Irregular expropriations lead to property rights violations in Kosovo, says OSCE Mission

Published on December 18, 2006,

Category: Organized Crime in Kosovo

PRISTINA, 13 December 2006 - Despite improvements, public authorities in Kosovo continue to either inappropriately apply or avoid expropriation procedures, which leads to human rights violations, concluded a report issued by the OSCE Mission today.

Expropriation is a necessary tool for any democratic government in order to gain access to and use of property in the common interest and develop public infrastructure. As a follow-up to the 2003 Property Rights in Kosovo report, the OSCE has assessed different expropriations that have taken place.

The new report gives examples of the shortcomings in existing procedures and highlights the failures of many actors to comply with the law. It also provides recommendations on how to address challenges.

"Implementation of property laws, with full respect for human rights, will help Kosovo's institutions ensure that a reliable and functioning property rights system is in place," said Ambassador Werner Wnendt, the Head of the OSCE Mission.

"This is essential for establishing the rule of law and future economic development."

The key areas of concern pointed to in the report include the failure by authorities to use expropriation procedure properly, the lack of appropriate identification of and notification to affected property right holder - particularly displaced persons - and not providing adequate compensation.

The report offers recommendations that suggest a fair balance needs to be found between the common interest of society and protecting individual rights. It urges the responsible authorities in the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) - the Ministry of Local Government Administration and all municipal administrations - to take steps to ensure that legal procedures are in place and adequately applied, and that property rights are protected when expropriation takes place.

Summarizing the improvements which need to be made, Henry McGowen, Director of the Mission's Human Rights and Rule of Law Department, said: "While there are difficulties in re-establishing normal land governance in Kosovo, we urge all relevant stakeholders to take the basic but necessary steps to protect individual rights."

As part of its institution-building mandate, the OSCE Mission is helping to build democratic institutions and protect human rights. A functioning property rights system is crucial to this goal. The Mission is committed to monitor and support the PISG - central and municipal - to ensure this objective becomes a reality.

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