UN criticizes Belgrade over detainees

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 11, 2000 -- (Reuters) Security Council members said on Thursday that Yugoslavia had disregarded its international obligations in connection with the detention of two British, two Canadian and four Dutch citizens, and called on Belgrade to fulfil the requirements of international law.

A statement read to reporters by council president Hasmy Agam of Malaysia referred to two British policemen serving with the United Nations in Kosovo, Adrian Prangnell and John Yore, and Canadians Shaun Going and his nephew Liam Hall.

All four were arrested on the border between Yugoslavia's small, coastal republic of Montenegro and Kosovo on the night of Aug. 1-2, and detained on suspicion of terrorism.

Four Dutch nationals have also been arrested, though details of that incident were not immediately known.

"Members of the Security Council expressed their concern over the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's disregard of its international obligations with regard to the arrest and detention of the two British, two Canadian and four Dutch citizens," Hasmy said.

In a press statement after closed-door council consultations on a number of issues, he said members "urged the FRY authorities to fulfil all of the requirements of the relevant provisions of international law without further delay."

This was a reference to an international convention and bilateral agreements dealing with access by consular officials, as well as by UN representatives in the case of those serving with the world body.

The under-secretary-general in charge of UN peacekeeping, Bernard Miyet of France, also raised the issue of the detained Britons serving with the United Nations in Kosovo, as well as the plight of the other detainees, at a meeting with Yugoslavia's UN charge d'affaires, Vladislav Jovanovic.

Miyet demanded, on behalf of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, access by UN and consular personnel. He also insisted that all the detainees be allowed access to a lawyer of their choice, a UN spokesman said.

British UN envoy Sir Jeremy Greenstock told reporters the Yugoslav authorities had been asked to provide formal notification of what had occurred and of the charges against the two Britons; to allow regular consular access; permit contact with their families; and either formally charge them or release them.

"The norms of international behavior in these matters have not been fulfilled by the Yugoslav authorities," Greenstock said. There had been one visit, earlier in the day, by a British consular officer, but no promise of regular access.

"They have not been abused but they have not been allowed the normal consular facilities," he said.

Canadian deputy UN representative Michel Duval said he had also raised the case of the two Canadians, along with that of the two Britons, during the council consultations.

"We were alarmed by the way they were arrested and detained and sometimes paraded on TV and charged with crimes even before the accusations were laid in court," he said.

Original article