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NATO’s War Crimes in Yugoslavia

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Amnesty International this week released a blistering attack on NATO, accusing it of committing serious violations of the rules of war, unlawful killings and — in the case of the bombing of Serbia’s television headquarters — a war crime. The report comes just a week after War Crimes Tribunal Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte announced she will not prosecute NATO for war crimes.

Amnesty’s report details a number of mass killings of civilians in NATO raids and states that “civilian deaths could have been significantly reduced if NATO forces had fully adhered to the rules of war.”

Some of Amnesty’s harshest criticism is directed at the April 23rd bombing of Radio Television Serbia’s headquarters. The report says “General Wesley Clark has stated, 'We knew when we struck that there would be alternate means of getting the Serb Television. There's no single switch to turn off everything but we thought it was a good move to strike it, and the political leadership agreed with us.’”

“In other words,” the report continues ”NATO deliberately attacked a civilian object, killing 16 civilians, for the purpose of disrupting Serb television broadcasts in the middle of the night for approximately three hours. It is hard to see how this can be consistent with the rule of proportionality.”

(We should say, we did invite the Pentagon, the US State Department and NATO to join us for today’s program. Let’s just say we don’t have a crowded studio. Both the Pentagon and State Department said no. NATO representatives did not return our phone calls.)


  • Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s Director of Research. He oversaw the research on the Amnesty report on NATO’s bombing called “Collateral Damage or Unlawful Killings? Violations of the Laws of War by NATO during Operation Allied Force.”
  • William Arkan, Senior Military Advisor to Human Rights Watch. He authored a report on NATOs bombing that was released in February. He is currently working on a report on NATO’s targeting during the bombing.
  • David Jacobs, a Canadian human rights lawyer who last year was one of 12 lawyers who filed a request to the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to indict Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and some 60 other NATO leaders for the bombing of Yugoslavia. That request was denied officially last week by Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.
  • Borka Bankovic, the mother of Ksenija Bankovic who was a 27 year old video editor at RTS who was killed by the NATO bombing on April 23, 1999.
  • Seth Ackerman, a media analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. He has an article in the most recent issue of In These Times called “Mission Implausible: What the media didn’t tell you about the Chinese Embassy bombing.”

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