The United Nations Police chief in Kosovo has banned the use of rubber bullets by any police unit in the UN-run province, he said today, adding that Member States who contribute officers are also being consulted about outlawing their use in all other peacekeeping operations.
Police Commissioner Richard Monk’s remarks follow the deaths in February of two protesters who were killed when members of a Romanian Formed Police Unit (FPU) fired rubber bullets. His comments also come a day after a UN official investigating the deaths called for a “thorough review” of the use of rubber bullets.
“As regards the rubber bullets themselves, shortly after my arrival, I sent to UN Headquarters in New York a request that rubber bullets be withdrawn from the armoury of any state supplying Formed Police Units (FPU) to Kosovo,” Mr. Monk told a press conference organized by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
“And I received notification from New York that all police contributing nations are being consulted with a view to banning their use in peacekeeping missions. I also directed that all out-of-date rubber bullets be returned to their respective state or destroyed and I have prohibited the carriage or use of rubber bullets by any police unit in Kosovo for whatever purpose.”
Mr. Monk took over in Kosovo in early March after his predecessor was asked to resign following the deaths, and he told reporters today that after his arrival he instituted a “bottom to top review” of UN and Kosovo Police Services (KPS) policies, procedures and tactics for dealing with crowd and riot control.
In his press conference yesterday, UNMIK’s Acting Director of Justice Robert Dean told journalists that the experience of the UN Police during the demonstration on 10 February this year showed a “thorough review” was warranted. In addition, Mr. Dean’s just-completed second report into the deaths includes six other conclusions and recommendations.
Mr. Monk said he accepted all the findings related to the February events, adding that most of the recommendations have already been implemented and emphasizing that “police should use only the minimum level of force necessary to overcome the threat or use of force against them or the person they are defending.”
“I accept without qualification the recommendations of the Special Prosecutor and I am grateful for the findings of the all the other pieces of work. I am pleased to say that most of the recommendations have already been implemented into Kosovo Police Service Operations Planning and applied in the last three public protest marches,” he said.