Gjakova October 16 – Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) in cooperation with the State Prosecutor, Eye Vision, and the Kosovo Women’s Initiative have organized on Wednesday in Gjakova the roundtable “Justice in the November 3 elections”, with the participation of all stakeholders of the justice institutions of central and local level, with the candidates of political parties, civil society and media.
The purpose of this roundtable was to raise the debate and sensitize all stakeholders, political parties and general public about the readiness of the justice institutions to fight any move towards voting manipulation in the November 3, 2013 elections.
Betim Musliu from KLI said that unlike the past elections, in which the role of the prosecuting authorities was not proactive, 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 a recommendation derived from the KLI report, “Organized Crime in Elections: Policy Analysis of prosecution and sentences”. Musliu said that KLI will monitor the implementation of Cooperation Memorandum “Regarding the 2013 elections”.
National Coordinator for elections by State Prosecutor, Laura Pula, said that as never before, this time the role of the State Prosecutor is very proactive. “This year, on the initiative of the Chief State Prosecutor, Ismet Kabashi on September 18, 2013 signed a Memorandum of Cooperation “Regarding the 2013 elections” between Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, Kosovo Judicial Council, Kosovo Police, Central Election Commission and the Election Panel for Complaints and Appeals in order to increase cooperation and coordination between these institutions in undertaking activities to successfully fight criminal offenses against voting rights, including here, the prevention of these criminal offenses which are in conflict with the legislation in force”.
Coordinator Pula, said that as a result of this Memorandum, Kosovo Police in cooperation with the State Prosecutor have compiled the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to increase the efficiency of actions for criminal offenses against voting rights. “I repeat that in the whole territory of Kosovo on the Election Day, 50 prosecutors will cooperate with investigators from Kosovo Police. The main principle that derives from the SOPs is the detention/arrest of all persons who in one way or another will act against voting rights”.
Pula stated that based on SOPs compiled in accordance with legal provisions, the prosecution and investigation of abusers will be made in all cases, even in those specific cases, when criminal offenses against voting rights are committed by commissioners and are not reported. “In these cases together with the police we will use the legal provisions to verify and stop all incriminated persons”. As well, she has announced that unfounded public statements of proves and evidence will be officially prosecuted for false statement. “This time we will not allow anyone to bomb out the public with statements, that have no basis but are made for certain purposes, so those people will be prosecuted, for false statement”. Coordinator Pula, has encouraged all citizens to denounce any abuse in the responsible authorities to ensure the vote protection and election process.
Chief Prosecutor of the Basic Prosecution in Gjakova, Ms. Shpresa Bakija, said that as in other centers also in Gjakova region have been assigned prosecutors on duty that will cooperate with the investigators and the police. “Gjakova, Malisheva and Rahovec have prosecutors on duty, which together with the police and the investigator will cooperate to implement precisely the SOPs”.
Chief Prosecutor Bakija said that for the previous elections, have raised 11 indictments with 78 persons whereas two of them have completed trials. “For these elections we have had a case presented by a representative of the Levizja Vetevendosje, which case, since we have dealt with it, we have seen that it has nothing to do with the criminal offenses against the voting rights. But, I want to state that we have acted urgently in this case”.
Deputy General Director of the Kosovo Police, Naim Rexha, said that cooperation with the Prosecution and other institutions through the Memorandum of Cooperation has increased the proactive role in the prevention and prosecution of these criminal offenses for elections. “Kosovo Police has prepared its own action plans. We are implementing SOPs together with the prosecutors and we have cases where we have concrete actions, we have suspected persons and persons that are in house arrest for criminal offenses against voting rights”. Judge at the Basic Court in Gjakova, Gezim Pozhegu, said that the judiciary is prioritizing electoral cases according to the policy established by the Kosovo Judicial Council. He said that in all Kosovo centers, also in Gjakova is assigned prosecutor on duty, who will be ready to respond to all cases that appear in court. Pozhegu stated that the Criminal Code with the Chapter dedicated to criminal offenses against voting rights has severed the sentences. Representatives of political parties, the vast majority candidates for presidents, have congratulated the initiative and have also raised their concerns about posters of political parties, which have been abolished violently by unidentified persons in Gjakova and the need for Kosovo Police to react urgently in all cases that arise.
This activity is part of the series of discussion roundtables in the main Kosovo centers, which are being 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 five other centers, such as Peja, Mitrovica, Ferizaj, Pristina and Gjilan.