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On 3 and 4 December 2018, a delegation from the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council visited Düsseldorf and Wuppertal by invitation of the IRZ. The subject of the two-day working visit was press and publicity work at public prosecutor’s offices, courts and police authorities in Germany. The aim of the visit was to allow an exchange between German and Kosovan colleagues, providing them with an insight into the daily work of the German institutions.
The visit began with expert discussions at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Wuppertal, where the delegation was welcomed by Wolf-Tilman Baumert, Senior Public Prosecutor and Press Officer at the Wuppertal Public Prosecutor’s Office. During these expert discussions, the Kosovan guests learned, with the help of practical examples, about subjects including the organisation and structure of the press office, the legal framework for press work in the public prosecutor’s office and crisis management. The participants in the delegation showed a great deal of interest in the subject and took an active part in the discussions.
Another stop on the visit was at the Local and Regional Court of Düsseldorf. Here the guests from Kosovo discussed “Cooperation between the media and justice” with the Presiding Judge and Press Officer for the Regional Court of Düsseldorf, Dr. Elisabeth Stöve.
To look at these topics in more detail, the delegation visited the police headquarters in Neuss and the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Düsseldorf on the second day of their visit. Here they discussed:
Cooperation between the police and the public prosecutor’s office in the area of publicity work,
the authority’s demarcation of powers and crisis communications, looking at various practical examples and controversial cases.
It was very enriching for the Kosovan partners to learn about several different institutions and their press work. The cooperation between the IRZ and the KPC will therefore continue in 2019.
From 22 to 25 October 2018, Kosovan representatives from various non-governmental organisations and the Deputy Ombudsperson of Kosovo visited Germany to attend talks. The subjects discussed during this study visit, which was organised by the IRZ in partnership with UNICEF Kosovo, were crime prevention and the reintegration of young people in Germany, using the North Rhine-Westphalia region as an example.
The intensive specialist programme was therefore divided into two sections. On the first day, the delegation had the opportunity to find out about the crime prevention programmes and initiatives in the NRW region at talks held at the Ministry of Justice for North Rhine-Westphalia. The Kosovan guests then attended a meeting with the law enforcement commissioner for the NRW region, who is based in Cologne, during which they were able to discuss the roles and responsibilities of this position.
The programme for the second day included visits to three civil society institutions, which play a central role in Cologne in the prevention of violence and in reintegration. The delegation learned about the various roles and framework conditions of these institutions. During talks with the Brücke Köln e.V. association, for example, the large number of non-custodial measures, which are being carried out at various sites in Cologne, were presented. The objective of the association, which acts as an interface between the City of Cologne and the judiciary, is to avoid the arrest of young people. This is also an objective, which is gaining increasing importance in Kosovo.
The main focus at the Förderverein Bewährungshilfe Köln e.V., an association supporting the probation service, was on presenting the concept of the home. The Förderverein provides accommodation in Cologne. Residents can benefit from special deals and the support of an educational team to help them towards independence and living crime-free lives.
To round off this visit, the delegation was given the opportunity to learn about the work of the association called 180 Grad Wende. This association has an impressive concept for developing prospects for a life without violence, both by preventing violence and by working with prisoners.
The delegation was accompanied by former judge Michael Klein who worked for many years as a juvenile court judge at the Local Court of Cologne and who continues to be involved in this field on a voluntary basis.
On 4 and 5 October 2018, a joint conference was held in Thessaloniki, Greece, between the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kosovo on “Constitutional complaints and current case law of the ECHR”. Together with the German expert, Prof. Dr. Jan Bergmann, Presiding Judge at the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg, Professor in Public Law, Constitutional Law and EU Law at the University of Stuttgart and a former employee of the German Federal Constitutional Court, the participants discussed the principles of constitutional complaints and the basic application of the European Convention on Human Rights as a whole over the two-day conference. They paid particular attention to the judgements relating to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, since, according to the German expert, these provided valuable insights into the interpretation of human rights principles. This is all the more relevant in view of the potential accession of Kosovo to the EU.
The Republic of Kosovo, which is not yet a member of the Council of Europe and therefore is not part of the ECHR in Strasbourg, refers directly to the jurisdiction of the ECHR in its constitution, thereby obliging its judges to take its principles and cas law into account when reaching a verdict. This means that the correct interpretation and application of judgements developed by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg take on particular importance.
The timing of the conference was ideal, since it meant that newly appointed constitutional judges as well as existing constitutional judges were able to take part, giving them an immediate overview of the current case law of the ECHR. The same applied to judges at the Supreme Court, some of whom had also been recently appointed. As well as the judges, the President of the Constitutional Court, Arta Rama-Hajrizi, and the President of the Supreme Court, Enver Peci-Kryetar, also took part in the conference.
The event was once again organised as part of the proven cooperation between the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court and will continue to to take place in this exceptionally high level format.