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Kosovo 2023

The trial of former president Hashim Thaçi on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes began in the Hague. A cooperation agreement was reached with Serbia to locate people missing since the conflict ending in 1999. State support for survivors of domestic violence was insufficient, forcing many back to abuse. Journalists and media faced increased hostility. A court suspended licences for hydropower plants in Deçan.


In March, Kosovo and Serbia reached an EU-brokered agreement to normalize diplomatic relations, in which Serbia committed not to object to Kosovo’s membership of international organizations. In September, an incident in Banjska, a village in Zvečan municipality, which resulted in the murder of a Kosovo police officer and three armed Serbs who had barricaded themselves inside an Orthodox monastery, further strained relations.

Right to truth, justice and reparations 

In April, at the Specialist Chambers in the Hague, the trial commenced of former president Hashim Thaçi and three other former commanders of Kosovo’s Liberation Army accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In December, the Appeals Panel decreased the sentence for war crimes against former commander Salih Mustafa from 26 to 22 years’ imprisonment. 

The Specialist Chambers asked Kosovo to establish a compensation fund for victims of war crimes.

Also in April, the Court of Appeals in Kosovo increased the sentence against former Kosovo Serb police officer Zoran Vukotić from 10 to 13 years’ imprisonment for war crimes against the civilian population, including rape and expulsion of ethnic Albanians from their homes. 

Enforced disappearances

In May, Kosovo and Serbia reached an agreement to cooperate in locating over 1,600 people who went missing between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2000. Prompt implementation of the agreement seemed unlikely due to strained relations.

Violence against women and girls

In March, the Constitutional Court held the state responsible for violating the right to life of Sebahate Morina, who was murdered by her husband in March 2021, establishing that the police and prosecution had failed to protect her.  

A report found that the state response to domestic violence neglected the needs of survivors for long-term support to live independently, forcing many back to abusive environments.1

Freedom of expression


Journalists faced a rising level of attacks, threats and pressure. In June, following a boycott of local elections in the north of Kosovo by the ethnic Serb majority, journalists were attacked by violent protesters while reporting on tensions arising as newly elected ethnic Albanian mayors tried to enter their offices.

International press freedom organizations called on authorities to establish “a protocol to ensure journalists’ safety during violent protests and riots”.

In June, the government suspended the business certificate of media company Klan Kosova sparking criticism by national and international press freedom organizations. A court suspended the decision with an interim measure in August, pending a final decision.


Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian people

Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian people faced high rates of unemployment and lack of equal access to education and health services. Dozens of Roma people protested in Gračanica in August, following reports that a Roma man had been beaten and injured by the police. The outcome of an investigation by the Police Inspectorate of Kosovo was pending at the end of the year.


In August, a court found that the police discriminated against Luljeta Aliu on the basis of her gender when they failed to register her report on a violation of a domestic violence protection order in 2017. The court remanded the case to the police directorate for review.

LGBTI people

LGBTI people continued to face discrimination and low levels of social acceptance. Despite commitments voiced by authorities, no specialized shelters were established for LGBTI survivors of domestic violence.

Right to a healthy environment

In May, a court ruled in favour of citizens and local NGOs, Center for Strategic Litigation and Pishtarët, to annul licences for the operation of hydropower plants in Deçan on the grounds that they were issued in violation of legal requirements.

Freedom of peaceful assembly

In November, the police banned a pro-Palestinian protest ahead of a Kosovo-Israel football match citing security concerns. Two people were arrested ahead of the match for “opposing the established rules”, and one of them was placed on detention for 48 hours, reportedly for “placing a Palestinian flag with nationalist graffiti in a bar”.

  1. Kosovo: From Paper to Practice: Kosovo must keep its obligations to survivors of domestic violence, 31 August