EUROMIL: Informal Roundtable on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel
On 3 April 2017, EUROMIL held an informal roundtable on fundamental rights and freedoms of armed forces personnel in Pristina.
Together with a limited number of participants from the Ministry for the Kosovo Security Force, the Assembly of Kosovo, the Ombudsperson of Kosovo and other relevant stakeholders, EUROMIL discussed standards, experiences and best practices regarding human rights in the armed forces. This first informal meeting aimed at gathering information on the situation of the personnel of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) and discuss whether and how could EUROMIL best assist Kosovo for what concerns the fundamental rights and freedoms of the security force’s personnel.
No human right issue was reported in the last years in the KSF, a professional force under democratic control, which has an internal human rights unit to support its daily activities and closely works with various organisations on this matter. Indeed, basic rights and freedoms of the personnel of the KSF are enshrined in the Kosovan legislation, especially in the Constitution and Law on the Kosovo Security Force (all relevant documents are available online and in English on the website of the Ministry for the Kosovo Security Force).
Among the best practices worth noting, it should be highlighted that Kosovo is performing better than other European countries for what concerns the integration of women in its security force. LGBTI issues are dealt with and ethnic minorities are also largely included into the KSF. Members of the KSF have the possibility of lodging a complaint with the Ombudsperson in respect of their human rights and a bill is under discussion for establishing, in parallel, a Commissioner who would have powers to investigate the activities of the KSF.
The right to freedom of association was however pointed out as a right not conferred to members of the KSF. Since the Kosovan legislation provides room for improvement, authorities may decide to reflect on amending the legislation and grant security force’s personnel the right to form and join professional association and involve them in a structured dialogue. This will allow them to raise their voice and act as partners of the authorities, which will ultimately be beneficial for the KSF. Considering that Kosovo is discussing the possible transformation of its security force into armed forces, the timing is right for amending the legislation. EUROMIL is looking forward to further collaborating with Kosovo.