Today, the ICJ denounced the indiscriminate use of force by the Serb army units against civilian targets in rural Kosovo, which caused the death of an undisclosed number of civilians.
Reports from the central Kosovo village of Gomje Obrinje speak about the gruesome massacre of between 10 to 18 villagers, including a baby, a pregnant woman and elderly persons. Other reports speak about widespread looting of property committed by Serbian forces against ethnic Albanian homes.
At least 300,000 people have been made homeless, and are effectively refugees or internally displaced; 50,000 of them live in open air.
The ICI condemns in the strongest terms the outrageous bombing of rural civilian targets in Kosovo. The ICJ condemns the disproportionate use of force exerted on a daily basis by the Serbian army since the beginning of the hostilities.
The ICJ considers that the Serb army has embarked upon a campaign of deliberate terror and murder. These tactics of ethnic cleansing are clearly intended to force the ethnic Albanian community out of Kosovo. In doing so the Serbian army and police have violated the right to life and other basic human rights of unarmed civilians.
International humanitarian law provides that non-combatants are protected and that there can be no justification whatsoever for the use of force against them. Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions provides: “Persons taking no active part in the hostilities … shall in all circumstances be treated humanely …” Article 3 also expressly prohibits “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture …”
The ICJ urges the Serbian government to immediately put an end to the use of indiscriminate force against civilians, bring the actions of its agents into conformity with accepted international standards, ensure that those of its agents who committed atrocities in Kosovo be brought to justice and adequately punished, and ensure a peaceful resolution to the conflict through negotiation with ethnic Albanian representatives from Kosovo.
Failing this, the ICJ calls on the Security Council to act on the basis of Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter and to decide what measures should be taken, on the basis of Article 41 of the Charter, such as the adoption of immediate economic and diplomatic sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including the downgrading or severing of diplomatic relations with that country. If such measures remain ineffective, on the basis of Article 42 of the UN Charter, the only way to stop President Milosevic’s wanton reign of terror in Kosovo is for the international community to live up to its responsibilities and intervene in Kosovo in order to protect innocent civilian lives.
The ICJ calls on all States to accept Kosovar refugees and refrain from returning them to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where their lives are at huge risk.
“Failure to take the above-mentioned measures will only encourage criminal elements in the Serbian armed forces to commit more massacres of civilians, destroy more villages, schools and innocent peoples’ homes”, stated Mr. Adama Dieng, Secretary-General of the ICJ, today.
He recalled that the States, High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions and its two Optional Protocols, have the obligation to denounce another High Contracting Party if it violates the Geneva Conventions.NewsPress releases