Tuesday, December 20, 2005

UN Creates Police And Justice Ministries In Kosovo

PRISTINA (AP)--The U.N. created two new ministries in Kosovo Tuesday, transferring responsibilities for justice and police to the province's authorities.

The move was welcomed by Kosovo's Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi, who said the government can meet the new tasks, but failed to say who will head the two key ministries.

The transfer represented a "proof of confidence" that the province's fledgling institutions are capable of taking on "full responsibility and accountability" on these sensitive matters, said Jean Dussourd, a U.N. official dealing with the issue.

The U.N. has warned that the duties will be transferred on the condition that there is effective monitoring, accountability and training.

Despite the transfer, the global body maintains its authority over the province's affairs. The work of the two new ministries will be subject to a three-month review, Dussourd said.

The move, which is seen as a sign of increasing control by the Kosovo government over the province's affairs, has been criticized by Serbia's authorities.

The U.N. has administered Kosovo since a 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing campaign halted the Serbian crackdown on independence- seeking ethnic Albanians.

Serbia wants to retain at least formal control over Kosovo in the future while the province's ethnic Albanians insist on gaining independence.

U.N.-mediated talks to resolve the issue are expected to start next year.

The province has an elected parliament, government and president with limited powers. It also has a local police service of 7,500 officers who serve alongside 2,700 U.N. police officers.

Earlier this month, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe issued a report criticizing Kosovo's U.N.-run justice system for failing to condemn the worst outbreak of ethnic violence that rocked the province last year.

The report assessed the court cases dealing with two days of rioting in March 2004 when ethnic Albanian mobs targeted minority Serbs in a wave of attacks that killed 19 people and left thousands homeless.

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