Mitrovica October 18 – The series of discussion roundtables “Justice in 2013 elections” continued today in the Mitrovica region, organized in cooperation with the NGO Mundesia. These roundtables are organized by Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) in cooperation with the State Prosecutor in 7 main centers of Kosovo. During the discussion in Mitrovica, 35 persons participated from the justice institutions of central and local level, candidates of political parties, civil society and media.
On the initiative of the Chief State Prosecutor, Mr. Ismet Kabashi, on September 18 2013, is signed a Memorandum of Cooperation “Regarding the 2013 elections” between Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, Kosovo Judicial Council, Kosovo Police, Central Election Commission and 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, preventing these criminal offenses that are in conflict with the legislation in force. As a result of this Memorandum, Kosovo Police in cooperation with the State Prosecutor drafted the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to increase the efficiency of actions for criminal offenses against voting rights.
Betim Musliu said that KLI last year published the report “Organized Crime in Elections: Analysis of the policy of prosecution and sentence”, in which was made concrete recommendations about the proactive role that the State Prosecutor should have in cases related to the criminal offenses against voting rights, which is happening now, but this role shall be monitored until the end of the election process.
National Coordinator for Elections by State Prosecutor, Ms. Laura Pula, said that this time the role of the State Prosecutor is very proactive, as a memorandum of cooperation was signed and SOPs were created. “In the whole territory of Kosovo 50 prosecutors are assigned that together with the Investigators from Kosovo Police will cooperate to fight any kind of activity that faces criminal offenses against voting rights”. Pula stated that the main principle that arises from the SOPs is the detention/arrest of all persons who in one way or another will act against the voting rights. SOPs provide opportunity to react urgently in all cases. Therefore, we will react and arrest persons, even in cases when criminal offenses against the voting rights are committed and are not reported by those responsible that should do so…Also, we will stop all persons who bomb out the public opinion with false information, which create wrong opinion for certain purposes”. Pula said that there are already some cases under investigation and there are certain measures against persons suspected for these elections, by encouraging as National Coordinator all citizens, political parties, and civil society to report cases of abuse to the police and prosecutor, because as she said, justice institutions will be on duty throughout the electoral process to guarantee that all those who try to manipulate with the vote of the citizens will be prosecuted.
Chief Prosecutor of the Basic Prosecution in Mitrovica, Mr. Shyqri Syla, said that prosecutors on duty are assigned that will cooperate with the investigation and police for the Mitrovica region.
“We have assigned prosecutors who will work closely with the police to act urgently against all abusers, in accordance with the legal provisions and SOPs, which ensure increased efficiency of the police and prosecutors”.
Coordinator for Elections by Kosovo Police, Rashit Qalaj, said that Kosovo Police has analyzed the experiences of past elections and has prepared action plans that will enable close cooperation with prosecutors, with whom as never before will ensure an effective implementation of SOPs. “Everyone should know that the police in cooperation with prosecutors will act urgently to adequately respond to any abuse of the elections. There is no pardon for anyone; this must be understood by all citizens, political parties, their commissioners, officials or anyone else who attempts to be engaged in abuse”.
Judge at the Basic Court of Mitrovica, Mr. Beqir Halili, said that the Kosovo Criminal Code has devoted a special chapter to criminal offenses against voting rights and has severed the sentence, categorizing them as serious crimes. Halili said that the Basic Court in Mitrovica, has assigned prosecutor on duty, to respond to all cases that may appear regarding the criminal offenses against the voting rights.
Part of discussion with all participants from the political parties, the vast majority candidates for mayors, civil society and the media was very active in informing the role of the justice institutions. Participants in the discussions congratulated the initiative and expressed their concerns about the small number, according to them, of persons accused and sentenced for the Mitrovica region, about the detainees who vote, about the clearance of the list of voters from dead persons etc.
This activity will be part of the series of discussion roundtables in the main Kosovo centers, which 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 six other centers such as Ferizaj, Pristina and Gjilan.