Letter from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights to Dr Thomas De Maizière, German Federal Minister of the Interior
CommDH(2010)52 / 09 December 2010

Letter to Germany

Strasbourg 15/12/2009

"The forced return to Kosovo of people who have found shelter in European states should be halted", said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights publishing today a letter to the Chancellor of Germany, Dr. Angela Merkel. He notes that Kosovo lacks infrastructures allowing refugees' sustainable reintegration.

The Commissioner is particularly worried by the fact that Roma expelled from European states had to return to the lead-contaminated camps of Česmin Lug and Osterode in northern Mitrovica, where the exposure to lead has already caused serious illnesses to members of Roma families living there, including children. "These camps must be urgently closed, adequate housing provided to the families and complete lead-decontamination treatments ensured to all those affected."

The Commissioner further stresses that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confirmed in November that those who fled Kosovo and are still at particular risk of persecution include Serbs and Albanians in minority situations as well as Roma, persons in ethnically mixed-marriages or of mixed ethnicity, persons perceived to have been associated with the Serbian authorities after 1990, victims of trafficking or of domestic violence and persons whose asylum claims were based on sexual orientation.

"Return is not purely a technical administrative act", added the Commissioner. "It means to receive and re-integrate returning people, including families, in dignity and security. I urge the German authorities to prevent any further forced returns to Kosovo, particularly of Roma people, as long as the situation there does not guarantee a safe and sustainable life for returnees."

Read the Letter to Germany

* "All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo."

Letter from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights to Mrs Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, concerning forced returns to Kosovo
CommDH(2009)42 / 15 December 2009

Report by the Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, on his visit to Germany (9-11 and 15-20 October 2006)
CommDH(2007)14 / 11 July 2007
CommDH(2007)14 / 11 July 2007 (in German)