30 August 2021
A database to facilitate the investigation of war crimes and enforced disappearances has been developed by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and the Kosovo Police, after many years of close cooperation. This tool enables investigators to organize vast amounts of data, investigate complex and interconnected war crimes cases, and successfully prepare them for prosecution.
The lack of a database for storing, digitalizing, linking, and analyzing the extensive amount of information included in many case files EULEX handed over to the Kosovo Police in 2018 after the end of the Mission’s executive mandate, was identified as one of the main challenges for the Kosovo Police after the completion of the handover process.
To address this need, EULEX and Kosovo Police experts worked shoulder to shoulder and have built a powerful investigative tool enabling the handling of complex cases in line with needs of the police and the local investigative context.
“The database assists in building a case from a central crime element. It can be a place, a person or an object. The database will help to manage a large amount of data, such as witness statements, forensic evidence, and detailed information on the dates and the places where crimes were committed, helping investigators to identify suspects and link them to specific events,” said Roland Burgsteiner, EULEX’s War Crimes Analyst, who helped to develop the database.
Burgsteiner added that the database is in full use and already includes around 400 war crimes cases, which were scanned and uploaded after EULEX handed over these cases to the Kosovo Police in 2018.
Thanking the Directorate for the Investigation of Serious Crimes for their engagement and commitment, Burgsteiner added: “We particularly welcome the fact that the Kosovo Police War Crimes Unit opened investigations for all missing persons’ cases. We hope that by linking missing persons’ cases to existing war crimes investigations, the number of women, men and children from all communities still unaccounted for will be further reduced and their relatives will obtain justice and reparation.”
Throughout this process, EULEX also designed tailored training courses for around 20 Kosovo Police investigators aimed at assisting the Kosovo Police’s War Crimes Investigation Unit in improving its capacities in the field of case building, case administration, and analysis of war crimes cases.
In December 2018, as a result of EULEX’s reconfigured mandate, the Mission handed over police, prosecutorial and judicial case files to Kosovo authorities. Today, EULEX is assessing the functioning of Kosovo’s justice system in terms of procedural, legal and human rights compliance. The assessment is carried out through systemic and thematic monitoring of selected criminal and civil cases, including cases previously dealt with by EULEX until June 2018 under its past executive mandate. In addition, EULEX experts continue to work together with local counterparts at the Institute of Forensic Medicine to determine the fate of missing persons by offering expertise and advice in the identification of potential clandestine graves and the exhumation and identification of missing persons.