Norway welcomes Kosovo’s decision to approve establishment of war crimes court

‘I am very pleased that the Kosovo Assembly yesterday approved constitutional changes and new legislation that pave the way for the establishment of a Specialist Chambers,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

The Specialist Chamber will hear allegations of war crimes and organised crime committed by individuals linked to the Kosovo Liberation Army between 1 January 1998 and 31 January 2000, i.e. before, during and following the war in 1999. The establishment of a court of this kind is a controversial issue in Kosovo. This has therefore been a difficult matter for the Kosovo Government, which has worked hard to secure the necessary majority in the Assembly.  

The court will be established in cooperation with the EU, and will operate in accordance with Kosovo law. It will have its seat in Kosovo, but sensitive matters, including examination of witnesses, are to be dealt with by a separate division of the court situated outside Kosovo. This division will be staffed by international prosecutors and judges, and it is primarily this arrangement that is so contentious in Kosovo.

‘The majority of the Kosovo Assembly took a clear and courageous stand in support of the rule of law, in line with Kosovo’s responsibilities to the international community. But even more importantly, the Assembly is meeting its obligations to the people of Kosovo. This is an important decision for Kosovo, and will help the country to confront past war crimes, regardless of the ethnicity of the perpertrators. If Kosovo is to enjoy a successful future, it must be built on the rule of law,’ Mr Brende said.