UN cites conviction of Kosovar officials in Turkish intelligence case as progress in the country’s rule of law

The United Nations hailed the court proceedings against Kosovar officials who were involved in the abduction of critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Nordic Monitor reported.

In a report issued by the UN secretary-general on April 12, 2022 on the work of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), confirmation of the conviction of the Kosovar officials who helped Turkish intelligence abduct six Turkish nationals in a clandestine operation was cited as part of the development of the rule of law and human rights in Kosovo.

According to the UN the appeals court in Kosovo confirmed “indictments for abuse of official position or authority against the former heads of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency, the Department for Citizenship, Asylum and Immigration in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Directorate for Migration and Foreigners in the Kosovo Border Police, respectively.”

The ruling, rendered on December 17, 2021 by the Special Department of the Court of Appeals, upheld an earlier decision of the Special Department of the Basic Court of Pristina regarding the expulsion in March 2018 of six Erdoğan critics from Kosovo in violation of Kosovo laws.

Kosovar authorities initiated criminal prosecution, indictments and court proceedings after six Turkish nationals were illegally taken out of the country by the Turkish intelligence agency in March 2018, apparently aided and abetted by some Kosovar officials.

The incident sparked a crisis in Kosovo, with the prime minister saying he was not informed in advance of the operation, immediately sacking the interior minister and security chief.

The six teachers — Kahraman Demirez, Mustafa Erdem, Hasan Hüseyin Günakan, Yusuf Karabina, Osman Karakaya and Cihan Özkan — were arrested at Turkey’s request over alleged links to Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, and forcibly transported to Turkey.

A report published by a Kosovo parliamentary commission in February 2019 had found that 31 violations of laws and procedures took place during the deportation. Members of the parliamentary commission authoring the report accused former president Hashim Thaci of being behind the incident.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concluded in September 2021 that the arrest, detention and forced transfer to Turkey of the teachers by Kosovar and Turkish state agents were arbitrary and in violation of international human rights norms and standards.

According to a report by Freedom House on global transnational repression, Turkey has become number one among countries that have conducted renditions from host states since 2014. The Turkish government has pursued its perceived enemies in at least 30 different host countries spread across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia since a coup attempt in July 2016.

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