PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Five western nations have warned Kosovo against repealing or amending a law on a war crimes court, saying it would suffer negative consequences “in international and Euro-Atlantic integration.”
A statement Thursday from the nations — the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy — said they were “deeply concerned by ongoing efforts to undermine the work of the Specialist Chambers.” It called on Kosovo politicians and lawmakers “to abandon any thought of repealing or re-negotiating any aspect of the law … (because that) calls into question Kosovo’s commitment to the rule of law.”
In December, a group of Kosovo lawmakers tried to amend the law, seeking to extend its jurisdiction over Serbs, their former adversaries in the 1998-1999 war for independence. The court now has jurisdiction only over potential war crimes suspects who were Kosovo citizens.
“(This move) puts the interests of certain individuals above the interests of Kosovo society. We condemn such a move,” the nations said.
Kosovo detached from Yugoslavia following a three-month NATO air war in 1999 to stop a bloody Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists. It then declared unilateral independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by 114 states but not by Serbia.
The court law was passed in 2015 as a result of U.S. and European pressure on Kosovo’s government to confront alleged war crimes that the Kosovo Liberation Army committed against ethnic Serbs.
The court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, with judges from European Union member countries, the U.S. and Canada, is part of Kosovo’s legal system. It has yet to hear any cases.