”Justice Remains Unreachable” – Annual Report on Judiciary in Kosovo

The Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLC Kosovo) a partner of Civil Rights Defenders have just presented their annual report entitled “Justice Remains Unreachable”. The report deals with the monitoring of war crime trials and looks at ethically and politically motivated trials. The report was presented at a roundtable discussion involving the judiciary, prosecutors and law professionals from all over Kosovo.

The monitoring report demonstrates that after executive competencies were transferred from the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) to local judicial authorities in 2013 there has been no significant progress made in relation to the prosecution of serious crimes; especially war crimes and politically motivated crimes. The report reveals that local prosecution offices have not filed a single new indictment for war crimes in 2015.

This state has mainly attributed these shortcomings to challenges with efficiency and the level of independence of the local judiciary and prosecution, problems with witnesses altering statements and testimonies, witness protection, replacement of prosecutors during trials and the absence of perpetrators or non existing extradition agreements with particular countries.

HLC Kosovo recommends for an assessment and adjustment of the mandate of EULEX based on the current preparedness of the local judiciary to carry on the prosecution of war crimes and greater professional input of the EULEX judges and prosecutors.

HLC Kosovo also emphasises the permanent need for professional improvement in standards especially when it comes to exchanging knowledge on international practices.

HLC Kosovo recommends the establishment of a separate Kosovo prosecution office for the prosecution of war crimes and a greater number of prosecutors who would work on investigations in order to increase the number of convicted perpetrators and bring justice to their victims.

The roundtable was attended by representatives of the Kosovo Judicial Council, the State Prosecutors Office, the Special Prosecutors Office, Judges from Courts of different jurisdictions including the Supreme Court, the Chamber of Lawyers and other law professionals.