Pristina, December 10, 2019 –Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), as part of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) coalition for the Anti-Corruption Week 2019, on Tuesday, held a roundtable discussion: “Amnesty of High-Profile Corruption: Whistleblowers that remain unheard from the justice”.
Two reports were published at this roundtable: “Kosovo has (not) high-profile corruption” as a report on the untouchability of high-profile corruption and “Whistleblowing and protection of whistleblowers” as legal analysis on whistleblowers and their protection.
KLI researcher, Gzime Hashani, while presenting the report on the untouchability of high-profile corruption, said that there is still no final judgement with effective imprisonment for high-profile corruption offenses and that Prosecution Offices and Courts still continue the fight against corruption mainly in low and medium level and rarely against high-level.
According to Hashani, KLI continued to monitor and analyze the high-profile of the perpetrators of corruption offenses based on information published by the State Prosecutor on the official website.
During this period, the State Prosecutor has published only the announcements on the filing of 29 indictments against 90 individuals for corruption offenses. According to her, in many cases these announcements did not have information regarding the value of the damage, while never regarding sequestration or confiscation requests.
Further, researcher Hashani stated that the Special Prosecution Office, as in previous years (2016, 2017, 2018) as well as in 2019, has continued with the trend of escaping to taking responsibility for handling corruption cases, since according to her, this Prosecution Office from January 1, 2019 until November 30, 2019 has not filed any indictment against high-profile for corruptive offenses and that prosecutors in this prosecution are not profiled and specialized in specific areas.
Hashani also stated that the punitive policy of corruption cases still remains a challenge for judges in all courts of Kosovo, on the grounds that the judicial system is still unable to enforce unique punitive policies and in accordance with its spirit and purpose of the Kosovo Criminal Code.
She said that most sentences imposed by the courts between January 1 and November 30, 2019 are suspended sentences and fine sentences, followed by imprisonment sentences, but added that in 2019, compared to previous years, for the first time there has been an increase in the number of effective imprisonment sentences imposed by Kosovo courts, but not against the high-profile of corruption.
Hashani also emphasized the non-fight against corruption by the Court of Appeal and the finding of the Supreme Court regarding the violations found during the trial by the lower instance courts in favor of the accused for corruption offenses.
KLI researcher Gzim Shala, while presenting the legal analysis on whistleblowers and their protection, said that with the entry into force of the Law on Protection of Whistleblowers (LPW) Kosovo has built a system of reporting or whistleblowing of violations in public or private institutions, specifying the fields for which one can blow the whistle, institutions or addresses where a whistleblower should be directed, whistleblowing procedures, protection and rights of whistleblowers, also for other individuals related with a whistleblower, judicial protection of whistleblowers, misdemeanor provisions up to annual reporting.
Shala said that under this law, each whistleblower has three types of whistleblowing’s: internal (to the employer), external (to the competent authority) and public (Media, NGO, Internet, etc.) and that in order to blow a whistle, according to the LPW it is only required the “reasonable doubt” is required, which term is not the same as “proof”, a legal term that implies facts that go beyond the doubt that something has happened.
Furthermore, according to Shala, the Ministry of Justice has not fulfilled the legal obligation to draft a regulation which sets out the procedure for receiving and handling whistleblowing cases and that since the entry into force of the LPW, the Anti-Corruption Agency has not had any cases of whistleblowing, as the body to which external whistleblowing takes place, while since that time, nor was there any public whistleblowing.
Shala also mentioned the concrete whistleblowing case at the Kosovo Police Inspectorate (KPI), for which case he said that the whistleblower, at that time the informer Qerim Bytyqi faced various pressures because of his whistleblowing.
In the end, KLI researcher also talked about the issue of compensating whistleblowers, by saying that this system has been proved effective in the United States of America, for which the Republic of Kosovo should also consider the possibility of building whistleblowers compensation schemes.
During the roundtable, the Head of Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, Bahri Hyseni said that they are working and that there are positive steps in investigating and prosecuting corruption, emphasizing that it is not the profile of the accused that matters but the fight against the phenomenon.
Meanwhile, the vice president of the Basic Court in Pristina, Arben Hoti said that corruption cases are being handled seriously, especially now with the establishment of the Special Department.
The panelists and participants agreed that there is still no real fight against corruption and that the cases of whistleblowers should be prioritized, adding that their numbers should be increased, in order for the system to be aware of the corruption affairs that are taking place or that will happen.
The NGO Coalition of “Anti-Corruption Week 2019” consists of: Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS), ÇOHU, Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI), FOL Movement, GAP Institute, Initiative for Progress (INPO), KIPRED, Democracy Plus (D+), Democracy for Development (D4D) and Columbus Institute.