Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Report "Problems of Internally Displaced Persons in Accessing Property Rights in Kosovo - in 7 stories" Published




The right to peaceful enjoyment of property is one of the basic human rights, particularly significant to internally displaced persons (IDPs), since exercise of that right is an important precondition for sustainable return of displaced persons to places of their permanent residence or, on the other hand, for taking up permanent residence in places in which they sought refuge.

Internally displaced persons cannot be illegally deprived of their property rights and their property left behind in the place of permanent residence should be protected against destruction and arbitrary and illegal appropriation, occupation or use1.

An independent and impartial body should decide about the requests of internally displaced persons for repossession of property (housing, commercial property and land) which they have been deprived of arbitrarily and illegally. In addition, internally displaced persons have the right to return voluntarily to their former homes, lands or places of habitual residence, in safety and dignity2.

Ten years after the conflict in Kosovo, many internally displaced persons are still facing problems in exercising their property rights, despite the above-mentioned international principles and the fact that the international community had established independent bodies and a separate legal framework for protection of property rights in Kosovo.

In November 1999, under the auspices of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Housing an Property Directorate and the Housing and Property Claims Commission were established and given the mandate to resolve property claims in Kosovo, until the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General considers that the local authority institutions are able to perform duties assigned to the above-mentioned bodies. The Housing and Property Claims Commission, as an independent quasi-judicial body, had the jurisdiction to resolve property disputes relating to possession right over the housing property.

In March 2006, the Kosovo Property Agency (KPA)  continued the work of the Housing and Property Directorate. The mandate of KPA and the Kosovo Property Claims Commission (KPCC) was extended to resolving disputes relating to ownership right over immovable property, including not only housing property, but also the commercial property and land.

The majority of property claims were submitted to the Housing and Property Directorate (HPA) and the KPA by non-Albanians, internally displaced persons temporarily residing in Serbia.

Through seven cases described in this publication, in which Praxis was providing legal assistance to its clients, we would like to show the shortcomings of the property restitution mechanism and difficulties and obstacles in IDPs’ accessing property rights in Kosovo.
1. Principle 21 of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
2. The Pinheiro Principles, Principle 2 and Principle 10

Download: Problems of IDPs in Accessing Property Rights in Kosovo in 7 Stories





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