What is the mandate and jurisdiction of the Specialist Chambers? Will it be in position to put to trial all potential war crimes from 1998-2000?
The Specialist Chambers have a very specific and limited mandate: according to Articles 1 and 6 of the Law on Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office, it will have jurisdiction only over certain grave trans-boundary and international crimes relating to the 2011 Council of Europe report, which have occurred between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2000 and which were either commenced or committed in whole within the territory of Kosovo.
It will not have jurisdiction over any other crimes committed in that period or outside of that period, except for crimes against the administration of justice where they relate to its proceedings and officials.
The Specialist Chambers are operational. Dr Fidelma Donlon was appointed as Registrar in April 2016, which marked the commencement of work of the Specialist Chambers. On 14 June 2016 the European Union granted the necessary budget by adopting the EU Council decision. Two calls for contributions/vacancies were published in order to recruit essential staff for building the capacity of the court to execute its mandate. An additional call for contributions was published at the end of 2016.
Judicial activities in the Netherlands, however, could only commence after the Host State Agreement came into force, which happened on 1 January 2017. The next step was the appointment of judges, who will then have to adopt the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE), guided by the Kosovo Code of Criminal Procedure, in order to regulate the conduct of proceedings before the Specialist Chambers. The Specialist Chamber of the Constitutional Court will have 30 days to review the RPE before it comes into force.
It is expected that those processes will be completed in the first half of 2017.
After the Host State Agreement entered into force following notice that procedures for its ratification have been completed by both Kosovo and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Specialist Chambers are able to carry out judicial activities in the Netherlands.
The Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which are yet to be adopted by the Judges and reviewed by the Specialist Chamber of the Constitutional Court, will regulate proceedings before the Specialist Chambers.
It will then be up to the Specialist Prosecutor's Office (SPO) to file an indictment, which will have to be confirmed by an independent judge who will assess whether the allegations raised are well-grounded. For any issues in relation to charges or investigation, please contact the SPO.
Judges were appointed to the Roster of International Judges on 7 February 2017.
After an official Call for Contribution, candidates were assessed by an independent international Selection Panel (of three members comprising at least two international judges with substantial international criminal law experience). Following consideration of qualified candidates, then interview and assessment of those found most suitable, the Selection Panel submitted a list of recommended names for the position of Judge at the Specialist Chambers.
Judges were then appointed by the Head of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy Mission (i.e. the Head of the EULEX Mission) to the so-called Roster of International Judges.
The Judges of the Specialist Chambers are to be independent, experienced and qualified for the highest judicial offices. The exact number of Judges and prosecutors is not determined by the Law, nevertheless it is stated that the number of Judges on the Roster of International Judges shall be kept at a level to ensure the efficient and effective operation of the Specialist Chambers.
The Judges shall be present at the Specialist Chambers only as necessary at the request of the President of the Specialist Chambers, for particular assignments.
The procedure is covered in detail by the Law on Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (Articles 28 and 35).
Dr Ekaterina Trendafilova was appointed President of the Specialist Chambers on 14 December 2016. According to the Law, the President is selected from the Roster of International Judges. The President is the only permanent judge, while the other judges on the Roster of International Judges shall be assigned to cases only when required.
The Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE) is a crucial court document that regulates in detail the conduct of judicial proceedings before the Specialist Chambers. It is to be adopted during a Plenary session by the judges of the Specialist Chambers who shall be guided by the Kosovo Criminal Procedure Code of 2012. The RPE is to be consistent with the Law on Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office and must reflect the highest standards of international human rights law with a view to ensuring a fair and expeditious trial.
The Specialist Chambers & Specialist Prosecutor's Office are financed by the EU (see the Council decision of 14 June 2016), within the CFSP budget and through a direct grant agreement signed with the Registrar, as well as through financial contributions of Third countries. The EU direct grant is managed by the Registrar of the Specialist Chambers, who is in charge of the administration of the relocated judicial proceedings. In implementation of the grant, all relevant EU financial rules are applicable. The budget is to be adopted on annual basis.
Kosovo Specialist Chambers strives to employ most qualified professionals for all positions. In accordance with the 2014 Exchange of Letters between the EU High Representative and the Kosovo President and the Law on its ratification, the Specialist Chambers are to be staffed with and operated by international staff only, including independent international judges. The citizens of EU Member States or contributing third states are eligible to apply for positions at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, whether as seconded or contracted staff. More detailed explanations on the employment regime, conditions of service and other employment-related questions can be found at this website.
The KRSJI (Kosovo Relocated Specialist Judicial Institution) is used in the Interim and Host State Agreements with the Netherlands as specific terminology to indicate jointly both institutions, the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor's Office. The Kosovo Assembly and the Law itself provide as official term "Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office".
In Albanian the name is: Dhomat e Specializuara dhe Zyra e Prokurorit të Specializuar.
In Serbian: Specijalizovana veća i Specijalizovano tužilaštvo.