Tuesday May 20, 2014– Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) in cooperation with the State Prosecutor and NGO Kosovo Center for International Cooperation, have organized on Tuesday in Gilan the first roundtable “Justice in parliamentary elections 2014”, with the participation of all stakeholders of the justice institutions of center and local level, candidates of political parties, civil society and media.

Mr. Betim Musliu from KLI said that aim of this roundtable is raise of debate and sensitization of all stakeholders, political parties and the general public about the readiness of justice institutions to fight any action in terms of vote manipulation in parliamentary elections 2014. Experience of local elections 2013, according to Musliu, should serve to advance the proactive role and activities of the justice institutions in preventing and fighting the criminal offences against voting rights.

This year, on the initiative of the Chief State Prosecutor, Mr. Ismet Kabashi on May 15 2014, signed Cooperation Memorandum “Regarding the parliamentary elections 2014” between the State Prosecutor, Kosovo Judicial Council, Kosovo Police, the Central Election Commission and the Election Panel for Complaints and Appeals. As result of this memorandum, the State Prosecutor in cooperation with the Kosovo Police has drafted Standard Action Procedures (SAP) to increase the efficiency of actions for the criminal offences against voting rights.

Representatives of justice institutions have warned stringent measures against all potential voter abusers that may occur regarding the parliamentary elections that will be held on June 8 this year. National Coordinator for elections by State Prosecutor, Ms. Laura Pula, said that justice institutions based on practices of local elections, have been prepared as never before to play a proactive role in preventing and fighting of all criminal offences against voting rights. “Standard Action Procedures (SAP), ensure the efficiency for fighting all criminal offences against voting rights, so prosecutors will only increase the close cooperation with the police for their implementation. The main principle that arises from the SOPs is arrest and detention of all persons who in one way or another will act against the voting rights”. Pula said that for the parliamentary elections on voting day on June 8, over 100 prosecutors will be engaged and over 300 employees – supporting staff of prosecutions that will be on duty in the entire territory of the Republic of Kosovo.

Chief Prosecutor of the Basic Prosecution in Gilan, Mr. Jetish Maloku, said that prosecutors will implement the legal provisions and SOPs to prevent any kind of manipulation of citizen’s vote. “Prosecutors in Gilan will be the real guardian of the vote wherever they are required. Vote is a free will of the citizens and we will punish everyone who tries to abduct and abuse this will”.

Maloku, said that there are assigned prosecutors on duty in all municipalities covered by the Basic Prosecution of Gilan”.

D/general director of the Kosovo Police, Mr. Naim Rexha, said that Kosovo Police has prepared action plans and that police officers in cooperation with prosecutors will act as never before to implement the 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 the elections”.

President of the Basic Court of Gilan, Mr. Zyhdi Haziri, said that legal provisions for the criminal offences against the voting rights foresees severe sentences, so everyone who abuses the election process should be careful. “We have dealt with priority cases of election and same as the police and the prosecution, we will also have judges on duty to efficiently respond to the cases related with election”.

Representative of Election Panel for Complaints and Appeals, Mr. Adnan Konushevci, said that this institution is ready to receive all complaints to solve them, related to the mandate of ECAP. “In all elections held, the ECAP has decided on all cases, within the legal deadline. Therefore, anyone who has complaints should address them and all will receive an answer. However, it is good to save the ECAP by some complaints, for which has no mandate, such as complaints about smoking at polling stations”. Despite the confirmation, the representative of the Central Election Commission was missing in the panel.

At the roundtable were about 50 participants, where apart from the representatives of the justice institutions, present were candidates for deputies from all political parties, school directors who serve as managers of polling station centers, representatives of civil society and the media.

Participants raised some concerns related to the election process in the northern part of Kosovo, soft sentences imposed on vote manipulators, with the recount process at the Count and Results Center, abuse of public funds by party leaders for party campaigns, for the clearance of voter’s lists, for political parties’ finances etc.

This was the first roundtable in the series of roundtables discussion, which will be held in the six main centers of Kosovo, in Prizren, Gjakova, Peja, Ferizaj, Mitrovica and Pristina. These activities are developed within the project “Initiative to increase the efficiency of justice institutions for free, fair and democratic elections in Kosovo” supported by the embassy of the Great Britain in Pristina.