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Ombudsperson`s press release regarding events of 14 January 2012

Prishtinë, 17 January 2012 – The Ombudsperson, Mr. Sami Kurteshi, expresses his deep concern regarding developments during the protest of movement “Self-determination” in Merdare and Dheu i Bardhë on 14 January 2012.
The Ombudsperson considers the Police intervention, selection of means and methods, as well as the use of violence during the protest in Podujevë and at Dheu i Bardhë border crossing point as not necessary, unjustified and disproportional.
Except at the place of event, the special Police Unit exercised the violence during the transport of arrested persons, even in the facilities of the Police station in Podujevë in the presence of the representatives of the Ombudsperson Institution and at a certain moment the members of special Police Unit threatened and disturbed the Ombudsperson`s representatives in performing their duty.
In generally, the arrests of protestors happened in a selective manner, with a particular focus on the organizers of the protest, particularly with a special focus on the deputies of the Kosovo Assembly who were attending the protest against whom was exercised violence accompanied with degrading and humiliating acts. Also, during the police intervention has been exercised violence against a media representative who was on duty.
In Podujevë occurred arbitrary arrests in various business premises, as well at the house yards, arresting persons at their working places, as well as arresting random pedestrians who were not a part of the protest. Arrests were accompanied by the uncontrolled violence and by insulting and humiliation on personal and gender basis.
Most of the arrested persons at the Police Stations in Podujevë and Gjilan were visited by the representatives of the Ombudsperson. It was noticed that it was very difficult for the arrested persons and observers to identify police officials. Also, it has been noticed that the members of special Police Unit were not wearing their identification numbers visible.
The Ombudsperson expresses his regrets for all wounded persons during the protest of 14 January 2012 and requests a detailed judicial investigation regarding behaviour of the Kosovo Police members and identification of all persons who exercised violence during the protest.
The Ombudsperson requires all parties to respect and implement the law in force, while it also requests the public authorities to guarantee the right to freedom of movement, to protect life and health of the people, as well as to protect their property by not exceeding the competencies set forth by the constitution and law.

1 The Ombudsperson, in accordance with the competencies and its legal mission, on 14 January 2012 assigned on duty 4 monitoring teams at both border crossing points between Serbia and Kosovo where the protests took place. The Monitoring teams started monitoring at 10.000 o`clock and ended their mission at 21.00 o`clock in the evening.
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