Ferizaj, October 21 – Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) in cooperation with the State Prosecutor and NGO INPO have organized on Tuesday in Ferizaj the fifth roundtable “Justice in November 3 elections”, with the participation of all stakeholders of the justice institutions of central and local level, with candidates of political parties, civil society and media.
Betim Musliu from KLI, said that the purpose of this roundtable was to raise the debate and sensitize all stakeholders, political parties and general opinion about the readiness of the justice institutions to fight any action towards voting manipulation in November 3 elections 2013. Musliu, said that the mass manipulation that took place in the 2010 elections, has involved an enormous number of commissioners accused of manipulating the vote, returning Kosovo back to all processes by bringing out institutions that are not legitimate and damaging Kosovo’s image in the eyes of the world”. “Unlike the previous elections, in which the role of the prosecuting authorities has not been proactive, this year, with the initiative of the Chief State Prosecutor, the justice institutions have been activated, playing a proactive role in preventing and fighting criminal offenses against voting rights”.
This proactive role was also the recommendation derived from KLI report, “Organized crime in elections: Analysis of policy prosecution and sentence”. Musliu said that creation of Standard Action Procedures (SAPs) will oblige the police and the prosecution that in each case where there are persons involved in election crimes, to investigate the elements of organized crime in the elections. KLI will monitor the implementation of Memorandum of Cooperation “Regarding 2013 elections, of which SAPs derive. National Coordinator for elections by State Prosecutor, Ms. Laura Pula, said that the State Prosecutor is very proactive, after signing memorandum of cooperation and has established SAPs. She said that the main principle that derives from SAPs is the detention/arrest of all persons who in one way or another will act against the voting rights. “We will react and arrest persons even in cases when the criminal offenses against the voting rights are committed and are not reported by those responsible who should do so…We will also stop even those who declare false, which create wrong opinion for certain purposes”. Pula said that 50 prosecutors are assigned in the whole territory of Kosovo that together with Kosovo Police Investigators will cooperate to fight any kind of activity that faces criminal offenses against voting rights. For the November 3 elections, Pula said that they already initiated several cases that are under investigation and have imposed certain measures against suspected persons for these elections. She has encouraged all citizens, political parties and civil society to report cases of abuse to the police and prosecutor’s office, as she said; justice institutions will be on duty throughout the electoral process to guarantee that all those who try to manipulate the vote of the citizens will be prosecuted.
Chief Prosecutor of the Basic Prosecution in Ferizaj, Mr. Agron Qalaj, said that this prosecution for the 2010 elections has received 47 cases with 268 persons, and of them have raised a total of 38 indictments with 251 persons. “Of these 15 cases are with verdict against 85 persons, 16 cases have been confirmed, while 7 cases are with indictment”. Chief Prosecutor Qalaj said that prosecutors on duty are assigned that will cooperate with the investigator and police for the Ferizaj region. “Even today you can see that prosecutors on duty are present from which two will be on duty in Ferizaj, and one in Shtime, Kacanik, Strpce, and Hani I Elezit”. So, as never before, everyone will be close to all developments in the electoral process, to react urgently to any case that may appear”. He said that prosecutors will work closely with police to act against all abusers, in accordance with SAPs that derive from legal provisions, through which will ensure increased efficiency of police and prosecutors.
Coordinator for elections by Kosovo Police, Mr. Rashit Qalaj, said that police authorities have always done the necessary preparations to secure the election process. “Kosovo Police has also analyzed the experiences of the previous elections and has prepared action plans that will enable close cooperation with prosecutors, with which as never before will ensure an effective implementation of SAPs”. Coordinator Qalaj, said that everyone should know that the police in cooperation with prosecutors will act urgently to respond adequately to any election abuse. “I already believe that political parties and public opinion have realized that there will be no forgiveness for anyone, everyone should know that actions will be urgent in accordance with the law to fight any manipulation of votes”.
Judge at the Basic Prosecution of Ferizaj, Sahit Krasniqi, said that the Criminal Code of Kosovo has severed the sentence for criminal offenses against voting rights, categorizing them as serious crimes, in a separate chapter. Krasniqi, said that the Basic Court in Ferizaj, has imposed severe sentence against all those to which it was proved that they were involved in manipulations, by imposing effective jail sentence. “Our court has been among the first to impose prison sentence for election crimes and this shows that the sentence have been consistent with the damage caused by the ballot manipulators”. The part of the discussion with all participants from political party, the vast majority candidates for mayors, chiefs of election headquarters, candidate for assemblies from political parties, school directors polling station managers, civil society and media were very active to be informed about the role of justice institutions. Participants in the discussions congratulated the initiative and expressed their concerns about the clearance of the voters list from dead persons, polling station managers, and problems of Ferizaj region with phone calls to the Kosovo Police number 192, power cuts at the time when the ballot counting process begins etc. This activity is part of the series of discussion roundtables in the main centers of Kosovo, that are developed within the project “Initiative for increasing the efficiency of justice institutions for free, fair and democratic elections in Kosovo” supported by the Embassy of Great Britain in Pristina. The next roundtables will be held in Pristina (Tuesday, October 22) and Gjilan (Wednesday, October 23).