The following is an excerpt from BIRN (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network) Kosovo article regarding the market in travel documents. This is a follow-up to the prior post on UNMIK travel documents and the restricted freedom of movement that Kosovar citizens face. Many Kosovars seek Serbian (still issued as Yugoslavian) passports, however, the process is long and Kosovars are often denied Yugoslav travel documents. Hence, in this investigation by BIRN, it was found that there is a thriving market in Serbian travel documents and the hub it centered in the Montenegrin town of Rozaje with important links to the Kosovo Police Service.
INVESTIGATION: Ex-Policemen Run Kosovo Passport Scam
01 12 2006 While it is hard for most Kosovars to get papers to travel abroad, racketeers can solve everything for a fee.
By Krenar Gashi in Pristina and BIRN teams in Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro (Balkan Insight, 1 Dec 06)
“For 300 euro I can get you all the documents in one day,” said Sajo, a former policeman in Kosovo and now based in Rozaje, in Montenegro. “All at once – birth certificate, citizenship papers, ID and passport.”
Sajo sells new identity papers to Kosovars. There are many like him in Montenegro and Kosovo, where a lucrative trade in falsely obtained passports and other documents is booming.
In an undercover investigation by BIRN, we can reveal the large amounts of money Kosovars routinely pay to people like Sajo to obtain new versions of the old Yugoslav passport.
Yugoslav documents are still valid in the region and indeed continue to be issued in Serbia, which has not yet updated its issuing authorities to take account of the dissolution of the former federation.
We examined the market that the racketeers have set up, posing as mediators between ordinary people and complex government institutions in the region and found out that the newly independent republic of Montenegro forms a vital link in the passport and document scam.
Most extraordinarily of all, we discovered that former policemen, like Sajo, are a crucial link in the chain.
Although Serbian law stipulates that people can only apply for documents in person, these mediators can, in fact, accomplish this task for other people.
They can also do it – as Sajo says – in the space of a day, even though Serbian regulations say at least one week is needed.
Balkan Insight approached Serbia’s ministry of interior but they refused to comment on this matter.
LINK TO FULL ARTICLE: http://kosovo.birn.eu.com/en/1/50/
Posted By Nicole Slezak
Posted Jul 2nd, 2007