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EUKOJUST supports the strengthening of the Ministry of Justice departments

The workshop “Strengthening the MoJ Departments,” organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice on Thursday, 18 April 2024, was focused on enhancing the capacities of various departments within the Ministry of Justice.

The workshop began with the presentation of four manuals developed specifically for different departments within the Ministry of Justice. These manuals provide guidance and resources to improve the functioning and efficiency of each department, namely for the Legal Department, the Department for European Integration and Policy Coordination, the Department for Overseeing Free Legal Professions and the department for International Legal Cooperation.

In the second part, the workshop focused on practice of donor coordination. The workshop aimed to showcase the benefits of creating a platform for collaboration and joint efforts, ultimately leading to a more efficient, impactful, and unified approach to supporting a stronger and more effective justice system.

During the workshop the Latvian and Croatian experience and best practices in the process of donor coordination and EU integration were presented.

Finaly, the workshop was completed with the insight in experience from the accession process in Montenegro and Croatia, giving concrete examples and lessons learned. This offered valuable perspectives on the challenges and opportunities associated with aligning with EU standards and requirements, particularly in the context of justice system reforms.

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EUKOJUST supports the entire justice reform system in Kosovo (video)

As for all other countries aiming for EU integration, same for Kosovo, the Rule of Law remains the key to the entire process. Therefore, Kosovo is entirely reforming the justice system and is aiming to enhance it to the European standard. The EUKOJUST project, for three years now, is supporting this journey.

“The main goal is to align the Kosovo judicial system with European, meaning EU standards. So this is what we want to achieve and of course we are not alone in this respect, as I said in the very beginning there are partners we are cooperating with. So, I think we are in a good path to support Kosovo in this respect, the Kosovo judiciary, but still there is a lot to do,” said Volkmar Theobald, EUKOJUST Team Leader.

The most significant impact or the main goals which were coordinated with  EUKOJUST Programme are related to the Rule of Law Strategy, which is a several-years Strategy, and then also to the re-organization and re-systematization or organogram of the Ministry of Justice. And in matters related to the concept documents such as civil codes or criminal codes and other special laws,” said Vigan Qorolli, Deputy Minister of Justice.

EUKOJUST’s activities focus on solving problems and are need oriented , so that the solutions serve the justice sector and the citizens, while implementing 4 specific objectives:

  • Capacity building and inter-institutional coordination in the justice sector;
  • Strengthening the independence, impartiality, accountability, professionalism, quality, efficiency and transparency of the judiciary;
  • Improving the consolidation and further alignment of the legal and institutional framework with European legislation, standards and practices and the implementation of laws; and
  • Improving access to justice, especially for women and disadvantaged or marginalized groups.

The key institutions that have benefited from this project are: the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Council of Kosovo, the Prosecutorial Council of Kosovo, the Justice Academy, as well as the Legal Office of the Prime Minister of the country.

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A number of accomplishments presented during the 13th Steering Committee Meeting

Support to the inter-institutional coordination mechanism, support to the establishment of working groups for the evaluation, outset and drafting of legal initiatives, support to strengthening the capacities of the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council (KPC), Kosovo Judicial Council (KJK) and Kosovo Justice Academy (KJA), were some of the achievements presented at the 13th meeting of the Steering Committee of the EUKOJUST project, held on January 31 in Pristina.

The new Chair of the Prosecutorial Council of Kosovo, Ardian Hajdaraj and EUKOJUST Team Leader Mr. Volkmar Theobald, co-chaired the regular meeting where the achievements of the project during January-December 2023 were presented. Also present at the meeting were the Deputy Minister of Justice, Vigan Qorolli, the Kosovo Judicial Council Chair, Mr. Albert Zogaj, Deputy Chief State Prosecutor, Mr. Agron Qalaj, President of the Supreme Court, Fejzullah Rexhepi, Director of the Kosovo Justice Academy, Enver Fejzullahu, Head of the Legal Office of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mentor Borovci, EUKOJUST Project Director from IRZ Ms. Teresa Thalhammer, as well as Mr. Nicola Scaramuzzo from the EU Office in Kosovo.

During the joint presentation, Theobald and EUKOJUST experts presented the project’s achievements during the three-month reporting phase. During this period, the project featured the support to the inter-institutional coordination mechanism and its stakeholders (Ministry of Justice, Justice Academy, Kosovo Judicial Council, Kosovo Prosecutorial Council) in order to enhance their capacities for systematic and sustainable coordination of the entire Justice system and the rule of law, and treatment of the essential reforms in the sector in Kosovo according to the approved Rule of Law Strategy.

In addition, the project has supported the working groups established as per the decision of the Ministry of Justice for the establishment of six (6) working groups for the assessment, conception and drafting of legal initiatives, initiatives for promotion of integrity mechanisms in the Government sector. Law, provided for in the Joint Declaration of Commitment. This declaration called “Declaration on Justice Reform” was signed by all the heads of justice institutions in the spring of 2023.

EUKOJUST continued to provide support in strengthening the capacities of KPC, KJC and KJA in management, administration, human resources and planning of the judicial and prosecutorial system to ensure independence, impartiality, accountability, professionalism and better transparency of the judiciary.

During this reporting period, the project sustained its contribution to improving access to justice for all in Kosovo, especially for women, ethnic minorities, juveniles, persons with disabilities and vulnerable, marginalized and underrepresented groups. Strengthening free legal aid mechanism, improving access to jurisprudence and legislation in non-majority languages, and strengthening the free legal professions according to the strategy against domestic violence and the Rule of Law Strategy, ensuring its implementation.

In addition, the project continued to provide significant capacity-building activities for a range of rule of law stakeholders, focusing on domestic violence, gender-based violence, human rights and vulnerable people and marginalized groups.

In terms of the legislative framework, during this period EUKOJUST has supported its beneficiaries in drafting of four (4) primary legislations, including the Draft Law on Administrative Court, the Draft Law on Administrative Disputes, the Draft Omnibus Law on Harmonization of Special Laws, and the Law on Special Chamber of the Supreme Court for Matters Related to Privatization, as well as the Concept Document for Civil Unions. The project has supported its beneficiaries in drafting seven (7) by-laws.

The support to drafting of five (5) reports with recommendations for different areas of the justice sector and nine (9) manuals, was also provided. The project further supported fourteen (14) technical documents such as strategies, action plans, technical specifications and Standard Operating Procedures.

Regarding capacity building, experts prepared and updated six (6) training programs and materials to support justice reform in line with EU best practices.

The purpose of the EUKOJUST project is to support justice sector in Kosovo and improve the quality of justice for the citizens of Kosovo on its path towards the EU. The project further aims to support Kosovo in reforming the justice system according to European and international standards and to prepare its institutions for the EU membership process by providing expertise and high-level technical assistance for the entire justice sector in Kosovo.

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Kosovo committed to strengthening the main pillar of democracy – that of justice (video)

Kosovo, together with its EUKOJUST partners, is committed to further strengthening the main pillar of democracy – that of justice, through reforms in all instances, including those in the Prosecutorial Council and the Judicial Council.

“In the Council, our approach was to be permanently there. Therefore, to be a resource for the council, for the Council members, for the chief prosecutors, for prosecutors of course, for the members of the administration, to be there permanently and for them to be able to ask us questions every time. Whenever they needed we were there,” Cristian Nicoara, EUKOJUST Deputy Team Leader.

“Without any doubt, the support from the EUKOJUST project in these last three years has been truly crucial, especially when we consider the processes that the Prosecution System of Kosovo has undergone. The experts of this project have always been close to us and to the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, as part of our teams,” said Jetish Maloku, Chair of the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council.

The support was extended to several components, but the most important was that for drafting of the Strategic Plan, and the construction of procedures and regulations for building internal capacities.

“Until now the Strategic Plan was a document, a piece of paper. What we wanted to get is a change in their mindset and behavior towards planning and I think we managed to do that,” adds Nicoara.

Support was offered in many areas to the entire prosecutorial system, such as accountability, communication, administration reform, and career advancement for prosecutors and administrative staff.

Today, communication and technology play an extraordinary role in building trust, which has been a challenge for justice in Kosovo. Challenge addressed by the EUKOJUST project.

“If I were to single out something from these activities, it would be the recommendations of international best practices in legal changes for disciplinary liabilities for prosecutors. Additionally, I highlight the contribution we provided and the essential support in the establishment of the Professional Ethics Committee for prosecutors. Recently, we also coordinated the engagement of civil society for the drafting of the Communication Strategy of the Prosecutorial System for the period 2024-2026. Together with representatives of the Prosecutorial System, we have drawn up this Strategy and addressed all the concerns of civil society,” says Nita Bejta, EUKOJUST Legal Advisor.

“Not only that, but the experts of the project have also contributed significantly to the ICT-CMIS regulatory framework, benefiting not only the Prosecutorial Council of Kosovo but also all the Prosecutor’s Offices in the country,” concludes Maloku.

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EUKOJUST SUPPORTS the Ministry of Justice of Kosovo (video)

As Kosovo stands at the threshold of progress, the Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Justice for 2022-2025 illustrates a commitment to comprehensive reform in the field of the rule of law, especially in the path of European integration. This reform is supported by the EUKOJUST project.

“The most significant impact or the main goals which are coordinated with EUKOJUST’s program are related to the strategy for the rule of law which is a strategy of several years and then in the re-organization or re-systematization or the organogram of the Ministry of Justice and in matters which are related to concept documents such as civil codes or criminal codes and other special laws,” says Vigan Qorolli, Deputy Minister of Justice.

EUKOJUST’s support reaches out on various fronts. From strengthening services in Correctional Services by providing more effective rehabilitation infrastructure to supporting the department for international legal cooperation and the department for European integration. All this to encourage harmonization with the best international standards.

“We were involved in the drafting of the regulation but also we were involved in drafting Strategic Development Plan for the Ministry of Justice 2022-2025,” said Kristijan Turkalj, EUKOJUST expert.

Although the Constitution of Kosovo guarantees legal remedies in many spheres, Kosovo still faces challenges due to the lack of legal remedies in the civil, criminal and administrative fields.

EUKOJUST has addressed these challenges, in particular by supporting the Ministry with the creation of a digital database of Criminal Records.

“The result of our support is that finally the Ministry of Justice has functions which are the same as in the EU member states. New unites were created, statistics and analytics unit, than IT unit, also judicial policy unit. Now the Ministry of Justice looks more like an EU member state ministry of justice,” said Turkalj.

“In principle, we believe that all laws issued by us are harmonized with all the respective standards, or with what is known as Acquis Communautaire or the process of aligning Kosovo’s practices with those of the European Union. EUKOJUST has given extraordinary help, unsparing help, and this help is believed to continue even further, because it is not just a matter of reciprocity or cooperation between a project and a state institution. However, it is a collaboration that the support of experts engaged through the program and our strategies in the field of rule of law are standardized and fully harmonized with international ones,” said Qorolli.

In this joint journey towards a fairer society and a more reliable rule of law system, the Ministry of Justice and the EUKOJUST project stand hand in hand, creating a path towards a brighter and more equal future.

“The most important recommendation is concerning the the EU integration process of Kosovo. In a new methodology for negotiations, rule of law sector is becoming the most important. The area which will determine the pace of Kosovo integration to the EU. This concerns in particular chapters 23 and 24. Our recommendation to the Kosovo Government is to support, to strengthen and to invest in the Ministry of Justice so the Ministry of Justice will be able to deliver progress needed,” concludes Turkalj.

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Justice Academy has a key role in the legal and judicial system of Kosovo (video)

The Kosovo Justice Academy plays a decisive role in the legal and judicial system of Kosovo by preparing new generations of justice guardians in Kosovo society. Therefore, the European Union, through the EUKOJUST project, has supported the work of this Academy in various forms.

The assistance has been focused on drafting a comprehensive development plan of the Academy, improving internal organization and analysing all internal regulations.

Considerable support has also been given for capacity building of professionals, specifically in the field of addressing human rights according to European and international standards.

Another achievement of EUKOJUST was the support to the Academy of Justice for signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with several Civil Society Organizations hereby establishing the Network Friends of the Academy, with the aim of addressing issues related to vulnerable groups in Kosovo.

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Showcasing EUKOJUST support to the Legal Office of the Office of the Prime Minister

EUKOJUST’s contributions to the Legal Office of the Office of the Prime Minister has been substantial and diverse.

It includes:

  • Drafting 59 laws, which showcases a significant commitment to developing legislative frameworks, likely covering a wide spectrum of areas within governance and policy.
  • Crafting 2 by-laws, specifically an Administrative and Regulatory Instruction, demonstrates a detailed focus on guiding administrative procedures and regulatory compliance.
  • The creation of 2 manuals for the drafting of legal acts and aligning legislation with EU acquis, which underscores a commitment to maintaining legal coherence and compliance with European Union standards.
  • Analyzing 22 legal opinions reflects a dedication to thorough examination and interpretation of complex legal matters, ensuring informed decision-making and adherence to legal principles.

This breadth of work indicates a comprehensive and dedicated effort by EUKOJUST in supporting the Legal Office of the OPM, contributing significantly to the legal and regulatory landscape.

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Digitalization of Justice Sector Policy Paper

A two-day workshop on the Digitalization of Justice Sector Policy Paper for the new Action Plan (2024-2026) of the Rule of Law Strategy was organized by EUKOJUST in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice on 09 & 10 November 2023.

The workshop brought together relevant representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Kosovo Judicial Council, Kosovo Prosecutorial Council and other institutions to discuss and share views regarding the new activities of the Rule of Law Strategy Action Plan (2024 -2026) aimed at advancing further digitalization of the justice institutions in Kosovo.

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Concrete Achievements Presented at the 12th Meeting of the Steering Committee

Improving access to justice for everyone in Kosovo, strengthening the capacities of beneficiary institutions, and making improvements in the legislative framework were some of the achievements presented during the 12th meeting of the Steering Committee of the EUKOJUST project, held on October 30 in Pristina.

Deputy Minister of Justice, Vigan Qorolli, and EUKOJUST Team Leader Mr. Volkmar Theobald co-chaired the regular meeting, where the achievements of the project up to this phase and the objectives for the next three months were presented.

Also present at the meeting were: Minister of Justice Mrs. Albulena Haxhiu, Chair of the Kosovo Judicial Council Mr. Albert Zogaj, Chair of the Kosovo Prosecution Council, Mr. Jetish Maloku, Deputy Chief State Prosecutor, Mr. Agron Qalaj, Ambassador of Germany to Kosovo, Jorn Rohde, Ambassador of Croatia, Danijela Barishić, Director of the EUKOJUST Project from IRZ, Mrs. Teresa Thalhammer, as well as Mr. Nicola Scaramuzzo from the EU Office in Kosovo.

During the joint presentation, Mr. Volkmar Theobald and EUKOJUST experts outlined the project’s achievements during the three-month reporting period. In this period, the project made significant progress in supporting the inter-institutional coordination mechanism and its stakeholders (Ministry of Justice, Justice Academy, Kosovo Judicial Council, Kosovo Prosecutorial Council) with the aim of enhancing their capacities for systematic coordination and stability within the entire justice system and rule of law.

The project provided systematic support to the working groups established according to the MoJ decision to appoint six (6) working groups for assessment, conception, and drafting of the legal initiatives outlined in the Joint Statement of Commitment. This Statement, titled “Statement for Justice Reforms,” was signed by all chairs of justice institutions. The project assisted in consolidating the findings of all working groups into a final report.

The project continued to contribute to improving access to justice for everyone in Kosovo, particularly for women, ethnic minorities, minors, persons with disabilities, vulnerable, marginalized, and underrepresented groups. This was achieved by strengthening the free legal aid mechanism, enhancing access to jurisprudence and legislation in non-majority languages, and fortifying the free legal professions under the strategy for combating domestic violence and the rule of law strategy, and ensuring their implementation.

Regarding the strengthening of beneficiaries’ capacities during this period, there was a high response, participation, and commitment from representatives of institutions and beneficiaries in all capacity-building programs, trainings, workshops, or other events supported by the EUKOJUST project. This demonstrated their keen interest in actively participating in the sectoral reform process and in adapting to the new responsibilities and adjustments that come with it.

in the legislative framework, during this period, EUKOJUST has supported its beneficiaries in the drafting of three (3) primary legislations, including the Civil Procedure Code, the Draft Law on Administrative Court, and the Draft Omnibus Law on Harmonization of Special Laws. Furthermore, the project has assisted the beneficiaries in the drafting of fifteen (15) bylaws. The support was also provided for the drafting of eight (8) reports with recommendations for different areas of the justice sector and five (5) manuals. The project further aided in the preparation of ten (10) technical documents such as action plans, technical specifications, SOPs, and questionnaires.

Regarding capacity building, experts drafted and updated twelve (12) training programs and materials to support justice reform in line with EU best practices, as well as conducted two (2) Training Needs Assessments. Data evidence from capacity building organizations was systematically collected by the project and classified by gender.

The purpose of the EUKOJUST project is to support the justice sector in Kosovo and improve the quality of justice for citizens of Kosovo on its way towards EU integration. The project further aims to assist Kosovo in reforming the justice system according to European and international standards and prepare its institutions for the EU membership process by providing expertise and high-level technical assistance for the entire justice sector in Kosovo.

The project is implemented by the consortium IRZ, CILC, and the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration of Croatia, while the group of experts involved in the implementation of the activities has extensive experience in cooperation with Kosovo institutions on a bilateral basis within the framework of EU-funded projects. The project also builds on previous experiences and lessons learned from EU assistance in Kosovo.

After discussions, the voting members of the Steering Committee set the end of January as the date for the next Steering Committee meeting and agreed on its chairing, while EUKOJUST presented the work plan for the next quarter.

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Strategic Development Plan of the Ministry of Justice for the period 2022 – 2025

“Assessment of the implementation of the Strategic Development Plan of the Ministry of Justice for the period 2022 – 2025” was on the joint EUKOJUST – Ministry of Justice workshop agenda held on 19 and 20 October 2023.

The event gathered all relevant stakeholders of the MoJ and its agencies to discuss the level of implementation of the Strategic Development Plan.

The gathering was greeted by Minister Albulena Haxhiu, which emphasizing the importance of the dedication and commitment of everyone in MoJ in carrying out reform activities.

The minister was accompanied by deputies Blerim Sallahu and Vigan Qorrolli and Anita Kalanderi, General Secretary of MoJ. The representative of EUKOJUST pointed out the key importance that MoJ has in chapters 23 and 24, and thus for the entire EU integration process of Kosovo.

During the two-day workshop, all activities of the Strategic Development Plan were analysed, as well as the level of implementation of the adopted measures.

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EUKOJUST trained Free Legal Aid legal officers to represent victims of domestic violence

Raising the professional capacities of Free Legal Aid legal officers on the practical “Implementation of international and Kosovo legal framework on protection from domestic violence and developing soft skills on the dynamics of domestic violence situations” was the focus of a two-day training that was organized in coordination and cooperation with Agency for Free Legal Aid.

Eleven Free Legal Aid (FLA) legal officers from all Kosovo regions and mobile offices attended the training held by the long-term EUKOJUST Project Expert for Public Legal Education / Domestic Violence and Marginalized Groups, Bardhë Krasniqi. The training “Implementation of international and Kosovo legal framework on protection from domestic violence” and the relevant material is adapted for and aims to equip FLA legal officers with the knowledge and skills they need to provide vital assistance to domestic violence victims on the following objective parts:

  • Understanding the dynamics of domestic violence,
  • Legal remedies for domestic violence,
  • Interviewing and counselling domestic violence victims,
  • Safety planning,
  • Working with law enforcement,
  • Cultural sensitivity,
  • Self-care and dealing with domestic violence victims’ traumas.

The training aimed to provide valuable information to FLA legal officers in assuring that domestic violence victims have profound access to the courts and legal remedies available to address various forms of domestic violence affecting victims’ rights and safety. In addition, access to justice is extended to the individuals who are involved in the victims’ life such as children or other family members.

The participants greatly appreciated this training and benefited both from a professional point of view and from the good experience of the trainer.

The training was held within the specific objective of the EUKOJUST project to strengthen access to justice for all citizens of Kosovo, especially in the area of ​​domestic violence and disadvantaged or marginalized groups – and is in line with the Strategy for the Rule of Law and with the Strategy for Protection from Domestic Violence and Violence against Women as well as their respective Action Plans.

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Use of Alternative Sanctions as Opposed to Custodial Sanctions

Use of Alternative Sanctions as Opposed to Custodial Sanctions was the core topic of the round table organized by the European Union/Kosovo Justice Sector Programme (EUKOJUST) in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, Kosovo Judicial Council and Kosovo Prosecutorial Council.

The event held on Tuesday 17 October 2023, in Pristina, gathered all relevant stakeholders (judges, prosecutors, correction and probation service) within the Justice Sector and discussed the imposing alternative sanctions and consideration of the possibility of strengthening them. The participants welcomed the choice of the Round Table topic and emphasized the importance it has for Kosovo society.

In Kosovo, alternative sanctions, within the framework of the criminal law reform, have taken root, but mainly for juveniles. Therefore, it is necessary to further promote the application of alternative sanctions.  Negative consequences of institutional punishment and incarceration are particularly evident when serving short prison sentences, and that is why the imposition of alternative sanctions is especially important for these cases.

The aim of this Round Table was to strengthen cooperation between the prosecution, judiciary, Conditional Release Panel, correctional and probation services. The open and dynamic discussion confirmed the existence of a great need to establish a regular dialogue between these stakeholders in order to improve the system of criminal policy, and especially the policy of imposing alternative sentences in Kosovo. The conclusion of this Round Table was that there should be more such discussions, where all stakeholders involved in alternative sanctions can share their experiences. There is need for stronger cooperation among justice sector institutions and professionals so that alternative sanctions are use more often and when it is appropriate.

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A training on the use of legal concepts for court translators and interpreters

Two days training sessions on the use of legal concepts and “Manual for Court Translators and Interpreters” were organised and held last week in Prishtina, in cooperation with Kosovo Judicial Council and Kosovo Justice Academy.

The training module was developed and delivered by EUKOJUST Medium Term Expert, Filloreta Hoxha, focusing on various aspects:

Basics of the legal system and legal terminology Translation and interpretation in courts, encompassing courtroom terminology, civil and criminal law terminology, and procedural concepts.

Practical application of legal terminology through the use of practice scripts for translation and mock trials.

Translators and interpreters representing all Kosovo courts, attended the training. This activity is part of the EUKOJUST objective – Access to Justice, aimed at improving the quality of translations and interpretations in courts and prosecution offices; It is also part of the Kosovo Rule of Law Strategy. 

The training was intensive and involved active participation from both groups, who displayed keen interest and were greatly engaged in discussions and exercises. The participants highly praised the organization and methodology of the training.

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EUKOJUST continues to provide support to Kosovo’s institutions in the process of reforming administrative justice

The Working Group for drafting the Law on Administrative Court convened on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, in Pristina.

With the presence of Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Blerim Sallahu, the Chair of the Kosovo Judicial Council (KJC), Albert Zogaj, along with judges from the Administrative Department, other representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the EU Office, USAID, and other relevant stakeholders, the introductory meeting of the Working Group tasked with drafting of the Law on the Administrative Court, was held.

During the round table discussion, the working group deliberated on the content of the Draft Law on Administrative Court. They also addressed various aspects expected to be resolved through this legislative initiative.

EUKOJUST is providing support to Kosovo’s institutions through the deployment of expertise, with a special focus on engaging experts such as Mr. Sokol Sadushi, President of the Supreme Court of Albania, and Mr. Visar Morina, an expert in Administrative Law. Additionally, EUKOJUST is allocating other necessary resources to offer technical and professional support for this initiative.

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Second training on gender sensitive prison management

Following the positive impact and successful delivery of the first training session, EUKOJUST held the second one on gender sensitive prison management to Kosovo Correctional Staff in cooperation with Chiara Tagliani EULEX Gender Advisor and Christina Malmgren, EULEX Correctional Monitor, as co-trainers.

The second session included the participation of Director of the Lipjan Correctional Centre, the senior management, and correctional officers. It follows the EUKOJUST Assessment on Access to Justice for female inmates and detainees conducted between January and March 2022 at the Female Correctional Centre (FCC) of Lipjan/Lipljan and introduced the Correctional Staff to the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules) including other international standards and norms.

The training was organized and chaired by EUKOJUST Expert on Access to Justice, Alina Matache and the EUKOJUST Short Term Expert on Training Correctional Staff, Alban Muriqi.

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Charging and sentencing of Domestic Violence cases in the focus of the EUKOJUST training

Building professional capacities of judges and prosecutors including professionals associates on “Charging and sentencing of Domestic Violence cases” – practical implementation of the international standards on treating domestic violence cases including the national legal framework for protection from domestic violence – was the focus of the third held by EUKOJUST on Tuesday, 5 September 2023, under the Kosovo Justice Academy umbrella.

Over 30 participants, consisting of 21 judges and 10 prosecutors coming from basic courts and prosecutions from the regions of Pristina, Peja, Prizren, Ferizaj, Gjilan, Gjakova and Mitrovica attended the training, delivered by the EUKOJUST Long Term Expert on Public Legal Education/Domestic Violence and Marginalized Groups Bardhë Krasniqi. The training “Charging and sentencing of Domestic Violence cases” including its material is tailored and aimed at:

•             Improving prosecutorial and judicial response to domestic violence cases,

•             Understanding the seriousness and complexity of domestic violence cases to contribute and increase consistency in the treatment of domestic violence cases and expand their practice-based resources.

•             Safeguard and achieve the charging and sentencing of domestic violence cases proportionate to the gravity of the crime in compliance with international and national legal standards.

The participants highly appreciated this training and benefited both from the professional point of view and from the good experience of the trainer.

The training was delivered under the EUKOJUST project’s specific objective of strengthening access to justice for all citizens in Kosovo, particularly in the field of domestic violence and disadvantaged or marginalized groups – and is in compliance with both the Rule of Law Strategy and Strategy on Protection from Domestic Violence and Violence against Women and their Action plans.

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A training on gender sensitive prison management was held in cooperation with EULEX

Alina Matache, EUKOJUST Expert on Access to Justice, Chiara Tagliani, EULEX Gender Advisor and Heidi Kajander, EULEX Correctional Adviser delivered a training on specific gender-sensitive policies in the prison system.

The training included theoretical and practical approaches of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules), European Prison Rules and other international standards and norms.  Group work and discussions took place on the principle of non-discrimination, concept of gender, admission, registration and allocation for women and children, gender-specific health care services and safety and security.

In addition, a module on trauma informed work was delivered to discuss the importance to understand the trauma that many female offenders bring with themselves, in order to avoid triggering re-traumatization.  

The training was delivered following an assessment conducted by EUKOJUST in the Female Correctional Centre in Lipjan, which focused on the trend and offences in the imprisonment of women; the characteristics and background of women offenders, including any history of abuse; assessment of access to legal support and information; practices and conditions in prison which impact on the health and mental well-being of women prisoners and access to educational, employment and rehabilitation activities.

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Improvements in the justice sector outlined at the 11th Steering Committee meeting

Strengthening of the capacities and inter-institutional coordination, as well as the independence and transparency were some of the key outcomes of the EUKOJUST quarterly report, April – June 2023, presented at the 11th Steering Committee meeting, held on 26 July 2023 in Pristina.

Director of the Legal Office of the Prime Minister’s Office Mr. Mentor Borovci, and EUKOJUST Team Leader Mr. Volkmar Theobald, co-chaired the regular Steering Committee meeting of the Justice Sector Programme for Kosovo, financed by the European Union. Present at the meeting were also: Deputy Minister of Justice Mr. Vigan Çorolli, Chair of Kosovo Judicial Council Mr. Albert Zogaj, deputy Chair of Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, Mr. Veton Shabani, Deputy Chief State Prosecutor, Mr. Agron Qalaj, EUKOJUST Project Director from IRZ Ms. Teresa Thalhammer, as well as Mr. Nicola Scaramuzzo from EU Office in Kosovo.

During the joint presentation Mr. Volkmar Theobald and EUKOJUST Legal Adviser, Nita Bejta, underscored the improvement of the consolidation and alignment of the Kosovo legal and institutional framework with EU Aquis and implementation of laws. The Government legislative agenda for 2023 foresaw amendment of 100 laws, out of which 10 fall under the scope of the Ministry of Justice. EUKOJUST will be providing continuous support to 8 of them.

There is a significant improvement also on the access to justice, particularly for women and disadvantaged groups. Intensive capacity-building activities were provided to judges, prosecutors, professional associates and lawyers to increase their understanding on international standards and Kosovo’s legal framework on Domestic Violence and Gender Based Violence.

Main support and deliverables provided to the main stakeholders, mentioned by the project representatives, also include the support for activities deriving from Joint Statement of Commitment. EUKOJUST is providing support on this in terms of coordination and expert support to the working groups that are established to assess, and draft of legal initiatives with the aim to strengthen the legal framework.

Capacity-building activities to rule of law stakeholders focusing on access to justice, gender sensitivity and the practical implementation of the DV legal framework were delivered.

Among the deliverables the project also listed the support in drafting of the reports and analysis as well as policies for different justice sector institutions; professional expertise and comments provided for the legislation, legal documents, regulations, concept documents, and action plans; development of training materials for improving access to justice, gender sensitivity and for the implementation of DV framework. After the discussions, the voting members of the Steering Committee set the end of October as the date for the next Steering Committee Meeting and agreed on its chairing, while EUKOJUST presented the work plan for the next quarter.

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Over 500 Kosovo lawyers benefit from EUKOJUST training on representation of victims of domestic violence

Around 70 lawyers from Pristina region, licensed by the Kosovo Bar Association (KBA) attended the second training in capital Pristina conducted by the EUKOJUST Project Long-Term Expert for Public Legal Education/Domestic Violence and Marginalized Groups, Bardhë Krasniqi. With this training, the cycle of training of lawyers on this important segment of human rights is completed, from which more than 500 lawyers from all parts of Kosovo have benefited.

The training “The role of lawyers in representing victims of domestic violence”, which was previously held in all major Kosovo towns, Peja, Gjakova, Prizren, Ferizaj, Gjilan, and Mitrovica, aims to develop the soft skills of lawyers to understand the dynamics of domestic violence situations. The training was organized under the umbrella of the KBA as part of the continuing legal education program.

In this last training held on 15 July 2023 in Pristina, Expert Krasniqi discussed in length with lawyers the need to implement human rights standards deriving from the Istanbul Convention, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the European Convention on Human Rights and the use of the case law of the European Court for Human Rights in the jurisprudence of Kosovo and new cases from the case law of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo and the new standards foreseen in the new Code of Criminal Procedure which has started to be implemented a few months ago.

The training aimed at increasing the standard of practice for lawyers dealing with domestic violence cases, and those dealing with other general cases, by equipping them with the necessary tools to deal with domestic violence or to screen for domestic abuse and to provide appropriate legal advice when domestic violence is identified as a problem.

The participants positively evaluated the training, too, from which they benefited both from a professional point of view and from the trainer’s good experience, and they were all given certificates. The training was organized within the specific objective of the EUKOJUST project to strengthen access to justice for all citizens in Kosovo, especially in the field of domestic violence and vulnerable or marginalized groups.

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EUKOJUST provides training to Pristina lawyers on representation of victims of domestic violence

Almost 80 lawyers from Pristina region, licensed by the Kosovo Bar Association (KBA) attended the training conducted by the EUKOJUST Project Long-Term Expert for Public Legal Education/Domestic Violence and Marginalized Groups, Bardhë Krasniqi. In this way the scope of lawyers prepared for the most competent representation of victims of domestic violence in Kosovo has expanded even more.

The training “The role of lawyers in representing victims of domestic violence”, which was previously held in Kosovo regions, aims to develop the soft skills of lawyers to understand the dynamics of domestic violence situations. The training was organized under the umbrella of the KBA as part of the continuing legal education program.

Expert Krasniqi discussed in length with lawyers the need to implement human rights standards such as the Istanbul Convention, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the European Convention on Human Rights and the use of the case law of the European Court for Human Rights in the jurisprudence of Kosovo and new cases from the case law of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo and the new standards foreseen in the new Code of Criminal Procedure which has started to be implemented a few months ago.

The training raised the standard of practice for lawyers dealing with domestic violence cases, and those dealing with other general cases, by equipping them with the necessary tools to deal with domestic violence or to screen for domestic abuse and to provide appropriate legal advice when domestic violence is identified as a problem. The participants positively evaluated the training from which they benefited both from a professional point of view and from the trainer’s good experience, and they were all given certificates. The training was organized within the specific objective of the EUKOJUST project to strengthen access to justice for all citizens in Kosovo, especially in the field of domestic violence and vulnerable or marginalized groups. About 440 lawyers from all over Kosovo has benefited from this training so far.