After three years, the Kosovo War Crimes Research Institute has done almost nothing to document alleged atrocities by Serbian forces and has not published a single report, analysts said.
The Institute, which was set up by the Kosovo government in 2011 to collect, process, classify and archive war crimes cases, has been accused of failing to fulfil its mandate, despite its own claims that it is making progress although seriously underfunded.
“The results achieved so far [by the Institute] were minimal. Actually, there was no concrete result except its staff talking nonsense to each other,” Nora Ahmetaj, the executive director of the Centre for Research, Documentation and Publication, told BIRN.
“No one actually believes in and has great expectations [of the institute] because it employed some old academics whose expertise was not refreshed with new scientific methods, and it lacks efficiency on the ground,” Ahmetaj said.
The Institute told BIRN that it has so far held several round-table discussions on topics related to war crimes, investigated several locations where crimes were allegedly committed and established a database for “documenting the destruction that happened during the war”.
The Institute said that “so far 70 locations where wartime rape was allegedly committed by Serbian forces have been identified in Kosovo”.
“A map of these locations is also being prepared. The investigation is still ongoing and will continue until the last location is found,” it said.
But Bekim Blakaj from the Humanitarian Law Centre in Pristina said that the Institute’s seven staff were too few to carry out “such a large mission”.
“The dynamics of such work don’t contribute at all in shedding light on the truth about war crimes committed during 1998-99 in Kosovo,” he said.
The Humanitarian Law Centre is one of the main providers of evidence about war crimes committed during the Kosovo conflict. Kosovo state institutions however still have no concrete data on wartime crimes.
Blakaj said that “the Institute should not repeat work already done by other institutions”.
“The Kosovo War Crimes Research Institute should coordinate with other actors that already deal with the same issues, non-governmental organisations included. The work of the Institute should be transparent and promoted publically so people increase their trust in it and cooperate with it,” he said.
Pajazit Nushi, a member of the Institute, admitted that it “lacks people who work on the ground”.
“We are very limited in this direction. This is because of [bad] financial conditions, but we have to deal with it,” he said, citing its 240,000 euro budget for 2014.
More than 10,000 people were killed during the Kosovo conflict, while more than 1,700 remain missing.