By Griffin W. Huschke, Mayme and Herb Frank Research Fellow
There’s some grizzly news released by the European Court of Human Rights yesterday. After a two-year inquiry, it seems that investigators have found evidence of an established organ-trafficking network in Kosovo which involved the country’s current Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and officials from the Kosovo Liberation Army. The operation was active mainly during the Kosovo Conflict and:
The trafficking, according to the report, evolved over time and consisted of detention centers spread through Albania that were controlled by the Kosovo Liberation Army. The military detention facilities changed in character to private residences, including Albanian farmhouses and storage barns and ultimately a makeshift operating clinic where organs were shipped out of Albania and sold to private overseas clinics. Initially the captives were Serb prisoners, but the ring also kidnapped ethnic Albanians to settle old scores, the report said.
Its pretty incendiary stuff, and it comes just days after Thaci’s party won in the first Kosovar parliamentary elections since independence. The degree to which this ring likely pervaded the officers in Kosovo Liberation Army, many of which now hold prominent places in the leading party’s government, ensures there’s going to be massive fallout from this report. Even the UN Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was implicated in an effort to cover-up the trafficking.
Kosovo’s only shot to salvage its reputation is to react hard and fast to these allegations. Many in the international community sympathized with what was viewed as Yguslav aggression against the Kosovars, but Kosovo’s allies are going to be extremely unamused if the Kosovo Liberation Army spent its free time reenacting a bad Jude Law movie. EULEX is already assisting with rule of law projects in the country, so Pristina has the capacity to fully investigate these atrocities. Now officials need to immediately demonstrate they have the will.
If Kosovo doesn’t investigate these charges to its full ability, the European Union is going to shut down all talk of accession. Until now, the EU has had to walk a fine line between deeper integration with Serbia, which still claims Kosovo, and the secessionist government in Pristina. But if these allegations are true, and Kosovo is run by thugs who internalized a Monty Python sketch to a disgusting degree, it makes picking between the two sides very easy.
As Spike would say, Kosovo needs to do the right thing. If it doesn’t, they’re going to be left out in the cold for a long, long time.