Pristina, 29 March 2018 – Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), with the support of British Embassy in Kosovo and NED, on Thursday, held the roundtable “Fighting corruption without judicial control”. In this roundtable, was published the report “Fighting corruption without judicial control: Persecution and amnesty legitimized in the name of corruption”, as a result of monitoring the treating of corruption cases in the prosecutorial system and the judicial system and other law enforcement institutions.
Part of the panel of this roundtable was the Ambassador of Great Britain in Kosovo, Mr. Ruairi O’Connell, Chairperson of the Judicial Council Mr. Nehat Idrizi, and President of the Prosecutorial Council Mr. Blerim Isufaj, the Ombudsman Mr. Hilmi Jashari and the Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency, Shaip Havolli and the Executive director of the Kosovo Law Institute, Mr. Betim Musliu.
Musliu presented the findings, assessments and recommendations of systematic monitoring of corruption cases by courts and prosecution offices, emphasizing that the focus of this report was on the lack of judicial control on preliminary investigations cases and criminal investigations. “The systematic monitoring findings of the KLI show that in the preliminary stage and the criminal investigation stage there is no judicial control. As a result, thousands of citizens have been unfairly persecuted for decades by being kept in criminal reports. On the other hand, hundreds of suspects have been amnestied for criminal offenses of corruption, due to the lack of judicial control.
The Republic of Kosovo implements the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, therefore should be established the possibility of legal remedies in these decisions of prosecutors and the access of citizens to the court. Urgently address the issue of discretionary power of prosecutors, which is proving to be abused and here is one of the reasons for the lack of results in fighting high profile corruption”.
The Ambassador of Great Britain, Ruairi O’Connell, in the introductory speech said that Kosovo and its institutions, especially the justice institutions, are obliged to turn the trust of citizens by marking concrete results in fighting corruption and organized crime. ”Civil society, on the other hand, has no duty to restore citizen’s trust in the justice system, is not in their competence, they are monitor, to be the voice of the citizens even to offer suggestions, but the state structures such as the Judicial and Prosecutorial Council and others have the duty and legal obligations to do so.”
Ambassador O’Connell stressed that there is no fight against high profile corruption and that this profile is still untouched in Kosovo. “We still do not have a final verdict, with no conditional decision on corruption. I am not talking that there are too many, I am talking that there are no high profile cases that have been released without condition, there are strong concerns regarding the prosecutor’s powers to cease the criminal reports of the police and complete the investigation without a control mechanism”. According to British ambassador, it has become a phenomenon unfortunately that either there are cases that go to court and close directly cause of lack of evidence or there are cases when even though there is evidence does not go to court, after being closed by the prosecutor. “This is worrying for solving corruption cases, police officers, officials, honest judges to denounce corruption. We as the British Embassy have supported the KLI, to conduct external monitoring independent and professional. You too have seen concrete results of this monitoring. KLI has influenced to increase the transparency and accountability of the prosecutorial and judicial system. As a result of systematic monitoring findings, legal violations of prosecutors and judges have been identified in treating of corruption cases, as a result, the Disciplinary Prosecutor Office initiated over 500 cases of preliminary investigations.
Ambassador O’Connell stressed that he is concerned because the prosecutorial system has limited the decisions of prosecutors to dismiss criminal reports and decisions to cease investigations precisely at this stage where there is no judicial control, we expect that this concern to be addressed by Prosecutorial Council. “We expect that the judiciary to be transparent to the public, because transparency is the best way to fight corruption”.
Chairperson of the Kosovo Judicial Council, Mr. Nehat Idrizi, spoke about the recommendations that KLI has done on the judicial system, saying that judicial control over the investigation phase needs to be adjusted as recommended in the report.
Chairperson of the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, Blerim Isufaj, thanked the British Embassy and KLI for monitoring and addressing the topic, which is of interest to all citizens and that through the recommendations will cooperate closely in order to improve the work of the prosecutorial system.
The ombudsperson, Mr. Hilmi Jashari said that regarding the implementation of international standards there is an extremely serious concern regarding the implementation principle of article 6 which is considered that in this situation is seriously threatened and also threat of article 13 of the International Covenant on Human Rights, which has to do with effective legal remedies that are available to citizens to challenge the system if the rights of citizens are violated.
Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency, Shaip Havolli, said that it is true that there is huge number of criminal reports dismissed and that ACA has repeatedly had this problem with prosecution offices. He said that during 2017 they have held many meetings with the prosecution offices and that there are improvements in this regard.
Participants in this roundtable were the President of the Supreme Court, representatives of the Appeal Court, Presidents of Basic Courts, Chief Prosecutors of Basic Prosecutions, judges, prosecutors, Heads of Disciplinary Prosecutor Office, representatives of the British Embassy, US Embassy, EU representatives, civil society and media.