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 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 Prosecutor’s Office is an independent office for the investigation and prosecution of the crimes within the jurisdiction of the Specialist Chambers.
Judges were appointed to the Roster of International Judges on 7 February 2017.
After an official Call for Contributions, 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 the qualified candidates, then interviews and assessments 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 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 which ensures the efficient and effective operation of the Specialist Chambers.
The President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova was also appointed upon recommendation of the independent Selection Panel. Unlike the other Judges on the Roster of International Judges, the President serves on a full-time basis.
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).
The President of the Specialist Chambers is responsible for the judicial administration of the Specialist Chambers and other functions conferred upon her by the Law. The President represents the Chambers, which is one of the two organs of the Specialist Chambers, together with the Registry.
One of the most important duties of the President is to assign Judges from the Roster of International Judges to Panels and cases that come before the Specialist Chambers.
Once the Rules of Procedure and Evidence entered into force on 5 July, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers became able to receive and process judicial filings such as those related to any charges.
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.
Once an indictment is filed by the Specialist Prosecutor with the Specialist Chambers, the Pre-Trial Judge, as assigned by the President, will review it. The Pre-Trial Judge may confirm it if satisfied that a well-grounded suspicion in relation to the charges has been established. The Pre-Trial Judge also has the power to rule on any preliminary motions, including challenges to the indictment and jurisdiction, as well as to issue any order or decision to ensure the proper and expeditious preparation of the case for trial.
After the initial hearing and once preliminary issues have been resolved, including possible challenges against the jurisdiction of the Specialist Chambers, the Pre-Trial judge would determine that the case is ready for trial. A Trial Panel would then be assigned by the President to prepare and hold trial proceedings.
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 on 5 July 2017 marked the possibility for initiation of judicial proceedings before the Specialist Chambers.
When charges are made public, persons who believe that they are victims of crimes charged in a confirmed indictment may apply for status of participating victim. The applications will be sent to the Victims Participation Office for decision by the Judges.
Individual applications must be filed sufficiently in advance before the opening of the trial.
Overall, admitted victims participate in KSC proceedings through Counsel assigned to a group of victims. When the personal interests of victims are affected, Victims’ Counsel may, under the control of the Judges, make oral and written submissions, ask questions of witnesses and, in certain cases, request Panels to order submission of evidence or call witnesses to testify.
The Specialist Chambers & Specialist Prosecutor's Office are financed by the EU (see the Council decisions of 14 June 2016 and 8 June 2017), 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 adopted on an annual basis.
Kosovo Specialist Chambers strives to employ the 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, either as seconded or contracted staff. More detailed explanations on the employment regime, conditions of service and other employment-related questions can be found on this website.
The KRSJI (Kosovo Relocated Specialist Judicial Institution) is used in the Interim and Host State Agreements with the Netherlands as the specific terminology to jointly indicate both institutions, the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor's Office. The Kosovo Assembly and the Law itself provide "Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office" as the official term.
In Albanian the name is: Dhomat e Specializuara dhe Zyra e Prokurorit të Specializuar.
In Serbian: Specijalizovana veća i Specijalizovano tužilaštvo.
The Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office welcome group visits and can organise presentations from officials of both institutions.
If you are planning to visit, you should contact the KSC Public Information and Communication Unit by email at mediaKSC@scp-ks.org or by telephone on +31 (0)6 249 21 036.