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Under Orders: War Crimes in Kosovo

NCJ Number
Date Published
613 pages
This report documents war crimes committed by Serbian and Yugoslav government personnel against Kosovar Albanians between March 24, 1999, and June 12, 1999, the period of NATO’s air campaign against Yugoslavia.
The text presents case studies based on refugee accounts, together with scientifically rigorous statistical analysis of data from more than 600 Human Rights Watch interviews to examine trends and patterns of the crimes committed. A chapter on the background to the conflict provides an analysis of the history and human rights abuses that precipitated the armed conflict, including the international community’s inattention to the human rights abuses in the interests of short-term political stability and the West’s lack of a strategic approach to the region. The text documents murders, rapes, forced expulsions, and other war crimes that represented a coordinated and systematic campaign to terrorize, kill, and expel the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo. It emphasizes that the highest levels of the Serbian and Yugoslav governments in power at that time organized this campaign. The discussion focuses on the governments’ aims and strategies and the kinds of abuses documented for each region and type of abuse. It also discusses the chain of command of the Serbian police, the Yugoslav Army, and the Kosovo Liberation Army. The report also describes serious abuses committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army, which abducted and murdered civilians during and after the war, as well as by NATO, which failed adequately to minimize civilian casualties during its bombing of Yugoslavia. However, the main focus of the analysis is the Serbian and Yugoslav government-sponsored violence against ethnic Albanian citizens of Yugoslavia. Additional chapters explain international and domestic legal standards that apply to the Kosovo conflict and the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Figures, tables, photographs, index, chapter notes, and Kosovo human rights bibliography consisting of 43 references (Publisher summary modified)