Pristina, 19 October 2018 – Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), on Friday, in Pristina, held roundtable “Preventing and fighting crime in election: Standard Operating Procedures the solution for the crimes before, during and after the Voting day”, as activity of the project: Increase of citizen participation in election processes in Kosovo” within Election Integrity Coalition (EIC).”
In this roundtable, was published the KLI’s report regarding effects of implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in preventing and fighting election manipulation and the need for advancement of these SOPs to investigate election crimes in the periods before and after voting day in election.
Part of the panel of this roundtable were National Election Coordinator by the State Prosecutor (SP), Ms. Laura Pula, President of the Supreme Court of Kosovo, Mr.Enver Peci, Executive Chief of the Secretariat of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Mr. Xhemail Pecani, Chief person of the Secretariat of Election Panel on Complaints and Appeals (EPCA), Mr. Mule Desku, researcher at the Institute for Development Democracy, Mr.Rasim Alija and executive director of the Kosovo Law Institute, Mr. Ehat Miftaraj.
In the roundtable it was said that as a result of the 2010 elections, which were followed by many irregularities, manipulations and reaction of local and international factor, the Chief State Prosecutor, according to KLI’s recommendations, had decided to implement a proactive policy for the elections of 3 November 2013, based on the prevention and in proactive prosecution of criminal offenses against voting rights. Based on the positive legislation in Kosovo, SP in cooperation with the KLI has drafted a Memorandum of Cooperation, through which an inter-institutional cooperation was established with all relevant justice institutions involved in the election process of 3 November 2013.
As a result of the Memorandum of Cooperation, the State Prosecutor and the Kosovo Police, with the assistance of the KLI, have drafted Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of these institutions to respond to the prevention and fight against the commission of criminal offenses that are related to the elections. The concrete results of this cooperation were witnessed throughout the 2013 election process, as well as subsequent elections, either municipal or general, until the last parliamentary elections held on 11 October 2017, in which were occurred drastic reduction in of the election manipulation cases.
Unlike 2010, where criminal reports were filed against over 4000 persons, in 2013 elections this number has been reduced to criminal reports against 261 persons. This trend has continued to be low even in the 2014 national elections, where criminal reports have been filed against 40 people, while in 2017 elections, this number has dropped to 27 people. In this regard, it was assessed that the effective implementation of SOPs has been the trunk of unprecedented cooperation until the elections of the year 2013 regarding the investigation and prosecution of certain crimes in Kosovo, increasing the readiness of action by the police and the prosecution.
Participants assessed that the voting day, based on current practices, will no longer be problematic if justice institutions strictly implement SOPs and legal obligations in the prevention and prosecution of perpetrators of criminal offenses against the right of vote. The problem remains other forms of manipulation of election processes and abuse of the right of voters. We are discussing about abuses occurring before and after the voting day in the election process.
In this regard, KLI has assessed that election crimes are related with other criminal activities that are related with elections but do not start and do not end on the voting day. In this regard, several stages and phenomena are involved, that stem from the suspicious way of financing political parties, a issue that has been continuously raised by the KLI and other civil society organizations.
At this stage, the KLI has recommended that SP to assign special prosecutors for elections for each municipality of Kosovo, which would focus on monitoring pre-election campaign activities through special investigators through information’s published in the media and providing access to the public to inform on a secure communication line anonymously via telephone and internet. In this form, it would initially be possible to prevent the suspicious funding of political parties, which, after the information that SP will investigate these financing activities, would minimize suspicious funding activities and then if these suspicious actions happen, will be prosecuted efficiently by the prosecution bodies.
The KLI has assessed that after the end of the voting day and the announcement of the election results, the SP should undertake actions in terms of analyzing actions in the field of public procurement, the field in which the public budget is abused in the form of reward of business and other financiers, who have funded political parties or assigned candidates in pre-election campaign.
Civil society representatives who contributed with discussion at this roundtable emphasized that NGOs have raised continuously the problematic of suspicious funding of political parties and the reward of businesses that have financed political parties with public tenders. In this regard, they agreed that the SOPs before and after the voting day would serve for efficient and effective prosecution of criminal ties, through mutual financing of political parties and businesses.
For more download the report of the KLI, titled: “Preventing and fighting crime in election: Standard Operating Procedures the solution for the crimes before, during and after the voting day” on the link albanian, english and serbian.
This grant is funded by the Democratic Society Promotion (DSP) – funded by the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (DANIDA) and managed by the Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF).