Europe

Kosovo Judiciary

The applicable law, over which the judicial system has to watch, is derived from various sources, namely the laws that were passed by the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo after the constitution came into force in 2008, the regulations of the UNMIK administration and laws from the years before 1999. This means that Kosovar law, UNMIK law and Serbian or Yugoslav law apply at the same time. The court law, which was amended on January 1, 2013, describes the structure of the judiciary in Kosovo: The highest court in Kosovo is the constitutional court based in Prishtina. It interprets the constitution and thus monitors the legislative and executive branches and guarantees compliance with human rights and fundamental freedoms. At least three of the nine constitutional judges should belong to ethnic minorities. In general, no less than 15% of all judges in Kosovo should be representatives of an ethnic minority. At the level of the first instance, seven regional courts with competencies in the areas of economy, administration, criminal matters and juvenile criminal law act. An appeal court is located between the regional courts and the constitutional court at the second instance. The structure of law enforcement is similar to the judiciary with a division of tasks on three levels. The Council of Justice and the Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office is responsible for guaranteeing and monitoring the independence of the judiciary in Kosovo. Among other things, they are responsible for appointing judges and public prosecutors.

According to EXTRAREFERENCE, until the EU-led dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and the April Agreement of 2013, northern Kosovo remained outside the reach of the Kosovar judiciary, where Serbian courts and public prosecutor’s office existed. The integration of the judiciary into the Kosovar state, specifically under the umbrella of the Basic Court Mitrovica and the corresponding regional public prosecutor’s office, which includes the four predominantly Serbian communities in the north and three predominantly Albanian communities south of the Ibar River, took place in 2016-17 and is taking shape difficult to this day.

The task of the EU rule of law mission established in 2008 was to enforce the rule of law for a decade. Equipped with an executive mandate, several hundred judges, public prosecutors, police officers and border officers took up central positions in the judiciary and police in Kosovo, especially in politically sensitive areas of war crimes, terrorism, organized crime, corruption, property law and privatization; The Mission also played an important role in the implementation of the Justice Integration Agreement in Northern Kosovo. At the same time, EULEX supported the relevant institutions of Kosovo in their organizational. From 2014 the executive mandate of EULEX was gradually reduced and full responsibility was handed over to local judges, public prosecutors and the police; since 2018 EULEX has only had an advisory and supportive role.

The judicial system in Kosovo has undergone numerous reforms since independence, and fundamental structural problems have remained – including the high workload of the courts with unsolved cases in previous years, the extent of organized crime and systematic and political corruption, as well as the lack of independence of the judiciary. political influence.

The Kosovo Special Court in The Hague

A special unit of the Kosovar judiciary has existed in The Hague since 2016, which is also part of it and is outsourced – the Kosovo Special Court Chambers and the Specialist Chambers & Specialist Prosesecutor’s Office. These financed through constitutional changes and an exchange of letters between Kosovo and the EU, from the Union and other countries (USA, Canada, Switzerland, Norway and others) 2015 device created is staffed exclusively with international judges and public prosecutors. It pursues war crimes and political crimes that were committed between 1998 and 2000, i.e. during the Kosovo war and immediately afterwards, exclusively by Kosovar Albanians and primarily by high-ranking political and military (KLA) representatives. She goes backto a report by the Council of Europe Special Rapporteur Dick Marty from 2011, which, like the establishment of these judicial institutions, remains highly controversial in Kosovo to this day. The institution was founded internationally by the difficult, incomplete legal prosecution of Kosovaran war crimes, by the UN War Crimes Tribunal (ICTY) and by EULEX, mainly due to the difficult protection of witnesses in Kosovo. The legal work of the public prosecutor’s office and court in The Hague is based on the work of the Special Investigative Taskforce (SITF), which was responsible for collecting evidence under the umbrella of EULEX until 2016. The court’s work has been delayed since 2016 for various reasons. It was not until 2020 that the first indictments were made public and the first accused appeared in court. The prosecution of President Thaci is particularly politically sensitive. In June 2020, prosecutors made public that they had brought an indictment against Thaci to the court two months earlier. The responsible judge will have until the end of October to decide on their acceptance, which would officially accuse the Kosovar president. In November 2020, the court released the previously confirmed but secret indictment. President Thaci, his successor as chairman of the PDK and another high-ranking Kosovar politician were transferred to The Hague.

Decentralized state structure

Kosovo’s formal state structure follows the federal principle of subsidiarity, in that the municipalities are defined in the constitution (Article 4) as an essential territorial unit, which in accordance with the law exercise self-administration tasks defined by local self-administration. The representatives of the self-government are determined by local elections. The municipalities have extensive independent and delegated competencies, e.g. in the area of local economic development and promotion, the provision of public services, education, primary health care, social security, housing construction, tourism, cultural policy, land registry, etc. In the years after the establishment of the independent state, the legislature passed numerous laws and ordinances with which the independent competences of the municipalities are considerably restricted by the central government, primarily through the financing of municipal tasks.

According to article 5 of the lawKosovo is divided into 38 so-called large municipalities (komuna / opštine). With the aim of strengthening the local self-government of minorities, especially Kosovar Serbs, the following new municipalities were created in addition to the 28 already existing municipalities in the course of the federalism reform in 2008 in connection with the Athisaari Plan: Novobërdë / Novo Brdo, Mitrovica e Veriut / Severna Kosovska Mitrovica (North Mitrovica), Mitrovica e Jugut / Južna Kosovska Mitrovica (Mitrovica South), Junik /, Hani i Elezit / Đeneral Janković, Mamushë / Mamuša / Mamuşa (Turkish), Graçanicë / Raniluganica / Ranilug, Partesh / Parteš and Kllokot / Klokot. The Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) provides an informative short profile for each of the 38 municipalities on its website as well as other comprehensive information on local self-government.

Symbol for the slow development of Kosovo under the UN administration