Civil society organizations call on the deputies from the Democratic Party of Kosovo, specifically the proposer of the draft-law Mr. Gazmend Bytyqi to withdraw the Draft-law on the Protection of KLA War Values.

We have been following the recent developments regarding this draft-law with great concern and we believe that as such the draft-law is not in line with the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo. Particularly the current draft-law violates freedom of speech, while it undermines the efforts toward bringing justice for all victims and survivors from all ethnic backgrounds.

According to Article 40 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo freedom of expression is a guaranteed right and it includes the right of people to express themselves, to disseminate and receive information, opinions and other messages without impediment. Article 5 of the draft-law on the Protection of the KLA War Values, states that “any public official and citizen of the Republic of Kosovo shall be obliged to respect and protect the war values determined by this Law in any time and circumstance within the country and abroad.” This article clearly violates freedom of expression guaranteed with the Constitution and as such should not be enforced.

The proposed draft-law is very concerning when taking into account the overall public discourse and political implications revolving around the role and legacy of the KLA. There have been a number of occasions in the past when people have been lynched for publicly expressing their opinions about the KLA and individuals that have been part of the KLA. Additionally, the passing of this law would open a door for other initiatives that violate this right and as such it would set a dangerous precedent. Therefore, we call on the members of the parliament to be vigilant and focus on protecting freedom of expression as a basic human right and a foundational democratic value.

We believe that our institutional and collective efforts should be focused toward peace and reconciliation, supporting and respecting the dignity of all victims and survivors of all ethnicities from the last war in Kosovo and demanding justice for all of them.

Civil society organizations:

Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo (YIHR KS)
Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLC)
Kosovo Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims (KRCT)
Alternative Dispute Resolution Center (ADRC)
New Social Initiative (NSI)