Kosovo - annual report 2019

Internship in Germany on the subject of the juvenile penitentiary system: Trainers at the Kosovar juvenile penitentiary in discussion with their German colleagues
Internship in Germany on the subject of the juvenile penitentiary system: Trainers at the Kosovar juvenile penitentiary in discussion with their German colleagues

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Kosovo continued on its reform path in 2019 under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which entered into force in 2016 and which aims at achieving EU membership. Some of the underlying conditions for this development were difficult for the youngest state in the Western Balkans in terms of domestic and foreign policy. The conflict surrounding Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo‘s independence continued to cast its shadow over the country‘s foreign policy. The mediation dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo conducted by the EU has not been successful so far. Serbia continues to insist that North Kosovo be annexed to Serbia, while Kosovo categorically refuses any changes in its borders. This is also the position of the future government that is expected to be headed by Prime Minister Albin Kurti.

Domestically, the legal policy starting point in Kosovo was determined by the early parliamentary elections on 6 October 2019. The third parliamentary election within five years had become necessary after the then ruling Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj of the Democratic Party (PDK) announced his resignation in summer 2019. This was preceded by Haradinaj‘s summons to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor‘s Office in The Hague. The court was established in 2015 to investigate alleged crimes in the armed conflict between Serbia and the Kosovar UÇK, in which Haradinaj had been a commander. Following the parliamentary elections, the left-wing nationalist movement “Vetëvendosje“ (Self-determination) was confirmed as the winner at the end of November. The expected Prime Minister Albin Kurti has stated his intention to concentrate on reforming the rule of law.

Despite the paralysis on the domestic front caused by early elections, many Kosovar laws were adapted to EU standards during the reporting year. However, the large number of international actors providing counselling services in Kosovo remains problematic. Responding to this, a comprehensive EU grant project will start in 2020, which will pursue a similarly holistic counselling approach as the EURALIUS project in Albania.

Overall Concept

Kosovo became a partner state of IRZ in 2001. Since then, IRZ has provided counselling services with long-standing partners in various formats, both within the framework of EU-financed and bilateral grantfunded projects. 2019 saw a further intensification of project work, even if some of the planned projects that IRZ was seeking to continue with the Ministry of Justice on a bilateral level after completion of the Twinning project could no longer take place due to the new elections.

The priorities of bilateral cooperation in 2019 were juvenile penitentiary law and the training of press spokespersons from all Kosovo‘s public prosecutor‘s offices.

Together with UNICEF Kosovo, IRZ has been providing advice on juvenile penitentiary law since 2016. The aim is to sustainably improve the situation in Kosovo‘s juvenile penitentiary system and to establish European standards for a youth-friendly judiciary system. In order to pursue a holistic approach, the target groups for IRZ training in this context are not only the prison staff themselves, but also judges, public prosecutors and lawyers. The effective networking of non-governmental organisations with the penitentiary system is another priority objective. German partner in this active exchange with the Kosovar judiciary is the judiciary of Lower Saxony and the juvenile penitentiary system there. Together with the latter, an internship in Hameln and Göttingen was organised in 2019 with the aim of training Kosovar trainers in the juvenile penitentiary system.

At the same time, IRZ began talks with Kosovar decision-makers with a view to creating a legal framework that would enable the sale of products produced in the penitentiary system. This is the only way to ensure that products manufactured as part of basic and further training of young prisoners generate income which can then be invested in education.

In addition, IRZ continues to cooperate closely with the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council (KPC) in order to establish professional media liaisons and public relations departments at the public prosecutor‘s offices and the KPC itself. The training provided in this context draws on a similar programme for the Ministry of Justice that was developed within an IRZ Twinning Project and that seeks to exploit synergy potential and to create a coherent system of media liaisons and public relations within the judiciary.

Focus of Activity in 2019

Administration of Justice

  • Three seminars on “Media liaisons and public relations“ for Kosovar press officers, public prosecutors and the KPC in Pristina, Mitrovica,  Prizren and Ferizaj

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Workshop “Protective measures for child victims and witnesses of criminal offences“ for judges and public prosecutors
  • Training “Safeguarding the protective rights of young people in legal representation in all phases of court proceedings“ for lawyers in cooperation with the Kosovo Bar Association in Pristina
  • Two trainings on the topic of “Basic and further training as a prerequisite for successful resocialisation and reintegration of young people into families and society“ for employees of Lipjan Correctional and Lipjan Educational Center
  • Internship by a Kosovar delegation in Germany on the subject of “Basic training in the juvenile penitentiary system“
  • Preparation of commentaries on bilateral agreements between Kosovo and various EU and non-EU states in the field of international criminal law cooperation

Basic and Further Training

  • Participation of Kosovar participants in the “IRZ Summer School on German Law“ in Bonn
  • Participation of one Kosovar participant in the Goethe Institute language course “German for legal professionals“

Projects funded by the European Union

EU Twinning Project: Strengthening policy formulation and legislative drafting

The EU Twinning Project “Strengthening policy formulation and legislative drafting“ was brought to a successful conclusion in June 2019 after having been extended by four months at the request of the Kosovar Ministry of Justice. During the closing ceremony in Pristina on 16 May, Kosovo‘s Minister of Justice Abelard Tahiri once again underlined the importance of the project for the country‘s major goal of joining the EU. The project, carried out by IRZ in cooperation with the Kosovar Ministry of Justice since October 2016, had a term of 32 months and was intended to support the Kosovar Ministry of Justice in achieving legal harmonisation and legislation consistent with EU law.

In the final months of the project, a particular priority was placed on supporting the Ministry in the “Functional Review of the Rule of Law Sector“, a large-scale analysis of the judicial sector from the perspective of the EU alignment process. Among other things, the close cooperation with the Kosovo Ministry of Justice produced some draft legislation on private international law and civil legal assistance, as well as in comments on criminal legal assistance. Moreover, Ministry staff were trained in regulatory impact assessments and ex-post evaluation based on concrete examples. There was also a regular exchange of experience on communication and public relations with experts from various European countries.

EU Twinning Project: Strengthening the Information and Privacy Agency in Kosovo

In November 2019, IRZ – acting as the junior partner under the Latvian Ministry of Justice – was awarded the contract for the EU Twinning Project “Strengthening the Information and Privacy Agency in Kosovo“. The project aims at strengthening the capacity of the Kosovo Information and Privacy Agency and improving public awareness of data protection and access to public information. The project has a budget of €2 million and a term of 30 months. The project is scheduled to start in September 2020.


IRZ will continue its established cooperation with its long-term partners in 2020. These include, in particular, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Justice. In addition, IRZ also intends to continue working with the KPC and, in the area of juvenile criminal law and juvenile penitentiary, with UNICEF Kosovo. However, it remains to be seen to what extent the planned Kosovo Grant project will cover these issues, as this might result in a duplication of activities. It follows, therefore, that IRZ will continue to pursue a flexible approach in Kosovo over 2020, one that is tailored to the needs of the country and focuses on sustainable and trusting dialogue with the Kosovar institutions.