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.