OSCE mission in Kosovo says war crimes cases should be a priority

The OSCE mission in Kosovo published its report on war crimes trials in Kosovo on Tuesday, and has said that there has been a systematic failure to adjudicate war crimes cases.

“All communities in Kosovo have been affected and none will be able to close this difficult chapter in their lives until the remaining war crimes cases have been properly addressed by the justice system,” Ambassador Werner Almhofer, the head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, said in the press release announcing the report.

“This is one of the most critical tests that a judicial system can face,” he added.

The report of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe assessed the period from 1999 to 2009. It is emphatic in stressing that war crimes cases should become the priority of the EU rule of law mission, EULEX, and the Kosovo judicial system in both word and action.

The OSCE mission acknowledges the numerous and changing authorities and insitutions in Kosovo involved in dealing with such crimes. The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, was responsible for war crimes cases for most of the period covered in the report, handing over the reins to EULEX in 2008.

As far as the OSCE could determine, by the end of 2009, 37 individuals have been tried for war crimes allegations in Kosovo.

The report stated that almost 2,000 acts of suspected war crimes stemming from the Kosovo conflict were identified by UNMIK and handed over to EULEX.

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