Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) has published the report “Forgiveness in Kosovo 2”, which analyzes the legal regulation of the pardon institute in Kosovo. The report aims to inform the stakeholders and the opinion about the recent initiative of the President, Ms. Atifete Jahjaga, on amending the Law on Pardon in Kosovo.
Pardon in Kosovo represents an extraordinary executive power of the President to pardon persons convicted of crimes, freely or partially freed from the execution of the final sentence of the court. Entering into force of the Law on Pardon, has assured the President that for the first time in 2009 to use the discretionary right to pardon persons convicted by the courts. So far, the presidents have pardoned partially and totally around 250 years of imprisonment for 246 convicted persons, where only 11 were women. The implementation of the pardon institute had greatly disturbed the convicted persons who had raised dilemmas about objective assessments. Also, other groups have raised their concerns about the implementation of this institute, including the European Commission.
Among the persons who have received pardon are included persons convicted of serious criminal offenses, including cruel murders, serious murders, organized crime, narcotic related offenses, rape, and embezzlement while exercising their duty. The pardon of convicted persons for these offenses has raised dilemmas if the criteria provide for objective assessment and if the criteria established by law are fully respected by the Ad Hoc Commission and Presidents.
In one case, the President had pardoned a convicted person in violation of the Law on Pardon. Consequently, many criticism have been raised regarding the implementation of pardon in Kosovo. The implementation of pardon arbitrarily has also affected the degradation of this institute since its inception. The created situation definitely requires an immediate response to harmonize and improve the normative acts that regulate this area. One of the major challenges in this initiative will be the lack of universal standards that would guide the commitment of creating a suitable model for Kosovo. Consequently, the basis of work in this initiative should be Kosovo’s context and best practices from different countries.
Much importance should be paid to the work of Kosovo Correctional Service (KCS). So far, the KSC has received great criticism of its reports regarding credibility, professionalism, and objectivity. Without such reports for prisoners, it will be difficult to have a fair and meritorious implementation of pardon. KCS reports have a lot of weight in informing the President to make decisions. Regarding the legal provisions relating to the institute of pardon, several issues have been identified that require wider debate. These issues are listed in the full report “Pardon in Kosovo 2”, which are analyzed in the context of Kosovo, and have been comparisons to other countries as well. KLI in the spirit of the constructive contribution of civil society has offered below some recommendations for amending the Law on Pardon:
The law should not restrict categorically the pardon of convicted persons for certain criminal offenses
The law should be amended so that the right to pardon also belongs to convicted persons who have previously been rejected by the Conditional Release Panel
The law should be complemented by new criteria, which are mainly found in the 2012 Criteria Decree
The criteria should emphasize that the President’s decree should impose aggravated measures on high risk criminal offenses set forth as such by various state documents. Works for which additional care should be given should be specified in other sublegal acts
Permanent mechanism should be established who will engage in the gathering of information, evaluation of their validity, and other relevant information about convicted persons seeking pardon
Time limits should be set as to the issue of pardon, depending on the length sentence (e.g., convicts with less than three years of imprisonment have the right to file the next request 10 years after the last decision)
Presidents the right to pardon should be prohibited four months before and after the announcement of the election.