CSO representatives deliver a petition requesting amendment of the Law on Amnesty to President of Kosova Atifete Jahjaga on Jul. 19.

12,764 Citizens, CSOs Petition against Kosovo Amnesty Law

The Draft Law on Amnesty in Kosovo derived from the agreement for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. It was intended to support the integration of Serbs in Kosovo’s north by providing protection from legal action following Serb resistance to Kosovo’s Constitution since the declaration of independence in 2008. However, the initial draft law, according to some parliamentarians, “exceeds the amnesty deal and tries to provide amnesty for ordinary crimes that have been committed throughout the territory of Kosovo.”

Despite concerns, the parliament used an accelerated procedure without any public discussion, holding the first reading of the Draft Law on Jul. 4.
KWN reacted against the Draft Law on Amnesty and urged parliamentarians not to vote for it because it would provide amnesty for numerous criminal offenses, including violence against women. Diverse citizens also protested outside the parliament, dispersing only after the Draft Law did not pass. On its first reading, the Draft Law received only 70 votes in favour, falling short of the necessary 80 votes.
Concerns over the controversial Article 3 led the Government to add a clause stating that offenses resulting from murder or bodily harm would not be subject to amnesty.
When the second reading of the Draft Law was announced for Jul. 11, Kosovo citizens organized another protest in front of the parliament. It lasted six days and five nights. Protestors made clear that they did not represent any institution or political party. Further, in addition to several individual reactions, 34 civil society organizations (CSOs) wrote a joint letter to the EU Office in Kosovo, EULEX and Quint Embassies demanding that the Amnesty Draft Law be reconsidered. They also initiated a citizens’ petition, requesting amendment of the law. Citizens protested again outside as the parliament held its second reading of the law.
Despite citizens’ protests, on Jul. 11 the Law on Amnesty passed with 91 votes in favour and 17 against.
Citizens continued protesting through Jul. 19 by signing the aforementioned petition. In total, CSOs gathered 12,764 signatures. The Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development, Group for Legal and Political Studies, KWN, Community Building Mitrovica, Syri i Vizionit, EC Ma Ndryshe and INPO submitted the petition to the Presidency, requesting that the Draft Law be returned to the Assembly (see their letter).
President Jahjaga praised civil society’s commitment and role in Kosovo’s democratization. “Communication between institutions and civil society is needed and contributes to the overall improvement of processes,” she said.
As the Law has been held up by the Constitutional Court prior to the President’s signature, KWN and other CSOs continue advocating for its revision.