Where We Work | Kosovo

Gross violations of internationally recognized human rights have been perpetrated routinely against Kosovar Albanians by Serb authorities since the province’s autonomy was revoked in 1989. The outbreak of armed conflict between Kosovar insurgents and Serb forces in 1998 led to the largest population displacement in Europe since the Second World War, and brought to light serious human rights violations against Kosovar refugees by Serb forces both in Kosovo and in neighboring Macedonia.

In a population-based study with partners from Columbia University, PHR revealed that Kosovars were subjected to killings, beatings, torture, and sexual assault, among many other human rights violations. Additionally, Kosovars crossing the border from Albania into Macedonian were at risk of triggering landmines placed along the main travel routes. The full findings can be found in our 1999 report “War Crimes in Kosovo: A Population-Based Assessment of Human Rights Violations Against Kosovar Albanians.”

In 2009, PHR conducted an investigation into the long-term impact of the Kosovo conflict on the country’s medical professionals, who were subjected to arrest, detention, torture, and prosecution by Serbian forces simply for providing health care to wounded combatants, actions protected under international law and mandated by the tenets of medical ethics. “Perilous Medicine: The Legacy of Oppression and Conflict on Health in Kosovo,” found that Kosovo’s failure to address the medical community’s trauma continued to impede its citizens’ right to the highest attainable standard of health, even a decade after the end of the war.

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