OSCE urges action on journalists’ murders in Kosovo

The OSCE wants renewed efforts to uncover the truth behind the kidnappings and murders of Serb and ethnic Albanian journalists connected to the 1999 war.

Source: BIRN
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OSCE ambassador to Kosovo Jan Braathu said on Tuesday at the unveiling of a memorial plaque to two Serbian reporters who were kidnapped in 1999 and never found that the European organisation will support increased efforts to find the perpetrators of crimes against journalists in the country.

Braathu told media at the site of the kidnapping, on the road between Orahovac and Velika Hoca villages, that the kidnapped men, Ranko Perenic and Djuro Slavuj, were not combatants but journalists whose job was to report from the conflict zone.

“They were doing a very important job of informing people what really happened in the zone of conflict and that is why our insisting on finding out what happened to them has wider ramifications,” Braathu said. He added that so far the OSCE has identified 15 cases of missing or killed journalists in Kosovo - approximately half of them Serbs and half of them ethnic Albanians.

“It is very important... that we keep insisting that institutions work to find the perpetrators of those crimes. OSCE Mission in Kosovo will press this issue in the future,” he said.

Journalists installed a new plaque commemorating Perenic and Slavuj after previous ones were removed or vandalised. “So far we have put up this plaque six times and six times it was destroyed,” said Budimir Nicic, head of the Society of Journalists of Kosovo. “This fact is also a reminder that institutions are not willing to do their job and solve those cases,” he added.

The chairman of Serbia's commission for solving the cases of killed journalists, Veran Matic, said that the media’s engagement was very important in keeping public attention on the cases and putting pressure on institutions to do their job.

“Without the work of the commission, members of the Interior Ministry and security agencies, we would never find out who were the killers of Slavko Curuvija,” Matic said, in reference to an opposition editor killed during President Slobodan Milosevic’s time in office.

The president of the Journalists’ Association of Serbia, Vladimir Radomirovic, told BIRN that a commission to investigate journalists’ murders should also be established in Kosovo. He added that a draft resolution on the crimes against journalists related to the Kosovo conflict has been sent to the European Federation of Journalists, with support from both Serbian and Kosovo Albanian media associations.

“We expect that the resolution will be adopted at the annual meeting of the EFJ in Lisbon early in June,” Radomirovic said, adding that the goal is to put additional pressure on state institutions and encourage anyone with information about the crimes to speak out. Radomirovic expressed hope that the OSCE’s support will help open investigations and move them forward.

Radio Pristina journalists Perenic and Slavuj were kidnapped on August 21, 1999, while travelling towards Zociste monastery to do a report. Perenic’s family has been informed by the EU Rule-of-Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX, that the investigation was closed four years ago, while the Slavuj’s family has not yet received any notification, the Journalists’ Association of Serbia said in a statement.

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