Besa Luci, editor-in-chief of Kosovo 2.0 magazine, said the indictments are a good example of the functioning of the law.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 13/09/13
Besa Luci, editor-in-chief of Kosovo 2.0 magazine, said the December attack showed that discrimination laws cannot be ignored. [frequency.com]
Criminal charges filed this month against three people for a hate-fueled attack in 2012 at the Youth Centre of Pristina are being seen as a victory for both open media and the rights of the LBGT community.
Kosovo local and EULEX prosecutors filed an indictment September 4th against three people for their alleged involvement in an attack against Kosovo 2.0 magazine, which was launching an edition on heterosexual and homosexual sexuality in the Western Balkans.
About 20 people broke into the Youth Center in Pristina on December 14th 2012 and destroyed the set, television monitors, projectors and DVD players and attacked a staff member. The three people indicted this month are charged with inflicting light bodily harm and inciting national, racial, religious or ethnic hatred, discord or intolerance.
There are seven separate cases related to the Kosovo 2.0 investigation.
Two have been dismissed by the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, which said the cases should be handled by a civil proceeding, not the criminal court. Regarding the third case, the investigation "did not lead to the identity of the perpetrators."
"The investigation is still going on. The prosecution calls upon Kosovo citizens to report information that might lead to identifying more perpetrators," EULEX said in a statement.
Besa Luci, editor-in-chief of Kosovo 2.0, was happy about the indictments.
"Yes, we are satisfied, and I hope that the indictment raised from the prosecution will be a good example of the functioning of the law. The fact that the indictment was raised shows that even the free speech, be it of the individual or the media, as in the case of Kosovo 2.0, cannot be violated," Luci told SETimes.
Luci said the December attack helped raise awareness about LBGT rights, "although little" has happened since to improve them.
"Unfortunately, an attack like that of December 14th had to happen to make the institutions and the media aware that a serious problem as homophobia should not be ignored, but must be addressed from different angles," Luci said.
Kosovo officials say they are assembling a plan to implement the country's anti-discrimination laws. [AFP]
Luci said more engagement is needed to fight homophobia from the institutions, education sector, police and media.
Majlinda Sinani Lulaj, spokesperson for the Kosovo ombudsperson's office, agreed. She told SETimes that it is necessary for Kosovo to adopt laws similar to those in the European community to guarantee rights and freedoms to the LGBT community.
"The problem of homophobia can be overcome this way and respect for the rights and freedoms of this part of the population as well, be ensured. Acts of violence and intolerance and hate speech against an individual or part of the population, including the LGBT, are unacceptable and pose a violation of the right of the rule of law and democracy,” Sinani Lulaj said.
Kosovo officials said the government is working to build the legal framework in accordance with the European standards.
Sadete Demaj-Kajtazi, a senior official for human rights in Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's office, said that despite the constitutional and legal guarantees, what happened last year showed that there are negative reactions and actions that violate and insult the rights of the LGBT community. Demaj-Kajtazi said the reaction comes as a consequence of the lack of knowledge and information about the LGBT issues.
Demaj-Kajtazi said Thaci's office is developing a plan to implement Kosovo's anti-discrimination law.
"[It] will foresee and include a series of measures to protect people from discrimination because of the sexual orientation and their gender identity and encourage all organisations concerned with the protection and promotion of the rights of these communities to be part of this process [in creating the action plan]," Demaj-Kajtazi told SETimes.
What forms of discrimination have you seen in Kosovo? Add your thoughts in the space below.