Kosovo Politicians Advance Bid to Scrap Special Court

January 22, 2018
The presidency of the Kosovo Assembly has sent a draft law to the government, pushing forward a controversial attempt to prevent a new Hague-based Kosovo war crimes court from operating.

This article is also available in: Shqip Македонски Bos/Hrv/Srp

The meeting of the Kosovo Assembly’s presidency on Monday. Photo: BIRN.

Representatives of Kosovo political parties decided at a meeting of the Assembly’s presidency on Monday to send the draft law to the government, advancing the attempt to scrap the new Specialist Chambers, which is to try former Kosovo Liberation Army members for wartime and post-war crimes.

“Everything that was done is procedural,” parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli told media after the meeting on Monday.

“Now the ball is in the government’s hands,” Glauk Konjufca, an MP from the opposition Vetevendosje (Self-Determination), told media, confirming that “the initiative has advanced”.

The government now has 30 days to reply to the Assembly presidency with its opinion on the draft legislation.

The initiative to challenge the law came after KLA veterans launched a petition calling the new Specialist Chambers discriminatory, as they will only try former Kosovo citizens, not members of Serbian forces accused of committing atrocities during the 1998-99 war.

The initiative to revoke the law is supported by the country’s ruling coalition parties – the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, and the Initiative for Kosovo, NISMA.

The US and EU strongly condemned the attempt and warned that Kosovo could end up even more isolated if it succeeded.

A group of MPs initially sent the initiative to the Assembly presidency on December 22, but it stalled because no quorum was reached.

On January 17, another push to revoke the law failed when the Assembly presidency meeting failed to reach a quorum amid international pressure.

The chief of the parliamentary group of the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, Avdullah Hoti, walked out of the Assembly presidency’s meeting on Monday, repeating that his party is against the attempt to revoke the law.

“Our stance is known. The LDK is opposed to the abrogation. It was on the agenda today. Let’s see how the parliamentary majority will continue,” said Hoti.

The Specialist Chambers will hear cases arising from an EU Special Investigative Task Force report which said that unnamed KLA officials should face indictments for a “campaign of persecution” against Serbs, Roma and Kosovo Albanians.

Although based in The Hague, the Specialist Chambers is legally part of Kosovo’s judicial system, but independent from the Kosovo judiciary and staffed by internationals.

The law that allows it to operate was passed in 2015 under US and European pressure.

Its first indictments are expected this year.

This article is also available in: Shqip Македонски Bos/Hrv/Srp

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