UN found to have breached human rights of peaceful protesters

Wednesday 4 March 2015

After years of fighting for justice, the families of two peaceful protestors killed by UN Interim Administration (UNMIK) police in Kosovo during a protest in 2007 will soon receive a public apology and compensation for their sons’ deaths.

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In a rare, precedent-setting judgement, this long-running case established breaches of human rights despite the immunity of the United Nations (UN). The Human Rights Advisory Panel (formed to examine complaints of alleged human rights violations attributable to or committed by UNMIK) found that there had been breaches of the right to life, a failure to carry out an effective investigation and a violation of the right to peaceful assembly.

Furthermore, it obliges the UN to pay damages for pain and suffering even though the UN does not ordinarily compensate this type of loss. The Panel has ordered the UN to publically acknowledge responsibility for the deaths and to make a public apology to the complainants. It also recommended that UNMIK takes steps to guarantee cooperation with any official body granted authority to reopen an investigation into the case, and to take steps at the UN to ensure that these violations are not repeated.

Importantly, this case could pave the way for similar claims against the UN.

More information can be found in the statement of the families and in the press release of The Human Rights Advisory Panel.

Paul Troop of Garden Court Chambers led Jude Bunting of Doughty Street Chambers. They were assisted by Jesse Nicholls, Greg O’Ceallaigh and Richard Reynolds of Garden Court. All counsel worked pro bono on the case. They were instructed by Mr Halim Sylemani, an advocate from Kosovo.

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