VETTING: The only way to ensure full independence of the justice system in Kosovo

November 20, 2019

Prishtina, November 22, 2019 – Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) held a Press Conference on the topic: “Vetting: The only way to ensure full independence of the justice system in Kosovo”, organized today in Prishtina. During the Press Conference, GLPS reiterated the urgent need for the justice system in Kosovo to undergo a profound reform of its integrity and professionalism, as this remains the only way for this system to restore independence and impartiality, and at the same time, to exercise effectively and boldly its function.

Our proposal stipulates that the most fundamental reform that the justice system must undergo is to check the integrity, professionalism and transparency of the judges and prosecutors engaged in the sector, as the only way to discharge those who have suspicious pasts, and that are close linked to corruptive scandals, or even directly corrupted, and those who are not able to sufficiently prove their impartiality and transparency during decision-taking processes.

Therefore, GLPS urges the upcoming government to prioritize initiating a vetting process for the justice system in Kosovo, which should include at least the following minimum procedural elements:

  • To reach a broad consensus among the political spectrum, civil society and international representatives whose main focus is in improving rule of law in Kosovo;
  • To be designed by competent and experienced individuals, which are consulted/informed of/aware of best international and regional standards, as in the case of Albania, and ensuring that those involved in its design enjoy sufficient professional reputation to justify such a profound reform;
  • To be transparent, and not addressed against individuals but against the phenomenon of abuse, the lack of judicial and prosecutorial independence, and the fight against the abuse of the power of justice;
  • To include the international element, through the participation of non-diplomatic, but closely professional bodies in practicing vetting, as in the case the Republic of Albania;
  • To empower the process to be completed within four-year period, and avoid any prolongation as in the case in Albania;
  • Vetting should not to be a one-time process but the government should ensure that a permanent system of overseeing the maintenance and adherence to such standards is established;
  • Other important institutions such as the police, customs and procurement should undergo a vetting process, in addition to judiciary and prosecution.

Overall, the vetting process of the justice system should be a substantive reform, which will continue to exist as a mechanism (even after its completion) for all the new judges and prosecutors who will join the system in the future, and for those who are reported to have violated the laws.

GLPS proposes the following main components that a proper vetting process should include:

The integrity component, which evaluates the past performance of a judge and/or a prosecutor, in terms of his/her proximity to circles having problems with the law, his/her affiliation with persons exercising unlawful influence in the justice system; corruption in the administration of certain cases, or unintentional abuse of the power of justice;

The professional component, through which a demonstrative number of judicial or prosecutorial decisions of judges and prosecutors will be filtered, and will be analyzed if they constitute a violation of ethics, professional standards, lack of knowledge or skills related to the profession, or even demonstrate a seemingly irresponsible reasoning that does not justify the impartial and just character of their duty;

The integrity of the purity of their property, through which their wealth and their associated circuits are controlled, in order to ensure that the image of a judge and prosecutor does not comprise elements related to illicit enrichment, which is an essential standard of adaptability to the task they perform.

This activity is supported by the Heinrich Boll Foundation.

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