The security environment in the north remained unpredictable and authorities reported incidents including explosions, vehicle arson, and exchanges of gunfire. EULEX and KFOR repeatedly intervened to prevent clashes between Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians. In June, Serb hardliners attacked KFOR personnel and shot and injured two German soldiers during an operation to remove a roadblock in Rudare.
On November 20, an estimated 100 Kosovo Serbs protested the reconstruction of houses for Kosovo Albanians in Kroi i Vitakut/Brdjani, where witnesses claimed protesters fired weapons, and an unidentified person tossed an explosive device at Kosovo Albanians gathered nearby. Four days earlier, unknown persons set fire to construction materials assembled for the houses. Police had no suspects and reported no injuries.
In July the government opened the Mitrovice/Mitrovica Northern Administration Office (MNAO) to deliver public services to the yet-to-be-established Mitrovice/Mitrovica North municipality. Serb hardliners rejected the office as another attempt by authorities unilaterally to impose rule in the north. The MNAO received hundreds of applications from northern Kosovo Serbs, indicating their willingness to cooperate with government institutions.
On December 7, a masked assailant shot at four MNAO employees, injuring one, as they left a local cafe. The perpetrator remained at large at year’s end. On at least three occasions during the year, MNAO vehicles or vehicles belonging to office employees were set on fire and destroyed. In December two explosions occurred near MNAO-supported projects. Police identified no suspects in any of the incidents.
The government undertook a reform of its language commission, which had little authority to monitor the implementation of the country’s language policy. Under the reform, the government appointed a full-time language commissioner to monitor and sanction government institutions. The government also took action on several other policy initiatives, including offering language courses for civil servants, to augment the number of bilingual civil servants. The government also appointed a new language commissioner in December 2012 as part of its efforts to strengthen implementation of the language policy.
Ethnic minorities, which included Serb, Romani, Ashkali, Egyptian, Turkish, Bosniak, Gorani, Croat, and Montenegrin communities, faced varied levels of institutional and societal discrimination in areas such as employment, education, social services, language use, freedom of movement, IDPs’ right to return, and other basic rights. Members of the Romani, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities were subject to pervasive social and economic discrimination; often lacked access to basic hygiene, medical care, and education; and were heavily dependent on humanitarian aid for basic subsistence.
Reports of violence and other crimes directed at minorities and their property persisted.
Government officials and international organizations quickly condemned the July 6 killing of a Serb returnee couple, who were shot in their Talinovic home. In August police detained two suspects for questioning in the shootings but made no arrests. Police reassigned the investigation to the Major Crimes Unit whose efforts to resolve the case continued at year’s end.
On June 13, in Mitrovice/Mitrovica , two men attacked Father Mitrofan, a Serbian Orthodox monk, wearing full religious attire. The monk was treated for head and arm injuries. Police were unable to identify any suspects.
Kline/Klina Serb returnees experienced multiple episodes of intimidation. On May 22, two Serb homes were set on fire, with one property destroyed. Before the fires, returnee families in eight villages received written threats from a radical unit calling themselves the “Albanian National Army” suggesting the families leave the country. Police opened an investigation but made no arrests by the end of the year. In August another returnee property to Kline/Klina experienced two fires in two days. Local police blamed the fires on nearby electrical wires.
Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs clashed during the year, with the most serious incidents taking place on the June 28 Serbian holiday of Vidovdan (St. Vitus). Kosovo police ordered a bus with Serbian passengers to return to Serbia after riders threw stones at and verbally abused border officials. At the departure gates, the visitors threw Molotov cocktails, batons, beer bottles, and rocks at police, injuring 35 officers, two seriously. The visitors also sustained wounds, but exact figures were unavailable. In a separate incident on the same day, Kosovo Albanians attacked three buses taking Kosovo Serb youths to Gracanica following Vidovdan activities near Prishtine/Pristina. Approximately 16 children were injured in the incident, which included Kosovo Albanians throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the buses. Police made no arrests in either incident. The PIK conducted an investigation and concluded no police officers committed criminal offenses; a reviewing prosecutor concurred.
In July the court sentenced Naif Visoqi to 16 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to the October 2011 killing of a Kosovo Serb man and injuring two others in the Istog/Istok municipality.
Minority employment in public institutions remained limited and generally confined to lower levels of the government. The government had no effective mechanism for monitoring levels of minority employment in public institutions.
The law requires equal conditions for school children regardless of their mother tongue and provides the right to native-language public education for minority students through secondary school. However, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology and international organizations reported school-enrollment rates were lowest among non-Serb minority communities (Ashkali, Bosniak, Egyptian, Gorani, Romani, Turkish, and others), and the European Commission’s Progress Report on Kosovo 2011 noted little improvement in access to education for minority communities. The UNDP’s 2010 Kosovo Human Development Report concluded nearly all Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb children attended primary school, while only 77 percent of children of other ethnic groups attended. Romani, Ashkali, and Egyptian children attended mixed schools with Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb children and reportedly faced intimidation and bullying in some majority Albanian areas. Poverty disadvantaged many Romani children and caused many to leave school at an early age to contribute to family income.