Yet again “The Hague” becomes the synonym for “the place where alleged war criminals get tried”. This time it’s the turn of former leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who will face charges related to killings, abductions, illegal detentions and persecution of opponents and alleged collaborators during the war to create a state in 1999-2000.
It’s all a bit déjà vu: some of the current Kosovo big men were previously put on trial at the Yugoslav tribunal. But they were acquitted – witness testimony just didn’t stand up. And inside Kosovo itself there’s been a bewildering collection of EU-related law and order acronyms trying to mete out justice.
This latest one is called the Kosovo Relocated Specialist Judicial Institution or the KRSJI. Oh yes, the international justice twitterati have already had a field day with that snappy hashtag.
When the Dutch announced it, they were very careful to say that this is a Kosovo court. But some people aren’t buying that.
But the consensus is, strictly speaking, despite all appearances, it’s really not international.
Some are mulling over technical issues: the legal basis for the court. But others are excited there’ll be a new place to hang out as a war crimes groupie.
The biggest concern though is whether the KRSJI – ok – let’s just call it the Kosovo court, please – will be able to deliver justice
“The big question is whether the tribunal — international or not — can manage to successfully pursue and prosecute KLA perpetrators.”
And Mark Kersten also writes about the internal politics of Pristina. The court is a huge political hot potato in Kosovo, with the opposition parties still very angry. That’s not surprising. Who wants their heroes on trial when those you fought against – such as former president Slobodan Milosevic, who’s trial at the Yugoslav Tribunal ended when he died -haven’t been ‘fully punished’?
All these alleged crimes took place way back when. What may be useful for those of us who weren’t closely following events in Kosovo at the time, Balkan Insight
has produced a handy timeline of events.
And for a realistic look at the new court’s challenges, check this article
from BIRN’s Maria Ristic.
It’s no small undertaking: witness protection issues in small, tight-knit societies, such as Kosovo, have scuppered previous attempts at justice.
What’s your view?
- Will the Kosovo authorities cooperate fully?
- Will having international judges and locating in another country mean that witnesses will feel fully protected and safe enough to testify?
Lead image: Kosovo Relocated Specialist Judicial Institution in The Hague (Photo: Janet Anderson/Justice Hub).
The Weekly Hubble features the most popular or controversial international justice story of the past week and reactions on social media to the news.