The U.S. is urging Kosovo leaders to leave unchanged a war crimes court established to hear serious cases arising from the country’s war for independence.
“The United States is deeply concerned by recent attempts of Kosovo lawmakers to abrogate the law on the Specialist Chambers,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Friday. “We call on political leaders in the Republic of Kosovo to maintain their commitment to the work of the Chambers and to leave the authorities and jurisdiction of the court unchanged.”
The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on December 21 that “the pursuit of justice in the Balkans is not over,” and the U.S. “remains committed to supporting justice for the victims,” the statement said.
The Kosovo political leaders enacted the law and constitutional amendment in 2015 to establish the Specialist Chambers, a court that would hear cases of alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other serious crimes committed during the 1998-2000 conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
Last week, however, lawmakers from the governing coalition, who hold a majority, pressed for a vote to abolish the court, but they failed twice because of opposition from other parties.
The U.S. and other Western countries swiftly condemned the move, warning that if successful, it would hamper efforts for Euro-Atlantic integration.
The U.S. has been a key ally and financial backer of Kosovo since it broke away from Serbia and declared independence in 2008.