Prishtina, June 13-Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) has monitored the response of legal institutions on the subject of criminal offenses against the voting rights in parliamentary elections of June 8, 2014. KLI hired 40 mobile observers, who, on the election day, focused on monitoring the reaction of police and prosecution.
KLI will soon publish its final report on behavior of the legal institutions; however, a preliminary finding is that their approach was positive. KLI expresses its satisfaction with the approach, standards and the overall engagement of the law enforcement authorities and their fight against criminal offenses committed against rights to vote on June 8, 2014. In fact, the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Prosecutor (SP) and the Kosovo Police (KP) has marked clear progress even in the local elections of 2013, compared with the investigations and prosecutions of crimes during elections of 2010 and earlier elections.
In general, the positive results achieved as a result coordination of law institutions have directly affected the good elections, also commended by national and international authorities as the best elections ever held in the post-war Kosovo.
Related to the parliamentary elections of 2014, including the voting day of 8th of June, 13 cases were registered with 23 people having been involved in criminal offences against the rights to vote. On the day of the elections, 14 people have been investigated by the State Prosecutor whereas detention measures were requested for 8 persons. The judiciary has responded positively to 5 of these requests and 30 day pre-detention sentences were issued for the transgressors. House arrest measures were ordered for 2 people and 1 person was asked to regularly report to the police, while for 13 people standard procedures are being applied.
Generally, the offences are related to the breach of article 215 of the Criminal Code “Giving and receiving a bribe in relation to voting” (10 involved people). Some of the people are accused of “Preventing the Exercise of the Right to Vote”.
The monitoring process shows that most of the cases have occurred in Prishtina region (5 cases involving 12 people), in the Gjakova region (3 cases involving 5 people) while not a single case was registered in Ferizaj or Gjilan region.
The most sensitive case, which received extensive media coverage, had to do with illegal voting (filling of election boxes) in some villages in Skenderaj, and is being investigated by the State Prosecutor. KLI has closely monitored the reaction of both police and prosecution from the moment the news was made public. According to the findings of KLI observers who monitored the Working Group established by State Prosecutor and according to monitoring conduced in villages, with minor exceptions, both police and prosecution responded adequately during the entire process. For this particular case and for other cases, specific analysis will be provided in the final report which will be published by KLI.
Inter-institutional cooperation has advanced as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by State Prosecutor, Kosovo Judicial Council (KJC), Kosovo Police (KP), Central Election Committee (CEC) and the Election Complaints and Appeals Panel (ECAP).
This Memorandum has produced positive results during the entire electoral process. The main achievement as a result of MoU, as in the local elections of 2013, is the establishment of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) between SP and KP. SOPs have outlined clear actions for investigation and effective prosecution of offences/acts related to elections, based on the lessons learned and best practices adopted in full accordance with the applicable legislation. SOPs have served as the main tool of effective cooperation in investigation and prosecutions of election related crimes in Kosovo.
11 criminal acts sanctioning criminal action related to elections in the Criminal Code define all the acts and ways to conduct such acts related to election process and the rights to vote in Kosovo.
Nevertheless, law enforcement authorities face many challenges in proving that their work is professional, unbiased and righteous. In this regard, KLI considers that legal institutions should prove that concrete results are achieved in the investigation of criminal acts related to funding of activities of political parties and that such acts are prosecuted and justice is served.
Monitoring of activities of prosecution and police has been implemented by KLI with the financial support of the Embassy of Great Britain in Kosovo.