Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 22:59:01 -0500 (CDT)
From: (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: RIGHTS-YUGOSLAVIA: UN Accuses Milosevic Regime of Gross Abuses
Article: 66438
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

/** ips.english: 522.0 **/
** Topic: RIGHTS-YUGOSLAVIA: UN Accuses Milosevic Regime of Gross Abuses **
** Written 9:09 PM May 31, 1999 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

UN Accuses Milosevic Regime of Gross Abuses

InterPress Service, 31 May 1999

GENEVA, May 31 (IPS)—United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson blamed the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic Monday for the “grave humanitarian tragedy taking place” in Yugoslavia.

In her latest report, issued Monday, Robinson said her office had obtained “substantial evidence of gross human rights violations which have been committed in Kosovo, including summary executions, forcible displacement, rape, physical abuse, and the destruction of property and identity documents.”

The report dedicates one chapter to describing the effects of the conflict on the civilian population of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, such as more than 1,200 deaths as well as the impact on health and the environment.

But the bulk of the document focuses on demonstrating that Serb military forces and police, along with paramilitary units, have carried out a “well-planned and implemented programme of forcible expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.”

More than 750,000 Kosovar Albanians have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, while hundreds of thousands have been displaced within Kosovo, according to the report.

The phenomenon “appears to have affected virtually all areas of Kosovo as well as villages in southern Serbia, including places never targeted by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) air strikes or in which the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has never been present.”

That fact substantiates indications that the refugees are not fleeing NATO airstrikes, as Yugoslav authorities have repeatedly alleged, said Robinson in her report to the UN Commission on Human Rights.

The UN official called on Yugoslav authorities “to put an end to human rights violations and to respect the principles of international human rights and the four Geneva Conventions and Optional protocols to which the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is a party.”

She also urged the government of Yugoslavia to “immediately and unconditionally” pull out of Kosovo all army, police and paramilitary forces which are “responsible for gross violations of human rights in the region.”

In the only recommendation addressed to NATO, Robinson also demanded that international humanitarian law, including the “principle of proportionality” in the use of force, be respected in the military actions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

On her last visit to Yugoslavia, Robinson was able to observe damages caused by NATO cluster bombs and the danger of unexploded ordnance in the city of Nis, where the mayor told her that the day before, 15 civilians had been killed when a bomb hit a hospital.

The air strikes have also caused severe damage to farmland, crops, livestock and wildlife, while the destruction of petrochemical installations and the bombardment of warehouses storing chemical products has posed serious health risks, she added.

The UN official described last week's indictment of Milosevic and four other Serbian leaders by the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague as “a major step in the process of tackling impunity.”

The report calls on the international community to step up its efforts to improve the living conditions of refugees and the displaced in Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro, and emphasises that the refugee burden should be shared by a greater number of countries.

The United Nations reported last week that 64,200 Kosovar Albanians had taken refuge in Montenegro, 246,700 in Macedonia, 439,500 in Albania and 21,500 in Bosnia-Hercegovina. No data was available on the number of refugees in the Serb Republic.

From Apr 5—two weeks after the start of the war—to May 24, only 62,013 refugees had been evacuated and taken to NATO countries or other western nations, the UN added.