Kosovo Specialist Chambers – a new organ of international criminal justice

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Authors: Aleksandr Evseev, Andrey Antonov

Keywords: international criminal law; International Humanitarian Law; Kosovo Liberation Army; Kosovo Specialist Chambers; Specialist Prosecutor’s Office; war crimes

Abstract

This article discusses various issues related to the functioning of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office: the prerequisites for their creation, the thorny path of their formation, the legal basis for their activity, and the procedural and practical features of their work. The authors briefly consider the experience of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia regarding crimes committed on the territory of the then-Yugoslav province of Kosovo. In particular, some data are provided on the numbers of investigated and eventually criminally prosecuted Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, as well as the challenges of investigations against currently active political leaders who enjoy popular support in Kosovo. Further, an overview is offered of criminal cases currently being considered by the Specialists Chambers, including those against the former President and the Speaker of the Parliament of the “Republic of Kosovo”. The article also considers various particular political aspects which are inseparable from international criminal justice in general, as well as from these Chambers, and have great influence on its procedures. The article emphasizes that the Kosovo Specialist Chambers is a hybrid (internationalized) court that radically differs from preceding international juridical bodies. In particular, only international judges take part in its activities; it is located not in the capital of this post-conflict territory, but in the Hague; and national authorities do not have the burden of financing its actions. The personal composition of the Specialist Chambers is separately considered, with the biographies of its judges being briefly analyzed. Also, an overview of the procedural specificities of its investigations, including detention and cooperation with Kosovan law enforcement authorities. In addition, the article highlights the paradoxical situation where representatives of the international community, working under the auspices of the EU, had to apply the Criminal Code and the Constitution of a partially recognized state-like entity to the extent that these do not contradict general international law. This article also describes a novelty that was introduced in the Chambers, namely creation of the position of Ombudsman, designed to protect the rights of the employees and other persons involved in its activities. In conclusion, the authors note that it is too early to draw conclusions regarding the worthwhileness of creating this body and regarding its effectiveness.

About the authors: Aleksandr Evseev – Candidate of Sciences (PhD) in Law, Associate Professor, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia; Andrey Antonov – Candidate of Sciences (PhD) in Law, Chief, Conduct and Discipline Service, UN Mission in Kosovo, Pristina, Republic of Serbia.

Citation: Antonov A., Evseev A. (2022) Spetsial’nyy sud po Kosovo – novyy organ mezhdunarodnogo ugolovnogo pravosudiya [Kosovo Specialist Chambers – a new organ of international criminal justice]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 79–98. (In Russian).

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