After the confirmation of an indictment, it is possible to apply to be a participating victim in the proceedings before the KSC. The application forms will be treated confidentially. The KSC will notify all applicants about the outcome and provide a reasoned decision.
Participating victims have the chance to take part actively in the proceedings. They may contribute to the uncovering of the truth and at the same time learn more about the facts and about what happened to them and their close family members. Participating victims before the KSC may receive the acknowledgment that they were victims. In addition, participating victims can tell about their sufferings, so that the Judges are fully aware about the impact of the crimes. Overall, taking part in the proceedings as a participating victim can be an empowering experience.
If the KSC reject an application as a participating victim in the proceedings, applicants have the right to appeal this decision within 14 days. In that case, the Victims’ Participation Office of the KSC will contact the applicants and offer legal assistance to applicants. The legal assistance is free of charge, unless the Court has reasons to believe that an applicant has sufficient funds. An unsuccessful application as a participating victim will not limit the possibility to seek reparations under other laws or other reparation mechanisms in Kosovo.
When a victim is allowed to participate, the KSC will assign an experienced Counsel to represent the interests of all participating victims. Participating victims have the right to protective measures. In addition, the Victims’ Counsel can exercise several other rights on behalf of the victims during the proceedings.
In principle, participating victims will form one collectively represented group. However, the Judges of the KSC can decide to divide the group, if appropriate, for example for geographical or language reasons.
Generally, the Victims’ Counsel can attend hearings on behalf of the participating victims. The Victims’ Counsel will update them about what happens in the proceedings. In addition, an online broadcast will be available.
The Victims’ Counsel has access to confidential information. While the confidential material cannot be shared directly with the participating victims, the Victims’ Counsel will inform them in an appropriate way about the most important information contained in the material.
Victims cannot make statements or ask questions personally and directly. However, the Court can allow the Victims’ Counsel to ask questions to witnesses or make oral and written submissions on behalf of the victims, whenever their personal interests are affected. The KSC understand victims’ personal interests as the right to notification, acknowledgement and reparations.
When the evidence presented by the Prosecution or Defense is insufficient to show the damage, loss or injury that victims suffered from the crimes, the Victims’ Counsel may ask for permission to submit additional relevant evidence or call witnesses to testify. The Judges will then decide upon such requests.
Is it possible to appear as a witness, when taking part as a participating victim in the proceedings?
Yes. The Prosecution, the Defence and the Victims’ Counsel can also call a participating victim as a witness to testify.
After the conviction of a perpetrator, participating victims of this crime can receive a certified copy of the judgment. This can help them to claim reparations before local civil courts. It is also possible, that the Judges of the KSC rule on the scope and extent of any damage, loss or injury to victims. Under certain circumstances, the KSC may order a convicted perpetrator to pay reparations to a group of victims or to individual victims.