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Kosovo: New Criminal Codes Come Into Force

Kosovo: New Criminal Codes Come Into Force In Un-Administered Province

Less than three weeks after the worst unrest to hit Kosovo since the United Nations took over its administration nearly five years ago, the ethnically divided province today marked what its top administrator called a “crucial milestone” with the entry into force of two new criminal codes.

“To those who try to assert violence over the ‘rule of law,’ this should come as a reminder that the laws and institutions we are establishing in Kosovo are irreversible,” said Harri Holkeri, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative.

“This is a significant day for Kosovo. The entry into force of the two Codes constitutes a crucial milestone for the inhabitants of Kosovo and for UNMIK’s efforts to establish the rule of law in Kosovo,” Mr. Holkeri added, referring to the UN Interim Administration Mission in the province, where violence between ethnic Albanians and Serbs last month killed 19 people and injured hundreds more.

“We have a clear and definite agenda for Kosovo, and that is to take it forward on the path of democratic self-governance through legal and constitutional means in cooperation with Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions,” he declared in Pristina, the capital.

The two codes, the Provisional Criminal Code and the Provisional Criminal Procedure Code, bring the law in Kosovo into greater conformity with regional and European standards and ensure consistency with modern principles of international law, in particular international human rights law.

International conventions relating to terrorism, organized crime and corruption are reflected in the texts, which also deal with trafficking in persons among other offences.

“The enforcement of these new Codes now provides us with a wider range of criminal offences to prosecute and a greater range of punishments to go with it,” Mr. Holkeri said. “This undoubtedly enhances the ability of the justice system to deter and punish offenders.”

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