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A decade after the armed conflict of 1998-1999, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia. The political status of Kosovo is disputed by certain States and, despite its formal recognition by a majority of United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) Member States, it cannot become a party to international conventions. Kosovo is still dealing with the aftermath of the conflict, during which mass violations of human rights were perpetrated. Ongoing political disputes with Serbia further inflame the ethnic tensions between Kosovo Serbs and the majority Kosovar Albanians. In November 2020, the President, Hashim Thaci, resigned to face charges of war crimes for his role as a guerrilla leader during the conflict. Issues remain for victims of grave violations of human rights, as complicated bureaucratic procedures make accessing reparations and redress, in practice, extremely difficult.
Ethnic minorities such as Roma, Ashkali and Bosnian-Egyptian communities face persistent marginalisation and discrimination resulting in poor living conditions, displacement, and barriers to education, employment and social support. The judicial, legislative and criminal justice systems are at an early stage of development and continue to face issues of instability, corruption and inefficiency. There are allegations of ill-treatment by police during arrests and reportedly weak protection of fundamental legal safeguards.
Detention conditions vary widely across the region, with some facilities falling below international standards. Domestic violence is a persistent issue that is made worse by leniency in the sentencing of perpetrators and weak protections for victims. Kosovo’s development is primarily assisted by the EU Rule of Law mission, with NATO and the UN also providing support.