Background

The Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office have jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under Kosovo law in relation to allegations reported in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Report of 7 January 2011.

Following this Report, the European Union decided to establish a Special Investigative Task Force (SITF) in September 2011, to conduct an independent criminal investigation into the allegations contained in the Report, as well as other crimes connected to those allegations.

In summer of 2014, the SITF announced that the evidence investigated was of sufficient weight to file an indictment. In order to address these allegations, there had to be an adequate institution for proper judicial proceedings.

The Kosovo authorities have agreed with the EU on modalities of dealing with those serious allegations. On 3 August 2015, the Kosovo Assembly adopted Article 162 of the Kosovo Constitution and the Law on Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office, following the Exchange of Letters between the President of Kosovo and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in 2014. The Specialist Chambers are attached to each level of the court system in Kosovo – Basic Court, Court of Appeals, Supreme Court and Constitutional Court. They will function according to relevant Kosovo laws as well as customary international law and international human rights law.

The EU has supported the process from the outset and together with other contributing countries (Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States of America) will financially support the work of the court.

The Specialist Chambers comprises two organs, the Chambers and the Registry. The Specialist Prosecutor’s Office is an independent office for the investigation and prosecution of the crimes within the jurisdiction of the Specialist Chambers. The Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office are staffed with international judges, prosecutors and officers and have a seat in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The publications below provide more information about some of the important aspects of the KSC work, including the basic information on the Specialist Chambers' Principals and Judges, its structure and mandate as well as more specific information on the Rules of Procedure and Evidence that entered into force on 5 July this year.