Pristina, 12 December 2017 - Today, the Joint Rule of Law Coordination Board held its regular meeting that was organized for the first time by the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council (KPC) and chaired by the Chair of the KPC, Mr. Blerim Isufaj.
Minister of Justice (MoJ), Abelard Tahiri, together with the Chair of the Kosovo Judicial Council (KJC) Nehat Idrizi, the Head of the EU Office/EUSR, Nataliya Apostolova and Head of EULEX Mission in Kosovo Alexandra Papadopoulou attended the meeting.
Chairman Isufaj welcomed the JRCB meeting and considered the Board to be a mechanism that provides the opportunity to discuss about the challenges of the justice system, as well as providing opportunities for their solution including monitoring and checking efforts towards these solutions. He said the Board was important because it brings together the key stakeholders from local and international rule of law institutions. Chairman Isufaj once again reiterated his commitment and the commitment of the KPC to continued and further cooperation with all local and international partners from justice system institutions for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency, transparency and accountability of this system.
In the capacity of the chairman of this meeting and as this was the last meeting held by the Board this year, Chairman Isufaj presented a summary of key points discussed in the meetings of the Board held in 2017 and progress made.
Chairman Isufaj spoke about the justice integration process in the North of Kosovo, which was done in accordance with the Brussels Justice Agreement. He noted that during this year they succeeded to integrate 13 prosecutors and 33 administrative staff from the non-majority communities.
Chairman Idrizi esteemed the integration process in the north resulting from the Brussels Justice Agreement. The integration of the judiciary in the north has been completed successfully, with 41 judges and 107 civil servants from non-majority communities appointed throughout the Kosovo judiciary. The KJC has made utmost efforts to provide best working conditions aiming at building professional capacities. In cooperation with the Justice Academy trainings have been organized for those judges, with the judges from the non-majority community currently attending training in the criminal law area at the Justice Academy.
Minister of Justice, Mr. Abelard Tahiri, emphasized that the implementation of the Justice Agreement has been completed successfully, as one of the key achievements of this year. As a result, the unitary justice system has finally been established, functionalizing the justice institutions in the northern part and guaranteeing the rule of law throughout the territory of the Republic of Kosovo.
European Reform Agenda
The Head of the EU Office/EU Special Representative, Natalija Apostolova, commended the efforts of the Kosovo Rule of Law institutions made during this year. Apostolova called upon the Kosovo authorities to implement the remaining recommendations from the 2016 European Commission Report on Kosovo - section on “Judiciary Functioning”, and the short-term and mid-term priorities of the European Reform Agenda.
"Reviewing and adopting legislation that will make it mandatory to suspend, namely dismiss public officials that are indicted and convicted of corruption is a priority that the Kosovo authorities have pledged to accomplish within the European Reform Agenda", Apostolova said. "I encourage the inclusion of required legal provisions in the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code in order to make this possible”.
Mr. Abelard Tahiri informed the participants based on the JRCB Agenda regarding the European Reform Agenda (ERA), the Ministry of Justice within its competencies has successfully fulfilled all the obligations arising from the ERA and which have been identified in the Country Report for 2016.
EULEX Head of Mission, Alexandra Papadopoulou, released four JRCB Roadmaps drafted by EULEX in close cooperation with local counterparts and JRCB principals. Each roadmap is a technical action plan with concrete steps that Kosovo rule of law institutions need to undertake in order to ensure the sustainability of local institutions’ capacities as EULEX gradually phases out.
The “Institute of Forensic Medicine (IFM)” Roadmap is focused on technical necessities that need to be complied with in order for the IFM to become an independent institution as outlined in the Law of Forensic Medicine. Some of the requirements deal with finalising the secondary legislation, setting up a proper toxicology laboratory and intensify internal capacity building.
“The Special Chamber of the Supreme Court (SCSC)” Roadmap focuses on improving the performance of the Chamber, and on changing the current SCSC legislation so it can better and more efficiently deal with present and future challenges and sets in place a mechanism that would monitor possible organized crime elements within privatisation and the restitution of judicial processes”, said Papadopoulou.
She emphasised that the third roadmap tackles the issue of the final adjudication of cases related to property lost during the conflict. The “KPA Appeals Panel Roadmap” spells out requirements that are necessary to increase the Panel’s efficiency. In addition, this roadmap foresees the introduction of the mutual legal assistance mechanism (implemented by EUSR) that will ensure that decisions and judgments will finally be delivered to the parties residing in Serbia.
The “War Crimes” Roadmap envisages the creation of the National Strategy and Action Plan for the Kosovo authorities’ work on solving war crimes cases in order to ensure that justice is delivered to the victims and their families.
“EULEX calls upon Kosovo’s institutions to continue to take concrete steps to ensure greater responsibility for building and sustaining an independent and efficient rule of law system”, emphasised Papadopoulou. She thanked everyone for their contribution to the Roadmaps that will start being implemented as of January 2018.
The Minister of Justice informed the participants of the meeting that special attention was given to the Roadmaps as a tool for tracking the progress noted in these areas of rule of law. More specifically, Minister Tahiri presented the contribution and comments of the Ministry of Justice on the four areas identified in the Roadmap.
Regarding challenges the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council continued to face, despite the progress made to overcome them, Chairman Isufaj said the insufficient budget and low number of staff were the main ones.