Kosovo War Crimes Institute Established
PRISTINA, Kosovo — The Government of Kosovo decided to establish an institute for the investigation on war crimes. The war crimes institute will have the status of a public agency, which will work under the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kosovo. Its main focus will be to keep evidence of crimes and damages committed by Serbia in Kosovo during the time period 1990-1999. According to Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Hajredin Kuçi, the institute "... will collect, process, classify and store cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and values, protected by international law." The investigation addresses crimes over the mentioned decade of Serbian officials as well as of Serbia backed civil, military and paramilitary organizations and persons. Both Kosovar and international experts will be involved in the institute's activities .
By establishing a war crimes institute, the Government of Kosovo aims at filing charges against Serbia at the International Court of Justice - as soon as this will be possible. The main requirement to approach the court is the still pending recognition by the United Nations, which is blocked by Russia and China. Currently 75 UN member states have recognized the Republic of Kosovo.
Recently published figures of victims data by The Hague Tribunal reveal that only in the short time from March to June 1999 as many as 10,356 ethnic Albanians were killed in Kosovo. These figures in addition refer to a “… departure of at least 700,000 Kosovo Albanians from Kosovo in the ..." same time. Further two thousand persons are still missing. Reportedly around 200 thousand houses, business premises, factories, schools as well as several cultural and religious buildings had been destroyed over the decade until 1999.
The announced establishment of a war crimes institute comes surprisingly late. Nevertheless it sets a signal at the right time: The current public communication and prosecution of war crimes throughout the former Yugoslavia seems to target specifically persons outside Serbia, with particular focus on Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. By this also in Kosovo the fear arises, that the former perpetrator, Serbia, by subtle diplomatic campaigns successfully tries to transfer its image from an aggressor to a victim.Continued on the next page