War Crimes Trials – Still at The Beginning
Within the regular activities of the “Monitoring Conflict Related Crime Trials in Kosovo and the Inclusion of the Youth in the Justice Sector” project, in the second half of February 2020, the Humanitarian Law Center in Kosovo (HLCK) finished drafting its planned yearly report on the most significant trials monitored during past year, titled “War Crimes Trials – Still at The Beginning”.
The report itself includes an analysis of trials monitored by HLCK monitors during 2019. In addition, we have analyzed the results of attempts by the Kosovo judicial institutions to prosecute war crimes. We have also included recommendations for the country’s judicial institutions, should they be interested in overcoming the major issues faced by the Kosovo judiciary and achieve the best possible results in prosecuting war crimes in the coming period – this based on our experience both as monitors of war crimes trials over many years and the HLC’s wider experience in monitoring war crimes in the Western Balkan region.
Sadly, the previous year was also marked by a very small number of sessions held in cases related to war crimes charges. The HLCK report for 2019 included 19 cases, in all stages of criminal procedure. Pretrial procedure was initiated against eight (8) persons who were arrested during the year on the basis of a reasonable doubt of having committed war crime against civilian population. They were mainly arrested at border crossings, when entering the territory of Kosovo. On this occasion, they were placed in detention and investigations were also initiated against them. In relation to two (2) of the arrested persons, and after obtaining evidence, investigations were suspended and they were released from detention. In relation to four (4) suspects, late in the year, three (3) indictments were filed, while the investigative procedure continued in relation to the remaining two (2).
Two (2) main trials initiated in previous years in relation to war crimes continued in the reporting period. The report includes published an analysis of appeals procedures in relation to these charges, as well certain cases connected with war crimes cases, that are politically or ethnically motivated.
You may find more details on these and other observations that, according to the HLCK, marked the Kosovo judiciary in 2019, in the online version of our yearly report “War Crimes Trials – Still at the Beginning”.
The Project “Monitoring Conflict Related Crime Trials in Kosovo and the Inclusion of the Youth in the Justice Sector” is funded by Foreign and Commonwealth Office through the British Embassy in Pristina and the European Union in Kosovo through the project “Transforming conflicting perceptions through increased civic and community engagement in Kosovo”.