CEOL - Major Human Rights conference to open in Kosovo

THE HAGUE, Dec 10, 1999 -- (AFP) A major conference on human rights abuses in Kosovo opens Friday in the provincial capital Pristina to mark International Human Rights Day and examine ways of tackling the province's post-war difficulties.

The two-day conference is due to be opened by the head of the United Nations interim administration in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, and will feature human rights experts from across the world.

The conference comes just four days after the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) released a landmark report here cataloguing rights abuses by Belgrade against Kosovo's ethnic Albanians until June this year.

The report also detailed crimes against other minorities, mainly Serbs, Roma and Slavic groups, since the international community took over the Serbian province in June after NATO ousted Belgrade's forces in a three-month bombing campaign.

It called for more investigations into "policing" structures by alleged former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which fought Serbia for independence, as well as attacks reportedly carried out by ex-guerrillas.

The US State Department also released a report Thursday which said 10,000 Kosovo Albanians were killed by Serbian forces in the conflict.

A further 2,000 are still thought to be held in Serbian prisons, including rights activist Flora Brovina who was jailed Thursday for 12 years on charges of links to terrorist groups, Belgrade's term for the KLA.

Workshops at the conference will discuss the widespread issues of detainees and missing persons, housing and property disputes, democratic policing, the protection of minorities, post-war justice and the prevention of torture.

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