Pristina, August 21, 2015 – Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) reacts to the amnesty of judges and prosecutors that are subject of investigations and disciplinary procedures submitted to the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel (ODC). This amnesty is enabled through the amendment of the Law on the Kosovo Judicial Council (LKJC), respectively articles 15 and 16 of them. In both laws, changes have defined that “disciplinary proceedings against judges and prosecutors will not be initiated and implemented in the Disciplinary Commission of KJC and KPC, after the deadline one (1) year from the notification received in the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, for the alleged violation and two (2) years from the date of alleged violation”.
KLI estimates that completion of these legal provisions produces negative irreversible consequences and as such should be titled as “General amnesty for judges and prosecutors, who are supposed that have committed misconduct acted contrary with the codes of ethics and professional behavior for judges and prosecutors. In the LKJC and LKPC are not foreseen transitional provisions related with the cases that are currently working on in (ODP). Taking into consideration that OPD currently is treating hundred cases, which have been received at work years ago, and for which has not presented the report to the Commissions of the KJC and KPC, the same cannot be treated by these two commissions in cases when the deadline has passed for a year when announcement was received in the ODP or when two years have passed from the date of alleged violation. All these cases will remain untreated and therefore there will be no consequences for judges and prosecutors, against whom is submitted the initiation of disciplinary proceedings.
KLI estimates that through changing of these laws, irreparable damages are caused that will affect directly in damaging integrity of the holders of judicial and prosecutorial functions and integrity of judicial and prosecutorial system itself. The culture of impunity against judges and prosecutors for their behavior potentially improper now is finally guaranteed in the provisions of these basic laws for the judicial and prosecutorial system. Low confidence in the judicial and prosecutorial system, despite the fact that this month has recorded the largest decline, through this amnesty of violators by the judges and prosecutors, it will eventually affect in the eradication of citizens confidence in the justice system.
Also, with the completion of these laws, concern remain short deadlines determined with these changes limiting investigation against alleged violations by the judges and prosecutors in just one year, from the notification received in the ODP. This limitation will have direct impact on the quality of work of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, taking into account the high number of cases received and treated by this office. This would hamper functioning of ODP and will enable to exercise the mandate under the law to function independently, impartially and professionally.
KLI expresses concern that as result of these provisions, in the absence of sufficient human resources at the ODP, compared with the large number of submitters presented against the judges and prosecutors, in practice it will come to selective justice or the perception that the ODP implements selective justice against certain judges and prosecutors. That is because of scarce resources and limiting of the deadline for treating cases would inability the same to be treated equally before the law, this fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.
KLI recommends the Ministry of Justice urgently to start with the amendment of these two basic laws for the functioning of the judicial and prosecutorial system to improve justice administering in disciplinary cases where the subject may be judges or prosecutors. Through amendments should be addressed the issue of limited deadlines of treating cases by the ODP, Disciplinary Commissions and Councils, which should be adapted with the context and specifics of the justice system in Kosovo. Limiting defined by one year, should be reviewed and the deadline to be extended at least two years, also foresees the increasing of human resources at the ODP with additional positions of qualified persons, with experience and expertise in treating of these cases. Taking into account the current resources of the ODP and the enormous number of alleged violations by judges and prosecutors. KLI recommends that “disciplinary procedures against judges and prosecutors will not start and implement in the Disciplinary Commission of the KJC and KPC, after the deadline of two (2) years from the notification received in the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, for the alleged violation and six (6) years from the day of alleged violation”. According to the deadline for treating of cases submitted by ODC, KLI recommends that Disciplinary Commission to finish the case as the first instance within the deadline of six (6) months. Whereas, in the case of complaints, KJC and KPC recommended that treating of these cases to be finished within the deadline of three (3) months. KLI appeals publicly the ODC to prepare a detailed report with all the information that including the number of cases which will be amnestied against judges and prosecutors, as a result of these new legal provisions, so that the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo to be informed with the expressed will of lawmakers, to amnesty the violators.