(Natasa Kandic, Photo: Markus Junghard)
Nataša Kandić, founder of Humanitarian Law Center in Serbia and 1999 MEA Laureate, has been awarded the 2013 “Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award” for her “persistent and fearless work on documenting war crimes and the most serious human rights abuses in the former Yugoslavia, and for supporting war crimes trials by providing courts with evidence and witnesses.” Nataša’s human rights work has put her life at risk but her concern has always been with the war crime victims and not her own persona. “Those who choose to work with human rights connected to war cannot be afraid. I have never thought about risks. I am always only thinking about uncovering the truth about the crimes that have been committed and seeking the conviction of those responsible. There is no room for fear”, she stated. During the 1990’s, Nataša Kandić began to visit Kosovo regularly where, besides looking for information and witnesses, she offered legal assistance and support to victims of human rights violations. In 1998, when the Serbian repression increased, the HLC office in Pristina published reports on human rights violations in Kosovo that were in direct contrast to the information spread by the Serbian authorities. A recent example of HLCs documentation of the past is the massive effort of compiling and publishing the Kosovo Memory Book, which covers all killed and missing persons in Kosovo during the armed conflict from 1998 to 2000.