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20.10.2006

Reacting to inaccurate media reports, Deputy Ombudsperson offers full support to the work of the Ombudsperson Institution

Prishtinë/Priština—Mr. Ljubinko Todorović, Deputy Ombudsperson of the Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo (OIK), reacted today to inaccurate media reports from a conference he attended in Kragujevac last weekend, September 2nd and 3


Prishtinë/Priština—Mr. Ljubinko Todorović, Deputy Ombudsperson of the Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo (OIK), reacted today to inaccurate media reports from a conference he attended in Kragujevac last weekend, September 2nd and 3rd.

The conference was organised for human rights students by the Belgrade-based “Forum for Ethnic Relations”, and gathered a number of guest speakers including the Deputy Human Rights Ombudsperson of Slovenia and the former international Ombudsperson in Kosovo, Mr. Marek Antoni Nowicki. It should be noted that both Mr. Nowicki and Mr. Todorović attended the conference in a private capacity and not as representatives of the OIK.

Serbian media reports of the conference quoted Deputy Ombudsperson Todorović as saying that Mr. Nowicki’s departure had led to the OIK being “deadened” (umrtvljena) as an institution.

“This was a totally inaccurate account of my comments,” Mr. Todorović said today. “I had been referring to the promulgation of UNMIK Regulation No. 2006/06 on the Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo, remarking that OIK’s powers were “reduced” (umanjena) as a result of the Regulation removing the Institution’s jurisdiction over UNMIK. I used the word “reduced”—not “deadened”—to refer to the effect of UNMIK’s Regulation, not the departure of Mr. Nowicki.”

Mr. Todorović added that it was ironic that some Serbian media have suggested that the OIK’s activities and credibility have somehow declined—particularly amongst the Serbian community—since the departure of an international Ombudsperson and instatement of an Albanian Acting Ombudsperson. (The SRSG appointed Deputy Ombudsperson, Mr. Hilmi Jashari, Acting Ombudsperson pending completion of the Kosovo Assembly’s procedure of appointing Kosovo’s first local Ombudsperson.)

“Of the 428 complaints heard by the Institution since Mr. Jashari became Acting Ombudsperson, 74 were lodged by Serbs and 28 by other non-Albanians,” Mr. Todorović pointed out. “In fact, many complaints were lodged this year at the regular Open Days in our Gračanica field office, where Mr. Jashari met with Serb complainants personally.”

Serbian lawyers lead OIK field offices in Gračanica/Graçanicë and Gjilan/Gnjilane, as well as sub-offices in northern Mitrovica/Mitrovicë and Vidanje/Vidaje. Serbs account for almost 20%—and other minorities 5%—of the OIK’s total staff number.

“What is unique about our Institution is that our staff is actually representative of the communities we serve,” Deputy Ombudsperson Todorović said, concluding: “And that is why I have faith in the Institution’s role as the leading defender of human rights for all of Kosovo’s communities.”
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