Ethnic minorities, including the Serb, Romani, Ashkali, Egyptian, Turkish, Bosniak, Gorani, Croat, and Montenegrin communities, faced varying levels of institutional and societal discrimination in employment, education, social services, language use, freedom of movement, the right to return to their homes (for displaced persons), and other basic rights.
The prime minister’s Office of Community Affairs noted discrimination in public-sector employment in almost all local and national institutions. Although the law mandates that 10 percent of employees at the local and national levels of government be members of minorities, their representation remained limited and generally confined to lower-level positions. Smaller communities, such as Gorani, Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians, were particularly underrepresented. There were no legal remedies to address these concerns.
NGOs reported attempts by universities to discriminate in admissions and hiring against persons wearing Muslim religious garb, including hijabs. The law prohibits the wearing of religious symbols in elementary schools, but antidiscrimination statutes protect religious dress at the university level.
Romani, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities experienced pervasive social and economic discrimination. They often lacked access to basic hygiene, medical care, and education and were heavily dependent on humanitarian aid for subsistence.
The law requires equal conditions for all schoolchildren and recognizes minority students’ right to public education in their native languages through secondary school. This law was not enforced, with the country’s Bosniak, Croat, Gorani, Montenegrin, Romani, and Turkish leaders noting that their communities lacked textbooks and other materials.
Access to justice for non-Albanian communities, particularly for Kosovo Serbs and displaced persons, remained a concern. Poor or no translation in proceedings before the courts, a backlog of cases, the nonexecution of decisions, limited numbers of non-Albanian staff, inconsistency between Albanian and Serbian translations of legislation, and the lack of functional judiciary system in northern Kosovo hindered proper delivery of justice. Security incidents against Kosovo Serbs persisted, particularly in the Peje/Pec, Istog/Istok, and Kline/Klina regions. In the first seven months of the year, there were more than 105 incidents involving thefts, break-ins, verbal harassment, and damage to the property of Kosovo Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Kosovo Serb representatives continued to call for increasing the number of Kosovo Serbs on the police force, particularly in returnee areas. The number of Kosovo Serbs in the KSF almost doubled during the year, with 58 additions.
On January 10, a hand grenade detonated in front of Hotel Sasa in North Mitrovica/e North, damaging windows and two parked vehicles. The hotel hosted a small number of government branch offices as part of Brussels Dialogue implementation. An investigation was underway.
On January 14, the government denied entry to a special train from Belgrade emblazoned with nationalistic statements and Serb religious imagery, while Kosovo Police deployed special units in northern Kosovo, increasing tensions between Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians. On January 15, almost 2,000 Kosovo Serbs gathered in Mitrovica/e North to protest government and police actions.
On the evening of February 14, a group of 20 young Kosovo Albanians chanted anti-Serb slogans and sprayed anti-Serb graffiti in a Kosovo Serb-inhabited area of Gjilan/Gnjilane, including on the Serbian Orthodox church and a Serbian-language school’s outer walls. The graffiti included “Kill Serbs,” a swastika symbol, and “UCK--Kosovo Liberation Army.” Anti-Serb graffiti also appeared in an ethnically mixed village in nearby Novo Brdo/Novoberde municipality. Kosovo Police arrested one Kosovo Albanian minor.
On May 29, unknown assailants fired a dozen bullets at a building containing PKS offices in the northern Kosovo municipality of Leposavic/q. No injuries were reported, but the bullets damaged windows and a wall. In July, two Kosovo Serb opposition politicians were victims of vehicle arson in Mitrovica/e North. No injuries were reported, and an investigation was underway.
The language commissioner monitored and reported on the implementation of legislation that conferred equal status to the country’s two official languages, Albanian and Serbian, as well as official languages used at the local level, including Bosnian, Romani, and Turkish. In February the commissioner told the media that local municipal administrations did not fully respect the Law on Use of Languages, citing lack of political will. He also noted the lack of translation into Serbian language within several institutions, including the Ministry of Health and the national power company.
Amendments to administrative rulings permit Bosniaks, Roma, and Turks to have identity documents issued in their own languages, but minority representatives often complained of poor implementation.