway to the forest.[11][11]Jonathan Steele of theGuardian(London) described finding the body of Fazli Delijaj in an article about themassacre:

We walked out of the wood [of the massacre site] to afield where men with spades were starting to dig graves in the damp ground, andon up to the hill to Gornje Obrinje. The first family compound we reached wasstill smouldering. In a charred living room littered with tiles from thecollapsed roof, a villager pointed out the thin torso of a 95-year-old familyelder.[12][12]

Another journalist on the scene, Tom Walker of theTimes(London), described the conditionof Fazli's body in his article:

A young man crunched through the roof tiles and rubbleof a room blackened by heat and flame. In the corner lay a torso, its fleshbaked brown. "My father," said the man. Fazli Delijaj, we were told, had been95.[13][13]

Bashkim Delijaj, the twenty-one year old son of FazliDelijaj, discovered the burned body of his father on Monday, September 28.Bashkim had stayed with his father until he was forced to flee shortly beforeSerbian infantry entered the Delijaj compound. He told Human Rights Watch, "Itold my father that I was going to keep the animals out of the cornfieldsbecause I didn't want to tell him the truth about the soldiers who wereapproaching."[14][14]Bashkim told Human Rights Watch what he found when he returned to the villagewith his uncle Imer Delijaj two days later:

After we found the body of Adem [see below], I toldImer, "Let's go see my father," and we went. I looked through the window, butnothing was left of my father. I saw only the bones, which looked like what wehad learned in biology class. He had burned.[15][15]

Interviewed separately, Imer Delijaj confirmed Bashkim'sdescription of Fazli.[16][16]

Adem Delijaj

On Monday morning, September 28, Imer Delijaj,aself-acknowledged KLA fighter, and Bashkim Delijaj returned to the Delijajcompound to find out what had happened to their families. Imer told HumanRights Watch how they discovered the body of his brother Adem, thirty-three,near the gate of Imer's home:

When Bashkim and I came to our neighborhood, we sawAli's and Pajazit's houses burned. Uncle Sherif's house was also burned. When Icame to my house, in the entrance I saw Adem, my brother, about four or fivemeters from the entrance. He was dead, and there were about sixteen bulletcasings around his body and near the entrance. He was not mutilated, but he hadthree bullet wounds to his head and his chest. It was raining and he was mybrother, so I could not leave him in the rain, so I dragged him into a coveredplace and let him rest there. Adem was thirty-three years old, and had neverbeen armed in his life. He never had problems with the government or the KLA.[17][17]

Bashkim Delijaj, interviewed separately by HumanRights Watch, presented an almost identical version of events.

The last person to see Adem Delijaj alive wasfifteen-year-old Blerim Delijaj. Blerim told Human Rights Watch that he waswalking toward the house of his uncle, Zeqir Delijaj, together with Zeqir and hisother uncle, Adem, at about 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 26. When they reachedZeqir's home, an armed policeman emerged from the house, ordered the trio tostop, and immediately began shooting at them. Blerim ran towards the Hysenajcompound together with Adem and Zeqir, but soon lost track of the other twomen. He told Human Rights Watch, "I was running faster and was the farthestaway [from the policeman], so I got away."[18][18]Zeqir Delijaj was among the persons killed in the forest (see below).

Fourteen Dead in the Forest

Fourteen bodies were found around the forest hide-out of theDelijaj family, in addition to the bodies of four men found around the Delijajcompound itself, bringing the total number of bodies buried on September 29 toeighteen. Several of the bodies in the forest were in the process of beingremoved for burial when Human Rights Watch researchers arrived at the scene.Local villagers, including Imer Delijaj, who was among the first to find thebodies, reconstructed the location of all persons killed. Human Rights Watchwas able to gather photographic and testimonial evidence to establish theidentity of all persons found at the massacre site, as well as the conditionsin which they were found. The detailed descriptions of the gunshot wounds,knife cuts, and mutilations found on the bodies are disturbing, but areessential to understand that this was not an incidental killing during combatbut rather a direct attack on a group of defenseless civilians. All bodiesfound in the forest were dressed in civilian clothes, and there was no evidenceof any resistance to the attack.

The bodies were first discovered by Zenjije Delijaj when shewent to the forest on Sunday morning, September 27, at about 8 a.m. to tellImer's family what had happened to Habib, Hysen and Adem Delijaj (see below).Early Monday morning, Imer and Bashkim Delijaj went to the forest and also sawthe fourteen bodies. A U.S. team of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission(KDOM) visited the site on Monday afternoon. They took extensive photographsand included their findings in that day's confidential report, which has notyet been released to the public.

On Tuesday morning, researchers from Human Rights Watchtraveled to the site, as did some international journalists. The victims wereburied on Tuesday in the early afternoon while Human Rights Watch researcherswere still at the scene.

Ali Delijaj

The body of Ali Delijaj, sixty-eight, was found near thepath just as it entered the forest grove. Photographs obtained by Human RightsWatch clearly show that Ali's throat had been slit. The knife that wasapparently used in the killing was left lying on his chest; villagers toldHuman Rights Watch that the knife was his own. Villagers believed that theelderly Ali had remained behind in the village of Gornje Obrinje while thefamily sought shelter in the forest, and that the police had captured Ali andforced him to lead them to the family's forest shelter before they killed him.

Zejnije Delijaj told Human Rights Watch that, when she foundAli, "there was a scarf covering his face and I saw the blood. I removed thescarf and saw that his throat had been cut."[19][19]Imer Delijaj told Human Rights Watch how he found Ali's body the next day:

About thirty meters from the tent, we found the body ofAli Delijaj, sixty-five, who was cut on his throat with his own knife lying onhis chest. I turned him and saw he had a wound to the back of the head. Iturned him again and placed him back in the same position I had found him. Healways had his knife with him for cutting tobacco.[20][20]

The Delijaj family believes that Ali decided to return tohis tobacco storage shed near the Delijaj compound when he was captured by theSerbian police, and was then forced by the police to take them to the foresthideout. According to the family members, Ali had freshly cut tobacco in hispocket when he was killed.

Hava and Pajazit Delijaj

About sixty feet down the forest path from Ali's body wasthe temporary shelter the Delijaj family had constructed in the forest, awooden frame with a green tarp covering three foam mattresses. Human RightsWatch saw that the middle mattress was soaked with blood, and that a humanbrain remained on the mattress on the left side of the shelter. According todiplomatic observers and journalists who visited the scene while all of thebodies were still in the forest, the bodies of Hava Delijaj, asixty-two-year-old woman, and Pajazit Delijaj, a sixty-nine-year-old man, werefound in the tent. These sources described Hava Delijaj as having a gunshotwound to the head and a cut throat. The diplomatic sources further observedthat Hava's right foot was almost severed from the body, apparently in anattempt to remove the foot with a knife. Pajazit was nearly decapitated withhis brain fully removed from the cranium and lying next to his body.

Zejnije Delijaj described to Human Rights Watch what shefound inside the tent on September 27:

I saw Pajazit's body lying on his stomach and part ofhis head had been blown off. He was on the right side of the tent if you arefacing it. The left side of his head was missing, and his brain had slippedbetween the mattresses. The mattress was filled with blood. Then I saw Hava'sbody lying outside the tent and her legs were deeply cut with a knife. She waslying on her back and her legs were spread. There was lots of blood around her.[21][21]

This account was confirmed by Imer and Bashkim Delijaj inseparate interviews. Imer told Human Rights Watch that Hava's leg was deeplycut, and that "only a small piece of skin and meat was keeping the legtogether."[22][22]Imer and Bashkim decided to move Hava's body inside the tent, because it wasraining.

Down the forest path, a small gully veered off to the right.The bodies of eleven persons, mostly women and children, were found along thenarrow gully, which measured only a few hundred feet in length. Most were shotin the head, and the fact that they were found in an area of thick brushsupports the conclusion that they were executed at close range, possibly asthey attempted to flee from their pursuers.

Hamide, Jeton, Luljeta, and Valmir Delijaj

A group of four bodies was found by family members,diplomatic observers, and journalists a few feet up the narrow gully. Thisgroup included one of the youngest victims of the attack, eighteen-month-oldValmir Delijaj, found with a blood-splattered face. Jeton Delijaj, anine-year-old boy, was found close by, reportedly with his throat cut from thejugular to the lower lip by a knife or a bullet.[23][23]

In his interview with Human Rights Watch, Imer Delijajdescribed finding these bodies, which included several immediate familymembers:

I continued up the gully, and saw my nine-year-old sonJeton. He had a wound from his left ear to his mouth. I hope it was from abullet and not a knife [so he would not have suffered]. It is the only bodywhich I am not sure how he was killed. One shoe was on and one shoe was off.

Five meters away was my sixty-year-old mother, Hamide,lying on her left side. She had a wound on the right side of her head and asmall wound on her chest. I think she was killed with a "warm weapon" [a gun]from a close distance. I think she was shot in the face, not killed with aknife.

Nearby was the body of Luljeta, the pregnant wife ofmy brother, about to give birth any day. We had even decided on a name for thebaby, Malsore, which means "mountain girl" and relates to our suffering in themountains. Luljeta was the same as Hamide. Their legs were together. She waslying on her right side and she had wounds on the left side of her face. Shewas hit a little more on the back of the head, and there was a small wound onher nose. A smaller wound was on her left shin.

The other body was that of Valmir, theeighteen-month-old son of Adem. He had a wound on the right side of his facenear his jaw, and on his right hand he had a hole but not from a bullet, andother small wounds on his body. His pacifier was hanging on his chest.

I suppose, and I hope, that all the bodies from mymother up were killed with "warm weapons" [guns] from a close range.[24][24]

The testimony of Zejnije Delijaj, interviewed separately byHuman Rights Watch, matched the description of the bodies given by Imer down tospecific details. One variation was her description of the pregnant Luljeta.She said:

Luljeta was cut all over, starting from the shouldergoing down to the stomach. It was a big cut, like from her breast to herstomach. She was wearing clothes but they were cut too.[25][25]

Lumnije, Mihane, Menduhije, Diturije and Zeqir Delijaj

Imer found the body of his wife, Lumnije, lying next to hissix-week-old daughter Diturije, who amazingly survived the attack. Zejnije hadseen the bodies the day before, but had not realized that the baby Diturije wasstill alive. She told Human Rights Watch:

I saw Lumnije, Imer's wife, lying on her right sideand Diturije was under her left arm. Lumnije's face was cut all over, and herleft arm above the baby was also cut with a knife. The baby's mouth was full ofbood from her mothers' left arm. I did not know that she was still alive.[26][26]

More than twenty-four hours after Zejnije visited the site,Imer and Bashkim found the young baby alive. Imer recounted the horriblediscovery to Human Rights Watch:

I next found the body of my wife, Lumnije. She waslying on her right side, and the two girls were next to her, one in front andone behind. The mother's hand was on the baby [six-week-old Diturije]. At thatmoment, she opened her eyes, not totally but halfway, and I realized she wasalive. I was trying to clean the blood out of her mouth, and she stuck hertongue out a little.

I left the bodies and took the clothes off the baby.It was a terrible smell. I checked her and saw she was not wounded. I dressedher again and covered her in my jacket.[27][27]

Human Rights Watch visited the baby Diturije on November 8in Likovac, where she was staying with relatives. Sadly, she died on November19, reportedly due to a lack of medical care.[28][28]

Lying nearby were the bodies of four-year-old Menduhije,daughter of Imer and Lumnije, Imer's cousin Zeqir, forty-four, and twenty-five-year-oldMehane, the wife of Adem. Imer described Mihane's condition:

The next body, parallel with another, was Mihane,twenty-five, the mother of Valmir. She was lying on her stomach, and herinternal organs were spilling out through a big hole in her back. It lookedlike an explosion not from a gun but from a grenade.[29][29]

Photographs obtained by Human Rights Watch confirm thecondition of Mihane's body.

Neither Imer not Zejnije got a close look at Menduhije; bothonly saw that her hair was covered with blood. According to Zejnije, Zeqir was"full of blood from head to toe."[30][30]

Zahide Delijaj and Her Two Daughters, Donjeta and Gentjana

On top of the thickly wooded gully, Human Rights Watch sawthree more bodies. Zahide Delijaj, twenty-seven, was found at the edge of thegully, apparently shot as she was trying to climb out. A bullet had shot awaythe back of her head. Zahide was only wearing socks, not shoes, suggesting thatshe may have been resting in the tent at the time of the attack. Her twodaughters lay dead immediately behind her. Five-year-old Donjeta had anapparent gunshot wound that had removed part of the right side of her face.Seven-year-old Gentjana had the top of her head removed, apparently by abullet.

Zejnije became too disturbed before reaching these bodies,and turned back. Imer also gave a limited description of these bodies, partlybecause he had just found his dead wife and children and was severelytraumatized. According to Bashkim, he and Imer briefly went to look at Zahideand her two daughters before returning to Imer's wife and children, where theyfound Diturije still alive. Imer described what he remembered to Human RightsWatch:

Donjeta, who was five years old, was lying face down.She had a wound on her left shoulder and behind her right ear... Her facelooked deformed, and was turned to the ground... I can't describe the body ofGentjana, who was seven years old. I cannot remember her wounds so it is betternot to talk about it.

The other body was Zahide Delijaj, their mother. Shehad a big wound to the top of the head, but her brain was not missing. I didnot turn her over because it would be against our traditions.

After this, I searched for the four missing children,[31][31]with the baby on my shoulder, but I could not find them.[32][32]

Both Imer and Bashkim stated that Bashkim was severelytraumatized by seeing the bodies of his deceased relatives and was hystericalat times. However, his account of their findings in the forest, givenseparately to Human Rights Watch, closely mirrors the testimonies given by Imerand Zejnije.

The Killing of Hajriz Delijaj

According to the Council for the Defense of Human Rights andFreedoms, a local human rights group, the body of Hajriz Delijaj, thirty-four,was found in a water well near Gornje Obrinje on October 21, 1998. Hajriz, thehusband of massacre victim Zahide Delijaj and father of Gentjana and DonjetaDelijaj, had been missing since the time of the massacre. The Council for theDefense of Human Rights and Freedoms reported that, "[t]he victim's corpse wasmutilated, his throat was cut and he was shot on his head from close range."[33][33]Human Rights Watch viewed photos taken during the funeral of Hajriz, and thesephotos indicate trauma to the head of the victim.

The Killing of Habib, Hysen, Antigona and Mihane Delijaj

In addition to the fourteen members of the Delijaj familyhiding in the forest, a smaller group from the family fled from the village andfell victim to a separate series of killings near Gornje Obrinje. This groupincluded Habib and his wife Zejnije; Hysen and his wife Floria; an aunt ofHabib named Maliqe; Hysen's two daughters (by an earlier marriage), Antigonaand Mihane; and the two young children of Hysen and Floria, named Mentor andAjete. The story of the survivors of this group, some of the witnesses who wereclosest to the killings near the Delijaj compound, provide important clues asto what happened during the offensive.

According to separate interviews with Zejnije and Floria, onFriday, September 25, these family members were in Gornje Obrinje when theshelling started around 8 a.m. As the attack started, they fled toward thewoods the Albanians call Zabele, where the extended family of Imer Delijaj wassheltering in the makeshift tent. They found all of their relatives alive inthe forest and stayed with them during Friday. On Friday night at about 9 p.m.,this part of the Delijaj family went back to the Delijaj compound, leaving theextended family of Imer behind in the forest. They hid for the night in a largehole dug by Habib near his home which was covered with leaves.

On Saturday, at about 4 a.m., the family woke and Habib saidthey should flee into the hills. Habib and his wife, Zejnije, Antigona, Mihane,and Mentor left at this time, leaving Hysen and Floria, Maliqe, and Ajete inthe dugout hole. Habib and his family went by foot to Terdevac, where theyarrived at about 8 a.m. and started a cooking fire in a field. Almostimmediately, shelling started close to the field, and the family was forced torun away. They found shelter in the nearby woods and were told by anacquaintance they encountered that Sherif Delijaj had been wounded and that theDelijaj compound had been burned. As of January 21, 1999, Sherif Delijajremains missing.

At 5 p.m. on Saturday, Habib decided the group should returnto Gornje Obrinje to find out what had happened to Hysen and the others leftbehind. They walked back to Gornje Obrinje and managed to cross the main roadto Likovac despite a large police presence. The group hid as a large convoy oftanks and APCs was leaving Gornje Obrinje and heading back towards Likovac.After waiting half an hour in the bushes, they tried to move but were spottedby the police and came under heavy fire, forcing them to separate. ZejnijeDelijaj told Human Rights Watch what happened:

We tried to approach the compound, but as soon as westood up we saw infantry, five or six of them, and they immediately startedshooting at us. They heard the leaves. We all ran off in different directions.I was crawling along the road away from Likovac. Antigona is all I saw as shelay on the ground hiding from the bullets. I was the closest to the police, andI could feel the dirt flying against my leg as the bullets hit the ground.

I didn't know which direction I was crawling. They wereconstantly shooting. They thought we were KLA. First they were shooting withmachine guns but then they started using other weapons. All the time I wascrawling I could hear the shooting until 1 a.m. I didn't know where the otherswere.[34][34]

Throughout the night, Zejnije, now separated from the restof her family, was fired upon by the police when she tried to move. Whilecrawling, she fell into a deep hole, injuring her face and losing consciousnessfor several hours (her injuries were still visible when she was interviewed byHuman Rights Watch more than a month later). On Sunday morning, she reached theHysenaj compound and was again forced to seek shelter when police fired at herfrom the direction of Likovac. Later, she said, she was briefly detained by agroup of police in dark-brown or grey camouflage uniforms with helmets,possibly members of the anti-terrorist police (SAJ). She was allowed to leaveand managed to return to the Delijaj compound which was completely burned downby the time she arrived. When she passed the house of Imer Delijaj, she foundAdem Delijaj's body near the gate (see above).

Zejnije then went to the hiding place that Habib had dug tosee if anyone was there. She found only the elderly Maliqe, who told her thatHabib had returned during the night and told everyone that they had been shotat and that he was convinced that Zejnije, Mihane and Antigona had been killed.According to Zejnije, Maliqe also told her that Habib had taken Floria, Hysen,Mentor, and Ajete to go find out what had happened to Zejnije and his twodaughters. At 7:30 a.m., Floria returned to the hiding place with Mentor andAjete and said that Habib and Hysen had been killed by the police during thesearch.

Zejnije said Floria explained to her how Habib and Hysen hadbeen killed. The group had walked toward the police while looking for Zejnije,Mihane, and Antigona. The police stopped them and interrogated them about thelocation of the KLA. Habib reportedly replied that he had come only to retrievethe bodies of his wife and the daughters of his brother Hysen. The police thenasked about the whereabouts of Habib's son Dr. Sami Delijaj-doctors haverepeatedly been targeted by police, who believe they are providing medical careto the KLA[35][35]-andHabib replied that he was in Priština. Floria then told Zejnije that the policebegan to beat Habib. When Habib fell down, a policeman loaded his rifle andfired at Habib, killing him. Hysen, who had mental problems according to familymembers, started waving his arms and screaming loudly when he saw his brotherkilled. He himself was then shot twice in the head. Floria told Zejnije thatMentor was screaming and ran toward Habib, but a policeman slapped the youngboy and said either "Br-e," which means "faster" in Serbian, or "Be-i," whichmeans "get out of here."

Journalists who visited the scene on September 29, 1998,described finding the bodies of Habib Delijaj, fifty-five, and Hysen Delijaj,fifty-two, at the end of a set of tank tracks. According to one report, the topof Hysen Delijaj's head had been shot off.[36][36]The location of the bodies according to journalists is consistent with theaccount Floria gave to Zejnije.

Imer Delijaj also described finding Habib's and Hysen'sbodies. He said:

According to what Floria said, I looked for the bodieson Monday, September 28, and Tuesday. Around 7:00 or 7:30 a.m. I found them...Habib was mutilated in a terrible way. His brain was out. He was cut with aknife on his back. He had bruises on his face, but no wounds on his chest. Hehad a cross cut on his back and stab wounds around the lower torso.[37][37]

Human Rights Watch also conducted a separate interview withFloria. Her account is largely consistent with Zejnije's and Imer's but doescontain some minor discrepancies. According to family members, including Dr.Sami Delijaj, Floria has a history of mental problems as a result of having hadmeningitis as a child. The main difference is over the precise location ofHabib's and Hysen's death: according to Floria's direct testimony, the group wasat Floria's home collecting some goods when the police detained and killed thetwo men, rather than on the road where the bodies were found.

Many other details of Floria's account, however, areconsistent with what Zejnije says Floria told her on September 27. In bothaccounts, Habib asked the police about his daughters and was questioned by thepolice about the KLA for a very short time. Both accounts describe how Habibwas beaten and killed first, and how Hysen was killed after he becamehysterical about Habib's death. Small details are consistent throughout, suchas the fact that the policeman loaded his rifle after Habib was beaten and thatMentor tried to run to his uncle but was sent away by a policeman. Looking atthe physical evidence at the scene, Human Rights Watch believes that the firstaccount Floria gave to Zenjija is the most probable version of events.Regardless, both accounts and the physical evidence lead to the sameconclusion: Habib and Hysen Delijaj were summarily murdered by Serbian police.

Another detail consistent in Floria's and Zejnije's accountsis the presence in Gornje Obrinje of an ethnic Albanian policeman named XhaferQorri. According to Floria's direct testimony, and the testimony of Zejnije,Habib recognized Qorri while they were being questioned by the police. Floriadid not know Qorri herself, but heard Habib mention his name. According toFloria, Qorri left the scene before Habib and Hysen were killed, but it iscertain that Qorri would have been able to identify the policemen who killedHabib and Hysen, as well as some of the others involved in the Gornje Obrinjeaction. But his testimony will never be heard.

Xhafer Qorri was shot and killed together with two localSerbs at the municipal power station in Glogovac on December 11, 1998. HumanRights Watch learned that Qorri had been responsible for policing five villagesin the Glogovac area since 1968, including Donje and Gornje Obrinje. He hadrecently come out of retirement and lived in Glogovac with his family. This wasnot the first time he had been attacked, since Albanians in the area knew thathe worked for the police.

While at the scene of the massacre on September 29, HumanRights Watch was told by surviving Delijaj family members that the two younggirls, Antigona and Mihane Delijaj, fourteen and sixteen respectively, weremissing. As discussed above, the two girls went missing after being shot atnear the road to Likovac on the evening of Saturday, September 26.

The decomposing bodies of the two girls were found about onekilometer from the Delijaj compound on October 4, 1998, by members of theDelijaj family. Human Rights Watch visited the site where the bodies werefound, just off the main road leading from Gornje Obrinje to Likovac. A fewmeters from the site was a small, recently dug hole reinforced with stones,which Imer Delijaj claimed was a bunker dug by the Serbian police, who wereguarding the road. Human Rights Watch inspected the bunker and found an emptyamunition box for 7.62 mm bullets issued to the Yugoslav forces. Allegations bythe familyand the Council for theDefense of Human Rights and Freedoms[38][38]that the two girls had been raped before being murdered could not be confirmedby Human Rights Watch.

The Killings at the Hysenaj Compound of Gornje Obrinje

Of the members of the Delijaj family who were present at themake-shift shelter in the forest, only four young children survived:five-year-old Besnik, three-year-old Liridona, thirteen-month-old Arlinda, andtwo-year-old Albert. Human Rights Watch met five-year-old Besnik, but did notattempt to interview him because of his age and the traumatic nature of theevents he may have witnessed. A psychologist who was treating Besnik, Dr. GaniHalilaj, told Human Rights Watch that the young boy was suffering from classicsymptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome; namely, being uncommunicative andfrequently staring off into space, a stark contrast with his bright andtalkative personality prior to the incident in the forest.[39][39]

An uncle of Besnik told Human Rights Watch that Besnik hadnot given an overall account of the massacre, but he had told family membersbits of information which strongly suggested that he had witnessed at leastsome of the forest massacre. According to the uncle, Besnik told him that heknows how to load a gun because he saw the police do it, and he describedpolicemen in camouflage paint being present in the forest.[40][40]According to the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), a respectedlocal human rights group, Besnik also described to his uncle Imer how he sawAli Delijaj killed with a blow to the head by a "black man"-perhaps a policemanwith camouflage paint on his face or wearing a ski mask.[41][41]

How and why Besnik and the three other children survivedremains unclear. For whatever reason, at least one policeman took the childrenand brought them unharmed to the Hysenaj compound in Gornje Obrinje about twokilometers from the massacre site. Human Rights Watch first saw the fourchildren on September 29, just before visiting the massacre site near theDelijaj compound. At that time, an elderly women, Shehide Hysenaj, showed HumanRights Watch researchers the bodies of three people killed by the police,including her elderly husband Rrustem (see below). The four children were alsopresent and Shehide told Human Rights Watch that, "these children saved mylife." A second visit to Shehide by Human Rights Watch in November revealed howthe three victims were killed, and how the four children apparently survived.[42][42]

According to Shehide, by the time the police reached theHysenaj compound of Gornje Obrinje on September 27, most of the villagers hadfled with their possessions into the nearby forest, called, in Albanian, Brijae Terdefcit. Aside from Shehide, three villagers remained in the compound:Shedide's husband Rrustem, seventy-three, and a displaced couple from Gremnikvillage, Ali Koludra, sixty-two, and his wife Hyra Koludra, fifty. The fourwere having dinner on Saturday, September 27, when policemen entered thecompound and started burning homes. Shehide described to Human Rights Watch howshe lost contact with the other three people that Saturday night. She toldHuman Rights Watch:

When we were sitting in the yard, the police startedburning in the village, and they started burning our house. Ali, Hyra, andRrustem ran toward the house to see what was happening. I remained in the yardnear our well and spent all night alone. I couldn't see them anymore. Thechickens were escaping from the flames and coming toward the place I was sitting.[43][43]

Early Sunday morning, Shehide went to the forest in anunsuccessful attempt to locate the members of the Hysenaj family hiding there.At about 7 or 8 a.m., she decided to return to her burned home to find thethree people she had left. When she reached the well where she had beensheltering, she noticed a group of about ten policemen who ordered her to comenear in Serbian. When she approached, she noticed several other groups ofpolicemen milling about, as well as many army tanks on the road bisecting thetown. The policemen grabbed her, raised her dress to check for weapons, andtook her to the home of Shaban Nasufi, the only home in the village leftunburned. Inside the home, she found Ali and Hyra, as well as four youngchildren-the survivors of the forest massacre:

When I was inside, I saw Ali and Hyra alive. They weresitting in a kind of line. They brought me the four children, and ordered me tofeed them and send them to bed. Besnik had blood on his neck and sweater. Inthe meantime, the police were interrogating Ali and Hyra in Serbian.[44][44]

Shehide described to Human Rights Watch how the policequestioned the three persons about their ties to the KLA. As Shehide did notspeak Serbian, Ali and a policeman who spoke Albanian translated for her duringthe interogation. The police questioned the three about who belonged to theKLA, and accused the two women of providing food to KLA members and knowingwhere the KLA was hiding. She then described to Human Rights Watch how shewitnessed Hyra being murdered by the police:

They demanded money from us, from Hyra as well. Thepolice accused Hyra of giving food to the KLA. They then slapped Hyra, and twoof the police grabbed her by the arms and took her out of the house. Theykilled her immediately, and mutilated her arms by cutting them with a knife oran axe, I am not sure which. Both the children and I witnessed the killing, Iwas almost going crazy and the children were screaming.[45][45]

After killing Hyra, the police continued to interrogate Aliin front of Shehide. According to Shehide, the police subjected Ali to a severebeating, punching him in the face and kicking him in the ribs with their boots.The police also continued to interrogate Shehide, asking her where her two sonswere and again accusing her of providing food to the KLA. An Albanian-speakingpoliceman wearing an all-black uniform, in contrast to the other policemen whowere wearing blue and black camouflage uniforms, led the interrogation. Shehidedescribed the Albanian-speaking policeman as sturdy and big, with a machinegun, a knife, and a radio. While they were being interrogated, the policecontinued purposefully to burn homes in the village.

At about 2 p.m., according to Shehide, a new group ofpolicemen entered the home, and brutally killed Ali. She said:

At about 2 p.m., another group of policemen came, andthey were behaving very brutally, they were merciless. They asked Ali aquestion, and as he was answering they took him out andkilled him. I went outtogether with the children, screaming and crying for Ali. We saw Ali killed.Two Serb police were carrying him by his armpits. A third policeman took theaxe used for cutting wood and hit Ali with the axe on top of the head. Thebrain came out. Afterwards, they were hitting him in the sides with the axe.They were merciless. After that, they left all together in a group.[46][46]

Shehide remained in the house, peering out of a window andobserving the police leaving, but was too afraid to leave the house with thescreaming children. When she reassured herself that the police had left, shewent to the yard of her house and found the body of her husband Rrustem in theyard:

I took the children and went to the yard of my house.I wanted to tell my neighbor about the killings. Suddenly, I spotted myhusband, Rrustem. Rrustem was also killed, probably with an axe to his head.His chest also had slashes.[47][47]

The detailed testimony of Shehide is corroborated bysignificant physical evidence. Other witnesses interviewed by Human RightsWatch at the funeral of Driton Hysenaj confirmed that they had seen Shehidetogether with the four Delijaj children, Ali, and Hyra in police custody.[48][48]Human Rights Watch researchers at the Hysenaj compound on September 29 observedand photographed the bodies of Rrustem Halilaj and Ali and Hyra Kaludra priorto their burial. Their injuries were consistent with Shehide's account. Inaddition, Shehide's brief testimony of September 29 was consistent with themore substantial statement she gave to Human Rights Watch on November 12. ImerDelijaj and many other members of the Hysenaj and Delijaj families, interviewedseparately, confirmed that the four children who survived the massacre had beenbrought by the police to the Hysenaj compound.

The Murder of Driton Hysenaj

Because of the heavy fighting in the Gornje Obrinje area,the approximately 150 residents of the Hysenaj compound fled with theirpossesions into the forest on Friday, September 25, leaving only a few elderlymembers of the extended family behind. The Hysenaj clan set up camp in theforest at a place called, in Albanian, Brija e Terdefcit, less than a kilometeraway from their compound, and remained there for the next two days. Accordingto the witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch at the funeral of Driton,most of the persons staying in the forest were women, children, and theelderly, with only a few younger men. None of them were armed, according tothose present.

On Sunday, September 27, some time between 11 a.m. and 3p.m., Serb forces surrounded the displaced community in the forest, apparentlyafter following a young boy to the forest camp. Daut Hysenaj, who was presentin the forest, told Human Rights Watch what happened next:

The police separated the men from the women, and thenstripped the men naked at that very place. Then they bound the men two by twoand ordered us to walk to the Hysenaj compound.[49][49]

The stripsearch conducted by the police turned up noweapons, "not even a jack knife," according to Brahim Hysenaj, who was alsopresent.[50][50]While being searched, the men were subjected to a severe beating, and were hitwith rifle butts. The jaw of one man, Raif Hysenaj, was broken at this time.[51][51]

The police selected a group of twenty-two men, allowed themto dress, and marched them back to the Hysenaj compound, where they wereordered to sit in front of a hedge. According to Brahim Hysenaj, who was one ofthe twenty-two men, there were several hundred policemen in the Hysenajcompound by the time the men arrived. The men witnessed the police burning thehomes around them. Brahim told Human Rights Watch:

We saw the police burning the houses. They used sometype of spray with a pump to spray the area of the house, and when they shoot,the spray ignites immediately. I saw them spraying the houses, but we didn'tdare to look any more.[52][52]

The police continued to beat the men at the compound. DautHysenaj told Human Rights Watch:

The policemen started beating us again. As we werelined in a queue, they came to us. The first group of policemen slapped us, andthe second group started punching us. A third group began hitting us with theirrifle butts. They asked no questions. This lasted about fifteen or thirtyminutes. We were handcuffed or tied while being beaten.[53][53]

After the beating, the policemen appropriated a tractor,burning all the food loaded in its attached lorry. The policemen ordered thetwenty-two men, still tied two by two, to climb into the lorry, and they weredriven on the dirt road to Likovac, the functional headquarters for thegovernment's offensive. Both Daut and Brahim Hysenaj, interviewed separately,described a nightmarish journey that included the murder by knife of one youngboy, Driton Hysenaj. Brahim Hysenaj said:

While being taken to Likovac, we had to pass throughthe Delijaj compound, and we saw the policemen burning the houses all along theroad. The driver of the tractor would stop by the road and let the policemenbeat us. They beat us with whatever was available, including wooden sticks.[54][54]

When the men finally arrived in Likovac, some of thepolicemen shouted that the tractor was carrying captured KLA members. Withoutwarning, according to Daut and Brahim, an unidentified policeman ran up to thetrailer, grabbed sixteen-year-old Driton Hysenaj by the hair, and slit histhroat with a large knife. Brahim said:

In Likovac, the police claimed that they had broughtin some KLA, so in one moment, a policeman ran up to the tractor, grabbed thisguy by the hair [Driton Hysenaj] and slit his throat. I was wearing white socksand they became red because the tractor did not have a place to let the blooddrain. Another policeman cut the rope of the guy tied to Driton with afoot-long knife. The other guy tied to Driton [Qerim Hysenaj] was very afraidand tried to move far from the police because he thought they might kill him aswell. His arm was already broken from the previous beatings.[55][55]

According to Brahim, himself a former Yugoslav army officer,the policeman who killed Driton was wearing a brown, black, and yellowcamouflage uniform and a darker handkerchief on his head. The witnessspecifically distinguished the killer's uniform from the blue and blackcamouflage uniforms worn by many of the regular MUP forces.[56][56]According to sources familiar with MUP uniforms, the brown, black, and yellowuniforms are worn by the special anti-terrorist force, or SAJ (SpecijalnaAntiteroristicka Jedinica). The eyewitness also claimed that many otherpolicemen in the area witnessed the killing of Driton, and that none of thepolicemen attempted to intervene.[57][57]

The body of Driton Hysenaj was taken away by the police, andremained unaccounted for until November 13, 1998, when his remains were foundin a shallow grave in Likovac by a local villager gathering soil to rebuild hishome. A Human Rights Watch researcher attended Driton's burial in GornjeObrinje on November 14, and observed that the severely decomposed remains weredressed in civilian clothing. The advanced state of decomposition made itimpossible to document the alleged knife wound without a forensicinvestigation.

Arbitrary Detention and Abuses in Custody

The ordeal of the twenty-two men taken from the Hysenajcompound to Likovac did not end with the murder of Driton Hysenaj. After themurder, the remaining twenty-one men were told to get out of the tractor andwere surrounded by a crowd of policemen which was estimated by one of the mento have been as many as 500. The Yugoslav forces in Likovac at the timeincluded regular MUP paramilitary police, special anti-terrorist units (SAJ),and Yugoslav Army troops, as observed by the surviving men. The men were againbeaten by some of these forces with wooden clubs and metal pipes until a policecommander intervened and stopped the beatings. The men were then forced toboard an army truck, which took them to the Glogovac police station. On the wayto the police station, the army truck, driven by soldiers, stopped at theRezalla and Morina police checkpoints and allowed the policemen on duty to beatthe men some more.[58][58]

At Glogovac police station, the men joined several hundredothers who had been detained during the recent offensive. Witnesses told HumanRights Watch that they were extensively interrogated by the police about theirties to the KLA. One detainee claimed that one of the policemen whointerrogated them in Glogovac was Xhafer Qorri, the ethnic Albanian policemanwho other witnesses claimed was present around Gornje Obrinje during theoffensive. According to Brahim Hysenaj, when one of the detainees told Qorriabout the death of Driton Hysenaj, Qorri handed the detainee over to anotherpolicemen who threatened to go to the house of the detainee and rape his wifeand daughters.[59][59]While the men were being interrogated and beaten, the police turned on theengine of an armored personnel carrier to drown out the screaming. One witnessdescribed being beaten with wooden clubs during his interrogation.

The detainees were forced to sing Serbian songs by thepolice. According to Brahim Hysenaj, his brother was fed up with the Serbprovocations and stood up during the singing to say "Hail Kosova Republic." Hisbrother was beaten unconscious by several policemen, Brahim said, and theothers were warned that they would all be killed if a similar incident happenedagain. Another man, Faik Asllani, was brutally beaten in front of the men, ostensiblybecause some members of the Asllani clan are major figures in the KLA.According to Brahim Hysenaj, "It was raining and they just beat him and threwhim in the gutter and left him. We just saw his chest moving and realized hewas still breathing and alive."

Most of the men were released beginning Wednesday, September30, 1998, but Brahim Hysenaj claimed to Human Rights Watch that fifty-six menwere taken to Priština and charged with terrorism. One elderly man,sixty-year-old Zymer Hysenaj, was released on Wednesday and was so exhaustedthat he had to be helped home. He was left at a place near his home by hisfellow detainees, but has not been seen since.

Hundreds of other men were arrested during the offensive inthe Drenica region and the -i-avica mountains, and some were held at Glogovacpolice station simultaneously with and prior to the arrival of the men from theHysenaj compound. One other group of men included Avni Hysenaj, thetwenty-five-year-old son of Shehide and Rrustem Hysenaj (see above), who wasamong those rounded up by the police in the -i-avica mountains. Avni Hysenajtold Human Rights Watch that he had been with a large group of internallydisplaced persons, hiding in the forest near a place called, in Albanian, Fushae Korhices, when they were surrounded by a combined force of police andmilitary (including tanks) on Wednesday, September 24, 1998. The police allowedthe displaced persons to return to a nearby village, and ordered them to bringall their possessions and tractors out of the forest, threatening to destroyanything left behind. At 5 a.m. on Thursday, September 25, the policesurrounded the village and began to separate the men from the women. About 200men were videotaped, photographed, and their personal details processed by thepolice. According to Avni Hysenaj, the police commander at the scene identifiedhimself as the commander of the police station at Srbica.[60][60]A few older men were then released, while the other men were taken to the yardof a house where policemen were cooking food and some soldiers were millingaround. Avni Hysenaj told Human Rights Watch about the beatings that ensued:

We were sent to a house yard where the police werecooking. They ordered us to put our hands on the cars and they started kickingus. They took our wallets and money. Then, they ordered us to put our handsagainst the wall and we were kept there for one and a half hours, until a truckto transport us came.

Three youngsters from Prekaz were taken into the houseand brutally beaten. We had to wait until this beating was finished. I saw themwhen they came out, they were bleeding with broken bones in their faces. Thepolice said they were cousins of Adem Jashari[61][61]and other such things.[62][62]

When the wives of the men attempted to intervene and beggedthe police for their husbands' release, the police responded with profanitiesand threats that all of the men would be killed. The men were then forced towalk down a road with burning hedges on both sides toward the truck, where thepolice again beat them in order to force the estimated 200 men into a singletruck. The men were taken to Glogovac, where they were again beaten with clubs,metal pipes, and boots while unloading from the truck, according to AvniHysenaj.

The large group of men from many areas of the Drenica regionwas kept at the Glogovac police station in a large concrete room until theygradually began to be released on Saturday, September 27. The men werefingerprinted, tested for traces of gunpowder, and they were interrogatedaggressively about their ties to the KLA and the whereabouts of missing Serbs.Avni Hysenaj told Human Rights Watch:

First, they fingerprinted us three times each, andthen they conducted gunpowder tests on our faces and hands. They were askingwho belonged to the KLA. They told me that I had been a [KLA] soldier and aguard, and I told them that it was not so... A fat policeman, speaking Serbian,asked me who had killed Bulatovi- from Likovac. I told them I didn't know, thatit was not my interest as an ordinary man...

Then another policeman entered and told me, "Yes, nowyou will tell for sure who killed Bulatovi-." They ordered me to put my handsout and hit me with a club ten times on each hand. After this, I could nolonger hold out my hands so they held them for me and continued the beating.Then they forced me to bend over a table, and two policemen beat me on thelower back, buttocks, and thighs. They asked me again who had abductedBulatovi-, and I replied: "I do not know, comrade." The policeman said he wasnot my comrade because I was KLA and he was a policeman. I told him that if wecould not be comrades, let it be okay. They then beat me again for those words.The one policeman kicked me on the chest with his boots. I told the policemanhe was torturing me for no reason, as I was innocent. He replied, "This isnothing."[63][63]

By coincidence, Human Rights Watch briefly encountered AvniHysenaj on September 30, 1998, two days after his release from Glogovac policestation, while documenting the deaths at the Hysenaj compound. At that time, heshowed Human Rights Watch researchers the deep bruises on his lower back andbuttocks that were sustained, he claimed, from the beatings in the Glogovacpolice station. The injuries, long, thin bruises on his lower back and buttocks,photographed by Human Rights Watch, were consistent with his account, at thattime and later, of the beatings he had endured.

Many other serious beatings and abuses took place at theGlogovac police station during the three-day period the men were detained. Oneof the detainees claimed to Human Rights Watch that he saw a military truckbeing loaded with refrigerators, televisions, VCRs and other electronics thathad been stored at the Glogovac police station, and were probably looted fromethnic Albanian homes. On several occasions, Human Rights Watch researcherstraveling in Kosovo personally observed policemen in uniform removing privateproperty from abandoned ethnic Albanian homes. On one occasion, the police tooka young man from Krajkova outside the holding room, injured him in the leg, andthen told the men: "Look what the KLA has done, they have wounded this man. Donot join the KLA, because they will wound you." According to a witness, thepolice then took the wounded man away, possibly to the Ferrous Nickel plant,[64][64]and they never saw the wounded man again.

On another occasion, a particularly abusive police officerof Montenegrin origin who said he belonged to Vojislav Šešelj's Radical Partyordered all the detainees to kneel with their heads to the ground. After anestimated two hours, a panic ensued when a group of policemen approached thegroup and unsheathed their knives. Avni Hysenaj told Human Rights Watch whathappened next:

The police took the person who shouted the alarm, andtook him into the police station to beat him. Then they handcuffed him to theraised barrel of a tank, and each policeman came in turn to beat him in frontof us. He was getting tired and started slumping, and we could see the handcuffcutting into the flesh and the blood running down his arm.[65][65]

After this beating, another detainee tried to escape afterasking to use the toilet. When he was recaptured, the police put him in adoghouse and forced him to bark like a dog, Avni Hysenaj told Human RightsWatch. The policemen also forced the detainees to sing Serbian nationalistsongs, such as:


Ko to laze?

Who is lying?

Ko to kaze:

Who is saying:

Srbija je mala?

Serbia is small?

Nije mala!

It is not small!

Nije mala!

It is not small!

Tri put' ratovala!

It fought in three wars!

Dvanajste je,

Nineteen twelve,

Dvanajste je

Nineteen twelve

Turcin udario!

The Turks attacked!

Trinajste je,

Nineteen thirteen,

Trinajste je

Nineteen thirteen

Srbin pobedio!

The Serbs won!


Nineteen fourteen,


Nineteen fourteen

Svaba udario!

The Krauts attacked!


Nineteen eighteen,


Nineteen eighteen

Srbin pobedio!

The Serbs won!

Cet'rest prve,


Cet'rest prve


Svaba udario!

The Krauts attacked!

Cet'rest pete,


Cet'rest pete


Srbin pobedio!

The Serbs won!


According to Avni Hysenaj, Glogovac police commander Poriši-was present during most of the beatings, and only intervened once to stop thebeatings towards the end of the ordeal.

The tests for gunpowder came back negative for most of thisgroup of detainees. Most of these detainees began to be released in groups onSaturday, September 26. According to the detainees, at least seven personstested positive for gunpowder, were sent to Priština, and have not been heardfrom since.


On Saturday, September 26, 1998, the same day as the forestmassacre in Gornje Obrinje, Yugoslav forces summarily killed thirteen men whowere detained at a compound in the village of Golubovac.[66][66]Human Rights Watch visited the scene of the execution on September 29, shortlyafter the bodies of the thirteen men had been claimed by their family forburial, and conducted interviews at that time, as well as on two additionalvisits to the village on October 1 and November 9, 1998. The following is anaccount of the events surrounding the Golubovac killings, based on thetestimonies of the witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch and the physicalevidence found at the scene.

According to Adem Hoxhaj, the entire village of Golubovacdecided to evacuate to the forest when shelling began in the early morning ofSeptember 25 from Cerovik and Plo-ica. At about 9 a.m., several thousandcivilians, mostly women and children and the elderly from Golubovac andneighboring villages, as well as internally displaced persons staying withrelatives in the area, fled to a place in the forest about three kilometersaway from Golubovac called Livadhe e Shalës (in Albanian). The villagers tooktheir tractors and some possessions with them and built plastic shelters in theforest. In the early afternoon, Adem Hoxhaj and some other villagers returnedto the village to open the doors of their homes, in the belief that theYugoslav forces would then not burn the homes. At about 3 p.m., Adem saw tanksand APCs entering the village and fled back into the forest.[67][67]

Adem's brother, fifty-five-year-old Musli Hoxhaj, told HumanRights Watch how the villagers spent Friday night:

All night Friday, we stayed in the forest. It wasraining, and there was shelling from Plo-ica and Mle-ane. We were in thevalley, and the police were shooting from one side of the valley to the otherridge, right over our heads.[68][68]

On Saturday morning, the villagers started some cookingfires in the forest, and quickly found themselves surrounded by Serb police.Adem Hoxhaj had gone out early in the morning and had encountered a policecommander, but managed to escape back to the camp to tell the civilians thatthey were surrounded by police. He described the police commander to HumanRights Watch:

The commander had a black bandana covering his hair,which made it difficult to recognize him. He was wearing a normal bluecamouflage uniform. He was tall, about two meters, and was fat and muscular. Hehad a pale white face painted with black and green camouflage paint.[69][69]

When Adem returned to the camp and informed his fellowvillagers that they were surrounded, many began to cry. It was decided thatAdem and some other elders would go back out of the forest to meet the police.When they met the same police commander, he instructed the elders to return tothe forest and to order everyone into a field in the nearby valley. Accordingto Selman Morina, the sole survivor of the extrajudicial execution that followed,the police told the civilians that they would be safe. He said:

At about 8 or 9 a.m. on Saturday, the Serbs came intothe forest. They told us that everyone in the forest must come out into a fieldwhere they could see us, and that we would be safe. They sent some old men toconvey this message.[70][70]

Adem Hoxhaj, who speaks limited Serbian, was chosen by thepolice commander as an informal interpreter. He described what happened next:

I asked the people to get out of the tents and intothe valley, and this is what everybody did. The police told us to stand in agroup and line up. The police commander then told me to tell all men older thaneighteen to come out and separate from the group. He then changed his mind, andasked for all the men older than sixteen to come out... After about twentyminutes, I was asked to tell the group that all women, children, and olderpeople could go home.[71][71]

While the civilians were heading home, the police thoroughlysearched the tractors and tents in the forest. According to witnesses, thepolice took any valuable possessions they found, including gold. Adem Hoxhajtold Human Rights Watch that he lost the gold jewelry of six women (atraditional form of family wealth) from his family and was almost killed whenhe protested. Musli Hoxhaj also reported losing 3,000 DM to the police when hewas in the valley. After searching the displaced persons' camp, the policeproceeded to burn the tractors by igniting the mattresses and straw theycarried. Only a single clip of bullets was recovered from the large camp,according to those present, suggesting that there was no large KLA presence inthe forest. Selman Morina, one of the group of men who remained behind, toldHuman Rights Watch how the police began to process the men left in the forest:

After they sent the women and children away, thepolice began to check the men for weapons and other signs that they belonged tothe KLA. They then sent us to follow the women and children, but we were stillkept separate. One policeman came and divided us, men from men. He pointed outthe men he wanted to come out of the crowd, and chose about twenty ortwenty-five of us. He took us to a separate place. The police further dividedour group by age. My brother and I were in the group, and the older ones wereseparated and allowed to leave.

They then began to question us, asking where ourweapons were. They were beating us. Ten or fifteen police questioned us, andthey repeatedly changed the policemen asking questions. We were still in thefield at this time. We had to put our hands behind our head, and werequestioned in the group, not individually. They were kicking us with theirboots and hitting us with weapons. I was hit on the head, on my legs, and on myback.[72][72]

When they returned to Golubovac, the villagers found a largepolice and military presence, with armored personnel carriers and tanks parkedthroughout the village. Most of the villagers were allowed to return home, butpolice had set up a temporary command center at the compound of Adem Hoxhaj anddid not allow anyone to enter the area. Several hundred civilians, includingAdem's family, instead sought shelter at the adjacent compound of his brother,Musli Hoxhaj, where they remained until after the police had left the village.

A Sole Survivor

Miraculously, one of the group of fourteen men whom thepolice tried to execute managed to survive. Human Rights Watch located andinterviewed Selman Morina on October 1, and then passed the information alongto the relevant international agencies who could help guarantee the safety ofthis crucial witness. A few days later, Morina and his family were escorted outof the country to safety. Morina's detailed testimony to Human Rights Watch ofthe events surrounding the execution is consistent with the evidence of otherwitnesses, and with the physical evidence found by Human Rights Watch at thescene of the execution. Selman Morina told Human Rights Watch:

They brought us to the garden where the execution tookplace. Until the execution, our hands had to remain behind our heads. Wereached the garden about two hours after we were first gathered in the field.We were then kept about two hours with our hands behind our heads on the roadin front of the garden. The last time I saw the women and children was in thefield, so I do not know where they were taken. We were made to kneel with ourhands behind our heads and faces touching the ground. We were not beaten whenwe were in the road next to the garden.

We were then lined up against the fence, laying flaton our belly, face down, with our hands behind our heads. They beat us withsticks and stones, and with everything they could find. Those who didn't movewere just beaten on the back, but when someone moved they were beaten all overtheir bodies. We were about 30 centimeters away from each other. I was thethird from the entrance. I didn't count the people, but believe there wereabout fourteen of us.

I was beaten on my back from my buttocks to my neck. Iturned once to ask if there was an interrogation inspector whom I could talkto, and a policeman replied, "I am the inspector," and hit me hard in my face.After this I remained quiet. They kept telling us that if we told them whoamong us belonged to the KLA, they would release all the others. There was noKLA among us, so we didn't know what to do. I was beaten with sticks andkicked, and once I think they hit me with stones. The stick they used to beatus was a shovel handle. We lay there for two or three hours while they beat usand interrogated us. The others were beaten much more than me, because theykept turning their heads to see what was happening.

I believe one policeman executed all of us. Apoliceman, a new one, came into the garden. I believe one person executed allof us. One man shot us, but the others were around in the garden. We wereexecuted one by one. Each person was fired on twice with a burst from a machinegun. We had nowhere to escape. Some of us were begging to be released. No onetried to get up and escape.

They first shot the second person from the door to thegarden, and then they executed the fifth and the sixth one. I cannot rememberthe order after this. I was the third from the fence, so I know that the personto my right was shot first. They then shot persons close to my left, but notthe person immediately next to me, the fourth from the fence, so it must havebeen the fifth and the sixth. Then, he went down the line, left to right, andthen again from right to left.

Each person was shot twice. One person was shot athird time. I heard the police say "One is still alive," and they kicked himonce and shot him again. They kicked me too, but I didn't move and then theydidn't touch me again. I survived because I remained totally dead. From thetime of the bullets, none of us made a noise. Then, I heard them go out in thegarden and leave. I heard some more machine gun fire outside the compound, andunderstood they left. I then attempted to walk home. I first saw my mother andthen my wife. I left the garden about ten or fifteen minutes after the police.When I got up, I saw the other men with their faces to the ground and theydidn't move.[73][73]

Human Rights Watch inspected and photographed the wounds onSelman Morina's body after interviewing him on October 1, four days after hehad allegedly been shot by the Serbian police. His wounds were consistent withhis account. He suffered from a gunshot wound to his upper left thigh, with theentry wound located below the exit wound. The trajectory of this bullet wouldbe consistent with the position of Selman at the time of the summary execution,as he was lying down with his head farthest from the policeman who shot at him.He also had two smaller gun shot wounds on his upper right arm. His back wasextensively bruised, consistent with his account of having been beaten on theback prior to the failed execution.

Human Rights Watch researchers visited the site of theexecutions in the family compound of Adem Hoxhaj in the afternoon of September29, 1998, after documenting the forest massacre of the Delijaj family in GornjeObrinje. Adjacent to the bramble fence, Human Rights Watch found sixteen largeand small pools of still drying blood and some body tissue. The blood spots ranalong the fence, and were consistent with the account of the survivor and witnessesthat the execution victims were lying parallel to the fence prior to beingshot. Among the blood pools were torn pieces of an identity document.

Approximately eighty shell casings were at the executionsite, the vast majority of them scattered on a small one-meter high mound abouttwo meters away from where the execution victims had lain. These casings wereidentified by the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch as 7.52mm caliber,normally used by the M84 general purpose machine gun. The few smaller casingsfound amid the blood spots near the fence were identified as 7.62mm caliber,which can be used with a M70B1/B2 (AK-type) or a M72/72AB1 light machine gun.The location of these casings of two different calibers coincides with thefirst heavy rounds that were fired from the mound by the M84 machine gun, andthe later lighter rounds that were fired as the police moved among the bodies,kicking them and firing again at those who moved. Musli and Muje Hoxhaj, whowere at Musli Hoxhaj's house during the incident, also described hearing twodifferent bursts of automatic fire, lasting about two minutes or so, before thepolice quickly left the compound between 4 and 5 p.m. During the day, thepolice also burned most of the homes in the village and at least one vehiclebelonging to Musli Hoxhaj.

After the police left, most of the persons staying at MusliHoxhaj's compound remained there, too afraid to return home. The gravelywounded Selman Morina initially went to Musli's compound to seek assistance,and was given some apples, milk, and a walking stick before he left again to goto his own home and find his mother and wife (others were too afraid to joinhim). When he arrived at Musli's compound, Selman told Musli that "they wereall killed," and that he was in the line with the others but managed to escapedeath by feigning death when kicked. After another half hour passed, Musli,Adem, and a third man named Sokol decided to go to Adem's compound. Muslidescribed what they found:

About one and a half hours after the police left,Adem, Sokol, and myself went on the path through the field to Adem's home. Whenwe got in, there were no police there and we found thirteen dead bodies. Ademturned the bodies around. The bodies were shot in the back. We didn't see if theywere beaten, but I know they were shot. They were wearing normal civilianclothes. I saw the thirteen bodies and went crazy.[74][74]

On Sunday beginning around 12:00 p.m. until approximately3:00 or 4:00 p.m., the families of the execution victims came to the Golubovaccompound to claim the bodies and prepare them for burial in their homevillages. According to Musli Hoxhaj and Muje Hoxhaj, six of the men were buriedin a suburb of Plo-ica. The names of those six were:

•Ajet orRrustem Maloku (name unclear), forty-two, from Plo-ica;

•MuhametMaloku, thirty-five, from Plo-ica;

•Rasim Maloku,thirty-eight, from Plo-ica;

•Halim Maloku,thirty-seven, from Plo-ica;

•Ahmet Maloku,between forty-five and fifty, from Plo-ica;

•Aziz Maloku,forty-five, from Plo-ica.

Four men were buried in two different graveyards inGolubovac:

•Fazli Hoxhaj,forty-two, from Golubovac;

•Osman Morina,age and origin unknown;

•RemziVeselaj, thirty-five, from Iglarevo;

•Selmon Gashi,thirty-one, from Plo-ica.

One was buried in Gjurgjevik:

•ZeqirBerisha, forty, from Gjurgjevik.

Two men whose names were unknown to Musli and Muje Hoxhajwere taken for burial to the villages of Gjurgjevik and Banjica.

The Murder and Burning of Ramadan Hoxha

The severely burned body of Ramadan Hoxha, a resident ofGolubovac, was found on Tuesday, September 29, in the woods above Golubovac.Ramadan had attempted to return to Golubovac from Vu-ak during the Serboffensive, reportedly to check on his family. When the Golubovac villagersrealized he was missing, they began to search the neighboring woods. At about 4p.m. on Tuesday, Muje Hoxha found Ramadan's body. He described what he found toHuman Rights Watch:

First we found one shoe. Fifteen meters away, we foundthe body of Ramadan totally burned. He was in a crouching position against atree, and only part of his jacket remained unburned.[75][75]

Muje told Human Rights Watch that he believed Ramadan's bodyhad been burned with gasoline. Human Rights Watch visited the place whereRamadan's body was found, and noticed a small burned place with the remains ofpartially burned clothes. Human Rights Watch found two shells immediatelyadjacent to the body which were later determined to be 7.62mm caliber for theM70B1/B2 (AK-type) assault rifle or the M72/72AB1 light machine gun, suggestingthat Ramadan might have been executed prior to the burning of his body. Aphotograph of Ramadan's body has been obtained by Human Rights Watch that showsa corpse blackened by fire, consistent with the accounts of the villagers whohelped bury Ramadan. The burns are relatively superficial, consistent with theuse of a rapidly burning accelerant.

Human Rights Watch found significant evidence that some typeof military or police force had encamped in the area. Mounds of spent bulletcasings and the remains of consumed food tins, as well as a used first aidpackage to dress abdominal injuries with instructions in Serbian, werescattered within one hundred meters of the place where Ramadan's body wasfound.


Plo-ica: A Snapshot of Destruction

Human Rights Watch's first access to Drenica during theoffensive was to the village of Plo-ica on September 26.[76][76]Shelling continued in the distance and some of the surrounding villages wereburning, such as Gornje Obrinje, site of the massacre (see above).

Plo-ica itself was almost entirely destroyed by the police.One of the buildings in the village was still on fire, a food storage facilityholding melons and pumpkins, and many other buildings were still smoldering.Everything at the scene pointed to systematic, premeditated destruction,carried out without any form of resistance by local ethnic Albanians. Most ofthe homes, some of them century-old stone structures, had been torched and werecompletely destroyed. Free-standing hay stacks and fences had been burned. Mostof the food storage units had also been burned, and valuable possessions suchas appliances, satellite dishes, vehicles, and televisions had either beenstolen, destroyed, or were severely vandalized. With the exception of a fewhouses which were not entirely destroyed, personal possessions were strewneverywhere and in most cases burned.

The pattern of destruction of Plo-ica, duplicated in most ofthe Drenica villages visited by Human Rights Watch, clearly shows thesystematic and premeditated nature of the actions of the Serbian police andYugoslav Army. It would be impossible to set an entire village on fire withoutthe use of an accelerant. Someone clearly moved through the compound and setindividual structures on fire, as it would be impossible due to the distancesbetween homes for the fire, however fierce, to jump from one structure to thenext.[77][77]

The villagers of Plo-ica were just returning from theirhiding places in the nearby forest as Human Rights Watch researchers arrived,and they spoke openly about their plight. They said the previous day, September25, they had heard shelling and shooting near their compound around 9:00 a.m.and fled to the nearby woods without their possessions. Without warning, theysaid, tanks approached and shelled the village, and they saw policemenfollowing the tanks. According to the villagers, Plo-ica was intact when theyfled and there was no KLA presence in the village. Human Rights Watch saw no evidencethat the KLA had been in the village, such as the remains of trenches or otherdefensive positions.

Villagers told Human Rights Watch that they watched from anearby vantage point and saw the police enter their village around 11 a.m. onSeptember 25. Qamil Kryeziu, a villager from nearby Mle-ane who had fled toPlo-ica one month before when his home was attacked, told Human Rights Watchthat the villagers had spent the night in the forest at a place called Vu-ak,and that the police had surrounded the place around 11:30 a.m. on September 26.[78][78]According to Kryeziu, the police told the villagers to raise their hands andcome out of the forest. The police detained the villagers for about an hour,and then told them to gather their belongings and return to their homes.

Human Rights Watch walked through Plo-ica for several hours,interviewing villagers as they returned to their ruined homes. During theentire period of time, the two researchers did not find a single bullet casingor any other evidence that active combat had taken place at the compound. Theburned homes did not have any bullet or shell damage, and thus did not igniteduring combat. There was no evidence in or around the village of any KLApresence, and no part of the village appeared to have been prepared for combatthrough the digging of trenches or sandbagging of homes (a practice observed byHuman Rights Watch in other villages with a KLA presence). While the KLA didcontrol the Drenica area prior to the offensive, and it is possible that KLAsoldiers may have moved through the village, the evidence found by Human RightsWatch strongly indicates that the village had offered no resistance, and hadbeen burned after being abandoned by the local population.

The only military equipment found by Human Rights Watcharound the compound were two dozen spent 82 mm mortar casings used by the M6,M69, or M31 mortar launchers in a nearby field. The mortar launchers had leftdeep imprints in the soil, and it was possible to determine that the mortars hadbeen fired away from Plo-ica in the direction of the forest, perhaps towardnearby Golubovac. The information on the mortar shells indicates that they areof Yugoslav manufacture.

The Larger Picture: Destruction of Civilian Objects inKosovo

Throughout Kosovo, Yugoslav forces have repeatedly anddeliberately destroyed civilian property and objects essential to the survivalof the civilian population. Clear and substantiated evidence exists that thevast majority of the destroyed properties were systematically burned by Serbpolice after the towns were abandoned by local villagers.

The experiences related by people from various villages thathave been destroyed in Kosovo present a strikingly similar pattern. First, avillage was surrounded by Yugoslav forces, sometimes after fighting with theKLA, and soon thereafter shelling of the village began, usually by the army.Villagers would flee into the forest to escape the shelling, leaving thevillage abandoned except for those unable to flee. Time and time again,villagers would tell Human Rights Watch how they watched from a nearby vantagepoint as their village was systematically looted and burned by Serbian police.The testimonies of these witnesses is corroborated by Human Rights Watch's ownobservations: police forces were repeatedly seen entering areas as militaryforces were withdrawing. Although the main forces of the army have generallybeen less involved in the most egregious atrocities committed in Kosovo-maybebecause they have focused on destructive long-range bombardment rather thanclose combat-the pattern of operation described confirms close coordinationbetween the Yugoslav Army and the various police units involved in the Kosovoconflict.

The destruction was not limited to civilian homes. In Mališevo,De-an and other larger towns, Yugoslav authorities looted and destroyed entirecommercial districts, painting "OBK" and "UQK" (Serbian spellings (andmisspellings) for UÇK, the Albanian acronym for the Kosovo Liberation Army),"Srbija" (the Serbian spelling for Serbia), the nationalist cyrillic cross, ornationalist slogans such as "Srbija do Tokija"("Serbia to Tokyo") on destroyedbuildings.

A journalist told Human Rights Watch he saw Serbian policefilling two-liter plastic containers with gasoline from a tanker truck to burndown a shopping mall in Mališevo. When he returned to the area a short whilelater, the shopping mall was up in flames:

Toward the end of August, we were about fivekilometers outside Mališevo when we saw a gas tanker. We could smell thegasoline from the tanker. There were uniformed policemen filling two-literplastic bottles from the tanker. When we got into Mališevo, there were ragingflames and fresh fires. It was a strip of stores which was burning. Mališevohad been abandoned at this stage for about a week, and there was no fighting atall.[79][79]

In many areas, Serbian police targeted food supplies andother essentials. Human Rights Watch researchers saw cattle that had beenkilled and left dead in the fields in many areas of Kosovo, many had been shot,especially in Drenica following the government offensive, which suggests thatthey were killed on purpose to deprive local civilians of their use. Manyvillagers complained that their food supplies and cattle fodder had been lootedby police, and Human Rights Watch found significant evidence that food supplieshad been specifically targeted for destruction. Free-standing hay stacks,granaries, and other storage facilities were often burned down. In Likovac,Human Rights Watch researchers were shown the remains of a storage shed thathad held a significant amount of flour for human consumption, and observed thatalmost all the bags had been torn and their contents strewn about. In DobroVoda, a recently returned family complained to Human Rights Watch that alltheir food supplies had been stolen, and that their sheep had been killed andconsumed by Serb police headquartered at the local school building, which wasdestroyed by police as they departed. Looting was also common in most destroyedvillages, and many villagers told Human Rights Watch that the police had stolenvaluable goods from their homes. On September 26, Human Rights Watch directlyobserved two blue uniformed policemen in Mle-ane carrying boxes of goods out ofprivate homes.

UNHCR found that water wells in Dobrosevac had beenintentionally polluted with dead animals and garbage,[80][80]a practice confirmed in other areas by humanitarian organizations. R. JeffreySmith wrote about widespread poisoning of civilian wells in Kosovo in theWashington Post:

Most of the poisonings appear to have occurred shortlybefore Yugoslavia withdrew many of its forces under threat of NATO air strikesin October, allowing thousands of refugees to return home. Since then, refugeesin at least 58 villages throughout Kosovo have informed foreign aidorganizations that their wells contain dead dogs, chickens, horses, garbage,fuel oil, flour, detergent, paint and other contaminants. Although many ofthese reports have not been confirmed, a few aid groups that have begun testingand cleaning residential wells in villages say that they have found evidence toconfirm the allegations.[81][81]

R. Jeffrey Smith described visiting a village and beingshown a well in which the remains of a dog had been found. He concluded thatthe poisonings could not have been accidental:

This dog could not have wandered into the well. It hada concrete cover on it... These things don't wander into the wellsaccidentally. These wells are usually, you know, placed in very obvious locations.A lot of them are covered. Anything that you find at the bottom of the wellother than water has been put there by somebody.[82][82]

Because of the systemic destruction carried out throughoutKosovo by the Yugoslav forces, many civilians in Kosovo face a harsh winterinside homes that had been largely destroyed, their provisions for the winterlooted and burned.

Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Party in the UnitedKingdom, during a visit to the Drenica region on September 26, personallyobserved the methods of destruction used by the Yugoslav forces and wrote abouthis observations in theGuardian:

First comes the ultimatum, delivered by the Serbpolice. "Give up your weapons or we will destroy your village."

After the deadline comes the shelling. Heavy artilleryand 120-millimeter mortars and heavy caliber machine guns and T55 tanks. Theweapons of total war, against defenseless civilians. One after the other, Iwatched them.

Next come the soldier looters with heavy articulatedlorries, into which are loaded the meager valuables of a peasant population.And finally the soldiers who systematically burn the houses one after the otherup the valley. I watched them; three days after the Security Council had passeda resolution saying this must stop and at the same time as the Yugoslavgovernment had assured the world that it had stopped. I counted 17 villages inflames and countless individual farmhouses.

I spoke to the terrified human flotsam of thismedieval barbarism.[83][83]

A number of the humanitarian aid organizations currentlyoperating in Kosovo are cooperating on a survey to assess the damage causedduring the fighting in Kosovo.[84][84]Their preliminary results provide compelling testimony to the widespread natureof destruction. The survey assessed 285 villages, of which 210 had beenaffected by the conflict. In the 210 affected villages with an estimatedpre-conflict population of 350,000 persons, twenty-eight percent of thehomes-9,809 out of a total of 35,185 homes-had been completely destroyed.Another fifteen percent of the homes (5,112 homes) had severe damage, while anadditional 6,017 homes sustained moderate to minor damage, leaving only fortypercent of the homes in the affected regions undamaged.[85][85]

The scale of the destruction of civilian property and of objectsessential to the survival of the civilian population, clearly visiblethroughout the area of the Yugoslav offensive, provides indisputable proof thatthe destruction was carried out as a matter of state policy, and cannot beviewed as the actions of rogue soldiers or policemen. As such, responsibilityfor these systematic violations of the laws of war and crimes against humanitylies with the top of the command structure of the Yugoslav military andsecurity forces. The wanton destruction of civilian property is a violation ofinternational humanitarian law, and is specifically defined as a violation ofthe law of war in the statute establishing the ICTY.[86][86]


Since the beginning of the Kosovo conflict, the Yugoslavgovernment has engaged in a systematic campaign of propaganda anddisinformation presenting a view of the conflict that is clearly at odds withthe reality on the ground. Misinformation about the conflict has served to whipup xenophobic nationalism and fears of an international anti-Serb conspiracy, acentral pillar of President Miloševi-'s rule.

On September 28, 1998, before the atrocities revealed inthis report were uncovered, Serbia's Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic gave avictory speech:

Today there is peace in Kosovo Metohija.[87][87]Life in Kosovo Metohija has returned to normal. The Republic of Serbia hasthwarted the secessionists' attempts to realize their intentions throughterror. The terrorist gangs have been destroyed... Serbia has once again shownthat it is capable of resolving its problems alone, with full respect for thedemocratic countries' principles and standards regarding human, civil andminority rights.[88][88]

The response of the Yugoslav authorities to reports of theatrocities in Gornje Obrinje and Golubovac was along similar lines. Thespokesman of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Serbia, Colonel Bo-idar Fili-,denied that the police had been responsible for the atrocities, stating that"MUP [police] forces did not undertake any actions against civilians in thevillage of Gornje Obrinje," and that "all actions undertaken by the police inKosovo were aimed exclusively against terrorists."[89][89]

Most news programs on the official Serbian television (RTS),which is tightly controlled by the government, suggested that the GornjeObrinje massacre had either been staged by Western media or by ethnic Albanian"terrorists." The RTS evening news even suggested that a widely publicizedphotograph of eighteen-month-old Valmir Delijaj was actually a photograph of adoll, and the reporter held up what he claimed was a "similar" doll smearedwith blood. Western television sometimes did not show human corpses in itscoverage of the massacres out of consideration for the sensitivity of viewers,but the RTS news argued that this showed that reports about the massacre hadbeen fabricated. Pictures of the corpses that ran in the international media,including the front page of theNew YorkTimes, as well as such local papersasthe Albanian-languageKoha Ditore,were conveniently ignored. Human Rights Watch researchers gave interviews abouttheir findings to the independent Serbia media, such as the Beta news agencyand Radio B92, as well as to numerous international journalists, but were neverapproached by any of the state-run media outlets, even though those journalistswere aware of Human Rights Watch's presence in Priština.

Serbian political leaders also claimed that the massacreshad been staged by the Western media and the KLA to justify NATO bombing. VojislavŠešelj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party and deputy prime minister ofSerbia, claimed that the massacre at Gornje Obrinje "was orchestrated in theWest by those same countries in order to create legal grounds for the U.N.Security Council to authorize the bombing of Serbia."[90][90]He continued with his familiar refrain of a vast conspiracy against the Serbianpeople:

All propaganda services and agencies for waging thepropaganda war of the Western powers have joined forces in an orchestratedcampaign against Serbia, the Serb people, and the FRY.

What we saw in Kosovo, in the village of GornjeObrinje, is identical to the promulgation of false reports on the events at the[Sarajevo] Markale market place, Vase Miskina Street, and the Partisan Cemeteryin Sarajevo, when Alija Izetbegovic had his own civilians killed in order toimpute those killings to the Serbs.

[Those responsible are] the Shiptar[91][91]terrorists, because they were militarily defeated by the police and army, whoused the most perfidious and corrupt means, sacrificed their own people, andcalled up the foreign diplomats and correspondents...[92][92]

The official RTS television attributed similar statements toVuk Draskovi-, head of the Serbian Renewal Movement Party (SPO) and a DeputyPrime Minister of Serbia since mid-January, who reportedly stated that:

Logic and all the available facts lead to theconclusion that the Albanian civilians were killed by those whose propagandaand strategic interest would be served by such a crime. The Albanian terroristshad every reason to stage the massacre against their compatriots and thus pushtheir atrocities [against Serbs] in Kle-ka and Glodjane aside, simultaneouslyrousing anti-Serb emotions and triggering NATO pact aggression against Serbia.[93][93]


International Response to the Massacres

Virtually all relevant governments and internationalorganizations responded to the Gornje Obrinje and Golubovac massacres withoutrage. As with every other atrocity thus far in the Kosovo conflict, however,verbal condemnations and threats were not followed by serious measures toensure that such atrocities would not happen again. Another massacre, in Ra-akon January 15, 1999, in which as many as forty-five ethnic Albanians weretortured and summarily executed by Yugoslav forces indicates that PresidentMiloševi- feels free to continue his unlawful attacks on civilians.[94][94]

The pattern is familiar. The international communityexpresses moral outrage about an atrocity and promises "decisive action,"including a possible military intervention. Miloševi- responds with a temporarypull-back of his forces and some vague commitments. But no one is willing totake the necessary steps to hold Milosovic to his commitments.

The most common refrain is the "serious threat" of NATOaction against Yugoslav government forces or installations, most likely in theform of air strikes. Western governments, especially the U.S., have devisedever more creative methods-NATO activization orders, the mobilization of troops,impressive air exercises, assertive statements, or leaks to the press-toconvince the Western public and the Yugoslav government of their readiness touse force.

But so far, measures by the international community havebeen weakly enforced, and sometimes rescinded when Miloševi- makes concessionson actions that he should not have undertaken in the first place. While theWest characterizes these measures as strong steps against a dictator, theabuses continue.

The Yugoslav government's violations of internationalultimatums aimed at ending the abuses in Kosovo are frequent and blatant. Theattacks on Gornje Obrinje and Golubovac, for instance, took place three daysafter the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1199 (1998), which demandedthat the Yugoslav security forces immediately "cease all action... affectingthe civilian population and order the withdrawal of security units used forcivilian repression."[95][95]But the Security Council, itself stymied by the potential vetoes of Russia andChina, did not take any serious steps in response to the Yugoslav government'sintransigence.

The Holbrooke-Miloševi- Agreement and the OSCE KosovoVerification Mission (KVM)

When the Gornje Obrinje and Golubovac atrocities hit theWestern press, the U.S. government sent Richard Holbrooke, White House specialenvoy to the Balkans, to Belgrade for negotiations with Yugoslav PresidentMiloševi-. After protracted discussions, Holbrooke announced that an agreementhad been reached, although no official text was released. The agreementincluded four essential points: the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia agreed toabide by the conditions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1199 and to allowNATO monitoring in Yugoslav airspace to ensure compliance, to permit thedeployment in Kosovo of a 2,000-person OSCE unarmed civilian "verificationteam," and to engage in a political dialogue with ethnic Albanian leaders overthe political status of Kosovo.[96][96]

Shortly thereafter, the OSCE mission began to take shape,headed by a U.S. diplomat, William Walker, former U.S. ambassador to ElSalvador. By January, the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) had approximately800 people on the ground with branch offices in most of Kosovo's larger towns.While the KVM has been successful in putting out small fires, such asnegotiating the release of prisoners, it was not able to halt an escalation ofhostilities in early 1999. A group of verifiers watched from a ridge asgovernment forces fought with the KLA in Ra-ak on January 15, shortly beforeYugoslav forces tortured and summarily executed as many as forty-five ethnicAlbanian civilians in the village.

On the positive side, KVM includes a human rights departmentthat is actively collecting information on human rights abuses committed by allsides in the conflict, although its reporting has not been made public.Ambassador Walker openly condemned the attack on civilians in Ra-ak, which hecorrectly blamed directly on Yugoslav government forces. (See Appendix A)

The Work of the International Criminal Tribunal for theFormer Yugoslavia

Human rights organizations can document the abuses takingplace in Kosovo, and the international community can take steps to bring theseabuses to an end. But the only institution that has been entrusted by theinternational community to prosecute the persons responsible for violations ofhumanitarian law is the International Criminal Tribunal for the FormerYugoslavia (ICTY). The role of the ICTY is of crucial importance, as theprosecution of those who commit atrocities is likely to have a significantdeterrent effect in addition to upholding the principles of internationaljustice.

ICTY's jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Kosovounder its mandate as set out in U.N. Security Council resolution 827 isundisputable and has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the U.N. Security Council inits resolutions on Kosovo,[97][97]as well as by the tribunal itself.[98][98]

The Yugoslav authorities have refused to accept thejurisdiction of the ICTY, and have frustrated the work of ICTY investigators inKosovo by refusing to grant them visas and barring them from carrying outinvestigations. Only a few ICTY investigators have been able to gain access toKosovo, and even they have been formally prohibited by the Yugoslav authoritiesfrom interviewing persons or gathering evidence. The Yugoslav authorities basetheir refusal to cooperate with the ICTY on their view that the conflict inKosovo is an internal dispute with "terrorists," a view repeatedly rejected bythe ICTY, the U.N. Security Council, and other international actors.[99][99]

In early October, immediately following the initial reportsof the atrocities documented in this report, Yugoslav authorities first deniedvisas to ICTY investigators. According to a statement by the ICTY's Office ofthe Prosecutor:

Up until the last few weeks, the Prosecutor has beenundertaking investigations in relation to the events in Kosovo without anyobstruction from the Belgrade authorities. A team has just returned from Kosovoand it was the Prosecutor's intention to supplement this team with otherinvestigators. That has not been possible because for the first time theBelgrade authorities had not issued visas in time for these other investigatorsto travel to Yugoslavia... [T]he representatives of the Foreign Ministry indicatedthat the official position of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY)regarding the Tribunal and Kosovo is that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction toconduct investigations in Kosovo and the Tribunal will not be allowed to do so.[100][100]

The October 12 agreement between Yugoslav President SlobodanMiloševi- and U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke did not contain a recognition of theICTY's jurisdiction, although Milosovic did agree to abide by Security CouncilResolution 1199 (which in turn refers to ICTY jurisdiction) and to increaseaccess for ICTY investigators to Kosovo-a promise soon broken.[101][101]Zoran Kne-evi-, the Yugoslav Minister of Justice, later reiterated thegovernment's position that the October 12 agreement does not require Belgradeto recognize the jurisdiction of the ICTY, and stated that the ICTY "has nojurisdiction over Kosovo, not according to any international document."[102][102]

On November 5, 1998, Louise Arbour, chief prosecutor for theICTY, and Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, president of the ICTY, were forced tocancel a proposed mission to Kosovo after the Yugoslav government granted theteam restricted visas that were only valid for seven days and did not permittravel to Kosovo. The decision to refuse the visa requests was based on therefusal of the FRY government to recognize the jurisdiction of the ICTY overKosovo, as explained in a letter from the FRY Ambassador to Chief ProsecutorArbour:

As you have already been informed, the FederalRepublic of Yugoslavia does not accept any investigations of ICTY in Kosovo andMetohija generally, nor during your stay in the FR of Yugoslavia."[103][103]

Judge Kirk McDonald characterized the refusal to grant theproper visas as the actions "of a rogue state that holds the international ruleof law in contempt," and later wrote to the U.N. Security Council to ask for"measures which are sufficiently compelling to bring the Federal Republic ofYugoslavia into the fold of law-abiding nations."[104][104]

The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1207 on November17, 1998, dealing specifically with the noncompliance of the Federal Republicof Yugoslavia with the ICTY. However, the language of the resolution relatingto Kosovo was relatively weak, possibly in order to avert a veto from Russia orChina. China abstained from the vote on the basis that the ICTY "does not havethe right to interfere in the internal affairs" of Yugoslavia.[105][105]

It is not difficult to ascertain why Belgrade refuses torecognize the jurisdiction of the ICTY. Serious violations of the laws of warhave been committed in Kosovo, and the officials responsible for these abusesare liable to indictment and prosecution by the tribunal. The actions of theYugoslav authorities have indeed been successful in limiting the work of theICTY in Kosovo, and crucial evidence of war crimes may have been lost ortampered with as the ICTY attempts to negotiate access. Government obstacles,for example, preventing ICTY personnel from visiting the Gornje Obrinje andGolubovac sites prior to the burial of the bodies made it much more difficultto secure important forensic evidence and eyewitness testimonies. For its part,the ICTY Prosecutor has correctly asserted that the question of the tribunal'sjurisdiction over crimes committed in Kosovo should be resolved in court bytribunal judges, not asserted by Yugoslav authorities as a ban to aninvestigation.[106][106]Leaving the question of jurisdiction to later resolution in court, theProsecutor has undertaken that "[t]he granting of access to Kosovo to [her]Office for investigative purposes will not constitute an admission by the FRYthat the ICTY has any jurisdiction in this matter."[107][107]

Many of the witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch forthis report expressed a desire to cooperate with the ICTY, and were oftenliving in great fear because no steps had been taken by the internationalcommunity to ensure their safety.[108][108]Only through concerted international action, based on clear benchmarks forcompliance, and decisive steps in the face of noncompliance, will the ICTY beable effectively to carry out its vitally important mandate. Such politicalcommitment by the international community to the work of the ICTY has beensorely lacking.

The Work of Forensic Teams in Kosovo

In addition to the investigations into humanitarian lawviolations in Kosovo being carried out by the ICTY and human rightsorganizations, there is a need for specialized forensic investigations. As theexperience in other parts of the Balkans has demonstrated, professionalforensic investigations can assist in determining the time, circumstances, andcauses of death. Many of the testimonies gathered by Human Rights Watchdescribe the execution-style murders of captives, such as the killing with anaxe of two persons at the Hysenaj compound of Gornje Obrinje, witnesseddirectly by an elderly woman. Forensic evidence helps to support such witnesstestimony, and can have additional probative value: for example, a personkilled through multiple blows from an axe is more likely to have been thevictim of an execution-style killing than someone killed by a long-distancebullet.

The Yugoslav authorities have effectively prevented forensicscientists from carrying out credible and useful investigations intoallegations of atrocities committed by Yugoslav forces. Physicians for HumanRights (PHR), a professional association of forensic scientists applied fortwelve visas on March 13, 1998, to conduct forensic investigations into thedeaths of eighty persons killed in Drenica during the February 1998 policeactions in Kosovo. The Yugoslav authorities responded six weeks later, statingthat they would be willing to grant three visas to U.S. members of PHR,contingent on their participation with other investigators designated by theYugoslav government. These conditions were considered unacceptable to PHR,which characterized them as attempts to "stymie any serious investigation intothe Kosovo killings."[109][109]

Instead of allowing independent investigations, the Yugoslavauthorities proceeded to conduct their own investigation into severalatrocities that the government claimed had been carried out by the KLA.However, the manner of the exhumations and investigations carried out atKle-ka, Glodjane, and Volujak raises serious concerns about the preservation ofevidence.[110][110]A Human Rights Watch researcher was present at the Volujak exhumations of fourbodies, and clearly observed the lack of scientific procedures followed by theuntrained persons at the scene. For example, body parts were removed from thescene before entire corpses were exhumed and photographed. No forensic expertswere present at the exhumation; such exhumations are more likely to destroycrucial evidence than produce anything substantial. While the KLA has beendirectly implicated in some serious abuses, especially summary executions nearGlodjane, serious questions have also been raised about the validity of theinformation presented by the Yugoslav authorities, especially about the Kle-kasite. This underlines the importance of an independent and credible forensicinvestigation into all allegations of atrocities in Kosovo.

Following the Holbrooke-Miloševi- agreement, an independentforensic team from Helsinki, Finland, was invited by Belgrade to support thework of Yugoslav authorities investigating KLA atrocities. The Finnish team,sponsored by the European Union, accepted the invitation but insisted on amandate also to conduct investigations into allegations of atrocities byYugoslav forces, particularly Gornje Obrinje, Golubovac, and Orahovac. Afterlengthy negotiations between the Finnish government and the Belgradeauthorities, the Finnish team was able to get a promise from Belgrade that itwould be allowed to investigate six sites, including three sites of suspectedKLA atrocities (Kle-ka, Glodjane, and Volujak) and three sites of suspectedatrocities by Yugoslav forces (Gornje Obrinje, Golubovac, and Orahovac).

The Finnish team conducted investigations at the Kle-ka andVolujak sites without interference from the Yugoslav government or the KLA.When the Finnish forensic team attempted to reach the Gornje Obrinje site for aplanned exhumation on December 10, 1998, a series of incidents with theYugoslav authorities prevented them from reaching the site. A Serb courtofficial, Priština investigative judge Danica Marinkovi-, and two members of aBelgrade-based forensic team insisted they had the right to accompany theFinnish team, and that the Finnish team could not work on exhumations withouttheir presence.[111][111]In addition, a heavily armed contingent of Serb police in armored personnelcarriers (APCs) insisted on accompanying the forensic team to Gornje Obrinje,which was then located in an area under KLA control. During the two-hournegotiation aimed at resolving the incident, the police repeatedly attempted toshelter themselves from possible KLA attack by moving their APC vehicles behindthe diplomatic vehicles of the European KDOM contingent in which the Finnishscientists were traveling. In addition, a plainclothes policeman at the sceneviolated the diplomatic immunity of Finnish Ambassador for Human Rights TimothyLahelma, by opening the door of his diplomatic car, grabbing AmbassadorLahelma's camera, and removing the film. The KLA made it clear that it wouldnot allow the Serbian police accompanying the Finnish team to travel throughthe territory under KLA control. The Finnish forensic team, after consultationwith European diplomats, decided to abandon its attempt to reach Gornje Obrinjerather than risk an armed confrontation between their police escorts and theKLA.[112][112]Yugoslav authorities continue to insist that the Finnish team can only carryout investigations in cooperation with their Belgrade-based counterparts and alocal court official, and that a police escort is essential to ensure thesafety of the Yugoslav authorities.


International Law

Until 1998, human rights abuses in Kosovo, as documented innumerous human rights reports,[113][113]were evaluated against the norms of international human rights law. Policeabuse, arbitrary arrests, and violations of due process constituted violationsof, among other instruments, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and theInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Yugoslavgovernment has pledged to respect.[114][114]

The growth of armed opposition by the UÇK, however, and theintensification of fighting between government forces and this armedinsurgency, have altered the nature of the conflict in Kosovo. Since February,intense fighting has resulted in an estimated six hundred deaths and thedisplacement of 300,000 persons, while hundreds of villages have beendestroyed. Documented abuses include extrajudicial executions, the use ofdisproportionate force, indiscriminate attacks against civilians, and thesystematic destruction of civilian property by the Serbian special police andYugoslav Army, as well as abuses, such as hostage taking and summaryexecutions, committed against Serbian and Albanian civilians by the UÇK.

By all estimations, the Yugoslav government is fighting againstan armed insurgency that has waged ongoing and concerted attacks against theSerbian police and Yugoslav Army, and has controlled large sections of Kosovo,albeit temporarily. In terms of international law, the confrontation isconsidered an "armed conflict."

The conduct of both government forces and the armedinsurgency in an armed conflict is governed by international humanitarian law,known as the rules of war, and in particular Article 3 common to the four 1949Geneva Conventions, Protocol II to those conventions, and the customary laws ofwar.[115][115]Like human rights law, humanitarian law prohibits summary executions, torture,and other inhuman treatment and the application of ex post facto law. Theessential difference is that the provisions of humanitarian law that apply intimes of armed conflict are not derogable nor capable of suspension.

The special significance of the Kosovo situation havingpassed the threshold of an "armed conflict" is that it invokes the jurisdictionof the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which ismandated to prosecute intra alia crimes against humanity and violations of thelaws or customs of war in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.[116][116]

Kosovo as an Internal Armed Conflict

International humanitarian law makes a critical distinctionbetween international and non-international (internal) armed conflicts, and aproper characterization of the conflict is important to determine which aspectsof international humanitarian law apply. Article 2 common to the four GenevaConventions of 1949 states that an international armed conflict must involve adeclared war or any other armed conflict which may arise "between two or moreof the High Contracting Parties" to the convention. The official commentary tothe 1949 Geneva Conventions broadly defines "armed conflict" as any differencebetween two states leading to the intervention of armed forces.[117][117]

An internal armed conflict is more difficult to define,since it is sometimes debatable whether hostilities within a state have reachedthe level of an armed conflict, in contrast to tensions, disturbance, riots, orisolated acts of violence. The official commentary to Common Article 3 of theGeneva Conventions, which regulates internal armed conflicts, lists a series ofconditions that, although not obligatory, provide some convenient guidelines.First and foremost among these is whether the party in revolt against the dejure government, in this case the UÇK, "possesses an organized military force,an authority responsible for its acts, acting within a determinate territoryand having the means of respecting and ensuring respect for the Convention."[118][118]

Other conditions outlined in the convention's commentarydeal with the government's response to the insurgency. Another indication thatthere is an internal armed conflict is the government's recognition that it isobliged to use its regular military forces against an insurgency.[119][119]

Internal armed conflicts that reach a higher level ofhostilities are governed by the 1977 Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions,which is more encompassing than Common Article 3 in its protection of civilians(see below). Protocol II is invoked when armed conflicts:

[T]ake place in the territory of a High ContractingParty between its armed forces and dissident armed forces or other organizedarmed groups which, under responsible command, exercise such control over apart of its territory as to enable them to carry out sustained and concertedmilitary operations and to implement this Protocol.[120][120]

Finally, internal armed conflicts are also governed bycustomary international law, such as United Nations General Assembly 2444.[121][121]This resolution, adopted by unanimous vote on December 19, 1969, expresslyrecognized the customary law principle of civilian immunity and itscomplementary principle requiring the warring parties to distinguish civiliansfrom combatants at all times. The preamble to this resolution states that thesefundamental humanitarian law principles apply "in all armed conflicts," meaningboth international and internal armed conflicts.[122][122]Interpreting its jurisdiction over violations of customs of war committed inthe territory of the former Yugoslavia, the ICTY has held that thisjurisdiction includes "violations of Common Article 3 and other customary ruleson internal conflict" and "violations of agreements binding upon the parties tothe conflict, considered qua treaty law, i.e. agreements which have not turnedinto customary international law" (e.g. Protocol II to the Geneva Convention).[123][123]

The Applicability of Common Article 3 and Protocol II tothe Conflict in Kosovo

The hostilities between the UÇK and government forces had,by February 28, 1998, reached a level of conflict to which the obligations ofCommon Article 3 apply. Given the subsequent intensity of the conflict fromMarch to September, Human Rights Watch is also evaluating the conduct of theUÇK and government forces based on the standards enshrined in Protocol II tothe Geneva Convention.[124][124]

On February 28, Serbian special police forces launched theirfirst large-scale, military attack on villages - Likošane and -irez- suspectedof harboring UÇK members. Since that date, the UÇK and the government have beenengaged in ongoing hostilities involving military offensives, front lines, andthe use of attack helicopters and heavy artillery (mostly by the government).The UÇK possesses small arms and light artillery.

Although the UÇK is primarily a guerilla army with no ridgedhierarchical structure, and there are separate internal factions, during theperiod covered by this report (from February to September) the UÇK was anorganized military force for purposes of international humanitarian law.According to those close to the UÇK who were interviewed by Human Rights Watch,at least until the summer offensive by the Serbian special police and YugoslavArmy, the UÇK is believed to have had five or six"operative zones,"each with a regional and several subregional commanders. Not all, but most ofthe regional commanders were represented in the High Command, the body withinthe UÇK that makes decisions for the whole UÇK. This structure alloweddecisions to be transmitted down to the fighters.

Seasoned war correspondents, as well as Human Rights Watchresearchers who encountered the UÇK, observed instances of discipline among UÇKfighters manning checkpoints and their tendency to apply similar policies andprocedures (for example, with regard to granting journalists access toareasunder UÇK control). Such discipline is an indication that the fighters werereceiving orders regarding policy and that the fighters were answerable atleast to regional commanders. There are also cases, however, when a clear lackof discipline was observed, which points to some structural weaknesses withinthe UÇK. Despite this, it is clear that the UÇK leadership was able to organizesystematic attacks throughout large parts of Kosovo. It also coordinatedlogistical and financial support from the Albanian diaspora in Western Europeand the United States. Until the Yugoslav Army sealed the border with Albania,arms flowed regularly from Albania's north.

From April until mid-July, 1998, the UÇK held as much as 40percent of the territory of Kosovo, although most of that territory was retakenby government forces by August 1998. Until then, however, the UÇK had held anumber of strategic towns and villages, and manned checkpoints along some ofKosovo's important roads; today their area of control has been reduced to someparts of Drenica and a few scattered pockets in the west, especially at night.

It appears that its command structure has been damaged as aresult of the offensive, although it is believed that the nucleus of theorganization continues to exist. Complicating the matter is the recent rise ofa separate armed Albanian organization known as FARK (Forcat Armatosur eRepublikes se Kosoves-Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova), which has aseparate base in Northern Albania and is mostly present in the Metohija(Dukagjin in Albanian) region of Kosovo. By September 1998, it was clear thatthis alternative group, comprised mostly of ethnic Albanians with pastexperience in the Yugoslav Army and police, did not agree with the UÇK'smilitary strategy, criticizing its lack of professionalism. FARK, however,apparently did not exist as an organized force until August 1998.[125][125]

In interviews and public statements, UÇK spokesmen have alsorepeatedly expressed the organization's willingness to respect the rules ofwar, which is one of the factors to be considered in determining whether aninternal armed conflict exists.[126][126]In an interview given to the Albanian-language newspaperKoha Ditorein July 1998, UÇK spokesman Jakup Krasniqi said:

From the start, we had our own internal rules for ouroperations. These clearly lay down that the UÇK recognizes the GenevaConventions and the conventions governing the conduct of war.[127][127]

UÇK Communique number 51, issued by "UÇK GeneralHeadquarters" on August 26, stated that, " The UÇK is an institutionalized andorganized Army, is getting increasingly professional and ready to fight tovictory."[128][128]

There are reported cases of UÇK soldiers being disciplinedby their own commanders for having harassed or shot at foreign journalists,although it is unknown if any UÇK combatants have been punished for targetingethnic Serb civilians, abusing those in detention, or any other violation ofCommon Article 3 or Protocol II. Over 100 people, mostly ethnic Serbs, arebelieved to have been detained by the UÇK.

Finally, through its words and actions, the Yugoslav governmenthas clearly recognized the UÇK as an organized armed force. In addition to thespecial police forces, which operate similar to a military organization, thegovernment has been obliged to use regular military forces, the Yugoslav Army,against the insurgents.

The major government offensive that began in July hasseverely affected the capacity of the UÇK, and may ultimately affect the statusof the conflict under the laws of war. However, the conditions of Article 3 andProtocol II were satisfied during the period under the purview of this report(February - August, 1998). Human Rights Watch is, therefore, evaluating theconduct of both the government and the UÇK based on the principles outlined inCommon Article 3 and Protocol II.

Common Article 3 and the Protection of Non-combatants

Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions has beencalled a convention within a convention. It is the only provision of the GenevaConventions that directly applies to internal (as opposed to international)armed conflicts.

Common Article 3, Section 1, states:

In the case of armed conflict not of an internationalcharacter occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties,each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the followingprovisions:

1.Persons takingno active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who hadlaid down their arms and those placedhorsde combatby sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in allcircumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded onrace, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similarcriteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remainprohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to theabove-mentioned persons:

a.violence to lifeand person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment andtorture;

b.taking ofhostages;

c.outrages uponpersonal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

d.the passing ofsentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgmentpronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicialguarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Common Article 3 thus imposes fixed legal obligations on theparties to an internal armed conflict to ensure humane treatment of personsnot, or no longer, taking an active role in the hostilities.

Common Article 3 applies when a situation of internal armedconflict objectively exists in the territory of a State Party; it expresslybinds all parties to the internal conflict, including insurgents, although theydo not have the legal capacity to sign the Geneva Conventions. In Yugoslavia,the government and the UÇK forces are parties to the conflict and thereforebound by Common Article 3's provisions.

The obligation to apply Article 3 is absolute for allparties to the conflict and independent of the obligation of the other parties.That means that the Yugoslav government cannot excuse itself from complyingwith Article 3 on the grounds that the UÇK is violating Article 3, and viceversa.

Application of Article 3 by the government cannot be legallyconstrued as recognition of the insurgent party's belligerence, from whichrecognition of additional legal obligations beyond Common Article 3, wouldflow. Nor is it necessary for any government to recognize the UÇK's belligerentstatus for Article 3 to apply.

In contrast to international conflicts, the law governinginternal armed conflicts does not recognize the combatant's privilege[129][129]and therefore does not provide any special status for combatants, even whencaptured. Thus, the Yugoslav government is not obliged to grant capturedmembers of the UÇK prisoner of war status. Similarly, government army combatantswho are captured by the UÇK need not be accorded this status. Any party canagree to treat its captives as prisoners of war, however.

Since the UÇK forces are not privileged combatants, they maybe tried and punished by the Yugoslav courts for treason, sedition, and thecommission of other crimes under domestic laws.

Protocol II and the Protection of Non-combatants

Protocol II supplements Common Article 3 and provides a moreencompassing list of protections for civilians in internal armed conflicts.While not an all-inclusive list, the following practices, orders, and actionsare prohibited:

Orders that there shall be no survivors, such threatsto combatants, or direction to conduct hostilities on this basis.

Acts of violence against all persons, includingcombatants who are captured, surrender, or are placedhors de combat.

Torture, any form of corporal punishment, or othercruel treatment of persons under any circumstances.

Pillage and destruction of civilian property. Thisprohibition is designed to spare civilians the suffering resulting from thedestruction of their real and personal property: houses, furniture, clothing,provisions, tools, and so forth. Pillage includes organized acts as well asindividual acts without the consent of the military authorities.[130][130]

Hostage taking.[131][131]

Desecration of corpses.[132][132]Mutilation of the dead is never permissible and violates the rules of war.

Protocol II also states that children should be providedwith care and aid as required. Article 4, paragraph 3 states that no childrenunder the age of fifteen shall be "recruited by the armed forces or groups."

Protection of the Civilian Population

In situations of internal armed conflict, generallyspeaking, a civilian is anyone who is not a member of the armed forces or of anorganized armed group of a party to the conflict. Accordingly, "the civilianpopulation comprises all persons who do not actively participate in thehostilities."[133][133]

Civilians may not be subject to deliberate individualizedattack since they pose no immediate threat to the adversary.[134][134]

The term "civilian" also includes some employees of themilitary establishment who are not members of the armed forces but assist them.[135][135]While as civilians they may not be targeted, these civilian employees ofmilitary establishments or those who indirectly assist combatants assume therisk of death or injury incidental to attacks against legitimate militarytargets while they are at or in the immediate vicinity of military targets.

In addition, both sides may utilize as combatants personswho are otherwise engaged in civilian occupations. These civilians lose theirimmunity from attack for as long as they directly participate in hostilities.[136][136]"[D]irect participation [in hostilities] means acts of war which by theirnature and purpose are likely to cause actual harm to the personnel andequipment of enemy armed forces," and includes acts of defense.[137][137]

"Hostilities" not only covers the time when the civilianactually makes use of a weapon but also the time that he is carrying it, aswell as situations in which he undertakes hostile acts without using a weapon.[138][138]Examples are provided in the United States Army Field Manual which lists somehostile acts as including:

sabotage, destruction of communication facilities,intentional misleading of troops by guides, and liberation of prisoners ofwar... This is also the case of a person acting as a member of a weapons crew,or one providing target information for weapon systems intended for immediateuse against the enemy such as artillery spotters or members of ground observerteams. [It] would include direct logistic support for units engaged directly inbattle such as the delivery of ammunition to a firing position. On the otherhand civilians providing only indirect support to the armed forces, such asworkers in defense plants or those engaged in distribution or storage ofmilitary supplies in rear areas, do not pose an immediate threat to theadversary and therefore would not be subject to deliberate individual attack.[139][139]

Persons protected by Common Article 3 include members ofboth government and UÇK forces who surrender, are wounded, sick or unarmed, orare captured. They arehors de combat,literally, out of combat.

Designation of Military Objectives

Under the laws of war, military objectives are defined onlyas they relate to objects or targets, rather than to personnel. To constitute alegitimate military objective, the object or target, selected by its nature,location, purpose, or use, must contribute effectively to the enemy's militarycapability or activity, and its total or partial destruction or neutralizationmust offer a definite military advantage in the circumstances.[140][140]

Legitimate military objectives are combatants' weapons,convoys, installations, and supplies. In addition:

an object generally used for civilian purposes, suchas a dwelling, a bus, a fleet of taxicabs, or a civilian airfield or railroadsiding, can become a military objective if its location or use meets [thecriteria in Protocol I, art. 52(2)].[141][141]

Full-time members of the Yugoslav government's armed forcesand UÇK combatants are legitimate military targets and subject to attack,individually or collectively, until such time as they become hors de combat,that is, surrender or are wounded or captured.[142][142]

Policemen without combat duties are not in principlelegitimate military targets, nor are certain other government personnelauthorized to bear arms such as customs agents.[143][143]Policemen with combat duties, however, would be proper military targets,subject to direct individualized attack.

Prohibition of Indiscriminate Attacks: The Principle ofProportionality

The civilian population and individual civilians generallyare to be protected against attack.

As set out above, to constitute a legitimate militaryobject, the target must 1) contribute effectively to the enemy's militarycapability or activity, and 2) its total or partial destruction orneutralization must offer a definite military advantage in the circumstances.

The laws of war characterize all objects as civilian unlessthey satisfy this two-fold test. Objects normally dedicated to civilian use,such as churches, houses and schools, are presumed not to be militaryobjectives. If they in fact do assist the enemy's military action, they canlose their immunity from direct attack. This presumption attaches, however,only to objects that ordinarily have no significant military use or purpose.For example, this presumption would not include objects such as transportationand communications systems that under applicable criteria are militaryobjectives.

The attacker also must do everything "feasible" to verifythat the objectives to be attacked are not civilian. "Feasible" means "thatwhich is practical or practically possible taking into account all thecircumstances at the time, including those relevant to the success of militaryoperations."[144][144]

Even attacks on legitimate military targets, however, arelimited by the principle of proportionality. This principle places a duty oncombatants to choose means of attack that avoid or minimize damage tocivilians. In particular, the attacker should refrain from launching an attackif the expected civilian casualties would outweigh the importance of themilitary target to the attacker. The principle of proportionality is codified inProtocol I, Article 51 (5):

Among others, the following types of attacks are to beconsidered as indiscriminate:

(b)an attackwhich may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury tocivilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would beexcessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantageanticipated.

If an attack can be expected to cause incidental civiliancasualties or damage, two requirements must be met before that attack islaunched. First, there must be an anticipated "concrete and direct" militaryadvantage. "Direct" means "without intervening condition of agency... A remoteadvantage to be gained at some unknown time in the future would not be a properconsideration to weigh against civilian losses."[145][145]

Creating conditions "conducive to surrender by means ofattacks which incidentally harm the civilian population"[146][146]is too remote and insufficiently military to qualify as a "concrete and direct"military advantage. "A military advantage can only consist in ground gained andin annihilating or weakening the enemy armed forces."[147][147]

The second requirement of the principle of proportionalityis that the foreseeable injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects notbe disproportionate, that is,"excessive"in comparison to theexpected "concrete and definite military advantage."

Excessive damage is a relative concept. For instance, thepresence of a soldier on leave cannot serve as a justification to destroy theentire village. If the destruction of a bridge is of paramount importance forthe occupation of a strategic zone, "it is understood that some houses may behit, but not that a whole urban area be leveled."[148][148]There is never a justification for excessive civilian casualties, no matter howvaluable the military target.[149][149]

Indiscriminate attacks are defined in Protocol I, Article 51(4), as:

a)those whichare not directed at a specific military objective;

b)those whichemploy a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific militaryobjective; or

c)those whichemploy a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited asrequired by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a natureto strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects withoutdistinction.

The Protection of Civilians from Displacement

There are only two exceptions to the prohibition ondisplacement, for war-related reasons, of civilians: their security orimperative military reasons. Article 17 of Protocol II states:

1.Thedisplacement of the civilian population shall not be ordered for reasonsrelated to the conflict unless the security of the civilians involved orimperative military reasons so demand. Should such displacements have to becarried out, all possible measures shall be taken in order that the civilianpopulation may be received under satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene,health, safety and nutrition.

The term "imperative military reasons" usually refers toevacuation because of imminent military operations. The provisional measure ofevacuation is appropriate if an area is in danger as a result of militaryoperations or is liable to be subjected to intense bombing. It may also bepermitted when the presence of protected persons in an area hampers militaryoperations. The prompt return of the evacuees to their homes is required assoon as hostilities in the area have ceased. The evacuating authority bears theburden of proving that its forcible relocation conforms to these conditions.

Displacement or capture of civilians solely to deny a socialbase to the enemy has nothing to do with the security of the civilians. Nor isit justified by "imperative military reasons," which require "the mostmeticulous assessment of the circumstances"[150][150]because such reasons are so capable of abuse. As the commentary to Protocol IIstates:

Clearly, imperative military reasons cannot bejustified by political motives. For example, it would be prohibited to move apopulation in order to exercise more effective control over a dissident ethnicgroup.[151][151]

Mass relocation or displacement of civilians for the purposeof denying a willing social base to the opposing force is prohibited as itresponds to such a wholly political motive.

Even if the government were to show that the displacementwere necessary, it still has the independent obligation to take "all possiblemeasures" to receive the civilian population "under satisfactory conditions ofshelter, hygiene, health, safety, and nutrition."

Starvation of Civilians as a Method of Combat

Starvation of civilians as a method of combat has becomeillegal as a matter of customary international law, as reflected in ProtocolII:

Article 14 Protection of objects indispensable to thesurvival of the civilian population

Starvation of civilians as a method of combat isprohibited. It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or renderuseless, for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of thecivilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the productionof foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies andirrigation works.

What is prohibited is using starvation as "a weapon toannihilate or weaken the population." Using starvation as a method of warfaredoes not mean that the population has to reach the point of starving to deathbefore a violation can be proved. What is forbidden is deliberately "causingthe population to suffer hunger, particularly by depriving it of its sources offood or of supplies."

This prohibition on starving civilians "is a rule from whichno derogation may be made."[152][152]No exception is allowed for imperative military necessity, for instance.

Article 14 lists the most usual ways in which starvation isbrought about. Specific protection is extended to "objects indispensable to thesurvival of the civilian population," and a non-exhaustive list of such objectsfollows: "foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs,crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigationworks." The article prohibits taking certain destructive actions aimed at theseessential supplies, and describes these actions with verbs which are meant tocover all eventualities: "attack, destroy, remove or render useless."

The textual reference to "objects indispensable to thesurvival of the civilian population" does not distinguish between objectsintended for the armed forces and those intended for civilians. Except for thecase where supplies are specifically intended as provisions for combatants, itis prohibited to destroy or attack objects indispensable for survival, even ifthe adversary may benefit from them. The prohibition would be meaningless ifone could invoke the argument that members of the government's armed forces orarmed opposition might make use of the objects in question.[153][153]

Attacks on objects used "in direct support of militaryaction" are permissible, however, even if these objects are civilian foodstuffsand other objects protected under Article 14. This exception is limited to theimmediate zone of actual armed engagements, as is obvious from the examplesprovided of military objects used in direct support of military action:"bombarding a food-producing area to prevent the army from advancing throughit, or attacking a food-storage barn which is being used by the enemy for coveror as an arms depot, etc."[154][154]

The provisions of Protocol I, Article 54 are also useful asa guideline to the narrowness of the permissible means and methods of attack onfoodstuffs.[155][155]Like Article 14 of Protocol II, Article 54 of Protocol I permits attacks onmilitary food supplies. It specifically limits such attacks to those directedat foodstuffs intended for the sole use of the enemy's armed forces. This means"supplies already in the hands of the adverse party's armed forces because itis only at that point that one could know that they are intended for use onlyfor the members of the enemy's armed forces."[156][156]Even then, the attacker cannot destroy foodstuffs "in the military supplysystem intended for the sustenance of prisoners of war, the civilian populationof occupied territory or persons classified as civilians serving with, oraccompanying, the armed forces."[157][157]

Proof of Intent to Starve Civilians

Under Article 14, what is forbidden are actions taken withthe intention of using starvation as a method or weapon to attack the civilianpopulation. Such an intent may not be easy to prove and most armies will notadmit this intent. Proof does not rest solely on the attacker's own statements,however. Intent may be inferred from the totality of the circumstances of themilitary campaign.

Particularly relevant to assessment of intent is the effortthe attacker makes to comply with the duties to distinguish between civiliansand military targets and to avoid harming civilians and the civilian economy.[158][158]If the attacker does not comply with these duties, and food shortages result,an intent to attack civilians by starvation may be inferred.

The more sweeping and indiscriminate the measures takenwhich result in food shortages, when other less restrictive means of combat areavailable, the more likely the real intent is to attack the civilian populationby depriving it of food. For instance, an attacker who conducts a scorchedearth campaign in enemy territory to deprive the enemy of sources of food maybe deemed to have an intention of attacking by starvation the civilianpopulation living in enemy territory. The attacker may not claim ignorance ofthe effects upon civilians of such a scorched earth campaign, since theseeffects are a matter of common knowledge and publicity. In particular, relieforganizations, both domestic and international, usually sound the alarm ofimpending food shortages occurring during conflicts in order to bring pressureon the parties to permit access for food delivery and to raise money for theircomplex and costly operations.

The true intentions of the attacker also must be judged bythe effort it makes to take prompt remedies, such as permitting relief convoysto reach the needy or itself supplying food to remedy hunger. An attacker whofails to make adequate provision for the affected civilian population, whoblocks access to those who would do so, or who refuses to permit civilianevacuation in times of food shortage, may be deemed to have the intent tostarve that civilian population.

Domestic Law

The federal constitution of Yugoslavia, promulgated in 1992,established Yugoslavia as a democratic state "founded on the rule of law." Theforty-nine articles of the section on rights and freedoms guarantee allYugoslav citizens basic civil and political rights, such as free speech, freeassociation and the right to a fair trial.

Yugoslav laws guarantee all defendants the right to dueprocess. Article 23 of the federal constitution forbids arbitrary detention andobliges the authorities to inform a detainee immediately of the reason for hisor her detention and grant that person access to a lawyer. Article 24 obligesthe authorities to inform the detainee in writing of the reason for his or herarrest within twenty-four hours. Detention ordered by a lower court may notexceed three months, unless extended by a higher court to a maximum of sixmonths. Article 25 outlaws torture, as well as any coercion of confessions orstatements. The use of force against a detainee is also a criminal offence.

The constitution guarantees the rights of minorities to"preserve, foster and express their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and otherattributes, as well as to use their national symbols, in accordance withinternational law."[159][159]Article 20 states that:

Citizens shall be equal irrespective of theirnationality, race, sex, language, faith, political or other beliefs, education,social origin, property, or other personal status.

Articles 46 and 47 guarantee minorities the right toeducation and media in their mother tongue, as well as the right to establisheducational and cultural associations. Article 48, however, places somerestrictions on free association for minorities. It states:

Members of national minorities have the right toestablish and foster unhindered relations with co-nationals within the Republicof Yugoslavia and outside its borders with co-nationals in other states, and totake part in international nongovernmental organizations,provided these relations are not detrimental to the Federal Republic ofYugoslavia or to a member republic.[Emphasis added.]

The Yugoslav constitution also guarantees that thegovernment will respect international law. Article 10 states:

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia shall recognize andguarantee the rights and freedoms of man and the citizen recognized underinternational law.

Article 16 adds:

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia shall fulfill ingood faith the obligations contained in international treaties to which it is acontracting party. International treaties which have been ratified andpromulgated in conformity with the present Constitution and generally acceptedrules of international law shall be a constituent part of the internal legalorder.

Copyright (c) February 1999 by Human Rights Watch.

New York × Washington × London × Brussels

All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America.

ISBN 1-56432-227-0

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 99-60896

Cover and internal photographs (c) Peter Bouckaert, 1999, for Human Rights Watch.

Addresses for Human Rights Watch:

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Human Rights Watch conducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in some seventy countries around the world. Our reputation for timely, reliable disclosures has made us an essential source of information for those concerned with human rights. We address the human rights practices of governments of all political stripes, of all geopolitical alignments, and of all ethnic and religious persuasions. Human Rights Watch defends freedom of thought and expression, due process and equal protection of the law, and a vigorous civil society; we document and denounce murders, disappearances, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, discrimination, and other abuses of internationally recognized human rights. Our goal is to hold governments accountable if they transgress the rights of their people.

Human Rights Watch began in 1978 with the founding of its Europe and Central Asia division (then known as Helsinki Watch). Today, it also includes divisions covering Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East. In addition, it includes three thematic divisions on arms, children's rights, and women's rights. It maintains offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, London, Brussels, Moscow, Dushanbe, Rio de Janeiro, and Hong Kong. Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly.

The staff includes Kenneth Roth, executive director; Michele Alexander, development director; Reed Brody, advocacy director; Carroll Bogert, communications director; Cynthia Brown, program director; Barbara Guglielmo, finance and administration director; Jeri Laber, special advisor; Lotte Leicht, Brussels office director; Patrick Minges, publications director; Susan Osnos, associate director; Jemera Rone, counsel; Wilder Tayler, general counsel; and Joanna Weschler, United Nations representative. Jonathan Fanton is the chair of the board. Robert L. Bernstein is the founding chair.

The regional directors of Human Rights Watch are Peter Takirambudde, Africa; José Miguel Vivanco, Americas; Sidney Jones, Asia; Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia; and Hanny Megally, Middle East and North Africa. The thematic division directors are Joost R. Hiltermann, arms; Lois Whitman, children's; and Regan Ralph, women's.

The members of the board of directors are Jonathan Fanton, chair; Lisa Anderson, Robert L. Bernstein, William Carmichael, Dorothy Cullman, Gina Despres, Irene Diamond, Adrian W. DeWind, Fiona Druckenmiller, Edith Everett, James C. Goodale, Vartan Gregorian, Alice H. Henkin, Stephen L. Kass, Marina Pinto Kaufman, Bruce Klatsky, Harold Hongju Koh, Alexander MacGregor, Josh Mailman, Samuel K. Murumba, Andrew Nathan, Jane Olson, Peter Osnos, Kathleen Peratis, Bruce Rabb, Sigrid Rausing, Anita Roddick, Orville Schell, Sid Sheinberg, Gary G. Sick, Malcolm Smith, Domna Stanton, and Maya Wiley. Robert L. Bernstein is the founding chair of Human Rights Watch.


[1][1]InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross statement on Kosovo, September 1998.

[2][2]JanePerlez, "Ethnic Albanians Recount Massacre of a Family in Kosovo,"New York Times, November 15, 1998.


[4][4]HumanRights Watch interview with Zejnije Delijaj, Mitrovica, November 11, 1998.

[5][5]HumanRights Watch interview with Bashkim Delijaj, Priština, November 11, 1998.

[6][6]HumanRights Watch interview with J.J., Belgrade, November 2, 1998. The policemanconfirmed the conclusion of Human Rights Watch that the JSO had engaged in"sweep up" operations in the Deçan area.

[7][7]MediaCentar Priština Press Release, September 26,1998, 13:00 hrs.

[8][8]MediaCentar Priština Press Release, September 26, 1998, 13:00 hrs. Human RightsWatch investigations have established that the killed men were probably notfrom the exact towns mentioned in the release, but rather from villages in theenvirons.

[9][9]MediaCentar Priština Press Release, September 27, 1998, 14:00 hrs. The correctedspellings are based on additional research by Human Rights Watch

[10][10]"SerbPolice Deny Responsibility for Killings,"Reuters,September 30, 1998.

[11][11]HumanRights Watch interviews, Gornje Obrinje, September 29, 1998.

[12][12]JonathanSteele, "Among the 16 victims was a baby, beneath her mother's corpse, and aboy, his throat cut,"Guardian(London), September 30, 1998.

[13][13]TomWalker, "Hidden Horror Betrays the Butchers of Kosovo,"Times (London), September 30, 1998.

[14][14]HumanRights Watch interview with Bashkim Delijaj, Priština, November 11, 1998.

[15][15]HumanRights Watch interview with Bashkim Delijaj, Priština, November 11, 1998.

[16][16]HumanRights Watch interview with Imer Delijaj, Gornje Obrinje, November 10, 1998.

[17][17]HumanRights Watch interview with Imer Delijaj, Gornje Obrinje, November 10, 1998.

[18][18]HumanRights Watch interview with Blerim Delijaj, Gornje Obrinje, November 10, 1998.

[19][19]HumanRights Watch interview with Zejnije Delijaj, Mitrovica, November 11, 1998.

[20][20]HumanRights Watch interview with Imer Delijaj, Gornje Obrinje, November 10, 1998.

[21][21]HumanRights Watch interview with Zejnije Delijaj, Mitrovica, November 11, 1998.

[22][22]HumanRights Watch interview with Imer Delijaj, Gornje Obrinje, November 10, 1998.

[23][23]"Kosovo-Women,Children Massacred,"Reuters,September 30, 1998; Steele,Guardian(London), September 30, 1998.

[24][24]HumanRights Watch interview with Imer Delijaj, Gornje Obrinje, November 10, 1998.

[25][25]HumanRights Watch interview with Zejnije Delijaj, Mitrovica, November 11, 1998.


[27][27]HumanRights Watch interview with Imer Delijaj, Gornje Obrinje, November 10, 1998.

[28][28]JuliusStrauss, "Massacre Baby Dies For Lack of Care: Medical Aid Too Late To SaveKosovo Survivor,"Daily Telegraph,November 30, 1998.

[29][29]HumanRights Watch interview with Imer Delijaj, Gornje Obrinje, November 10, 1998.

[30][30]HumanRights Watch interview with Zejnije Delijaj, Mitrovica, November 11, 1998.

[31][31]Thechildren, Besnik (5), Liridona (3), Albert (2), and Arlinda (13 months) weretaken by the police to the Hysenaj compound in Gornje Obrinje (see below).

[32][32]HumanRights Watch interview with Imer Delijaj, Gornje Obrinje, November 10, 1998.

[33][33]Councilfor the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms in Pristina,Report No. 442, October 18-25, 1998.

[34][34]HumanRights Watch interview with Zejnije Delijaj, Mitrovica, November 11, 1998.

[35][35]Seea preliminary report by Physicians for Human Rights, "Medical group documentssystematic and pervasive abuses by Serbs against Albanian Kosovar healthprofessionals and Albanian Kosovar patients," December 23, 1998.

[36][36]JonathanSteele,Guardian, September 30, 1998.

[37][37]HumanRights Watch interview with Imer Delijaj, Gornje Obrinje, November 10, 1998.

[38][38]See"CDHRF: "Two new victims of the massacre of the Delijaj family found,"ARTA, October 5, 1998.

[39][39]HumanRights Watch interview with Dr. Gani Halilaaj, Banjice, November 12, 1998.

[40][40]HumanRights Watch interview with uncle of Besnik Delijaj, Drenica, November 12,1998.

[41][41]HumanitarianLaw Center,Mass Killings at GornjeObrinje Village, 26-27 September 1998(November 1998).

[42][42]HumanRights Watch interview with Shehide Hysenaj, Trstenik, November 12, 1998.






[48][48]HumanRights Watch interviews, Gornje Obrinje, November 14, 1998.

[49][49]HumanRights Watch interview with Daut Hysenaj, Trstenik, November 12, 1998.

[50][50]HumanRights Watch interview with Brahim Hysenaj, Glogovac, November 12, 1998.



[53][53]HumanRights Watch interview with Basram Hysenaj, Glogovac, November 12, 1998.

[54][54]HumanRights Watch interview with Brahim Hysenaj, Glogovac, November 12, 1998.



[57][57]Accordingto Brahim, the commanding officer was in an army uniform and appeared to be ofmiddle rank. About 400 policemen were in Likovac, he said, wearing a variety ofuniforms, including ordinary policemen from the MUP and SAJ forces.

[58][58]HumanRights Watch interview with Brahim Hysenaj, Glogovac, November 12, 1998.


[60][60]HumanRights Watch interview with Avni Hysenaj,Trstenik, November 12, 1998.

[61][61]AdemJashari was the main figure of the Jashari clan from Donji Prekaz and a localmember of the KLA. Special police forces attacked the Jashari family's compoundon March 5, 1998, killing an estimated fifty-eight people, including eighteenwomen and ten children under the age of sixteen. (See Human Rights Watchreport: "Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo," pp. 26-32).

[62][62]HumanRights Watch interview with Avni Hysenaj,Trstenik, November 12, 1998.

[63][63]HumanRights Watch interview with Avni Hysenaj, Trstenik, November 12, 1998.

[64][64]Thereare credible but unproven reports that the Ferrous Nickel plant in Glogovac wasused by the police as a temporary detention facility.

[65][65]HumanRights Watch interview with Avni Hysenaj, Trstenik, November 12, 1998.

[66][66]Likemany villages in the area, the village of Golubovac is divided into severaldistinct parts and compounds. The events described in this section took placein the "old" part of Golubovac.

[67][67]HumanRights Watch interview with Adem Hoxhaj, Golubovac, November 9, 1998.

[68][68]HumanRights Watch interview with Musli Hoxhaj, Golubovac, November 9, 1998.

[69][69]HumanRights Watch interview with Adem Hoxhaj, Golubovac, November 9, 1998.

[70][70]HumanRights Watch interview with Selman Morina, Golubovac, October 1, 1998.

[71][71]HumanRights Watch interview with Adem Hoxhaj, Golubovac, November 9, 1998.

[72][72]HumanRights Watch interview with Selman Morina, Golubovac, October 1, 1998.

[73][73]HumanRights Watch interview with Selman Morina, Golubovac, October 1, 1998.

[74][74]HumanRights Watch interview with Musli Hoxhaj, Golubovac, November 9, 1998.

[75][75]HumanRights Watch interview with Muje Hoxha, Golubovac, November 9, 1998.

[76][76]Priorto reaching Plo-ica, Human Rights Watch researchers had been refused entry toparts of Drenica on two occasions, first by a contingent of Yugoslav Army tanksapparently leaving the area, and second by a police roadblock near the villageof Dobro Voda.

[77][77]Oneof the notable features of the destruction is that a few homes in the compoundwere virtually untouched and that others often had a single room which was notburned. Local villagers and Priština-based activists speculated that the goalof the Yugoslav forces was not to completely destroy the villages, but ratherto create a humanitarian crisis in which civilians would be focused on survivaland rebuilding their ruined lives rather than providing support to the KLA.Leaving some homes untouched also helps breed mistrust and jealousy within thecommunity.

[78][78]HumanRights Watch interview with Qamil Kryeziu, Plo-ica, September 26, 1998.

[79][79]HumanRights Watch interview with Justin Brown,ChristianScience Monitorreporter, Priština, September 23, 1998.

[80][80]UNHCRbriefing notes, October 23, 1998.

[81][81]R.Jeffrey Smith, "Poisoned Wells Plague Towns All Over Kosovo,"Washington Post, December 9, 1998.

[82][82]NationalPublic Radio,All Things Considered,December 9, 1998, 8:22 p.m. ET.

[83][83]PaddyAshdown, "Milosevic tells me no one is left living in the open in Kosovo. Itell him his officials are lying,"Guardian(London), September 30, 1998.

[84][84]Humanitarianorganizations working on the survey include: Save the Children Fund (SCF);Danish Refugee Council (DRC); Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Medecins SansFrontieres (MSF); Swiss Disaster Relief (SDR); International Rescue Committee(IRC); Mercy Corps International (MCI); InterSOS; OXFAM; WFP; Children's AidDirect (CAD); UNICEF; World Vision (WVI); UNHCR; CARE International; andDoctors of the World (DOW).

[85][85]IDP/Shelter Survey Kosovo: Joint Assessmentin 20 Municipalities, released by UNHCR Priština, dated November 12, 1998.

[86][86]Article3 of the ICTY statute includes under its definition of "violations of thecustomes of war" "the wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, ordevastation not justified by military necessity," and "attack, or bombardment,by whatever means, of undefended towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings."

[87][87]"KosovoMetohija" is the official Serbian term for Kosovo.

[88][88]Quotedin Bob Dole, "How Convenient,"WallStreet Journal, September 30, 1998.

[89][89]Tanjug, September 30, 1998.

[90][90]"Šešeljsays Kosovo massacre fabricated in order to bomb Serbs,"Beta, October 1, 1998.

[91][91]"Shiptar,"which means "an Albanian" in the Albanian language ("Shqiptar"), is aderogatory word for Albanians when used by Serbs.

[92][92]"Šešeljsays Kosovo massacre fabricated in order to bomb Serbs,"Beta, October 1, 1998.

[93][93]"Partyleader says ‘logic' indicates Kosovo rebels carried out massacre,"RTS TV,October 1, 1998, 17:30 gmt.Kle-ka and Glodjane refer to two sites where ethnic Albanians are accused ofcommitting execution-style killings. Many questions surround the Kle-kaallegations, but the deaths of thirty-four people, ethnic Albanians and Serbswhose bodies were found in a lake near Glodjane can be attributed more directlyto the KLA. For details on abuses by the KLA, see the Human Rights Watchreport, "Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo," October 1998.

[94][94]SeeAppendix A,Yugoslav Government WarCrimes in Ra-ak, Human Rights Watch, January 1999.

[95][95]U.N.Security Council Resolution 1199 (1998).

[96][96]Theonly announcement from the Yugoslav government came through the SerbianPresident Milan Milutinovi- in his report to the Serbian government on October13. The report presents the OSCE mission and stresses the government'sintention to resolve the Kosovo conflict peacefully and through dialogue aslong as Kosovo remains within "the framework of Serbia." Point 10 of statementalso said:

Not one person will be criminally prosecuted beforegovernment courts for criminal acts in connection with the conflict in Kosovo,except for those crimes against humanity and international law as foreseen inChapter 16 of the Federal Criminal Law. With a goal of ensuring completeopenness, the government will allow complete and unhindered access by foreignexperts (including pathologists) who will cooperate with governmentinvestigators.

Neither of these promises, to halt criminalprosecutions in Kosovo or to allow unhindered access by foreign experts, hasbeen kept by the Serbian government.

[97][97]U.N. Security Council Resolution 827 established the ICTY "for the sole purposeof prosecuting persons responsible for serious violations of internationalhumanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1January 1991 and a date to be determined by the Security Council upon therestoration of peace..." Kosovo is located inside the territory of the formerYugoslavia, and the Security Council has not yet determined a date on which thejurisdiction of the ICTY will expire.

In Resolution 1160, adopted on March 31, 1998, theU.N. Security Council "[u]rges the Office of the Prosecutor of theInternational Tribunal established pursuant to Resolution 827 (1993) of 25 May1993 to begin gathering information related to the violence in Kosovo that mayfall within its jurisdiction, and notes that the authorities of the FederalRepublic of Yugoslavia have an obligation to co-operate with the Tribunal...".

In Resolution 1199, adopted on September 23, 1998, theU.N. Security Council noted "the communication by the Prosecutor [of the ICTY]to the Contact Group on 7 July 1998, expressing the view that the situation inKosovo represents an armed conflict within the terms of the mandate of theTribunal," and called upon all parties "to co-operate fully with the Prosecutor[of the ICTY] in the investigation of possible violations within thejurisdiction of the Tribunal."

On October 1, 1998, following an emergency session ofthe U.N. Security Council to discuss the initial reports of the massacresdocumented in this report, the U.N. Security Council again reaffirmed thejurisdiction of the ICTY: "Council Members recalled the role of theInternational Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, which is empowered toinvestigate violations of international humanitarian law in Kosovo."

[98][98]TheInternational Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia press statement, "TheProsecutor's Statement Regarding the Tribunal's Jurisdiction Over Kosovo," TheHague, March 10, 1998; The International Criminal Tribunal for the FormerYugoslavia press statement, "Communication from the Prosecutor to the ContactGroup Members," The Hague, July 7, 1998.

[99][99]The Kosovo conflict has reached the level of an internal armed conflict, sothat, at the very least, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies.For a full discussion of the relevant international law, see the Human RightsWatch report "Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo," October 1998.

[100][100]Statementby the Office of the Prosecutor, "The Prosecutor does not accept the refusal bythe FRY to allow Kosovo investigations," October 7, 1998.

[101][101]JanePerlez, "Milosevic Accepts Kosovo Monitors, Averting Attack,"New York Times, October 14, 1998.

[102][102]"Yugoslavjustice minister denies Hague Tribunal jurisdiction in Kosovo,"Associated Press, October 30, 1998.Minister Knezevic made a similar statement on October 15, stating that theBelgrade government does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICTY but wouldallow ICTY investigators access to Kosovo. "Belgrade does not recognize ICTYjurisdiction inKosovo: Minister,"AgenceFrance Presse, October 15, 1998. Such access was never provided.

[103][103]"Statementby Justice Louise Arbour, Prosecutor of the ICTY," November 5, 1998.

[104][104]Letterof Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, Judge President of the ICTY, to the U.N. SecurityCouncil; "War Crimes Court cancels mission to Yugoslavia,"Agence France Presse, November 5, 1998; Elena Becatoros, "U.S.Envoy sees progress in Kosovo peace efforts,"Associated Press, November 5, 1998.

[105][105]"UNSecurity Council Demands Belgrade Cooperation on Kosovo,"Agence France Presse, November 17, 1998.

[106][106]ICTYPress Release, "Kosovo: Statement by Justice Louise Arbour, Prosecutor of theICTY," January 16, 1999.

[107][107]ICTYPress Release, "Press Statement from the Prosecutor regarding KosovoInvestigation," January 20, 1999.

[108][108]Theinternational community did, however, play an important role in evacuatingSelmon Morina, the sole survivor of the summary executions carried out inGolubovac.

[109][109]PHRPress Release, "On the Eve of Contact Group Meeting, Medical Group AccusesYugoslav Government of Stymying Investigation into Kosovo Killing," dated April28, 1998.

[110][110]Forinformation on KLA abuses in Glodjane and Kle-ka, see the Human Rights Watchreport, "Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo," pp. 77-78.

[111][111]Thechoice of judge Danica Marinkovi- to accompany the Finnish team was interpretedas deliberately provocative by many ethnic Albanians, as this particular judgehas been tied to a number of torture of ethnic Albanians in custody, sometimesleading to deaths in detention. See Human Rights Watch,Persecution Persists: Human Rights Violations in Kosovo(December1996) and Human Rights Watch, "Detentionsand Abuse in Kosovo," December 1998. Marinkovi- also served as aninvestigative judge in the Kle-ka case, interrogating two ethnic Albaniansuspects in front of television cameras. The allegations of KLA atrocities atKle-ka continue to be a matter of dispute.

[112][112]HumanRights Watch telephone interview with Ambassador Timothy Lahelma, December 11,1998.

[113][113]HumanRights Watch reports include:IncreasingTurbulence: Human Rights in Yugoslavia, October 1989;Yugoslavia: Crisis in Kosovo, with the International HelsinkiFederation, March 1990;Yugoslavia: HumanRights Abuses in Kosovo 1990-1992, October 1992; Open Wounds: Human Rights Abuses in Kosovo, March 1993;Persecution Persists: Human RightsViolations in Kosovo, December 1996.

[114][114]Yugoslaviaratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on June 2,1971.

[115][115]Yugoslaviaacceded to the four Geneva Conventions on April 21, 1950, and to Protocols Iand II on June 11, 1979.

[116][116]On July7, 1998, the Tribunal declared publicly that the hostilities in Kosovo hadreached the level of an armed conflict, although the starting date for thisdesignation was not stated. In a letter to members of the Contact Group dealingwith the Kosovo crisis, Justice Louise Arbour declared:

[T]he nature and scale of the fighting indicate thatan "armed conflict", within the meaning of international law, exists in Kosovo.As a consequence, she intends to bring charges for crimes against humanity orwar crimes, if evidence of such crimes is established.

The U.S. government has a similar position. On August31, U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, David Scheffer, said,"there is no question that an armed conflict exists in Kosovo. There is also noquestion that the War Crimes Tribunal has jurisdiction to investigate andprosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo pursuantto U.N. Security Council Resolution 827 (1993), which covers the formerYugoslavia."

[117][117]InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross,Commentary,III Geneva Convention (International Committee of the Red Cross: Geneva 1960),p. 23.

[118][118]InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross,Commentary,IV Geneva Convention(InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross: Geneva 1958),p. 35.


[120][120]InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross Commentary to Protocol II, p. 90.

[121][121]U.N.General Assembly,Respect for HumanRights in Armed Conflicts, United Nations Resolution 2444, G.A. Res. 2444,23 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 18) U.N. Doc. A/7433 (New York: U.N., 1968), p. 164.

[122][122]U.N.General Assembly Resolution 2444 affirms:

... the following principles for observance by allgovernment and other authorities responsible for action in armed conflicts:

(a) That the right of the parties to a conflict toadopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited;

(b) That it is prohibited to launch attacks againstthe civilian populations as such;

© That distinction must be made at all times betweenpersons taking part in the hostilities and members of the civilian populationto the effect that the latter be spared as much as possible.

[123][123]TheProsecution v. Duško Tadi-, Appeals Chamber Decision on the Defense Motion forInterlocutory Appeal on Jurisdiction, para. 89 ( October 2, 1995).

[124][124]HumanRights Watch also takes some concepts from Protocol I, since it provides usefulguidance on the rules of war.

[125][125]TheICRCCommentaryto Article 1 ofProtocol II addresses the requirements for control over territory. Paragraph3.3. says: "In many conflicts there is considerable movement in the theater ofhostilities; it often happens that territorial control changes hands rapidly.Sometimes domination of a territory will be relative, for example, when urbancentres remain in government hands while rural areas escape their authority. Inpractical terms, if the insurgent armed groups are organized in accordance withthe requirements of the Protocol, the extent of territory they can claim tocontrol will be that which escapes the control of the government armed forces.However, there must be some degree of stability in the control of even a modestarea of land for them to be capable of effectively applying the rules of theProtocol."

[126][126]TheICRCCommentaryon Common Article 3,paragraph 1, states that an internal armed conflict exists when, "the insurgentcivil authority agrees to be bound by the provisions of the Convention."

[127][127]Koha Ditore, July 12, 1998.

[128][128]UÇKCommunique Nr. 51, as published inKohaDitore, August 26, 1998.

[129][129]The"combatant's privilege" is a license to kill or capture enemy troops, destroymilitary objectives and cause unavoidable civilian casualties. This privilegeimmunizes combatants from criminal prosecution by their captors for theirviolent acts that do not violate the laws of war but would otherwise be crimesunder domestic law. Prisoner of war status depends on and flows from thisprivilege.SeeSolf,"The Statusof Combatants in Non-International Armed Conflicts Under Domestic Law andTransnational Practice,"AmericanUniversity Law Review,No. 33 (1953), p. 59.

[130][130]InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross (ICRC),Commentary,IV Geneva Convention(Geneva: ICRC, 1958), p.226.

[131][131]TheICRCCommentary on the AdditionalProtocols, p. 874, defines hostages as persons who find themselves,willingly or unwillingly, in the power of the enemy and who answer with theirfreedom or their life for compliance with the orders of the latter and forupholding the security of its armed forces.

[132][132]ProtocolII, article 8, states:

Whenever circumstances permit, and particularly afteran engagement, all possible measures shall be taken, without delay,... tosearch for the dead, prevent their being despoiled, and decently dispose ofthem.

[133][133]R.Goldman,"International Humanitarian Law and the Armed Conflicts in ElSalvador and Nicaragua,"AmericanUniversity Journal of International Law and Policy,Vol.2 (1987), p. 553.

[134][134]M.Bothe, K. Partsch,&W. Solf,NewRules for Victims of Armed Conflicts: Commentary on the Two 1977 ProtocolsAdditional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949(The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff,1982), p. 303.

[135][135]Civiliansinclude those persons who are"directly linked to the armed forces,including those who accompany the armed forces without being members thereof,such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, supply contractors,members of labour units, or of services responsible for the welfare of thearmed forces, members of the crew of the merchant marine and the crews of civilaircraft employed in the transportation of military personnel, material orsupplies... Civilians employed in the production, distribution and storage ofmunitions of war..."Ibid., pp. 293-94.

[136][136]Ibid.,p. 303.

[137][137]ICRC,Commentary on the Additional Protocols,p. 619.

[138][138]ICRC,Commentary on the Additional Protocols,p. 618-19. This is a broader definition than"attacks"and includesat a minimum preparation for combat and return from combat. Bothe,New Rules for Victims of Armed Conflicts,p. 303.

[139][139]Ibid.,p. 303 (footnote omitted).

[140][140]ProtocolI, art. 52 (2).

[141][141]Bothe,New Rules for Victims of Armed Conflicts,pp. 306-07.

[142][142]Awounded or captured combatant is "out of the fighting," and so must beprotected.

[143][143]Reportof Working Group B, Committee I, 18 March 1975 (CDDH/I/238/Rev.1; X, 93), inHoward S. Levie, ed.,The Law of NonInternational Armed Conflict, (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff,1987), p. 67.SeeRosario Conde,"Policemen without Combat Duties: Illegitimate Targets of Direct Attackunder Humanitarian Law,"student paper (New York: Columbia Law School, May12, 1989).

[144][144]Bothe,New Rules for Victims of Armed Conflict,p. 362 (footnote omitted).

[145][145]Ibid., p. 365.

[146][146]ICRC,Commentary on the Additional Protocols,p. 685.

[147][147]Ibid.,p. 685. As set out above, to constitute a legitimate military objective, theobject, selected by its nature, location, purpose or use must contribute effectivelyto the enemy's military capability or activity, and its total or partialdestruction or neutralization must offer a"definite"militaryadvantage in the circumstances. See Protocol I, art. 52 (2) where thisdefinition is codified.

[148][148]ICRC,Commentary on the Additional Protocols,p. 684.

[149][149]Ibid.,p. 626.

[150][150]Ibid.,p. 1472.


[152][152]Ibid.,p. 1456.

[153][153]Ibid.,p. 1458-59.

[154][154]Ibid.,p. 657. TheNew Rulesgives thefollowing examples of direct support:"an irrigation canal used as part ofa defensive position, a water tower used as an observation post, or a cornfieldused as cover for the infiltration of an attacking force."Bothe,New Rules for Victims of Armed Conflicts,p. 341.

[155][155]Article54 of Protocol I is the parallel standard, for international armed conflicts,to Article 14, Protocol II in its prohibition of starvation of civilians as amethod of warfare.

[156][156]Bothe,New Rules for Victims of Armed Conflict,p. 340.

[157][157]Ibid.,pp. 340-41.

[158][158]Civiliansare not legitimate military targets; this is also expressly established by U.N.General Assembly Resolution 2444, above. The duty to distinguish at all timesbetween civilians and combatants, and between civilian objects and militaryobjects, includes the duty to direct military operations only against militaryobjectives.

[159][159]Constitutionof the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Article 11.

This report documents serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by Serbianand Yugoslav government forces in Kosovo's Drenica region during the last week of September1998. As Yugoslav President Slobodan Milo?evic wrapped up a summer-long offensive againstthe Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), special forces of the Serbian police (MUP) and YugoslavArmy (VJ) committed summary executions, indiscriminately attacked civilians, and systematicallydestroyed civilian property, all of which are violations of the rules of war and can be prosecutedby the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

This 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.