Ceremony marks a new chapter in restoring property rights in Kosovo
The closing of the Housing and Property Claims Commission and the inauguration of the newly appointed Kosovo Property Claims Commission is a new landmark in the work of restoring property rights in Kosovo.
“We must remember that as a result of the hard work of the Housing and Property Claims Commission, families who were forced to flee their homes or forced out of their property because of discriminatory policies, have been able to regain the rights they once lost”, said he Principal Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Kosovo (PDSRSG) Steven Schook on the closing ceremony of Housing and Property Claims Commission (HPCC) and the inauguration of the Kosovo Property Claims Commission (KPCC), hosted at UNMIK Headquarters in Pristina on 6 June.
More than 50 distinguished guests attended the ceremony including Kosovo Prime Minister Mr.Agim Çeku and several other ministers from the Provisional Institutions of Self Government, as well as representatives from UNMIK, UN Habitat, EU, OSCE, KFOR and several liaison offices located in Pristina.
The HPPC was established by UNMIK Regulation 1999/23 promulgated on 15 November 1999. Its mandate was amended by UNMIK Regulation 2000/60 promulgated on 31 October 2000. The work of HPCC reversed the discriminatory loss of residential property which occurred during 1989-1999, regularized informal sales of property and restored possession of residential property to persons displaced by the 1999 conflict. In total 29,160 claims were submitted to the Housing and Property Directorate (HPD), and some 26,790 of these claims have been adjudicated by the HPCC. The remaining claims were either withdrawn or decided directly by the HPD.
Mr. Schook said that the completion of the work of HPCC is a tribute to the people of Kosovo, who he complemented for having shown the courage to pursue the restitution of their property rights to the letter of the law. He added: “I’m particularly proud of these achievements, not at least because it has restored legitimacy to property rights in Kosovo and established a process that can be replicated in other territories where property rights have been infringed. This is indeed an export that Kosovo can be proud of!”
Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Çeku also congratulated the HPCC with the completion of its mandate. “HPCC has done a great job, based on law and regulations this commission has dealt with thousands of claims during its mandate. Today we see the good results of their work, as a huge achievement for Kosovo and its citizens”, said Çeku. He also emphasized that respecting the right of the private properties for all citizens is also a step forward to fulfil the standards for development and integrations.
The chairman of HPCC, Mr. Alan Dodson from South Africa handed over a final report of the commission’s work to the PDSRSG and the Prime Minister. “I hope that the commission’s work and experience can serve as a guide for future post-conflict scenarios where there is a need for issues to be addressed”, said Mr. Dodson.
In the second part of the ceremony, the inauguration of the Kosovo Property Claims Commission (KPCC), the PDSRSG opened the swearing-in ceremony for the members of the KPCC. This inauguration marked the next vital step in restoring property rights in Kosovo. Whereas the HPCC only adjudicated claims for residential properties, the KPCC will deal mainly with commercial and agricultural properties. The KPCC was appointed on 14 may and the members are: Mr. Veijo Heiskanen from Finland (chairman), Norbert Wühler from Germany and Aqif Tuhina from Kosovo. All of them are experts in field of property law.
The KPCC has, subject to appeal to the Supreme Court of Kosovo, exclusive jurisdiction to resolve disputes for private immovable property, including agricultural property and land, which arise from the armed conflict between 27 Feb 1998 and 20 June 1999. Thus far some 22,399 claims have been submitted.
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