The Hague to Set Up Kosovo War Crimes Court

The Hague to Set Up Kosovo War Crimes CourtThe Hague to Set Up Kosovo War Crimes Court

A special court is being set up in The Hague to try war crimes committed during the 1999-2000 war in Kosovo, the Dutch government announced.

It will try serious crimes allegedly committed by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army against ethnic minorities and political opponents, a statement said. The court is set to begin operating later this year.

Until 2008, Kosovo was a province of Serbia. Years of tensions turned into open conflict in 1998, when the Serbian government launched a crackdown. It eventually withdrew its troops from Kosovo after a two-month campaign of airstrikes by NATO in 1999, BBC reported. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, although Serbia has never recognized this.

An estimated 10,000 people died in the conflict and about 1,700 remain missing.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has tried and convicted many Serb officials over the past two decades, but it has generally failed to find justice for hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs who were themselves the victims of forced displacements or atrocities.

This has damaged the ICTY’s credibility, especially in Serbia, and hampered reconciliation efforts.

But it should finally deal with the long-festering allegations that members of the KLA—many of whom have risen to high positions in the government—committed atrocities.

Members of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority who view the KLA as heroes may resent the process. But the tribunal might prove vital, as Serbia and Kosovo continue efforts to normalize relations.