The Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) is an internationalised and relocated prosecution in The Hague created to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute individuals for crimes alleged in the January 2011 Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Report Inhuman Treatment of People and Illicit Trafficking in Human Organs in Kosovo.
The SPO was established on 1 September 2016, inheriting the staff and mandate of the Special Investigative Task Force (SITF) on the basis of a Constitutional Amendment and a Special Law on the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office adopted by the Kosovo Assembly on 3 August 2015.
The SPO is investigating grave trans-boundary and international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by customary international law and set out in the Special Law on the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office.
The SPO has the authority, inter alia, to request the presence of and to question suspects, victims and witnesses, collect and examine information and evidence, and take decisions on the initiation, and the continuation or termination of criminal proceedings. It seeks to hold individuals accountable for the crimes covered by its mandate.
The Specialist Chambers has primacy over all other courts in Kosovo. The Specialist Chambers or the SPO may order the transfer of proceedings within its jurisdiction from any other prosecutor or any other court in the territory of Kosovo to the Specialist Chambers and the SPO at any stage of an investigation or proceedings. The Specialist Chambers and the SPO can order a Kosovo court to hand over any ongoing cases or investigations that are within the jurisdiction and mandate of the Specialist Chambers or SPO.
All Kosovo courts and prosecutors must notify the Specialist Chambers and the SPO without delay should they be aware of a case of criminal proceedings within the jurisdiction of the Specialist Chambers.
The SPO is part of the judicial system of Kosovo, but based in the Netherlands on the basis of a Host State Agreement between the Netherlands and Kosovo of 15 February 2016. It is a temporary institution with a specific mandate and jurisdiction, namely over certain crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under Kosovo law which allegedly occurred between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2000.
SPO staff – which includes prosecutors, investigators, analysts, security professionals, witness-protection specialists and support staff – are all citizens of either an EU member state or one of the five non-EU contributing countries: Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.