Sunday

16th Jun 2019

Opinion

Kosovo tribunal must investigate Serb crimes

  • "Crimes have no ethnicity ... Real justice is blind" (Photo: Scott*)

There’s no doubt that Kosovo’s current government has made many internal and foreign policy errors.

There’s equally no doubt the people in charge have taken care of their private interests while forgetting the needs of ordinary Kosovars.

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  • New tribunal to be hosted by The Hague, also the seat of the former Yugoslavia court (Photo: Christopher A. Dominic)

One huge error has been their approval of the Kosovo Relocated Specialist Judicial Institution in The Hague.

The new tribunal is to deal only with alleged war crimes by Albanians and to ignore crimes committed by Serbs in Kosovo’s war of independence in 1998 and 1999.

Did government ministers approve it on the back of secret deals that guarantee they won’t be indicted?

I’m not saying these things in order to create obstacles for the court.

I’m speaking out because there’s an urgent need to alter the tribunal’s mandate so that it includes the genocide perpetrated by the regime of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

I choose my words carefully.

Making deals with monsters

There are many people free in Serbia today who did horrific things in my country just 17 years ago. Some of them are senior politicians.

The court in its current form is discriminatory. It’s an offence to the high principles of international justice.

It is to deal exclusively with the alleged crimes of one side, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), as if the KLA had existed in a vacuum.

Crimes have no ethnicity, no nationality, no race, no religion. Real justice is blind.

The special court was created to shed light on allegations of KLA organ trafficking made by Swiss politician Dick Marty in his role as a Council of Europe rapporteur.

I personally believe that Marty’s allegations are based on Serbian lies.

But if the court investigates them, then what reason can it give for not investigating the Serbian forces’ widely documented slaughter of 13,500 Kosovar Albanian men, women, and children?

There are 500 mass graves in Kosovo. Hundreds of towns and villages that were razed to the ground.

What reason can it give for ignoring the Serbian forces’ rape of more than 20,000 women and girls, many of whom were murdered and dumped in wells?

What reason can we give to Kosovar citizens to support such a project? What reason can we give to our families or to our conscience?

Milosevic’s objective was to erase Kosovar Albanians from their homeland. Thanks to Nato air strikes his forces were expelled. People were able to come home and rebuild their lives.

Kosovars are grateful to the international community for its support.

But we cannot forget what happened for the sake of regional stability until our people also have justice.

The EU and US approach in the region is to seek out “moderate” interlocutors who are willing to follow the West’s instructions.

It means making deals with monsters.

Mess must be fixed

The pro-Western coalition in Serbia today has former generals and other military staff in its ranks who deserve to be behind bars in The Hague.

The Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic was himself Milosevic’s minister of information.

It's true that there are other institutions designed to hold Serbian criminals accountable.

But the principal body, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, is to be closed down next year even though its work remains unfinished.

The EU’s rule of law mission in Kosovo, Eulex, has also looked into Serbian crimes. Eulex and Interpol, the international police body, have asked Serbia to extradite suspects.

But Vucic has failed to comply for over a year and nobody really expects him to do it - if this is Western justice, it’s a bad joke.

The situation harms Kosovar Albanian people’s faith in the international community and in Kosovo’s current leaders. Many of them are on Marty’s list, prompting the question on secret deals.

It’s not too late to make things right.

Kosovo’s outgoing president approved the deal with the Netherlands on the KLA tribunal in an unconstitutional way by ignoring court rulings.

Ratification of the Kosovo relocated tribunal must be brought before MPs for a review.

Kosovo’s elected representatives must, in an open and transparent process, re-examine its mandate and vote on whether to enlarge it to include Serbian crimes.

Berlin, London, Paris, Washington and Brussels should help to fix the mess they made.

The EU and the US should not stand in the way of the very democracy and rule of law that they preach.

Jakup Krasniqi is a former speaker of the Kosovo parliament and a former spokesman of the KLA

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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