Monday, July 7, 2014

Domi Calls on Serbian Authorities to Swiftly Investigate and Prosecute Those Responsible for Murdering the Bytyqi Brothers

SARAJEVO, BiH, July 7, 2014 -- Tanya L. Domi, a professor of human rights at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and an affiliate faculty member of the Harriman Institute, called on responsible Serbian authorities today to swiftly investigate and prosecute those individuals who were responsible for the execution of the Bytyqi brothers, American citizens, who were murdered in 1999 near the end of the Kosovo War.

Ylli, Agron and Mehmet Bytyqi, hailed from Hampton Bays, New York.  They had returned to Kosovo in 1999 to help family members whose lives were endangered in the midst of a war, when the brothers were executed.  According to eyewitness accounts, the brothers were helping people flee a combat zone when they accidentally ventured into Serbian territory on July 7, 1999.  They were driven away, hands bound with wire. Today marks the 15th anniversary of their deaths.

Domi issued a statement in support of Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY), who has offered a Congressional resolution calling for justice in resolving the Bytyqi brothers' deaths. Former U.S. Ambassador (ret.) Robert Barry is representing the Bytyqi family and has called on the Vucic government to take appropriate steps to adjudicate the Bytyqi murders.  

Rep. Bishop is commemorating the murders of the brothers today in Hampton Bays, New York.

Professor Domi's statement:

"It is imperative for the Vucic government to undertake swift action to properly investigate and prosecute all parties who were involved in ordering and carrying out the murders of these Americans. As Serbia further deepens its EU accession process, it is critical that it demonstrate respect for the rule of law. The just resolution of the murders of the Bytyqi brothers would demonstrate the Serbian government's commitment to the rule of law.  It would also remove a stain of impunity from the current government's leadership. To act now to resolve this heinous crime, could not be a better time for the Vucic government to demonstrate its deep commitment to the rule of law by solving the murders of the Bytuqi brothers."

Last week in Belgrade, a consortium of Serbian domestic NGOs , led by the Humanitarian Law Centre, called on the government of Serbia to actively support the EU accession process, by showing particular adherence to and respect for transitional justice within Serbia.  The consortium intends to closely monitor the Serbian government and the EU accession process and will issue "shadow" reports in conjunction with the monitoring efforts.


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