Switzerland and Kosovo sign mutual legal assistance agreement
Bern, 05.04.2022 - Switzerland and Kosovo are to intensify their cooperation in the fight against cross-border crime. The Kosovar Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu and the Swiss ambassador to Kosovo, Thomas Kolly, signed a bilateral treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters in Pristina on 5 April. The Federal Council approved the treaty and authorised its signing on 4 March.
Switzerland and the Republic of Kosovo already cooperate in the detection and prosecution of criminal offences on the basis of their respective national laws. The bilateral mutual legal assistance agreement creates a comprehensive basis in international law for cooperation in criminal justice. The aim is to promote and facilitate cooperation in mutual legal assistance between the judicial authorities of both countries.
The mutual assistance agreement is based to a large extent on the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and on the Federal Act on International Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. It simplifies and speeds up the mutual assistance procedure, namely by reducing or dispensing with formal requirements, such as the need for notarisation. At the same time, it sets out in detail the requirements for requests for assistance, especially with regard to data protection. It also designates central authorities in each country responsible for dealing with such requests. Like Switzerland, Kosovo also applies the human rights standards set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. If it is suspected that violations of human rights have occurred, legal assistance may be refused.
This is the first time a provision has been included in a bilateral mutual legal assistance agreement that allows for the establishment of joint investigation teams. This measure was introduced in the Swiss Mutual Assistance Act on 1 July 2021.
The agreement will come into force as soon as each country's domestic legal requirements have been met. In Switzerland, Parliament must approve the agreement. Once it has done so, the agreement will be open to an optional referendum, as is usual in the case of international agreements. No amendments to existing law are necessary.
Address for enquiries
Barbara Kammermann, Federal Office of Justice, T +41 58 481 01 56, email@example.com