Pristina, 11 March 2019 – Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), with the support of British Embassy in Kosovo and NED, on Monday, held a roundtable titled: “Impunity of corruption, risk for society and the state. Solution: Integrity, transparency, accountability?” . In this roundtable was published the report as a result of three year monitoring of handling corruption cases in the prosecutorial system, judicial system and other institutions of the law enforcement.
Part of the panel of this roundtable were Ambassador of the Great Britain in Kosovo, Mr. Ruairi O’Connell, President of the Legislation Commission, Ms. Albulena Haxhiu, Minister of Justice, Mr. Abelard Tahiri, Chairperson of the Judicial Council, Mr. Skender Cocaj, Chairperson of the Prosecutorial Council, Mr. Bahri Hyseni, General Director of the Kosovo Police, Mr. Rashit Qalaj and executive director of the Kosovo Law Institute, Mr. Ehat Miftaraj.
Miftaraj has presented findings of the report, including actions of justice and security institutions in the investigation, prosecution and trial of corruption cases, including monitoring of implementation and law enforcement, policies and strategies in institutional level addressing the fight against corruption during three years (2016, 2017, 2018).
Miftaraj announced that overall appraisal of the KLI is that in Kosovo there is no lack of laws and policies for fighting corruption, but there is lack of political will.“ Politics and groups of interest, have produced a justice system, which instead to produce legal justice and security, is turned into a persecution mechanism for certain individuals, in the name of fight against corruption also effective tool to provide impunity and amnesty for certain officials within the justice system, politics and groups of interest”, he said.
Director of the KLI said that unlawful policies are approved, through which is centralized investigation and prosecution of high profile of corruption, by interfering seriously on the individual independence of prosecutors. “I mean for the Instructions of Chief State Prosecutor, which in contradiction with the law, has established a control system that any case against high profile, not be able to be investigated, without receiving a visa of the Office of Chief State Prosecutor. This is a direct interference in the work of prosecutors, because prosecutors are fully independent in their work”, stated Miftaraj.
Further, executive director of the KLI has presented main findings from the monitoring of corruption cases, according to which during three years this Institute has monitored 3994 hearings, and has reported for the announcement of 518 judgments by Basic Courts, where included are 966 persons accused for corruption. Out of this judgments, results that Courts against 176 persons (17.7%) have sentenced with effective imprisonment, against 178 persons (17.9%) have imposed conditional sentence, against 98 persons (9.8%) have imposed fines, while 544 persons accused for corruption were released. Out of this 996 accused for corruption, 442 persons are high profile, 516 persons medium profile and 38 persons low profile”, explained Miftaraj.
He said that the rule of law even in 2019 remains impassable challenge, also with institutions and with certain individuals that run these institutions with vulnerable integrity and credibility. “KLI’s findings find that Kosovo from the initial stage in the rule of law has regressed, returning to a captured state, where justice amnesties corrupted officials and does not implement legal and constitutional obligations in a fair, impartial and independence manner”, concluded Miftaraj.
Ambassador of the Great Britain, Mr. Ruairi O’Connell, in the opening speech said that the lack of results, impunity, non-reactions and the lack of accountability remain key problems in the fight of corruption and organized crime. According to him, these are also due to the involvement of politics in the justice system. “Of course we continue to demand from politics not to affect in the justice system, involving in the appointment of prosecutors and judges, chief prosecutors, presidents of courts. Must leave independent, that only in this there will be results, criminality will be fought and there will be justice for the citizens”, said O’Connell.
British ambassador stressed that their request is very clear, that Kosovo cannot be a shelter of corruption and organized crime, but according to him is continuing to prove the opposite. “How long can Kosovo continue to have the support of the international community, when it continues to prove the lack of fight of organized crime and corruption. It is the last time that officials with contested integrity to move from positions and be prosecuted for their actions”, he said.
According to O’Connell, prosecutors and judges can and should be the new heroes of Kosovo.
Chairwoman of the Commission on Legislation, Ms. Albulena Haxhiu said that concerning are conditional sentences, as according to her, they encourage officials to continue abusing. She said the time has come when prosecutors and judges should not be interested in the power or position that has a certain official accused of corruption, but he should be investigated and sentenced.
Further, Haxhiu stated that supports the vetting process, adding that such a process is not a fight against prosecutors and judges, but urgent action for a fair and secure system. The same stressed that the KLI’s report must awake everyone.
Minister of Justice, Abelard Tahiri said the report in question bring a new momentum for the justice system. According to him, it is not excluded the possibility that there are irresponsible officials who in different ways want to abuse or prevent cases in which they may be involved, but according to him, prosecutors and judges should be those who should not fall to those influences from anyone who comes. Tahiri announced that this year the number of judges is expected to increase for 162 judges, which according to him will have an impact on increase of efficiency in the justice system in Kosovo.
Chairperson of the Kosovo Judicial Council, Mr. Skender Cocaj, and chairperson of the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, Mr. Bahri Hyseni, said that both councils are committed to have a transparent and accountable judicial system.
General Director of the Kosovo Police, Mr. Rashit Qalaj said that there should be a closer co-operation between the police, the prosecution and the judiciary, if we want to reduce corruption to a much lower level. According to Qalaj, in Kosovo there is no invulnerable person, but the laws should be implemented more and should be more courage.
All panelists agreed that the KLI’s report helps everyone to work better.
Participants in this roundtable were also the President of the Appeal Court, Presidents of Basic Courts, Chief Prosecutors of Basic Prosecutions, Judges, Prosecutors, Director of Anti-Corruption Agency, Director of the Justice Academy, President of Kosovo Bar Association, representatives of British Embassy, The American Embassy, the EU, EULEX, representatives of other international organizations, representatives of civil society, media and others.