Amnesty International

Human rights violations against
women in Kosovo province

CONTENTS


Prelude
Introduction
I. Ill-treatment
Ill-treatment in custody
Ill-treatment in the context of demonstrations
Ill-treatment in the context of other police actions

II. Unfair trials
Fair trial concerns and fear of ill-treatment

III. Unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions

IV. "Disappeared" and "missing" persons
Ethnic Albanians
Serbs and Montenegrins

V. Displacement

Amnesty International's recommendations for preventing and
remedying human rights violations against women in Kosovo
A. To the Federal Yugoslav and Serbian authorities
B. To ethnic Albanian armed opposition groups in Kosovo
province
C. To the international community

FOOTNOTES
ABOUT THIS DOCUMENT SERIES

Prelude
Women's rights are human rights and human rights are not only universal,
they are also indivisible. A woman who is arbitrarily detained, tortured, killed,
made to "disappear" or jailed after an unfair trial has, apart from being denied
her civil and political rights, no chance of exercising her social, economic and
cultural rights.*

Women from all walks of life have been targeted for human rights abuses
around the world. In some cases, the reasons are connected with a woman's
occupation or peaceful, legitimate activities. Governments detain women who
are lawyers, journalists, teachers, human rights activists, political activists,
community organisers and members of many other professions. In other
cases, women's human rights are violated because of their ethnic origin or
religious beliefs.

Some women are subjected to human rights violations merely because they
happen to be the wives, mothers, daughters or friends of people whom the
authorities consider to be "dangerous" or "undesirable". These women are
threatened, detained as substitutes for their relatives, ill-treated, tortured or
even killed as governments attempt to exert their will over those closely
connected with them. Countless women are forced to live in the shadow of
another person's "disappearance". A woman may suddenly become her
family's sole source of support just at the time when she is facing the
absence of a close relative and is trying to locate the "disappeared" victim.
She may be effectively widowed by her husband's "disappearance", yet
unable to claim state or other benefits because her husband has not been
declared dead, officially or legally. Women constitute the majority of the
refugee and internally displaced adult population and have been the victims of
sexual abuse by police, soldiers or other government agents. Many of these
women lack the support systems which would be provided in their own
communities or by their close relatives.

* From HUMAN RIGHTS ARE WOMEN'S RIGHT, the report with which
Amnesty International launched its 1995 campaign for the protection of
women's human rights.


Introduction

In areas of civil turmoil or armed conflict, women are particularly vulnerable to
human rights violations. They are often subjected to brutal treatment simply
because they live in a particular location or belong to a particular group.

This report aims to illustrate the human rights situation of women, primarily
ethnic Albanian women, in Kosovo province of the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia by highlighting a number of representative cases. The report does
not claim to depict the full range and severity of human rights violations
against women which have taken place and which, as armed conflict persists,
continue to occur daily. Ethnic Albanian women are the victims of human
rights abuses now, but since the early 1980s there have been cases in which
ethnic Albanian women have shared the fate of many of their menfolk and like
them have been arbitrarily detained, ill-treated and convicted in unfair trials.
With the outbreak of armed conflict, they now also face mass forced
displacement and the risk of deliberate and arbitrary killings. However, as in
almost all instances of armed conflict, victims are not confined to one side
only. The Serbian and Montenegrin community, including its women, also has
its victims; these too have their place in this report.

I. Ill-treatment

Torture and ill-treatment appear to have been by far the most frequent human
rights violations perpetrated by police in Kosovo province. Since 1990 ethnic
Albanians opposed to the Serbian and Federal authorities have operated
parallel institutions in the fields of education, medical and social aid, and
much of the harassment by police, including physical ill-treatment, has been
directed at those involved in some way with these parallel institutions.
However, many people who were not themselves active were also victims, and
their ill-treatment might be described as "random" or even "routine". Generally
the worst instances of ill-treatment have occurred in police stations where it
frequently amounted to torture.

With recent developments, Amnesty International's concerns in these areas
have increased. Recently, hundreds of ethnic Albanians have been ill-treated
during peaceful demonstrations.

Ill-treatment in custody

Besa Arllati is the chairperson of the Information Commission of the
Djakovica (Gjakova) branch of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).
Amnesty International delegates heard her story. On 25 May she was
summoned to report to the local police. She did not respond to the summons.

The following morning Besa Arllati was arrested by two police inspectors who
took her to the local police headquarters. They reportedly gave no reason for
her arrest. On arrival at the building she was taken to the office of the Chief
Inspector, who greeted her with insults, one of which was to call her an
"immigrant". When she replied that she had family roots in the area stretching
back for generations, he reportedly lost his temper and began to hit her
violently, drawing blood, although she was able to remain standing. This
beating lasted about five minutes. He then began to question her about the
whereabouts of various ethnic Albanians. When another officer, whom she
believes to have been from outside the district and currently attached to the
local police, began to punch her on the head she continued to defy them with
the words: " Why are you using physical force, when you have guns in your
belts? Draw them and see if I'm afraid." She insisted that all her activities had
been legal.

The police then accused her of having information about the disappearance of
two Serb police officers they believed had been kidnapped by the armed
opposition Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA, or in Albanian Ushtria Çlirimtare e
Kosovës, UÇK). When she denied any knowledge of the incident she was
taken to another office for further questioning.

Following this interrogation, during which she continued to deny any
wrong-doing and stated her intention to remain silent if they continued to
ill-treat her, she was taken to a cellar that she describes as fit for neither man
nor beast, fouled with urine and faeces, where she was left for about 30 hours.
Every hour she was observed through a spyhole in the door, verbally abused
and ordered to stand up, despite her exhaustion. The following day, 27 May,
she was accused of having influence sufficient to secure the return of the
missingpolicemen, and was released at 4pm with orders to return the
following morning at 9am.

On this second occasion she was detained until midday, again subjected to
verbal abuse and questioning, and told to return again the following day. The
next day she was ordered to return home and change into casual clothing
because she would be taken to the zone of conflict. However, when she
complied with this request she was taken home and told to report again the
next day at 8am. When she did so, she was told to hand over her rings and
her watch, and again taken to the cellar where she had previously been held.
During this period she was questioned about the activities of the LDK, and
was eventually released late in the evening of 1 June.

On her release she sought medical attention, complaining of headaches and
dizziness, and stated she was still receiving treatment when interviewed some
days later by an Amnesty International delegate, who observed bruising to her
hands which was consisted with her account.

Ill-treatment in the context of demonstrations

Besa Gaxhere (34) is an economist, living in the city of Pec (Peja) who is
also a member of the Women's Forum of the LDK. On 18 March she had
joined several thousand other citizens in one of a series of demonstrations
called to protest at the killings of dozens of people in the Drenica areaSee
footnote 1 that had occurred earlier in the month, and was standing in the
front row of a large group that had gathered inthe Dardania area of the city.
According to her account, a large group of police suddenly rushed at the
crowd and began to beat them. She herself sustained blows and found
herself, together with some others, surrounded by a group of police officers,
whom she observed beating an old man and forcing him to the ground. At this
point she was approached by a Serb civilian (known to her), who said: "I've
been looking for you for a long time now", and began to punch her on the
head. She reported that as a result she nearly lost consciousness, and that
other civilians and police continued to beat her with truncheons and punch
her, blaming her for organising the protests, until she was able to escape from
the melée.

In the meantime the police had reportedly begun to fire automatic weapons,
and she eventually found refuge in a nearby house where she was able to
rest. She had suffered bruising to the head and face, and reported that two
days later she still suffered from disturbed hearing.

At around 11am on 18 March ethnic Albanians also demonstrated in Pristina
(Prishtina). At the same time Serbs from all over Serbia started to arrive for a
demonstration which was held that afternoon in opposition to the ethnic
Albanians' demands. The atmosphere in town was very tense that day. Police
did not break up the morning demonstration but instead beat or otherwise
ill-treated some of the ethnic Albanian demonstrators as they were dispersing.

Nineteen-year-old student Vlora Maliqi was among the victims as police
moved against a small group of ethnic Albanians who were standing near to
the Philosophy Faculty of the (state) university. Friends who were with her
managed to evade the police cordon, but despite the attempts of one friend to
help her, Vlora was struck down and beaten. Vlora Maliqi told Amnesty
International representatives in March 1998:

"Six policemen beat me yesterday, they hit me everywhere. They kicked me
all over my body... they pushed me to the ground, pulled my hair. They turned
me over to hit me on the back and then in the stomach".

Vlora Maliqi showed Amnesty International delegates bruises to her face,
back, legs and arms which were consistent with her account.

[* Vlora Maliqi, her face showing the marks of the beating she suffered at the
hands of police ]

Ill-treatment in the context of other police actions

On 10 June 1998 members of staff of the (parallel) university of Pristina, were
holding a regular end-of-term meeting to discuss routine administrative
matters. Amnesty International delegates were later able to interview some of
those present and their account states that at around 1.20pm a group of
between four and eight uniformed police burst into the room and began to beat
and insult the 26 people present. When these attempted to escape via the
door to the corridor, the only exit, they found a further group of police waiting
there, who also began to beat them with rubber truncheons and long batons
as they attempted to leave the building. The police reportedly gave no reason
for their presence.

Dr Afërdita Zuna, Suzana Çapriqi and Linda Salihu were among the
victims. The majority of the blows were reportedly directed at their heads and
bodies. The police did not pursue them once they had left the building, but
several of the victims latersought medical treatment for injuries, including
bruising, wounds and fractures, and for shock. Some suffered injuries to their
hands when they tried to shield their heads from blows.

II. Unfair trials

The Serbian and Federal authorities have consistently failed to ensure fair
trials in political cases in Kosovo province. Suspects are often detained,
without access to defence lawyers, family or doctors, for days, or sometimes
even weeks, while police interrogate them, using various forms of ill-treatment
or torture to force them to give and sign "confessions" incriminating
themselves or othersSee footnote 2. Such practices are in violation of
Yugoslav law and international standards for fair trial, but "confessions"
obtained with these methods are frequently used as the basis for convictions,
often with little corroborating evidence.

Fair trial concerns and fear of ill-treatment

Zahrije Podrimçaku (28), from the village of Novo Cikatovo (Çikatovë e Re),
is the secretary of the local branch of the Council for the Defence of Human
Rights and Freedoms (CDHRF) in Glogovac. She had previously been the
treasurer of the local Finance Committee of the parallel education system set
up following the effective suspension of Albanian language education (except
in primary education) in the state-run system after the repeal of
Kosovo'sautonomous status in 1989. On 8 June 1998 she was arrested near
the CDHRF offices in Pristina, by a group of police officers who reportedly did
not identify themselves, but brandished their revolvers instead. Ibrahim
Makolli, another member of the CDHRF, was arrested at the same time. He
was later released following questioning, but Zahrije Podrimçaku remained in
detention, and her whereabouts were not made known to her relatives for
several days.

On 12 June the District Court of Pristina started an investigation against her
on charges of "Association for the purpose of terrorist activity" under Articles
136 and 125 of the Yugoslav Criminal Code. She is specifically accused of
having, together with others, founded a KLA cell in the village of Lausa
(Llausha), near Srbica (Skënderaj), and of having procured a gun and military
uniforms for another member of this cell. She is currently detained in the
women's prison in Lipljan (Lipjan). No date has yet been set for a trial.

On 1 June police entered the offices of the LDK in the town of Djakovica
(Gjakova) and arrested Mevlyde Sarraqi, a teacher and a mother of five
children. She is the secretary of the local Women's Forum of the LDK, and a
member of Kosovo's parallel parliament.

She has been charged with "Association for the purpose of hostile activity",
under Article 136 paragraph 1 of the Yugoslav Criminal Code; specific charges
include " leading demonstrators on the streets of Djakovica...organizing a
group which offered medical assistance to members of the KLA, and taking
part in the arming of Albanians and supporting plans and preparations for
attacks on the police and the Army of Yugoslavia ."

As in the case of Zahrije Podrimçaku, information concerning her whereabouts
was at first withheld from her family, and when it was made known that she
was being detained in the women's prison in Lipljan, her husband was
reportedly not permitted to visit her despite having obtained permission from
the investigating judge in Prizren. He was told by the prison authorities that
such visits would only be permitted on the 1st and the 15th of each month.
Mevlyde Sarraqi's lawyer has reportedly not been allowed to visit her except in
the presence of prison guards; he reportedly suspects that Mevlyde is
unwilling to relate details of ill-treatment by police for fear of reprisals.

Amnesty International cannot confirm whether the charges brought in these
two cases have any substance. The organization fears, however, that the two
women are at risk of ill-treatment and of an unfair trial.

This is also the case for Shukrie Rexha (33), a medical student and member
of the LDK, and Majlinda Sinani (24), a student teacher, who were among a
group of 20 ethnic Albanians tried on similar charges in May 1997. Both were
accused of being a member of the National Movement for the Liberation of
Kosovo (Lëvizje Kombëtare për Çlirimin e Kosovës - LPÇK), described as an
illegal organisation calling for the independence of Kosovo, and of writing for
and distributing its magazine Çlirimi (Liberation).

In a statement to the court, Shukrie Rexha claimed that during her
questioning she was subjected to psychological and physical ill-treatment,
and that - in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure - she hadbeen further
interrogated by police on three occasions after her hearing by the investigating
judge. She denied being a member of the LPÇK, although she had written
three articles for Çlirimi and had been involved in its distribution. In a further
statement on the final day of the trial she said: "If the pen, and the expression
of opinion, can be considered as terrorist methods and deeds, then we are all
terrorists."

Her lawyer had also complained that on occasion she had been unable to
obtain free access to her client.

Majlinda Sinani, who also denied being a member of the LPÇK, stated that
she had been questioned on 12 occasions by the police after her hearing by
the investigating judge.

The sentences imposed on the defendants at this trial ranged from 10 years
to 18 months' imprisonment. Shukrie Rexha was sentenced to three and
Majlinda Sinani to two years' imprisonment. They were released from custody
to await the result of an appeal to a higher court. To Amnesty International's
knowledge, this appeal has not yet been heard.

III. Unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions

Amnesty International is seriously concerned that ethnic Albanians may have
been unlawfully killed and extrajudicially executed in the course of certain
police operations against the KLA. The available information indicates that in
a number of instances police used excessive force and deliberately targeted
houses regardless of the fact that often women, children and unarmed men
were sheltering in them. In such incidents thereappears to have been no
attempt to effect the arrest of armed suspects with the minimum use of force
in order to protect life, as is required by both national and international law.
Police forces appear to have acted as a military force and as though under
orders to eliminate suspects and their families.

The following incidents are also described in detail in A Human Rights Crisis
in Kosovo Province, Series A Document #2: Violence in Drenica,
February-April 1998, AI Index: EUR 70/33/98.

[ * Rukije Nebiu lies dead in her home ]

Rukije Nebiu, an ethnic Albanian housewife, lived in the village of Cirez
(Qirez) in the Drenica area of Kosovo with her husband Xhemshir Nebiu and
their two small children Valon and Valentina. On the evening of 28 February
1998 police armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades
launched an attack on their village and the neighbouring village of Likosane
(Likoshane), backed up by helicopters and armoured vehicles. The attack
continued into the early hours of the following morning. Although armed KLA
men were present in the village and offered resistance to the police, they were
heavily outnumbered and greatly inferior in weapons, and soon withdrew,
allowing the police to move in. At least 26 ethnic Albanians were killed in the
two villages. Four police officers were also Amnesty International believes that
most of the ethnic Albanians who died were killed after the KLA's withdrawal.

Rukije Nebiu was killed in her house; pictures of her body suggest that she
was shot in the head with a high velocity weapon. At the time of her death she
was pregnant with her third child.

On 5 and 6 March special police forces carried out an operation at the village
of Donji Prekaz (Prekaz i Pushtëm), in the Drenica region, during which at
least 54 people were killed. Ten women from the same extended family were
killed:

Adile Jashari, Afete Jashari, Bahrije Jashari, Elheme Jashari, Feride
Jashari, Hidajete Jashari, Salë Jashari, Selvete Jashari, Zahide
Jashari and Zarife Jashari.

Nine children, also from this extended family and ranging in age from eight to
16 years,were also among the dead:

Besim Jashari (m), Blerim Hamzë Jashari (m), Blerim Zenë Jashari (m),
Blerina Jashari (f), Bujar Jashari(m), Fatime Jashari (f), Igball Jashari (m),
Igballe Jashari (f) and Kushtrim Jashari (m).

The main target of this operation was the home of Adem Jashari. He had been
convicted in absentia of "terrorism" in an unfair trial in a court in Pristina in
July 1997 and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment See footnote 3.

[* The destroyed houses of Donji Prekaz ]

The only reported survivor from the compound where Adem Jashari's closest
family members lived was an 11-year-old girl, B.J., who spoke to foreign and
local journalists.See footnote 4 She told reporters how her family sheltered
together during hours of firing in which her house was repeatedly hit and then,
when the firing ceased, how she found the dead bodies of her three sisters
and then of her mother and four brothers. Because of the lack of other
witnesses and the concealment or destruction of evidence, it is extremely
difficult to reconstruct what happened in the compound except for what the girl
told journalists after her escape. On the basis of what can be ascertained or
deduced, it appears that each family or group of families gathered women,
children and men who were not carrying arms into the safest room in each
house, while some or all the male members of each family attempted to repel
the police attack with arms.

Although full information about what happened in Donji Prekaz on 5 and 6
March is still not available, Amnesty International is seriously concerned that
at least some of those killed may have been extrajudicially executed and that
others may have been unlawfully killed as a result of the excessive use of
force.

To Amnesty International's knowledge, to date there has been no attempt to
carry out any investigation into these killings.

IV. "Disappeared" and "missing" persons

See footnote 5

Ethnic Albanians

In the aftermath of the police operation at Donji Prekaz on 5-6 March, a large
number ofpeople was reported missing, among them the women Hafije
Jashari (60), Elfije Jashari (28), Mihrije Jashari (53) , Sabrije Jashari
(20), Hanife Jashari (16), Hajrije Jashari and Fatime Bazaja (21).
Fifty-four people who had lost their lives in the operation were buried, amid
some confusion and apparently without proper identification procedures and
autopsies being carried out by the competent authorities. Eighteen of the
bodies were thus buried without being identified, and it is to be feared that
some, or all, of the above were among them. Until appropriate measures are
taken to identify the bodies, the relatives of the missing remain stranded in
anguished uncertainty, unable properly to mourn those they have lost.

Serbs and Montenegrins

Among Serbs and Montenegrins believed to have been abducted or held by
members of the KLA are several women. On 21 April the majority of the Serb
inhabitants of the village of Gornji Ratis in the Decani area fled when the KLA
established control over the area. Among those who remained were the
sisters Dara Vujosevic (69) and Vukosava Vujosevic (65), Milka Vlahovic
(62) and her husband Milovan (60). According to the daughter of Milka and
Milovan Vlahovic, when she and her brother attempted to return on the
following day in order to help their relatives leave, they were prevented from
entering the village by members of the KLA. The fate of the four elderly people
remains unknown.

Amnesty International is also concerned about the fate of the Smigic family
from the village of Leocina in the Drenica region. By 18 May most of the Serb
inhabitants had abandoned the village, but a few remained behind; among
them were Krstiva Smigic and her relatives, SultanaSmigic (72) and her
husband Milosav (75), and Aleksandra (Lenka) Smigic (c.75) and her son
Radomir (54). Krstiva Smigic later informed HLC researchers that, upon
seeing armed KLA men enter the village, she ran over to Milosav and
Sultana's house. When these men asked them:"What are you doing here?
This is Albania, there's nothing for you here", Milosav replied "Till now this
was Serbia but even if it's Albania, we'll talk it over and live together on good
terms". After he said this the men beat him with their rifle butts and kicked
Krstiva and Sultana. They then ransacked the house, set fire to the beds and
bedding and said they would come back in one hour. The elderly people
decided to flee. Radomir and Lenka Smigic, who had seen from their
courtyard what was going on, called them over. They left Milosav in the
courtyard and went over to Radomir and Lenka's house to decide where they
would hide. Radomir told the women to go out and hide in the corn field and
he would hide upstairs in the house. The women went outside but two of them
decided to return to the house. In the meantime, some 30 armed men, some
of whom were in KLA uniforms, had appeared in the courtyard. Ten of them
entered and found Radomir upstairs. Immediately afterwards, Lenka and
Krstiva heard screaming and Lenka ran inside the house and up the stairs.
Krstiva stayed in the courtyard and heard:

"... wailing and screaming, I couldn't bear to listen to it, even God wouldn't
have been able to listen to such screams. Then I heard three gunshots and I
went into the field".

Krstiva then saw that the Smigic's houses were burning. When she walked
over to Milosav's house the next day, calling to Sultana, Radomir and Lenka,
nobodyanswered her. She spent the second and third night near the house
and on the fourth night went to Rudnik where she knew there were police and
Serbs.

Amnesty International is concerned that Milosav, Sultana, Radomir and
Lenka Smigic have gone "missing" and may have been arbitrarily and
summarily executed by members of the KLA.

On 19 May Dostana Smigic (42), the daughter of Krstiva Smigic, set off from
her home in Srbica, in order to fetch her mother. A witness reportedly saw her
car being stopped by a group of armed Albanians. Her whereabouts remain
unknown, and although her family has received information that she is being
held in the village of Likovac, it has not proved possible to confirm this.

V. Displacement

"...and many were women and children".

Tens of thousands of people have been forced by the conflict in Kosovo
province to flee their homes. The risks involved in flight are huge.

At the mercy of dangerous border crossings, difficult terrain and continued
fighting, displaced families head for wherever they think they have a chance of
being safe.

Families have become separated. Ten-year-old Antigona Tishukaj, who
became separated from her parents in the chaos that surrounded the
destruction of her village in Kosovo in June 1998, walked for four days across
the mountains between Kosovo and Albania. She eventually was reunited with
her mother and cousin across the border.

Reports about the displaced from Kosovo inevitably often state that "many
were women and children". Each of the tens of thousands of victims has her
own personal tragedy. They have seen their loved ones killed, their villages
destroyed, their livelihoods ruined. Many of those who leave their homes wait
within sight of their houses for hours, even days, before the spectacle of
destruction and looting finally forces them to give up any hope of going back.

For those who take flight, the suffering is rarely over. Many have had to cross
territory where battles are still raging. They are in urgent need of food and
shelter. Already in danger because of their position, they are even more
vulnerable because of who they are - women, children and the elderly.

The internally displaced within Kosovo, and those who have crossed into
Albania, continue to be at risk in some places where they have sought refuge
due to the highly volatile security situation. Even humanitarian organizations
have been forced to withdraw from some parts of the area due to the
extremely dangerous conditions.

The legacy of conflicts in other parts of the world is that of refugees who
survive but who bear for years the scars from the dislocation, traumatization
and violation of their fundamental human rights.

History has, time and again, shown that the story of refugees fleeing conflict
is largely the story of women and children. They are particularly vulnerable
before, during and after their flight from their country of origin. Women in flight
may be attacked by bandits, smugglers, or other refugees. When they arrive
at borders they are vulnerable to border guards or security forces forcing them
back or attempting to extort money or sexual favours for allowing safe
passage. In particular, women who have been separated from male family
members are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and, in numerous refugee
movements that the world has witnessed, women refugees have been subject
to rape and sexual assault. These are but a few of the dangers refugee
women face when conflict rages and they are forced to flee in search of
safety.

There are also acute economic problems. For example, Kosovar refugees in
Albania have found themselves in a district which is probably the poorest in
the European continent, with 50 per cent unemployment and barely able to
support its own population. These economic problems have been aggravated
by having to deal with the large number of refugees; there is a dire need for
international support to alleviate the situation.

Still inside Kosovo, there have been reports of women hiding in their homes
and basements, stranded with no place to flee to or, perhaps, in the hope that
they will be safe if they stay where they are. Elsewhere, villages are deserted,
and families have been found taking refuge in woods - with only trees as their
shelter - afraid to go back to their village. In the town of Orahovac, where
fighting raged in the second half of July 1998, thousands of people, mainly
women and children, were found still hiding in their homes and basements -
many of them without water and electricity.

Recent estimates are that close to 200,000 people are internally displaced
within the borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Fighting in Pec and
Decani in particular caused many to make the mountainous crossing into
Montenegro, a journey beset with dangers.

For those who move to neighbouring villages or areas within Kosovo, the
earlier pattern of hospitality, with relatives and friends opening their houses to
a large number of families has begun to erode. In some areas the internally
displaced population is some 30 per cent of the total local population.

One aid worker reported: "Hungry children are standing in the streets in their
underwear looking for food. Residents took in refugees for free at first, but
with the numbers increasing they are starting to charge money. The situation
is terrible."

The strain of this influx on local populations means that there is no other
choice but for the displaced to go to collective centres - some lacking
necessary sanitary facilities, and other basics such as electricity and water.
The challenges presented to those surviving in these conditions are
enormous: for example, the vast influx into Montenegro has meant that many
people were crammed into ramshackle buildings without power, water, regular
food or medical care, particularly if the humanitarian assistance agencies
trying to provide shelter and care are not able to operate safely in the area.

The continued fighting between KLA and Serbian forces has rendered
organized return of the internally displaced to their homes out of the question,
and as fighting has spread, it has also put them at increased risk. In June
UNHCR representatives visited acamp of some 600 ethnic Albanians in the
mountainous area between Junik village and the Albanian border. "The
overcrowded shelters and harsh mountainous environment made for extremely
unsanitary conditions," they later reported. "Families [are] living in tents and
make-shift shelters made from branches, logs and plastic sheeting. People
had few clothes and shoes. In addition, a presence of snakes, rodents and
insects put the group at risk." Those interviewed also said their food supplies
were dwindling, and they lacked access to basic medical care.

Xhemile Tahiraj (35) from the village of Erec (Hereq) is one of the many
women who has been internally displaced. During the second week of April
she and her husband Hasan Tahiraj became concerned for her safety and that
of their five year old daughter Eldiana. She left the village to stay with
relatives in the nearby town of Djakovica .On 25 April Xhemile Tahiraj heard
that her husband was one of a group of men from Erec killed on 23 April in a
clash on the border with Army forces while attempting to obtain arms and
bring them into Kosovo. She decided to return to the village to say a last
farewell to her husband, travelling by village paths as she feared using the
main road would be unsafe.

Albanian sources have claimed that there was some shelling of the village that
day, Xhemile Tahiraj said that she decided to return to her house, as she
heard gunshots and the sound of shelling. She said:

"I opened the gate into the courtyard, and was about to enter when I felt that I
was wounded and my legs gave way beneath me. I noticed blood on my hand.
My daughter Eli was also bloody. I barely managed to get inside and call for
help before I collapsed unconscious".

Xhemile Tahiraj was helped to a private doctor, and later transferred to hospital
in Djakovica, where she required an operation to remove a bullet from her leg.
Although her daughter had lost blood from her injury she did not require an
operation.

Many women have said that they were forced to leave villages under
indiscriminate attack by Serb forces. F.H. from the village of Popoci told
Amnesty International delegates that she was in the courtyard of her house in
the early morning in April, preparing to milk the cows, when she heard
shooting and the sound of shelling. The family made their escape on a tractor,
hiding in the woods and not daring to light a fire for fear that they would be
seen and shot at. She believes that her house was burned, along with others
in the village.

M.H. from Shatej in the Djakovica region described her village coming under
heavy shelling and taking shelter in a cellar along with a large number (around
80) women, children and elderly people. Although the shelling continued she
and her daughter and grandson headed for the village of Gramoçel where they
sheltered for three nights. Although she reported that the shelling was less
heavy, she was wounded in the leg, and she finally made her way to
Djakovica, although shooting continued.

The plea in July 1998 of Sadako Ogata, United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees, is a grim reminder of her call to the international community for
help during the crises in the Great Lakes region of Africa and elsewhere in the
former Yugoslavia:

"The situation in Kosovo is deteriorating... I must emphasize that
whileUNHCR and its partners stand ready to continue to help the victims, firm
political action is urgently needed to resolve the crisis."

Amnesty International's recommendations for preventing
and remedying human rights violations against women in
Kosovo

A. To the Federal Yugoslav and Serbian authorities:

A1. The authorities should exercise effective control over all members of their
security forces involved in police and military operations against armed ethnic
Albanian opposition groups in order to prevent human rights violations from
occurring. They must issue strict orders that extrajudicial executions,
deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, torture including rape,
detention without charge or trial and forcible expulsions will not be tolerated
under any circumstances and that those responsible will be held criminally
responsible for their actions.

A2. The authorities should cooperate fully with intergovernmental institutions
such as the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (Tribunal) in
its investigations and prosecutions of cases of serious violations of
humanitarian law against women.

A3. The authorities should take immediate and effective steps to prevent
ill-treatment and torture of women in custody by:

* Ensuring that all female detainees have prompt access to legal counsel and
family members after their arrest and regularly throughout their detention or
imprisonment. Families should be informed immediately of any arrests and be
kept informed of the whereabouts of the detainee or prisoner at all times.
Women in custody should be consultedover arrangements made for the care
of their infants.

* Recording the duration of any interrogation, the intervals between
interrogations, and the identity of the officials conducting each interrogation
and other persons present. Female guards should be present during the
interrogation of female detainees and prisoners, and should be solely
responsible for carrying out any body searches of female detainees and
prisoners to reduce the risk of rape and sexual abuses. There should be no
contact between male guards and female detainees and prisoners without the
presence of a female guard.

* Providing all women under any form of detention or imprisonment with
adequate medical treatment, denial of which can constitute ill-treatment. They
should also have the right to be examined by a doctor of their choice.

* Conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into all reports of ill-
treatment or torture of women in custody. Any law-enforcement official thought
to be responsible for such acts, or for encouraging or condoning them, should
be brought to justice.

A4. The authorities should stop persecution of women because of their family
connections by:

* Releasing immediately and unconditionally any women detained, imprisoned
or held hostage solely because of her family connections; the practice of
ill-treatment to women in order to bring pressure on their relatives should not
be tolerated. Anyone responsible for such acts should be brought to justice.

* Providing fair and adequate redress to relatives of victims of
"disappearances", extrajudicial executions and deaths incustody, including
financial compensation.

A5. The authorities should ensure that female defendants receive fair trials by:

Ensuring that all political prisoners are treated in accordance with
internationally recognized standards for fair trials.

* Ensuring that strict standards are maintained in the administration of
policing and dispensing of justice. In particular the use of torture or ill-
treatment to obtain confessions should be forbidden and any evidence
obtained this way should not be allowed to be used in court.

* Enforcing in practice the right of a defendant to be interrogated in the
presence of a defence lawyer of her choice, as required under Article 29 of the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Article 24 of the
Serbian Constitution. The Code of Criminal Procedure should be brought into
harmony with the Constitution and international human rights standards as
soon as possible.

A6. The authorities should as a matter of urgency provide information to
relatives and international organizations, in particular the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on the whereabouts and fate of all
women who have "disappeared" and ensure that those responsible for this
human rights violation are brought to justice and the victims and their relatives
compensated.

A7. The authorities should guarantee that members of non-governmental
organisations working peacefully for the promotion and protection of women's
human rights and women activists enjoy all rights set out in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international human
rightsstandards.

A8. The authorities should provide human rights training for all
law-enforcement personnel and other governmental agents:

* Devising and implementing effective training programs for law enforcement
officials and other governmental agents which include education about
national legislation and international standards regarding the lawful use of
force and firearms, and also with special attention being given to women's
human rights issues.

A9. The authorities should make available human rights education material
which promote women's rights as human rights (giving special emphasis to
education designed to make women aware of their rights and to make society
at large conscious of its duty to respect the human rights and fundamental
freedoms of women). The authorities should also facilitate the work of
international organizations (intergovernmental and non-governmental) in this
regard.

B. To ethnic Albanian armed opposition groups in Kosovo province:

B1. Leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and any other armed
opposition groups in Kosovo province should strengthen the chain of
command and ensure that all forces under their control comply with by basic
humanitarian law principles as set out in common article 3 of the Geneva
Conventions of 1949, and Protocol II to the Conventions, which prohibit
hostage-taking, and the torturing and killing of those taking no part in
hostilities.

B2. The KLA should ensure that they cooperate with the ICRC, in particular to
resolve the fate of people reportedly detained by its members.

C. To the international community

C1. The international community must live up to its responsibilities to protect
those forced to flee and ensure that those fleeing human rights abuses in
Kosovo are not forcibly returned to the region where they are at risk of serious
human rights violations.

C2. Particular attention must be given to the special protection needs of
women in flight according to the internationally agreed standards on the
protection concerns of refugee women.

Further recommendations to the international community can be found in A
Human Rights Crisis in Kosovo Province, Series A Document #1:
Background: A crisis waiting to happen, AI Index: EUR 70/32/98.


Footnote: 1 Described in A Human Rights Crisis in Kosovo Province, Series A Document #2: Violence
in Drenica, February-April 1998, AI Index: EUR 70/33/98.


Footnote: 2 Described in A Human Rights Crisis in Kosovo Province, Series A Document #4: Unfair
trails and abuses of due process, AI Index: EUR 70/35/98

Footnote: 3 The trial is described in A Human Rights Crisis in Kosovo Province, Series A Document #4:
Unfair trials and abuses of due process, AI Index: EUR 70/35/98.

Footnote: 4 Kosovo's silent houses of the dead, Sunday Times (London) by Marie Colvin, 15 March
1998.

Footnote: 5 Much of the information in this section is derived from the report Kosovo - Disappearances
in times of armed conflict, 15 January - 30 July 1998, published in July 1998 by the Humanitarian Law
Center (HCL), a Belgrade-based human rights organisation.


ABOUT THIS DOCUMENT SERIES

The international community is looking on as the security situation in Kosovo province of the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia deteriorates and even minimal respect for human rights is withdrawn. Serbian
police and military operations, although ostensibly directed at the armed opposition Kosovo Liberation
Army (KLA), have led to hundreds of civilian deaths, many apparently a result of deliberate or
indiscriminate attacks. Attacks on civilians have been part of the reason why tens of thousands of
people have fled their homes. Members of the KLA have also been responsible for human rights abuses.

As part of its response to the unfolding crisis, Amnesty International is documenting the appalling
human rights violations that have been and are being committed in Kosovo province.

The first reports, which together form 'Series A', were published in June and July 1998 and deal with
events to June 1998. These reports document a systematic and long-standing pattern of human rights
violations in the years and months leading to the present crisis, and which included torture and
ill-treatment by police, deaths in police custody, and unfair trials of political prisoners. These documents
are:

A#1: Background: A crisis waiting to happen (AI Index: EUR 70/32/98). A summary analysis of the
causes of the present crisis, and Amnesty International's recommendations to the international
community, the Yugoslav authorities and the KLA.

A#2: Violence in Drenica (AI Index: EUR 70/33/98). A detailed analysis of arbitrary killings and
extrajudicial executions during police and military operations in February-March 1998 in the Drenica
region (a precursor to events in June), and reports of KLA abuses.

A#3: Deaths in custody, torture and ill-treatment (AI Index: EUR 70/34/98). A survey of the
widespread use of torture and ill-treatment against detainees and on the streets against demonstrators,
including recent detailed victim testimony and photographic evidence from 1998.

A#4: Unfair trials and abuses of due process (AI Index: EUR 70/35/98). A survey of ongoing failures
in the administration of justice in political cases, including details of four political trials in 1997-98.

A#5: Ljubenic and Poklek: A pattern repeated (AI Index: EUR 70/46/98). Extrajudicial executions
and "disappearances" in May 1998 in scenarios which repeat those of earlier police abuses in Drenica.

The second series, 'Series B', of which this report, B#1 Human Rights violations against women in
Kosovo province (AI Index: EUR 70/54/98) is the first, deals with events that have taken place since
June and sets out to examine some of the human rights themes and wider issues emerging in the
course of the present crisis.

Amnesty International's reports are based largely on information gathered during missions by the
organization to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in March and June 1998 to investigate human rights
violations. In addition, information was supplied by local human rights monitors in Kosovo and Belgrade,
local lawyers, foreign and local journalists and other individuals. Amnesty International is grateful for the
assistance it has received from these sources.

Cover photograph: Women and children fleeing the armed conflict in Kosovo province.

©Amnesty International

INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT, 1 EASTON STREET, LONDON WC1X 8DJ, UNITED KINGDOM