Prizren, October 11 – Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) in cooperation with the State Prosecutor and Ec Ma Ndryshe organized on Friday in Prizren the roundtable “Justice in November 3 elections”, with the participation of all stakeholders of the justice institutions of central and local level, 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 the general public about the readiness of the justice institutions to fight any action towards voting manipulation in the November 3, 2013 elections.
Musliu said that KLI last year published the report “Organized Crime in Elections: Analysis of the policy of prosecution and sentence”, in which were made concrete recommendations about the proactive role that the State Prosecutor should have in cases related to criminal offenses against voting rights. 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 the cooperation and coordination between these institutions in undertaking activities to successfully fight criminal offenses against voting rights, including here, the prevention of these offenses that are in conflict with the legislation in force. As a result of this memorandum, Kosovo Police in cooperation with the State Prosecutor have compiled Standard Action Procedures (SAP) to increase the efficiency of actions for criminal offenses against voting rights.
National Coordinator for elections by State Prosecutor, Ms. Laura Pula, said that unlike previous elections, this time the role of the State Prosecutor is very proactive, as a memorandum of cooperation was signed and SAP’s are created. “I want to let everyone know that the role of prosecutors will be proactive as never before. In the whole territory of Kosovo on the Election Day will be cooperating 50 prosecutors along with Investigators from Kosovo Police”, said Pula.
She stated that the main principle that arises from SOP’s is the detention/arrest of all persons who in one way or another will act against the voting rights. Pula said that following this joint action of police officers and prosecutors in conformity with legal provisions, prosecutors will ask the pre-trial judge the determination of the pre detention measure, which judge will also be on duty on the day of voting. “I encourage as a National Coordinator for all citizens to go to the November 3 elections and to vote freely in a democratic way because justice institutions will be on duty throughout the electoral process to guarantee that all those who try to manipulate their vote will be criminally prosecuted”.
Chief Prosecutor of the Basic Prosecution in Prizren, Mr. Syle Hoxha said that prosecutors have already been assigned to cooperate with the investigator and the police. “Prizren has already started to implement SOP’s. Based on these procedures we have initiated three cases, with which we are already dealing intensively”.
Coordinator for Elections by Kosovo Police, Rashit Qalaj said that Kosovo Police has prepared actions plans and that police officers in cooperation with prosecutors will act as never before to implement SOPs. “SOPs based on existing laws will enable an efficient action of police officers and prosecutors and we will act urgently to adequately respond to any abuse of elections”.
Judge at the Basic Court in Prizren, Xhevdet Elshani, said that policy of sentences for election related cases has been compounded by the courts, imposing sentences mostly on effective imprisonment. “Election cases are a bit cluttered. Investigations by prosecutors have not been the most adequate and this has created difficulties in reviewing these cases. Currently in our court there are 21 cases that are being processed and are under trial. Of these, two cases have ended in the Municipal Courts”.
At the roundtable it was said that the Criminal Code with the Chapter devoted to criminal offenses against voting rights has severed the sentences. The debate over the manipulation of the elections has not been stopped for any moment and in every important decision or process for Kosovo, the issue of vote manipulation has taken on a key role in the debate. For the November 3, 2013 elections, justice institutions have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation “Regarding the elections 2013” and have created Standard Operating Procedures to act before, during and after the voting day over the criminal offenses against voting rights.
Representatives of political parties, the vast majority of candidates for presidents, congratulating the initiative and expressing that these activities were missing precisely in the previous elections, have raised their concerns about the composition of the commissions at polling stations, such as the management assigned by people politically delegated and disproportionate of commissioners, where the governing coalition has the majority. This activity will be part of a series of discussion roundtables in Kosovo’s main 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 six other centers as in Gjakova, Peja, Mitrovica, Ferizaj, Pristina and Gilan.