What is the mandate and jurisdiction of the Specialist Chambers? Will it be in a 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 has 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 does 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.
The President of the Specialist Chambers was appointed in December 2016 and Judges in February 2017. In March 2017, the Judges adopted the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE), an essential document regulating the conduct of judicial proceedings before the Specialist Chambers. On 27 March 2017, the Rules were submitted to the Specialist Chambers’ Constitutional Court (SCCC), which had 30 days to review their compliance with Chapter II of the Kosovo Constitution, before the Rules could enter into force. On 26 April 2017, the SCCC determined that nine rules were not consistent with the Chapter II and it also found that it was unable to declare the consistency of one further rule. After the necessary revisions by the judges, they will again be reviewed by the SCCC. Seven days after the determination of their constitutional compatibility, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence will come into force.
The entry into force of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence will mark the ability of the Chambers to receive filings and the possibility to initiate judicial proceedings.
Once the Rules of Procedure and Evidence enter into force, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers will be in a position to receive and process judicial filings such as those related to any charge.
It will be up to the Specialist Prosecutor's Office (SPO) to file charges, 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 investigations, 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 nominated by States following a national procedure. They were then assessed by an independent international Selection Panel (of three members comprising 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 and took office on 12 January 2017. 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) constitute an essential court document that regulates in detail the conduct of judicial proceedings before the Specialist Chambers. The Rules of Procedure and Evidence were adopted in March 2017 during the first Plenary session of the Judges of the Specialist Chambers.
The RPE must 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 entry into force of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence will mark possibility for initiation of judicial proceedings before the Specialist Chambers (see above question “When will Specialist Chambers be operational”).
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.