Debate of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the Adoption of the Resolution based on Dick Marty's Report on Illegal Organ Trafficking in Kosovo.

AS (2011) CR 3
Provisional edition


(First part)


Third sitting

Tuesday 25 January 2011 at 10 a.m.

2. Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo

THE PRESIDENT - The next item of business this morning is the debate on the report on inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo, presented by Mr Dick Marty on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. The debate will be interrupted at 12 noon to hear from Mr Gül, the President of Turkey, and it will resume in the afternoon between 3 p.m. and about 4 p.m.

I call Mr Marty, the rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.

Mr MARTY (Switzerland) said that he had been a member of the Parliamentary Assembly for 13 years and was now a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. He wanted to follow the example of his outstanding colleagues, such as the President, to help to make the Council of Europe uniquely valuable. He particularly wanted to enshrine the values of the European Convention on Human Rights in the culture of Europe.

He urged a fight for the truth and against double standards; a strong fight in defence of the weakest. Human rights should never be sacrificed and should never be negotiable: that principle had to be reaffirmed, and without any room for ambiguity.

Turning to the report, there could be no relationship between politics and organised crime. His report looked at the alleged trafficking in human organs by the Kosovo Liberation Army. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had not fully co-operated, and progress was further impeded by the limited jurisdiction of that court until the mid-1990s.

He referred to the evidence of Ms del Ponte. Research into what had happened in Kosovo had not been fully pursued. Evidence had been taken from the notorious "Yellow House" and had been destroyed, without the prosecutor being told. It was vitally important that evidence should not have been destroyed because even the apparently trivial might later prove to be very significant. He was not surprised that the conduct of the court had given rise to a motion asking the Assembly to look at this issue.

He clarified what the report was not about. It was not about relations between Kosovo and Serbian. It was not about the Miloševi regime. It was not pleading in favour of Serbia. Members had to read the report carefully - it had only the meaning of the words on the page. He criticised the media for wrongly trying to read deeper. Truth, intellect and honesty were needed in reading the report and it was important not to be hypocritical.

The names of victims and witnesses had already been cited by the police and in the press. Many people of Serbian and Albanian origin had completely disappeared, with all trace of them lost. His report was not the only research into this subject: the BBC had also looked at it, as had EULEX, the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo.

He referred to the treatment of people in a prison camp in North Albania by the Kosovo Liberation Army. There had long been accusations about what had taken place, but no official investigation had been conducted. He wondered why evidence had not previously been sought and demanded; why it was only being done today and why this report had created outcry; why people had so long acted indifferently to the statements of the witnesses; and why the appropriate national authorities had not sooner been urged to investigate.

The report had identified credible witnesses, which now meant that it was possible accurately to describe certain details of conduct. This had caused fright and alarm in certain circles. He regretted that the witnesses had, so far, not been able to put their trust in international justice.

He recommended that members read the forthcoming report on the protection of witnesses, a vital subject. The report would call for an inquiry and showed great respect for the men and women who were witnesses at risk.

In short, there could be no justice without truth and that was what the Assembly needed to proclaim that day.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you very much, Mr Marty. You have three minutes left in which to respond to the debate later.

I remind members that yesterday the Assembly agreed that speaking time in all debates today be limited to three minutes.

In the debate, I call first Mr de Vries, who will speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr DE VRIES (Netherlands) - The report of our distinguished colleague Dick Marty takes us back to one of the darkest periods in European history: the wars and all the suffering that wars inevitably produce in Kosovo. Wars and armed conflicts never end, especially for those who have lost their loved ones, friends and neighbours. Some people have experienced suffering beyond human comprehension, and others have committed crimes and suffered from crimes.

The Kosovo war, as Dick Marty points out, is no different from other wars in the sense that it leaves those who suffered from it with too many unanswered questions - questions about numerous violations of human rights, about the perpetrators and about those who, as is so often the case, took advantage of human vulnerability and suffering.

The Marty report does not pass a verdict, and it is not up to the Parliamentary Assembly to pass one. The report is an urgent, well-documented and dramatic appeal to the civilised world to investigate crimes that may have been committed during the war and its aftermath. This is how most members of our group read and interpret the dramatic message of the report: not as a verdict but as an inescapable reminder of our duty and obligation to seek and find the truth by the power of justice.

It goes without saying that the Marty report does not and cannot describe all the rapporteur's findings. Many of those findings and most of the evidence provided by witnesses are too sensitive to be made public since they might jeopardise the safety of witnesses. The rapporteur and this Assembly, even if we have an understandable desire to know more, can never bear responsibility for endangering people's lives.

We trust when a serious international judicial inquiry has been initiated that the rapporteur will provide all information to the investigators. So this is what our group wants to achieve as a consequence of the Marty report. We want an impartial and international judicial investigation into all the facts and allegations described in the Marty report. We want all parties concerned, especially the respective governments, to declare without reluctance their support for such an inquiry and to pledge without reservation their full co-operation. We want the international community to take responsibility for this judicial investigation and to guarantee the safety of witnesses. And that is what we expect.

An international judicial inquiry, with safeguards for all concerned, will clarify the most serious questions raised in the Marty report. That will help all those concerned and all of us who believe in universal human rights and justice.

Mr President, there is no end to the horrors of war, but some of the most burning questions need to be answered in order to find a more secure road into the future.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Rudd, who will speak on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Ms RUDD (United Kingdom) - The European Democrat Group finds this an extraordinary and important report. It is a vivid picture of the chaos, confusion, violence and torture in a time of war at the heart of Europe, with mass murders and violent conflict. It is also a brave report. It does not flinch from the effort of tracking down the guilty and exposing the violence and inhuman acts on which it focuses. As Mr Marty said, it avoids politics and focuses on the human beings who suffered.

We are asked in this report to look through the fog of war to see specific crimes of torture, human trafficking and the trafficking of human organs. The report particularly highlights the role of organised crime, which managed to hide and grow under the cloak of war. The concerns particularly highlighted are about organised crime taking hold in the chaos of war and doing well within war, flourishing within that violence.

The tragedy of missing people and human trafficking has been and continues to be exposed by the Council of Europe. In this report, however, we hear for the first time of what is described as a "handful of prisoners" who were murdered for their organs. It is a small but significant point, but we are all rightly indignant and outraged by the horror of a murder committed in order to sell human organs. However, following the report, we welcome the public statement from the Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Albania, who have been calling for and are now offering full co-operation with an independent investigation into all these allegations. That is surely what we need. We agree with the previous group's statement that we need an independent investigation to find out the truth behind the horror of these allegations which Mr Marty has described to us.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you very much. The next speaker is Mrs Beck, who will speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mrs BECK (Germany) thanked Mr Marty, who had boldly performed a difficult task. He had worked through the fog of mystery and allegation to uncover what had really happened.

She agreed with Mr Marty's statement that this report should not bring into question of Kosovo's independence. The question was how, in the chaos of war, a structure had been created that had encouraged organised crime and politics to become close and had led to the breathtaking situation in which Kosovo itself had been undermined from within.

In 1999, she had voted in favour of military intervention because she did not want to see another Srebrenica. While the military intervention had been controversial under international law, the military mission had a strict imperative to protect human life and to pursue violations of human rights without being bound by considerations of political expediency.

The report before the Assembly should serve as the starting point for uncompromising co-operation between the different political actors concerned. The rights of victims and of the alleged perpetrators had to be upheld. She urged a thorough investigation to shed further light on the allegations in the report, to bring justice to the victims, and to lift any doubts and suspicions over the alleged perpetrators.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Kox, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr KOX (Netherlands) - This House is not a court of justice. We, the Parliamentary Assembly, are not judges, and Dick Marty is not our chief prosecutor; he is our rapporteur, and he is among the very best of this Assembly. Our rapporteurs are in the front line of our Assembly. They are the ones who provide this Assembly with its reports, draft resolutions and draft recommendations. Dick Marty showed his qualities when investigating the secret detention centres and the illegal rendition of people in our continent. He has shown his qualities once again in the report that he is presenting today to the Assembly.

Let us recall that the rapporteur prepared his report after the Assembly asked for it in 2008, after we heard the allegations of the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte. She drew attention in her book on her work as prosecutor to allegations regarding the trafficking of organs of people who were captured by the Kosovo Liberation Army during and at the end of the Kosovo war and who were then killed and robbed of their kidneys somewhere in Albania. This Assembly decided to call for a detailed report to clarify what happened and, if the allegations turned out to have been justified, what should then be done. Dick Marty did the job in an extremely dignified, professional and unbiased way.

One main conclusion of the report is that too often we divide those who participate in violent conflict into victims and offenders, and into winners and losers. It seems that was the case in Kosovo - as it was in the Bosnian war and the Russian-Georgian war. Dick Marty emphasises the fact that reality is far more complex and that overly simple divisions lead to injustice and to preventing justice from being done for everybody.

Another main conclusion is that not only did horrible things happen in the aftermath of the war, but that both in Europe and America many state institutions, including many intelligence agencies, were quite aware of what was happening but did not even try to prevent it. It looks as though there have been many partners in crime. That is indeed shocking. It affects us all as politicians who will have to hold our governments accountable for this alleged collaboration and cover-up of horrible crimes.

Let us not forget that in the Kosovo war, the Kosovo Liberation Army was the de facto ally of NATO, the organisation to which most of our member states belong. In leaked documents, NATO now calls Kosovan Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, one of the biggest fish in organised crime circles.

The UEL supports all the proposals made by Dick Marty. We particularly support the proposal to allocate sufficient resources to EULEX to investigate and to guarantee that justice will finally be done, and that those responsible will be brought to justice, not only the foot soldiers but also the highest ranking politicians involved. An investigation needs sufficient means and men, the political support of our governments and the meaningful protection of witnesses.

Prime Minister Berisha will be with us in a few days. Calling one of our best rapporteurs an anti-Albanian racist is shameful and completely disgraceful. We expect Prime Minister Berisha to make his apologies to someone who is, as I said, one of our best rapporteurs. Thank you, Mr Marty.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. I call Mr Haibach on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

Mr HAIBACH (Germany) reminded delegates that the problem with war was determining the victims and the perpetrators. He was therefore grateful for Mr Marty's report which went a considerable way to identifying the victims in Kosovo. Mr Marty had faced many political problems in doing so but he was right because it was important to give a voice to the victims. It was the responsibility of the Council of Europe to ensure that all the relevant parties spoke and worked with each other to help shed further light on these allegations. For many years, people had said that no more needed to be done on this matter: the Marty report showed differently.

Members all shared responsibility for the matter. As Mrs Beck had said, some in the Chamber had been in favour of military intervention to prevent another Srebrenica. For the last 15, if not 20 years, those people had thus subsequently been responsible for the Kosovo and its situation. The debate was important and he urged that the report be adopted; it was vital that the Council of Europe gave a voice to those unable to speak for themselves.

The situation in Kosovo was very difficult, with many victims and much suffering. The solution would be found only in personal reconciliation. Mr Marty had said that there could be no peace without justice. While he agreed with this statement, he preferred to say that there could be no reconciliation without justice. As a German he, of course, had had experience of a similar historic situation and knew how important it was to pursue reconciliation through the pursuit of justice.

(Mr Walter, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Çavuşoǧlu.)

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. That concludes the speakers for political groups. We now move to the speakers list. I call Mr Mota Amaral.

Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal) - Mr Marty's report is indeed a narrative of horror. We are used to the high quality of the investigations conducted under the auspices of our Swiss colleague.

The report talks of the illegal rendition of prisoners accused of terrorism and secret detention centres established by the CIA in some European countries. After many scandalised denials from the authorities involved, finally there was recognition of the accuracy of Mr Marty's allegations, which were, by the way, instrumental in attracting the attention of the international media to the very existence of our Assembly and the real value of its work.

The Kosovo problem is clearly made of many different problems. From the very beginning, organised crime was a serious threat to the stability and democratic quality of government institutions in the territory. Dick Marty's courageous report, on which I congratulate him and for which I thank the author and the committee, reveals some dreadful aspects of those criminal activities - the cruel treatment of human beings put under detention with no guarantee of a fair trial and, even more repulsive, the slaughter of an incalculable number of them to extract their organs for illegal trafficking. It is alleged that some high-ranking Kosovan officials were involved in those crimes. Furthermore, institutional entities responsible for administering the territory after Serbian rule was banned did not make adequate investigations, and did not bring to court the people responsible for those awful crimes.

The vote of our Assembly on the draft resolution and the recommendations presented by the committee will put under the spotlight serious violations of human rights in an area under the jurisdiction of the Council of Europe. By doing so we shall not prejudge anyone. That is not our duty. Others should further investigate the facts and prosecute their authors. Since those terrible events and situations were brought to our knowledge, in the name of, and for the sake of the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe, we cannot close our eyes or look the other way. We must speak loud and clear, and call for the facts to be investigated and for justice to be done.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. I call Mr Frécon.

Mr FRÉCON (France) had read the Marty report with great interest. The report responded to a request from the Serbian, Albanian and Kosovar populations for transparency. He reminded members that rumours had long suggested that leading figures in the Kosovo Liberation Army had been involved in the trafficking of human organs. The symbol of these rumours was the famous "Yellow House" which had been reported in Der Spiegel. The Yellow House appeared to have been a deportation centre, alleged to have held up to 300 detainees.

Mr Marty had said that he faced a conspiracy of silence in identifying some of the very high-profile perpetrators, including the current Prime Minister of Kosovo who had previously been the leader of the KLA. These were serious allegations, particularly in the context of the formation of a new governing coalition in Kosovo and the improved dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.

He was sceptical of real success after a decade of rumours and noted that the report contained no new evidence. He warned delegates that the positive media coverage around this report should not distract them from its failings. He reminded members that two previous investigations by UNMIK and EULEX had not found any proof of the Yellow House. If anything, the Marty allegations were weaker than the conclusions of those investigations. He warned members that, if these conclusions were adopted and subsequently found to be without substance, it would seriously weaken the credibility of the Parliamentary Assembly. He therefore urged caution when adopting the report.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Mr Frécon. The next speaker is Mr Ivanji.

Mr IVANJI (Serbia) - This resolution is nobody's victory; in fact, it reveals a defeat, and once again, as so many times before, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is called on to solve a problem, or, in this case, to open the eyes of those who were led by pragmatism in respect of Kosovo, as the rapporteur said. However, that pragmatism did not save the organs of the people who were murdered because they belonged to a different nation. I wonder which organs might be more or less Serbian, and what the national attributes of a kidney are. Are any body organs deemed inadmissible because they come from the body of someone from a certain nation? It is clear that the market value of a dissected man is very high, regardless of whether he is Serbian, Roma or Albanian, and such men stand in the way of the leaders of this recently proclaimed state. Organs were cut out with surgical precision in that Balkan territory, and with the same surgical precision, genocide was systematically executed against members of different nations living on Balkan soil, but enough now.

As I am speaking here today, thousands of people are searching for missing family members in each and every corner of Europe. It is about time that we speak up on their behalf and accept the fact that some monstrous crimes were committed on European soil in the 20th century. The faces of murdered persons glaring silently from photographs might be the only reminder families have that their loved ones ever existed. They are dead, but not properly buried, just because they were healthy and their organs could enable the mafia to earn some money or help a sick person to continue living, and so that a self-proclaimed state could be as ethnically pure as possible.

The families of missing persons expect other countries and international organisations to face the facts presented in this resolution. Albania is expected to be faced with the existence of the Yellow House, and prisons and clinics in which organs were removed, with the co-operation of terrorist organisations. Also, EULEX must face up to the prosecution of the individuals who have committed the crimes that are listed in the resolution, in order to prove the legitimacy of its mission. We cannot wait for the removed organs to start speaking and revealing the names of the murderers or the names of the people they belonged to, but we can say today that there is a reasonable doubt that hidden behind these monstrous crimes are the names of those who are now willing to negotiate with Serbia on behalf of Kosovo about the future destiny of the people who are still alive.

As I have stated, there are no victors here, but one thing is clear: those who are marked out in the document as mafia men and criminals must not be allowed to feel like victors in the shadow of a pragmatic policy taken in respect of this unique case.

This monstrous case is unique because it is about the trafficking of violently removed human organs. We have the organiser and we know that everybody kept quiet, shielding the reality, and they need to hide the evidence of their wrongful and hypocritical policy. Even if we wanted to remain silent on this, we simply do not have the right to do so, because in this case, the dead were speaking louder than us for years.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you Mr Ivanji. The next speaker is Mr Marquet.

Mr MARQUET (Monaco) said that he wanted to stress the outstanding quality of Mr Marty's report, the subject of which would stand no approximations. He recalled that, in 2008, Mr Kosachev had been among the first to draw attention to this issue, recommending that it be the subject of an investigation by the Assembly following the publication of Ms del Ponte's book. Unfortunately, that recommendation had not been taken up at the first opportunity. Many crimes had been committed against those Serbs who had remained in Kosovo, on the ground that they were suspected of being traitors. In the aftermath of the war, many international organisations had taken a pragmatic approach, choosing to apply short-term fixes rather than long-term solutions. It was easy to assume that it was the Serbs who had committed crimes against the Kosovars but the situation was in fact far more complex than that. It had been shown that a core of members of the Kosovo Liberation Army had taken control of criminal activity in this area, and that it had been systematic and international, with co-conspirators in at least three other countries. The report had successfully raised these very important issues. He could not forget the terrible pictures of mutilated children whose kidneys and eyes had been harvested, and to this end had yesterday joined the calls for an international convention on human organ trafficking.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Mr Marquet. The next speaker is Mr Parfenov.

Mr PARFENOV (Russian Federation) said that the facts presented in Mr Marty's report were truly shocking and that he would remember this issue for some considerable time. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights had been confronted with the question of whether to stay silent or to tell the unpleasant truth, and had rightly concluded that to remain mute was not an option. The rapporteur had clearly shown what the problem was, yet this had not stopped several amendments being tabled which aimed to weaken the report. The committee had rightly rejected them. Allegations had been made against Ms del Ponte herself, but she had rightly said that peace and stability could never be secured without justice. He agreed that an international judicial investigation was the only way to proceed.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Mr Parfenov. I call Mrs Lavtižar-Bebler.

Mrs LAVTIŽAR-BEBLER (Slovenia) - The report in front of us today is disturbing. The rapporteur deserves all congratulations for his courage in starting to research this sensitive and highly controversial issue. If some of the allegations in the report turn out to be well founded, they should be taken with all seriousness. Thus the most urgent step now must be to produce the necessary proofs. But as time passes, the fewer are the possibilities of producing all the necessary evidence, especially physical evidence - and too much time has already passed in this case. The report deals with grave violations of human rights and human dignity for which there could be no excuse if the allegations were substantiated.

The accusations in the report are extremely serious and above all displeasing to all the sides that are the subject of it. In the interests of persons implicated and countries concerned, the allegations should be thoroughly investigated and the truth must be revealed. It is therefore of the utmost importance to conduct an independent international inquiry with its modalities clearly defined. Independent institutions in Kosovo - and in some respects also institutions in Albania - should assume a proper role in this process. Without their co-operation in the process, there will be no satisfactory result. It is in their interest that the truth comes out. Moreover, the politicisation of this issue could derail the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, which should be avoided.

I therefore support the draft resolution, which, if properly implemented, could contribute to the process of reconciliation in the Balkans, advancing the cause of human rights and democracy on our continent.

THE PRESIDENT - May I remind members that the ballot is open for the election of a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Portugal and that members wishing to vote may do so behind the President's chair until 1 p.m. and again between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m?

I call Mrs Greff.

Mrs GREFF (France) congratulated Mr Marty on his report, which demonstrated the excellent and important work that the Assembly could do. If the Council of Europe wanted to live up to its lofty objectives, it could not shy away from these serious issues. It should not abandon Wilsonian idealism for Realpolitik, and should not forget the terrible events which preceded its foundation. The truth had to be established as silence would lead only to mistrust from victims and impunity for criminals. She agreed that an international investigation ought to be established, and saw a role for EULEX in this endeavour. She recalled the concept of soft security, as put forward in Mr Mignon's report and said that this should not be thought of as a weakness, rather as a demonstration that the Council of Europe was able to keep an eye on a wide range of issues at any one time.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Mrs Greff. I call Mr Ružić from Serbia on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr RUŽIĆ (Serbia) - I thank the rapporteur, Mr Dick Marty, for his brave, objective, systematic and consistent approach in addressing this delicate issue.

We all have to demonstrate political maturity and pursue the common objective in order to prevent any place in Europe from being a black hole in a moral, political, social and economic sense, and especially in respect of human rights and the rule of law. Therefore, this issue must not have an ethnic background, nor should it be treated as a means for achieving political goals. If, however, there were some unacceptable political pragmatism as regards the situation in Kosovo and Metohia, there is no room for it now.

Finding out the truth about the missing persons is the key precondition for a peaceful common future in the Balkan region. The resolution has revealed some very important facts as regards the events of 1999 and 2000 after deployment of the international mission to Kosovo and Metohia, and it clearly describes the irresponsible behaviour of international forces, and the brutality of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army. We do not have the right to turn a blind eye to the still unsettled fate of nearly 2 000 people. The clear indications of the trafficking of human organs, intimidation, the disappearance of witnesses and the high percentage of bodies wrongly identified by the ad hoc ICTY teams are simply unacceptable. Does anyone who is reasonable truly believe that Burelj village in Albania, Yellow House and a number of nameless grave sites is a virtual manipulation, or is it unfortunately a horrifying reality?

I fully support the resolution and the duties of all responsible actors, who have to initiate a thorough and independent investigation followed by the prosecution of all perpetrators. It is important to use the findings, reports and archives of The Hague tribunal and KFOR contingents as well as the archive of the 1998 OSCE verification mission.

The Republic of Serbia fully supports this whole process and is putting in all efforts to resolve the fate of the missing people, since we are committed to the stabilisation of the region and the promotion of substantial and sincere dialogue.

Unfortunately, all those things will not bring back the loved ones to their families. However, the families have the right to know the truth about the crimes and the perpetrators and to demand punishment for the crimes that have been committed.

The credibility and the reputation of the Council of Europe are at stake and the resolution that we are about to adopt today should be a guarantee that we will succeed in reaching the truth and protecting the system of our common values.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) - Thank you. I now call Mr Gardetto.

Mr GARDETTO (Monaco) said that the publication of Mr Marty's report was an historic moment which should not be interpreted as an attack against the people of Kosovo but rather as a forceful expression of the belief that justice was indispensible and could not be avoided.

There should be a serious judicial inquiry to shed full light on what had happened in Kosovo. He commended the report on the agenda for the following meeting of the Assembly, on the protection of witnesses.

Mr Marty had assured the witnesses that he would not reveal their identities and they had been assured that he was a person of honour. EULEX was best placed to conduct an inquiry, but it had to protect its witnesses better than hitherto. It had a particularly difficult job because its staff on the ground changed frequently. Furthermore, some of the staff had developed relationships with the alleged perpetrators. Certain NGOs had in consequence proposed that new and fully independent people should conduct the investigation.

Kosovars, of whatever origin, deserved to live under the rule of law; this basic right should not be taken hostage. He supported the construction of new democratic institutions in Kosovo, particularly as their development had so far been so slow. The international community had to change its approach.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. I call Mr Idrizi, who speaks on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mr IDRIZI (Albania) - I would have really liked my first political battle here to have been about freedom and human rights in Europe. Unfortunately, I have to deal with something else today. The rapporteur - based on the indications of a book, and a Russian initiative, with the help of Serbia, and eager for publicity, without any public evidence - intends by means of the report to make accusations about the European Union, the USA, Kosovo, Albania, Hashim Thaçi and the KLA.

The rapporteur is not the prosecutor, but nor is he Dan Brown, so I will say something more reasonable. In his report, one cannot find one name of a deceased person whose organs were removed. Let us say that those witnesses who are alive are afraid, but what about the dead? Why are they lacking in his report?

I would like to address this statement to the rapporteur. I invite you to read the interview of the Swiss surgeons or those of Goran Kronja, head of the transplant department at the military hospital in Belgrade. It states that if you want to disgrace someone in Pristina, find something else and do not invent a story that transplants can be made in the mountains of Albania and Kosovo. Organs are not flash drives that can be inserted from one body to another.

Dear colleagues, history is full of subversions of truth by states possessing a large worldwide propaganda capacity. Thanks to that technology, executioners tend to be equated with victims. I have personal experience that convinces me of that. I belong to the Cham people, who were victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing at the end of the Second World War, a time when there was no CNN or Council of Europe to document crimes. The proof of that genocide was never known by the world.

Miloševi's Serbia used factory furnaces to extinguish missing bodies, fearing international punishment, and today it presents the Albanians as executioners. I want to remind you that since 1999 Kosovo has been the most internationally monitored country - by NATO, EULEX, and so on - so the kind of crimes that the honourable rapporteur claims took place simply cannot occur. The governments of Albania and Kosovo want an investigation to take place and have expressed that desire officially.

This resolution should have only one article: that an investigation is to be conducted, the rapporteur has to present the evidence to the public, and Kosovo is to be part of the Council of Europe. To replace their missing presence here, the Kosovar population sent to the Council of Europe a petition signed by more than 260 000 people who believe in us and in democracy. Furthermore, it is impossible to eliminate the Kosovars' heroic war of independence by falsely blaming them for organ trafficking.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. I call Mr Shaklein from the European Democrat Group.

Mr SHAKLEIN (Russian Federation) said that he had been a Substitute member for the Russian Federation in the Assembly for eight years. In his experience, it was not often that the Assembly had before it a report quite like that before it that day. The report had the effect of an exploding bomb.

Allegations had been made that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army had been involved in the most shocking crimes. He thanked Mr Marty for his courage and sensitivity in his report. He noted that the report had not been welcomed by all. Some had closed their eyes to what had happened. But he had faith in the honesty of the rapporteur. What had happened just could not be swept under the carpet. There had clearly been crimes against humanity and he firmly supported the draft resolution.

There were facts in the report that had not been judicially proven. This report was however only the first step: the organisations whose failings the report noted could not be considered above criticism or punishment, especially given that the violation of human rights was at issue. The Kosovo conflict had been associated with widespread criminal activity on all sides. It was the duty of the international community to support law and order in the region and to commission a proper inquiry with the full strength of the law at its disposal.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you very much. I call Mr Mićunović.

Mr MIĆUNOVIĆ (Serbia) congratulated Mr Marty on his brave report. Its publication had been notably received in the press and had reached a wide audience. It had been reported as "the truth coming out at last". The report raised three particular issues. First, there was the humanitarian aspect, which related to the dehumanisation of certain people: no one should be denied their humanity.

The second was a legal and judicial issue relating to the search for missing people. Several thousand people had disappeared. He noted the welcome co-operation with Albania, which was also seeking missing people, and which had enabled further graves to be found. He asked why there had been silence on the issue for so long. Many institutions seemed to believe themselves immune from punishment. They were not. The truth would be discovered.

The third issue was the political dimension, which was clear. Acting against democracy was a crime. If this happened, the rule of law was threatened and there could be no human rights and no decent society. He commended Mr Marty's report and the fact that it had opened up a difficult and distressing subject. Human rights were sacred.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Mr MićunoviĆ. May I ask colleagues to stick to three minutes because an awful lot of people want to speak in this debate? I call Mr Conde Bajén

Mr CONDE BAJÉN (Spain) congratulated Mr Marty on an extraordinary report. Atrocities could happen anywhere: no member state of the Council of Europe was immune. Such distressing criminal acts could indeed happen in Europe. The Assembly needed to be alert to the need to defend human rights every single day and, even where established, those rights needed continuous nurturing. He questioned how the events revealed by the report could have happened under the watch of armed forces from the member states of the Council of Europe - those represented in the Assembly that day. Their national parliaments should search for the truth on this issue. They were best placed to do this because they could require records from the people there on the ground in Kosovo at the time.

His country had long not recognised the independence of Kosovo. He questioned why some had supported it as an independent state. It posed a serious problem for the future. The debate on the report should make people think about what they had set in motion when they had recognised Kosovo as an independent state.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you very much indeed. I call Mr Díaz Tejera

Mr DÍAZ TEJERA (Spain) said that the prophet Isaiah had said that there could be no peace without justice and no justice without peace. He referred to a report on rendition which had been widely criticised on publication and then, subsequently, its recommendations had turned out to be correct. He agreed with his colleague Mr Conde Bajén: how was it possible that this atrocity could have occurred in Europe? But it was possible. He asked whether the Council of Europe would be able to live up to the work required of it.

It was not a matter of passing judgment. He himself did not need hard evidence, just rational clues and indicators. He thought the report enough to justify a new international investigation and that it would be just the beginning of a longer, substantial process. Parliaments and parliamentarians were free to act as they wished and did not have to receive orders. The Assembly itself had to continue to investigate the issue and to promise to do so. He wanted to bring about in Kosovo a state governed by the rule of law, which he thought everyone wished for.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. The next speaker is Mrs Türköne from Turkey.

Mrs TÜRKÖNE (Turkey) - Thank you, Mr President. This report has caused various reactions and become one of the priority issues on the regional agenda. We believe that any allegation about the democratically elected leaders of a country is a very sensitive issue. Kosovo's Prime Minister Thaçi, who is at the heart of the allegations, has said that the accusations are groundless, politically motivated and aimed at harming the Republic of Kosovo. The Albanian authorities have reminded us that the investigation conducted by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was closed due to lack of evidence. If the allegations are not handled with transparency but left unanswered, the issue could become politicised and cast a shadow on the upcoming dialogue with Serbia. It is therefore a matter of great importance that the investigation is rapidly concluded.

I very much appreciate the commitment of the Kosovo Government to full co-operation. It has stated that all the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo will be at the disposal of any domestic or international investigation to ensure that the allegations are clarified once and for all. Such an approach would be a continuation of the valuable efforts of Kosovo and the international community since 1999 to establish and strengthen democratic institutions and to uphold the rule of law in Kosovo. The recent general elections of 12 December testified to the democratic maturity achieved by the people of Kosovo and augured well for the Euro-Atlantic orientation of the country.

However, I should also stress that the draft resolution has been written in the manner of a prosecutorial indictment. The introductory paragraphs of the resolution include personal accusations that are stated as though they were final judgments. The introduction should instead present the purpose and objectives of the resolution in more generalised expressions. The draft resolution should accuse neither nations nor ethnic groups but rather aim at revealing the persons or groups responsible for the alleged crimes. The draft resolution should also be free from sentences that put the international community under suspicion. Otherwise, it will harm the credibility of the international missions on the ground and the international community in general.

The report calls for a series of international and national investigations into the allegations. EULEX is urged to follow up the investigation, and all the parties support EULEX in this endeavour. We agree with this approach. A diligent and comprehensive investigation into these serious allegations is necessary to avoid any impediment to the progress in recognition of the Republic of Kosovo.

Although EULEX will be leading the investigation process, the Council of Europe also should play a supervisory role at the level of political guidance. In this context, an independent investigation commission can be formed that will work in close co-operation with related international agencies.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. I call Mr Hancock.

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) - Thank you, Mr President. Perhaps I may say what a pleasure it is to see you in the Chair and to have someone from the United Kingdom as one of our leaders.

We have a choice to make: we need to decide whether we accept the report as a gesture from a political prima donna who believes that he can write controversial reports just to seek self-glorification in pursuance of self-gratification, or whether the rapporteur has listened to the cries and shouts from people in unmarked graves across the area. It is a stark choice, but it is the way in which the case has been argued outside this Chamber.

I defy anyone to say that Kosovo is not the creation of a number of countries, some of which went to war to achieve it. They set up what could only be a failed state, and now we are here to pick up the pieces. Dick Marty asked eloquently why, time after time, nothing was done. The answer, Mr Marty, is that nothing was done because there was shame on the part of countries which rushed to support it, and which denied the evidence of their intelligence services and their troops on the ground that these acts were being perpetrated. Large elements of the European political structure were in complete denial over this, and that suited the purpose.

What would have happened if those investigations had gone right to the nub of the trouble? This failed state would have been seen to be such before it took its first breath. That is the point that Mr Kox eloquently made earlier. He spoke about why nothing was done. The simple answer is that we have an obligation to put right these crimes. There should be no hiding place at all for those who perpetrated evil in this area. It does not matter how far up the greasy pole these people have gone, whether it is the Prime Minister or the lowest soldier; there should be no hiding place for any of them.

Surely the one thing that we have learned is that there is no capacity in Europe to accept failed states. If you accept them in one place, you will end up accepting them in others. Gangsters do not have a role in political society. They do not have a right or a responsibility to govern countries. So for goodness' sake, the right thing to do today is to support the resolution. Most importantly, we should take this message back to our countries. We should not put our hands over our eyes or our fingers in our ears. Leaving this matter unchallenged for nearly a decade is unforgivable, but at least we now have an opportunity to turn the clock back and do the right thing.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Mr Hancock. The next speaker is Mrs Volozhinskaya.

Mrs VOLOZHINSKAYA (Russian Federation) thanked Mr Marty for his very important and great work, which she gave her full support. With her colleagues' consent, she wished to raise a different dimension of the issue of trafficking human organs. Transplantation of organs was an approved medical procedure throughout the world, but one which had led to the problem of trafficking in organs. Trafficking was a direct result of a shortage of transplant organs. The solution to this was a legal framework allowing the regulated trade of human organs. She reminded members that, aside from a few agreements between some international bodies, there was no international convention or text on this matter. Mr Marty had shown that the current measures were insufficient and it was necessary to improve co-operation between national bodies to create a legal trade based on some fundamental principles. She called for the creation of banks of human organs and tissues, with a global database allowing global access for those in need. She told members that, in this way, they would prevent the trafficking of human organs and the commercialisation of organ transplants. An authorised, legalised, regulated worldwide system of trade in organs would undercut the criminal gangs.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. I now call Ms Konečná.

Ms KONEČNÁ (Czech Republic) - I sincerely thank all those who participated in the preparation of the report and the draft resolution. I notice with great satisfaction that now, more than a decade after the bombing of Yugoslavia, there are unbiased recommendations and analyses that tackle the real problems and their resolution.

I want to look into the future, but I cannot resist pointing out that, in 2008, I called here for the speedy deployment of Council of Europe observers to Kosovo. As a member of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, I appealed to the Czech Foreign Minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, in the same year - the Czech Republic was chairing the European Union at the time - to use his good relations with various structures in Kosovo, the European Union and the United States to clarify the fate of 562 missing Serbian children, women and men. I gave the list to the minister. My efforts, as well as other activities associated with the problem, were in vain. The reason was simple. Several politicians preferred to pin any blame for civil war in former Yugoslavia on the Serbs, and they also wanted to justify the barbaric bombing of Yugoslavia at the cost of covering up the crimes of the Kosovo Liberation Army. It was the same for some time after the publication of the book by Carla del Ponte.

The present report and the draft resolution, which refer to the horrific treatment of people in prison camps set up by the KLA, are a major step forward. I thank the rapporteur. I support the draft resolution, with one proviso. The submitted text indicates that after international organisations took over control of Kosovo, they aimed for stability at any cost. However, their pragmatic approach brought no criminal investigation into the treatment of prisoners. Moreover, indications in the report show that the criminal behaviour even continued for some time.

I propose that we include in the resolution a recommendation that NATO investigate whether the occupation forces are responsible for forgiveness and perhaps for the continuation of the inhuman treatment of captured Serbs and Kosovar Albanians by the KLA. It is evident that not only did NATO's approach discredit international organisations, it also significantly complicated the situation in Kosovo and the Balkans in general.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Ms Konečná. I call Mr Aligrudić.

Mr ALIGRUDIĆ (Serbia) - I compliment the rapporteur on his courage, because one has to have courage to speak out openly about the most brutal type of organised crime that took place in Kosovo. What is more, those atrocities were carried out by the very same people and organisations that have until now enjoyed full support from the part of the international community that has also been sponsoring the project called independent Kosovo. Those individuals and organisations were faithful executors; they were, therefore, forbidden territory for UNMIK - the United Nations Mission in Kosovo - and judicial prosecutors. They were protected in the past. They are protected today and they are not held responsible for whatever crimes they committed during their secession mission.

It is believed that when human rights and the prosecution of organised crime are involved, there is no place for politics. Unfortunately, that is not true in this case. The politics of robbing Serbia of its southern province was carried out by criminal acts against civilians and by the violation of human rights. That is why we must speak openly about it. I understand why the rapporteur cannot use such phrases. He should not use them, but we, who are commenting on the report, can use them. For the first time, there is public debate in an institution about the atrocities committed against Serbs in Kosovo. It is the first time. Even though many officials who worked for various international organisations in Kosovo knew about the crimes, they did not want to speak about them.

For more than a decade, the families of missing people - primarily Serbs and other non-Albanians - have had no clue about what happened to their loved ones. The decade has been torture for them and a constant struggle to find the truth. It is our duty to help them find the truth. I deeply believe that it is also a duty to ourselves, because of the political principles we all hold. I hope so. That is the reason why some of us signed a motion on the report and on an initiative to discuss the issue in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Dick Marty's report is honest, frank and based on the facts available to him. He is not a prosecutor in a criminal court. He is a fellow parliamentarian who was appointed by us to write a report - nothing more. However, we hope that real prosecutors will start doing their job, despite the fact that they are very late.

Colleagues, I ask you to support this well-prepared report and to vote for it. It would be a significant message to the people of Europe if we were to adopt it unanimously, just as it was adopted at the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

I hope that our Assembly will continue to follow the issue and keep us informed of how the report's findings evolve in future. It is very important to find the truth and to have the perpetrators punished.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Mr Aligrudić. The next speaker is Mrs Marković.

Mrs MARKOVIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) thanked Mr Marty for his work and praised his courage and humanity. She remembered a debate in 2008 to discuss the independence of Kosovo. At the time, many members had supported Kosovan independence, but what had happened since?

Kosovo was now a problem region at the very heart of Europe. Those people who had looked closely at Kosovo had found that it had caused problems for Serbia and indeed the rest of Europe: problems such as human trafficking, war crimes, murders, trade in drugs and secret prisons all traced back to Kosovo. The report was accurate - the problem was how to act on it. She gave all due respect to Mr Marty, but reminded him that many in the Chamber already knew the facts in his report. The Council of Europe had to find the resolve to carry out further investigations and fight organised crime. Without such resolve, the report would remain merely words on paper. She urged members to adopt the report to show to the world that the Council of Europe had identified Kosovo as a problem and to show that no area was beyond its scrutiny.

As a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, she knew that the Kosovo Liberation Army was not alone in committing such crimes. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a similar crime had been committed, save that this crime was much worse since it had involved children. In Bosnia, four buses travelling to western Europe had disappeared. In 2004, the passengers had been discovered in mass graves, one of which contained the bodies of 23 children. The perpetrator had been apprehended and had admitted that the passengers' organs had been harvested. These were dreadful allegations and dreadful crimes.

THE PRESIDENT - Mrs Marković, please, your time is up.

Mrs MARKOVIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) (Translation) - May I carry on for a few seconds?

THE PRESIDENT - No. I call Mr Rusmali.

Mr RUSMALI (Albania) - The draft resolution is a serious call for the investigation of all allegations concerning inhumane treatment of people and organ trafficking in Kosovo. In a broader sense, it is a call for the protection of life and human dignity at any cost and in any condition. Therefore it is, per se, a respectable document.

Nevertheless, in Kosovo and in Albania, this document has raised a lot of animosity and has fomented debate - even controversy. Most of the members of this Assembly already know that, and I have no intention of hiding it. If a document, a statement, a report, a book or a study raises controversy, it is too easy, too simple and too superficial to hold its readers responsible - to hold responsible the target group of people, whoever they are. Responsibility lies at first hand with the author. Since we all are most probably today going to become authors of this draft resolution, it is worth trying to improve it, to make it well based and well balanced, less controversial and more impartial, less propagandistic and more factual.

This draft resolution needs supporters, not contesters. Therefore let us give it a serious try. I, on my part as a member of the Albanian delegation, will do it by stating the following. Albania is very much in favour of the investigation. Albania has facilitated co-operation in the past, and has already officially committed itself to maximum co-operation with, and assistance for, EULEX and ICTY, because we know that only through such an investigation can we have complete clarity about all allegations. I invite the rapporteur to take note of this, and honourable members of the Assembly to vote for it.

Whatever the allegations are, they should not be used to draw hasty or ill-founded conclusions. They should not give way to collective condemnation of specific groups or political forces, or even of nations. In this respect as well, I invite the rapporteur and honourable members to vote with me.

This draft resolution has one objective: to urge independent, professional and trustworthy investigation of all allegations on the matter. Let us keep it this way. We are lucky: we all want this and we all trust EULEX, as being professional and independent. The Kosovar authorities are fully in support of EULEX and they too want a full investigation. Therefore, I invite you all, dear colleagues, to support the amendments that we have tabled.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Mr Rusmali. The next speaker is Ms Mehmeti Devaja.

Ms MEHMETI DEVAJA ("The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia") - This morning, at a meeting of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the rapporteur admitted that the title of the resolution was imposed on him, yet it is this very title that has hit the headlines over the past few months. Such admissions only add to the controversy that this paper has produced, precisely because of the numerous contradictions and politically biased statements contained in it.

When a report bearing the seal of the Council of Europe makes such strong and controversial allegations, one rightly wonders whether the objective of the rapporteur is to deliver justice or, perhaps, to serve political ends. Unfortunately, there is a growing feeling in the region where I come from that it is the latter. It is the principal duty of the Council of Europe, therefore, to prove that our objective is to bring Kosovo in line with Council of Europe standards. To achieve this, we must subscribe to our values, under which justice as a universal principle, not political interests, must prevail.

The formulations in the report tend to redefine the Kosovo conflict and the question of guilt, but more importantly, they fail to distinguish between crimes as the objective of the Kosovo conflict and crimes as a by-product of that conflict. The rapporteur should have been cautious with this fact.

Our objective is to seek the truth and for the truth to prevail, but it takes two to speak the truth - one to speak, and the other to hear. Therefore, the investigation called for in the report must be carried out by an international organisation, namely EULEX, with a clear mandate to investigate and make clear the truth. Kosovo and Albania have already declared their readiness to co-operate and we must welcome this fact. The Council of Europe has so far focused only on standards on Kosovo, but insisting on standards is no longer enough. This report must serve as yet another additional argument for why the Council of Europe should review its policy of status neutrality towards Kosovo. It is now time for us to look at ways and mechanisms to bring Kosovo forward into full membership of our Organisation.

This report has addressed strong and serious allegations, particularly against the international community and its role, mission and function in post-conflict Kosovo. If the international community knew and yet did nothing to prevent what was going on, what does that make the international community? In 1999, the international community launched a humanitarian intervention in Kosovo "to stop another round of ethnic cleansing and deter an even bloodier offensive against innocent civilians." That was said by former US President Bill Clinton.

Revealing the truth is a condition sine qua non for achieving reconciliation between peoples of the Balkans. We must therefore always stand for truth, unbiased and impartial, as a universal principle and as the foundation of our common values.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Müri.

Mr MÜRI (Switzerland) thanked Mr Marty for his report, the subject of which had left no-one unmoved. There was certainly now a need for an international judicial investigation, the witnesses to which needed to be protected. It was essential that the veracity of the allegations be fully investigated and the witnesses placed in a proper witness protection scheme. The charges were serious but they had to be fully examined, or else the peace, safety and stability which was so badly needed in the region would never be accomplished. Since the population as a whole was not suspected of complicity in these crimes, any investigation should not take too long to complete.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Mr Müri. I call Mr Chernyshenko, but he is not here. I call Mrs Wohlwend.

Mrs WOHLWEND (Liechtenstein) said that the report placed the Council of Europe firmly in the spotlight, and ought to take precedence over all other matters. Human rights violations had to be prevented at all costs, and the Council of Europe ought to press for full international investigation of those alleged to have been committed. EULEX needed a mandate on organised crime so that it could effectively crack down on these issues, together with its partner organisations. Political immunity should not be granted to individuals or groups, no matter how high the investigation went. The crimes committed by the former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević against the Kosovar people had been investigated, and now Mr Marty was calling upon the Serbian people to deliver Ratko Mladi to justice. There was no difference in the suffering of the Kosovars, Roma or Serbian people and the publication of this report sent a clear signal to all victims that they would be treated the same.

THE PRESIDENT - Thank you, Mrs Wohlwend. My sincere apologies to my dear friend Mr Chernyshenko, who was sitting in his place but we did not notice him.

Mr CHERNYSHENKO (Russian Federation) said that he would probably be the last speaker in the debate that morning and, as such, he wished to express his sincere gratitude for the Herculean effort made by Mr Marty in producing a fine report. He cast his mind back to the work of Ms del Ponte in her role as chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and, in particular, her view that the stark distinction between "bad" Serbs and "good" Kosovars was inaccurate. Mr Marty's report confirmed this view, having drawn upon many sources of testimony. Almost 40 witnesses had "disappeared" that is, exterminated, a truly terrible crime. He supported the draft resolution and called for an international draft convention on trafficking in human organs. Evidence had also been found that these crimes had been perpetrated against the inmates of camps. He drew a comparison between the end of the conflict in Kosovo and the end of the Second World War, which had only truly been brought to a conclusion with the trials at Nuremberg. This had proved the important principle that war crimes could be brought to justice.

(Mr Çavuşoǧlu, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Walter.)

THE PRESIDENT - I must now interrupt the speakers. The debate will continue this afternoon at 3 p.m. I remind members that the ballot is open for the election of a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Portugal. Members wishing to vote may do so behind the President's chair until 1 p.m. and again between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

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The Question of Kosovo
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