MINELRES: ERRC Criminal Complaint in Kosovo Poisoning Case

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Sep 9 09:53:42 2005

Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org> 

European Roma Rights Centre Presses for Criminal Charges Related to
Extreme Harms in Northern Kosovo

Budapest, Pristina, 6 September 2005. The European Roma Rights Centre
filed a request on 2 September 2005 for criminal investigation into the
continued danger to human life being caused by the placement and
retention of approximately 550 Roma people in three camps contaminated
by lead poisoning in Northern Mitrovica, Kosovo.

In 1999, following the cessation of military action by NATO against
Yugoslavia, Roma and others regarded as "Gypsies" in Kosovo were
ethnically cleansed by ethnic Albanians. In Mitrovica, while KFOR units
looked on, mobs of ethnic Albanians took the Romani quarter to pieces,
chased out local inhabitants, and plundered wholesale their possessions.
Those Roma who did not escape Kosovo to other countries or to rump
Serbia and Montenegro were placed in camps for internally displaced
persons (IDP), Chesmin Lug, Kablare and Zitkovac. At the time, this
arrangement was purportedly supposed to last for 45 days. It was known
at the time that these camps were in toxic areas, situated near the
tailings of the Trepca mine complex. More than 6 years later, the Roma
concerned are still living at the contaminated sites.

In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) undertook a report on the
issue, noting extremely high levels of lead in the bloodstreams of a
number of camp residents. The WHO recommended to UN Mission in Kosovo
(UNMIK) officials, that the Roma be immediately evacuated. No action was
taken. In July 2004, WHO again tested a number of persons and
subsequently stated that there was now a medical emergency and
recommended immediate evacuation. In spite of a number of expressions of
goodwill by UNMIK officials, the Roma are still there today.

At least one death - that of Dzenita Mehmeti, a 2-year-old child -- can
be directly attributed to the lead contamination. The deaths of several
other persons living in the camps may also have been caused by toxicity
arising from heavy metals in the camps. The health consequences of lead
poisoning are irreversible, and the harms suffered by the remaining
several hundred camp inhabitants mount daily. The original placement and
retention of the Roma in this extremely dangerous environment implicate
Kosovos criminal law.

The complaint filed by the ERRC under Article 291(5) of the Provisional
Criminal Code of Kosovo asks for the general prosecutor to identify any
culpable persons and to bring criminal charges against them. If the
perpetrators are international personnel who have immunity, then
immunity must be lifted in order to bring justice to those who have
suffered from these criminal acts.

Further information is available at:
A copy of the complaint is posted at:
For questions contact, ERRC Legal Director Dianne Post at: 
dianne.post@errc.org, (36 1) 41 32 226.

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax: +36 1 4132201


The European Roma Rights Centre is dependent upon the generosity of
individual donors for its continued existence. If you believe the ERRC
performs a service valuable to the public, please join in enabling its
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European Roma Rights Centre
Budapest Bank Rt.
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1

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