KLI: Not even half of the objectives of the Action Plan against Corruption were accomplished by prosecutors

KLI: Not even half of the objectives of the Action Plan against Corruption were accomplished by prosecutors

KLI: Not even half of the objectives of the Action Plan against Corruption were accomplished by prosecutors

September 5-Prishtina- Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), with the support of the British Embassy in Prishtina on Friday hosted the round-table discussion “Evaluation of the Implementation of the Action Plan for Increasing the Efficiency of the Prosecutorial System in Fighting of Corruption” which served to discuss the implementation of this Action Plan, which was in force until June 30, 2014.

The Executive Director of KLI, Mr. Betim Musliu, presented the report “Corruption in Kosovo 2: A comprehensive assessment report of the efficacy of the prosecutorial system in implementing the Anti-corruption Action Plan”, which contains the findings, assessments and recommendations for implementing the Action Plan. During the presentation of the report, Musliu said that the prosecution failed to meet the objective of the Action Plan to resolve the corruption cases. “Not even half of corruption cases registered by November 4, 2013 or by the date of entry into force of this Action Plan were resolved by the prosecution i.e. only 41% of these cases were resolved.” Musliu said that there are prosecution offices that have largely failed to fulfill their obligations for resolving corruption cases, but there are also prosecution offices that have managed to resolve all the old cases. “The most worrying aspect of the implementation of this plan is non-compliance with and non-enforcement of decisions of the Prosecutorial Council by prosecutions and even by the Council itself.”

President of the Republic of Kosovo, Ms.  Atifete Jahjaga, in her introductory remarks at this round-table, commended the Institute’s report, which as she said, gave a detailed assessment of the work and the results achieved by Kosovo institutions in the fight against corruption and organized crime. “This analysis is very valuable for all mechanisms responsible to fight against negative phenomena in the country, and in particular for mechanisms responsible to fight corruption, because it gives an overview of successful practices and also of challenges that institutions, civil society and citizens in Kosovo should address in order to fulfill the vision of building the rule of law, and of integration into the Euro-Atlantic family.” President Jahjaga said that citizens of Kosovo continuously heard the leaders of all institutions and also mechanisms responsible for fighting of these phenomena pledge to adopt zero-tolerance against corruption.  “Corruption undermines democratic processes and it especially damages the rule of law. Corruption affects the quality of life of our citizens, destroys the fundamental cells of our society and leads to other dangerous phenomena. It can also severely affect our society’s most important values. ”

Further, President Jahjaga said that the fight against corruption should be undertaken at every level both central and municipal. “The fight against corruption cannot be partial, selective and unfinished. It ought to be comprehensive, because corruption is corroding every segment of life. The fight against corruption must be complete, continuous and coordinated by all mechanisms. We must demonstrate together that we can take our responsibility to fight corruption. We want our citizens to move freely in EU, and this process of visa liberalization depends on us, the leaders of institutions, as much as it depends on you prosecutors, and judges. Corruption must not hinder the free movement of our citizens, just as it must not hinder the process of integration into the EU. ”

Deputy Ambassador of the British Embassy in Kosovo, Ms. Louise Taylor, said that Kosovo needs to achieve concrete results in the fight against corruption. “Corruption is not a problem specific to Kosovo, or the Balkans. However, in order for Kosovo to move forward, in order for citizens of Kosovo to feel that Kosovo is moving forward, Kosovo should give concrete evidence of results. “Taylor said that the project supported by the British Embassy in Kosovo is designed to improve the accountability and transparency of the judicial mechanisms in the fight against corruption.”Second report on the evaluation of the implementation of the Action Plan to increase the efficiency of the activities of the prosecutorial system in fighting corruption shows that some steps have been made in this direction, but it also shows a worrying stagnation of progress, evidenced by the lack of implementation of the Action Plan, little change in the number of unsolved corruption cases and lack of communication between prosecutors and the Anty- Corruption Agency “. She said that EULEX should be relied upon to fight corruption, but emphasized that this mission will not indefinitely stay in Kosovo and that local institutions will one day take on their shoulders the full responsibility in this area.

Acting/Chief State Prosecutor, Mr. Sylë Hoxha, said that Kosovo Prosecutorial Council entered into a Memorandum of Cooperation with KLI, to have an external monitoring framework of the Action Plan for increasing the efficiency of the prosecutorial system in fighting corruption. Chief Prosecutor Hoxha said that the implementation of this plan remains a guide for all, to keep up their commitment to improve the results in combating corruption, always in close cooperation with other law enforcement agencies and institutions in Kosovo.

Chairman of the Kosovo Judicial Council, Mr. Enver Peci, praised the Institute’s report, noting that the report “will serve to instigate all law enforcement agencies to pursue corruption cases.” Peci said that the judiciary has decided to tackle the corruption cases with priority, despite the difficulties and the large number of cases it is working on.

The participants, highly commended the report of the Institute, and also discussed the findings and evaluations of the implementation of the Action Plan. Remarks about the findings of the report and implementation of the Action Plan were made by the National Anti-Corruption Coordinator, Ms.  Laura Pula, Acting/Chief Prosecutor at the Special Prosecution of the  Republic of Kosovo, Ms. Sevdije Morina, all the chief prosecutors at Basic Prosecutions in Kosovo, Director of Investigations at Kosovo Police, Mr. Riza Shillova, Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency, Mr. Hasan Preteni. Participants at the discussion also included representatives of the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, the Kosovo Judicial Council, the Kosovo Police, Civil Society, the American Embassy in Kosovo, the EU Office in Kosovo, and EULEX.

The report of KLI notes that in all prosecution offices, there are 42 prosecutors assigned to resolve corruption cases. The status of pending corruption cases in prosecution offices remains almost the same as it was at the beginning of implementation of the Action Plan.  Whereas at the beginning of the implementation of the plan, on November 4, 2013, there were 516 unsolved cases with 1,682 involved persons, at the end of the implementation of the Action Plan, on 30 June 30, 2014, there were 548 cases remaining with 1,488 persons. Thus, there is a small decrease in the number of unsolved cases in terms of persons i.e. a 12% decrease or 194 persons less than in the beginning. If we analyze the number of cases on November 4, 2013 and the number of cases received during the Action Plan, we will see that prosecutions had 866 cases with 2307 involved persons.  Of this total number of cases, prosecutions managed to resolve 321 cases with 839 persons or 36% of the total cases they had been working on. KLI considers that in general this is a poor performance of prosecutors in solving corruption cases.

To measure the implementation of the Action Plan, KLI established indicators, based on obligations arising from the Action Plan. KLI decided to measure the realization of the plan based on the solution of corruption cases registered until November 4, 2013.

According to this indicator, it turns out that not even half of the objectives of the action plan were achieved.  Upon the entry into force of the plan on November 4, 2013, prosecution offices had 516 unsolved cases with 1682 persons. From entry into force of the action plan until the last day it was in force, June 30, 2014, prosecutors managed to resolve 224 cases with a total of 685 involved persons or 41%. An analysis of all the resolved cases indicates that criminal charges were dismissed or investigations stopped against more than half of the suspects involved in corruption cases.  The charges against 379 persons or 55% of the involved were dismissed, while over 306 persons or 45% of suspects were indicted.

The manner in which cases are resolved is a good indicator for those who submit criminal charges, some of which must be analyzed by the relevant institutions to assess the quality of their work. Basic Prosecution Office in Prishtina failed to implement the Action Plan more than any other prosecution; prosecutors in this prosecution managed to resolve only 13% of persons or 98 out of 777 persons registered at the beginning of the plan. This is also a consequence of the large number of cases that this prosecution inherited from the former District and Municipal Prosecution Offices in Prishtina as well as a consequence of the small number of prosecutors. After Prishtina, Basic Prosecution in Mitrovica is the second prosecution with the lowest number of resolved cases. This prosecution managed to resolve cases against only 26% of persons or 36 out of 141 persons registered at the beginning of the plan.  Nevertheless, the poor results in the Basic Prosecution in Mitrovica are due to objective reasons, i.e. the poor working conditions that prosecutors working in BP of Mitrovica face. Special Prosecution of the Republic of Kosovo was not able to resolve even half of the cases registered at the beginning of the Action Plan. Out of 232 registered persons, Special Prosecution resolved cases against 107 or 46% of persons. Over half of persons were resolved by the Basic Prosecution Office in Ferizaj, which resolved 81out of 126 persons, or 64% of persons. Basic Prosecution Office in Gjakova made some progress in solving corruption cases, where out of 64 persons, 52 or 81% are resolved. BP Office in Prizren also managed to resolve 85% of the persons, or 149 out of 175 persons it had been working on at the beginning of the Action Plan; BP Office in Peja managed to resolve 94% or 81 persons out of 86 persons it had been working on. On the other hand, BP Office in Gjilan managed to implement 100% of the Action Plan in terms of solving the cases registered up to November 4, 2013, solving 23 cases with 81 persons. Based on monitoring of this Action Plan, KLI considers that not all prosecution offices pursued the corruption cases with absolute priority as is indicated by the results of their work, also presented in this report.

In addition to case solving, the National Anti-Corruption Coordinator and the Chief Prosecutors had a number of other obligations which they did not fulfill or which they minimally fulfilled. For instance special reports were due on each statutory limitation case, but this obligation was not met by the chief prosecutors.

KLI expresses its concern over the culture of impunity for those responsible for the failures identified in the prosecutorial system.  KLI is even more concerned over the failure of the Chief Prosecutors to execute the decision of the highest institution in the prosecutorial system, the Prosecutorial Council, and is also greatly concerned over the failure of the Prosecutorial Council itself to execute the decision to penalize the Chief Prosecutors who did not penalize their employees for the identified violations.

The report contains 17 concrete recommendations for all institutions on how to improve their performance in resolving corruption cases, in order to properly implement the Action Plan.

Action Plan for Increasing the Efficiency of the Prosecutorial System in Fighting Corruption is an outcome of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Inter-institutional Cooperation in combating organized crime and corruption adopted by the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council. On December 27, 2013, KPC and Kosovo Law Institute entered into a Memorandum of Cooperation on monitoring the implementation of this plan by the prosecutorial system.