People With Disabilities in Independent Republic of Kosovo

Current structure of government in Kosovo

On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared itself as a sovereign and independent state and new constitution of Kosovo was introduced on June 15 2008. Despite the fact of the above, both Russia and Serbia still have not recognized independence of Kosovo and raising their objections strenuously. Earlier, under the provisions of U.N Security Council Resolution 1244, the ultimate political authority in Kosovo was retained by the U.N Interim Administration Mission. (UNMIK). For offering a secure atmosphere, a NATO-led peace-keeping force namely KFOR, was also employed. Due to opposition by Serbia and Russia, the UNSC Resolution 1244 is still in force and both UNMIK and EU-led peace keeping forces are being deployed even today while KFOR is fulfilling its security commitments in Kosovo.

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Serbia, in the meanwhile, on May 11 engineered and held both municipal and national elections in Serb-municipalities all through Kosovo. This municipal election was called as an illegal act by U.N officials and also warned about the unwarranted extension of Serbian –administered corresponding institutions in Kosovo.

The northern part of Kosovo is having a high concentration of ethnic Serbs and these regions witnessed greater post-independence tensions. It is not clear how the Kosovo administration is going to assert its power in Serb dominated northern regions of Kosovo.

In June 2008, a new coalition government was installed in Kosovo, which arrested Radovan Karadzic, and he was later transferred to ICTY (“the International Criminal for the former Yugoslavia”). Even now, there are a large number of attacks on the business establishments and residences of ethnic Albanian immediately after Kosovo’s declaration for independence. Still, the Roma minority sect stays susceptible to violence.

Civil and Political Rights in Kosovo

According to Foreign and Commonwealth Office of UK, the general system of protection of human rights turns to be weak in Kosovo. Kosovo’s people witness a lack of transparency and legal certainty, application of law on an arbitrary basis, the existence of massive scale corruption and organized crime, infringements to the rights to property and harassment and discrimination based on gender, disability and ethnicity. (Great Britain Foreign and Commonwealth office, 2008, p.70).

Kosovo’s judicial setup prolongs to suffer from significant deficiencies hampering proper interpretation and implementation of relevant laws and legislations. There is an accumulation of casework due to slow legal proceedings and enforcement of judicial verdicts remains to be arbitrary. (Great Britain Foreign and Commonwealth office, 2008, p.70).

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In Kosovo, women’s education and rights are often denied and since Kosovo is having customary patriarchal society, where women are poorly educated and rated as second class citizens. (Ante, 2010, p296).

The Council for the Defense and Human Rights and Freedoms (CDHRF) has reported that there were human rights violations on daily basis by Serbian officials like torture, arbitrary detention, beatings and murder. (Ante, 2010, p296).

A research study on the situation of Kosovo women conducted in 2005 revealed that many women had a paucity of knowledge on their civil and political rights, mainly due to low education levels. Only about 15% had a formal education and about 75% were unemployed. Thus, gender equality mechanism prevails at the political level. Many women remain not aware of their privilege of how to avail the safeguard offered by the new laws. (Ante, 2010, p.342).

In the report submitted on May 24 2010 by Civil Rights Defenders of Kosovo, it was alleged that there is a limited freedom of expression in Kosovo as of date. There are many issues with public procurement and wide scale corruption is prevalent. As a measure to secure social stability and to reduce the unemployment, the government is attempting to consolidate the whole gamut of business life which has resulted in restrictions on market competition. The restriction on freedom of expression also wields considerable influence on freedom of media, which is an injury for the growth of democracy and esteem for human rights in Kosovo. This also corroborates that media requires support from human rights institutions in their relentless war to turn to be truly independent and free. (Civil Rights Defenders org 2010).

Treatment of people with disabilities in Kosovo

In Kosovo, there is an acute lack of reliable data and statistics on the number, nature and existence of disability and there exists no unified terminology on disability.

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UNMIK laws bar discrimination against an individual with disabilities in education, employment, access to health care services and in the offering of other state services. According to Kosovo disability rights NGO, the laws pertaining to individuals with disabilities were not implemented properly. Due to this, children with disabilities are frequently neglected from educational activities and are not professionally assessed and lacked enough social and health services. According to Kosovo government, there are about 15000 children with disabilities in Kosovo. Further, there is no legal safeguard for children with disabilities. In Kosovo, there exists no law detailing the status of individuals with disabilities nor is there any provision for their employment or training. In Kosovo, there exist no guardianship laws with proper due process safeguards and the regulations do not acknowledge the lodging of persons with mental disabilities in institutions as a legal issue distinct from the issue of involuntary treatment.

As per the NGO Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI), individuals with mental disabilities continued to be lodged in isolated conditions with no legal backup, since there is no rule or law to regulate the process of committing such individuals to social care or psychiatric care facilities. As per WHO, there were about 14000 prisoners with mental disabilities in Kosovo. Further, MDRI accounted about fifty thousand individuals with the mental disabilities inhabitant outside institutions and these individuals live with stigmatized and isolated lives. (U.S Congress, p.1639).

In Kosovo, there is no exclusive law to decide about the status of the individuals with a disability and their organisations which safeguard their privileges. Due to non-existence of law for financial safeguard of the families of children with impairments, these children with impairments and their families are singled out against individuals with impairments who are older than eighteen years who are bestowed with institutional safeguard like impairment pensions.

According to Poverty Assessment by World Bank, over fifty percent of Kosovo’s population is poor and about twelve percent are living in extreme poverty conditions. The present unemployment rate is estimated at sixty percent as a result of long run implication of both political and economic crisis in Kosovo.

Kosovo Disability National Council (KDNC) was established by Kosovo Prime Minister during April 2006, and this council will act as an advisory and consultative structure on disability issues to Kosovo Assembly and the government.

According to National Disability Report of Kosovo of 2006, as of March 2000, there were four hundred forty five children with learning difficult ties or visual impairment who were placed in special schools. It is also projected that about eighty percent of the children were with disabilities who were not included in the schooling system. However, in 2002, new law was introduced, which made special education for children with disabilities. Thus, in 2003, attached classes to regular class rooms were opened to educate children with a disability. According to Kosovo law no 2004/37; every individual who suffers from discrimination in education can file a complaint. MEST Annual Report of 2006 states that there were about 1030 children with disabilities in both secondary and primary schools and there are seven special schools situated in Kosovo with about 510 students.

According to survey made by UNICEF in 2006, about 10% of children with impairments were included in the school education stream.

Further Kosovo is not having adequate statistics on children with impairments. Low level of awareness of parents of disability children regarding significance of education, intricate social circumstances of families of children with impairments and lack of proper health services remain as a grave impediment to accomplishing an inclusive education.

Public health surveillance in Kosovo

Kosovo’s health system is relentlessly under-funded. There is scarcity of special equipments in hospitals and there is large scale paucity of essential medicines. Medical professionals in Kosovo lack training in modern practices and training.

During the year 2009 and the latter half of the year 2010 Kosovo is witnessing a spate of Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) and more than five deaths have occurred. NIPH (National Institute of Public Health) has stated that there have been eighty-four cases of CCHF out of which eighteen were confirmed cases. Further, NIPH is ventilating its disquiet over rigorousness of the disease during 2010 as there have been higher death rates during 2010 as compared to last year. (UK Gov Travel Advise 2010).

Coordination of non-governmental organizations in Kosovo

Some NGO groups are research oriented and fulfilled their objectives through paid employees. Some NGO groups are local grant sanctioning unit, which carried its activities through the use of citizen volunteers and administered through a board and an executive director. Other NGO groups in Kosovo backed on volunteers to carry out tasks engage in programs and training, to educate others and fulfill the objectives of the institution.

Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms – (CDHRF) The main objective of this NGO is to safeguard and promotion of human rights, to punish human rights infringement and training and educate the volunteers.

Institute for Social and Policy Studies- This NGOs main objective is to help Kosovo government about public awareness and decision making. It also researches many social and political issues and convenes open sessions to increase awareness of the issues within the government and society.

Future System Net Work –This NGOs main goal is to construct a wider community through resolving various community issues within Gracanica, in Kosovo. Its other objectives are to impart technical training, build communication between Albanians and Serbians and promotion of private business.

Kosovo Foundation for an Open Society- The main goals of this NGO is to serve as a local grant foundation under the guidance of Soros Foundation. This NGO is also receiving funds from UNDP and the British Department for Internal Development (DFDI).

According to Kosovo disability rights NGO, the laws pertaining to individuals with disabilities were not implemented properly.

The Kosovo Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims. (KRCT). This NGO is operating from Kosovo which will visit and supervise detention centers and prisons. During 2009, this NGO reported that there were excessive usage of force at Dubrava prison and physical mistreatment at Lipjan Detention center. KRCT also revealed that there was multiple incidence of pretrial detainees held more than year. KRCT revelations have forced the Kosovo government to initiate more correctional actions on the subject.

NGOs in Kosovo prolonged to report that corruption is a serious menace due to lack of efficient judicial oversight and common Achilles’ heel in the rule of law which resulted in the massive scale of corruption in the government circle.

Due to 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo, many NGOs operating from Kosovo has covered a major range of issues prevailed in the nation. Kosovo government used to occasionally converse with NGOs and respond to their suggestions and findings and initiated actions in retort to their recommendations or reports.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Kosovo also extends financial support to NGOs that is administering shelters to victims of domestic violence which also gave accommodation to some trafficking refugees.

Thus, NGOs in Kosovo are helping Kosovo government to bring back peace and prosperity and to make the Kosovo as a country with due regard to human rights and to restore civil and political rights to Kosovors.

References

Ante, Arta. State Building and Development: Two Sides of the Same Coin? (2010).

Civil Rights Defenders. Freedom of Expression is Strongly Restricted in Kosovo, Web.

Great Britain Foreign and Commonwealth office. Human Rights: Annual Report 2007. (2008).

U.K Government Travel Advice. Travel Advice to Kosovo Visitors, Web.

U.S Congress Committee on International Relations.. Country Reports On Human Rights Practices, Volumes 8-16. (2009).

U.S. Department of State. 2009: Human Rights Report: Kosovo, Web.

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