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Kosovo constitutional court approves new war crimes tribunal

The constitutional court ruled that a new EU-backed special court that is expected to try senior Kosovo Liberation Army figures does not breach any rights or freedoms.

The court ruled on Wednesday that an amendment to Kosovo's constitution allowing the establishment of the new Brussels-backed tribunal was acceptable, opening the way for a vote in parliament on the new legal body which will deal with alleged crimes during and after the war.

The Pristina government has proposed a new article in the constitution called 'The Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor's Office' to allow the special court to be set up within Kosovo's justice system.

The opposition Vetevendosje (Self-Determination Movement) party claimed that the new article, constitutional amendment 24, breached Kosovo's laws because it established a parallel judicial body.

But the court rejected this claim.

"Amendment number 24 does not diminish the human rights and freedoms set forth in Chapter II of the constitution as well as Chapter III of the constitution and its letter and spirit as established in the court's case law," it said in its ruling.

The constitutional amendment still has to be approved by Kosovo's parliament, which will open the way for the draft law on the special court to be voted on as well.

The draft law says that the new court's jurisdiction will cover offences committed between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2000.

Its judges will be interviewed by an international panel and appointed by the head of the EU's rule-of-law mission in Kosovo.

The draft law says that chambers will be based in Kosovo as well as in a host country, while the prosecution will be in a host country. It has been widely rumoured that the Netherlands will be the host country.

A European Union Special Investigative Task Force report said last year that unnamed former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters could face prosecution at the new court for conducting "a campaign of persecution" against Serbs, Roma and Kosovo Albanians believed to be collaborators with the Serbian regime.

The alleged crimes include killings, abductions, illegal detentions and sexual violence.

[Source: By Petrit Collaku, Balkan Transitional Justice, Birn, Pristina, 15Apr15]

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The Question of Kosovo
small logoThis document has been published on 03Aug15 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.