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Court Rejects Complaint Against NATO

December 19, 2001

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday refused to accept a complaint against NATO brought by a group of Yugoslavs whose relatives were killed in the 1999 allied bombing of Serbian television.

Judges at the court in Strasbourg, France, unanimously declared the case inadmissible because the action occurred outside its jurisdiction in Yugoslavia, which is not part of the 43-member Council of Europe.

The complaint was brought by six Yugoslavs. Five of them had family members who were among 16 people killed when NATO planes bombed television headquarters in Belgrade during the Kosovo conflict. The sixth was himself injured.

In a statement, the court said Yugoslavia ``clearly did not fall within this legal space.″

It added that the European Convention on Human Rights ``was not designed to be applied throughout the world, even in respect of the conduct of contracting states.″

The Yugoslavs lodged their complaint in October 1999 against the 17 European NATO member nations, who are all members of the Council of Europe and signatories of the Convention on Human Rights.

Their lawyers said the bombing of the TV station violated articles of the convention guaranteeing right to life, freedom of expression and right of an effective remedy for complaints.

NATO planes bombed the headquarters of Radio-Television Serbia early on April 23, 1999, one month into NATO’s 78-day air campaign against Yugoslavia.

NATO’s two non-European members _ the United States and Canada _ are not signatories to the human rights convention and therefore were not named in the case.

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