Regional human rights violations raise concerns
Human rights violations have taken a wide range, from inter-ethnic tension to domestic violence.
By Linda Karadaku for SES Türkiye in Pristina -- 30/05/12
Last year's arrests of two infamous war crimes suspects brought some hope to victims of the 1990s conflicts in the former Yugoslavia that they may one day have justice, according to a recent global human rights report.
Amnesty International's 50th report on human rights, released last week, notes that the region still is rife with gender, sex and ethnic discrimination, and that some governments are doing too little to solve the problems.
"The arrests of Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic sent out a powerful message, not only to those affected, but across the wider region. … However, too many people across the region still fell through the gap between the rhetoric of human rights and the reality of their implementation," the US-based organisation said in a summary.
Mladic faces 11 charges of war crimes, including genocide, over the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. He was the commander-in-chief of the army that committed numerous atrocities in a campaign to drive Croats and Bosnian Muslims from an area they considered Serbian territory. His trial began this month, but was delayed after prosecutors failed to turn over thousands of pages of documents to defence attorneys.
Hadzic was charged in 2004 with crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war for his alleged involvement in persecutions, extermination, murder, imprisonment, torture, inhumane acts, cruel treatment, deportation, wanton destruction and plunder of public or private property. The former president of the so-called Republic of Serbian Krajina was arrested in July 2011.
The 444-page report identified numerous problems throughout the region – domestic violence and forced trafficking of women in Albania, anti-Roma violence in Bulgaria, weakened state institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and mistreatment of prisoners in Serbia and Moldova -- among them.
In some cases, government is seen as part of the problem. The report singles out Romanian officials for contributing to discrimination, accuses Greece of excessive police force, accuses Turkey of not delivering promised constitutional reforms, and notes that Croatia, BiH, Macedonia and Montenegro courts failed to uphold war crimes cases.
"There is a lot of misunderstanding even among political and social elite why should we respect human rights," said analyst Dragan Popovic, head of the Police Centre in Belgrade, told SES Türkiye. "One part of the society believes that human rights are part of EU integration demands and that we are fulfilling our obligation towards the EU when we adopt some human rights law or regulation. That is the most serious problem which causes all other issues."
"Governments must uphold freedom of expression at home and abroad, take international responsibilities seriously, and invest in systems and structures that ensure justice, freedom and equality before the law," Salil Shetty, Amnesty International secretary-general, said.
Click here to view the report.