News 10 Jul 13

EU Urges Kosovo to Pass Amnesty Law

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton strongly backed the amnesty law that is aimed at integrating Kosovo Serbs into Pristina’s legal system by decriminalising past resistance.

Edona Peci
BIRN
Pristina

EU foreign policy chief Ashton on Wednesday urged the Kosovo parliament to adopt the controversial amnesty legislation which was voted down last week amid public opposition to a clause that could be used to pardon violent criminals.

“My interest is to make sure that what is agreed [in April’s Pristina-Belgrade deal to normalise relations] is implemented,” Ashton said after meeting Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci in Pristina.

Hashim Thaci described the new legislation, which has been revised and sent back to parliament for a new vote on Thursday, as an “important and necessary political act”.

“The law on amnesty is a political act which leads to the reconciliation of people,” he said.

Responding to the draft law’s failure to pass, the government on Friday removed the controversial section of the legislation which envisaged reductions in punishments for those convicted of crimes including murder, manslaughter, harassment, defamation, assault and theft.

It added a new article which states that “all criminal offences which resulted in bodily harm and murder will not be amnestied”.

The legislation aims to help integrate Serbs in north Kosovo by ensuring they are not prosecuted for resistance to the Pristina authorities in the past, which would prevent them from taking roles in Kosovo public institutions in the future.

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