Not Welcome Anywhere

Stop the Forced Return of Roma to Kosovo


Date of publication:  28 Sep 2010 Publisher:  Amnesty International Publication type:  Report / Study / Data

Amnesty International is concerned about the forcible return of members of minority communities to Kosovo from Western Europe. The organization believes that Roma, Ashkali, Egyptians and Serbs, (and Albanians returned to a minority situation) may be at risk of persecution or serious harm. In the light of this, Amnesty International considers that their forcible return may violate the principle of non-refoulement. These forcible returns are taking place under bilateral readmission agreements concluded between the Kosovo authorities and European Union (EU) member states, and Switzerland. Almost 10,000 Roma are at risk of forcible return to Kosovo from Germany alone. Amnesty International does not consider that conditions are yet present in Kosovo for the safe and sustainable return of minorities, despite recent measures taken by the government of Kosovo aimed at improving conditions for the reception and reintegration of returnees. The changes on the ground in Kosovo which have followed the unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 are – with respect to minority communities – neither fundamental nor durable. Further, the situation at present and for the longer-term is both unstable and uncertain. Amnesty International considers that there is a continued need for the international protection of, among others, Roma, Ashkali, Egyptians, Serbs, and Albanians (if returned to a minority situation). Given that few countries at this time have publicly stated that they intend to return Serbs to Kosovo, this report focuses in particular on the forcible return of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, who Amnesty International is particularly concerned may face a real risk of persecution or serious harm upon return. Further, the organization is concerned that some Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians face a real risk of de jure or de facto statelessness, further compounding that risk. Amnesty International calls on states to respect the principle of non-refoulement; urges a moratorium on such forcible returns; and calls for the continued international protection of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, Serbs and Albanians (where they would be returned to a minority situation) and of other vulnerable individuals identified in this report. In addition Amnesty International recommends that members of these minority groups and other vulnerable individuals who may be entitled to international protection in the EU be given access to a prompt, fair and effective procedure, with full procedural safeguards, to determine their eligibility or otherwise for international protection, including refugee status. The organization is concerned that without an individualised determination of their status, many persons from these groups may be at risk of refoulement. Further, at the present time Amnesty International considers that the Kosovo authorities do not have the financial resources, the capacity or the political will to ensure the sustainable return and reintegration of minority communities. Irrespective of the continued need for their international protection, the organization considers that the sheer number of Roma and others who may be forcibly returned from EU member states and Switzerland far outweighs the capacity of the Kosovo authorities to ensure conditions for their sustainable return and reintegration. Unless and until the Kosovo authorities are capable of ensuring the protection, respect and fulfilment of the fundamental human rights of minority communities without discrimination, Amnesty International considers that conditions for their sustainable return and reintegration will remain unfulfilled.

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