Event to celebrate the conclusion of an EU project in Pristina

On 16 August 2016, an event was held in Pristina to celebrate the conclusion of the EU twinning project “Improving the Approximation of Laws and Coherence of the Legal Framework”, which was led by the IRZ. The Kosovan Minister of Justice emphasised the importance of the results of the project for Kosovo.

The EU twinning project led on from the successful cooperation between the IRZ and the Kosovan Ministry of Justice, which has been in place since 2009. Over the past two and a half years, the IRZ has been helping the Ministry to strengthen the judicial system in the areas of legal certainty and EU harmonisation of legislation.

Since the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU came into force on 1 April 2016, Kosovo has been contractually bound to implement the entire EU Acquis in its national legislation. This represents an enormous challenge. The Ministry of Justice obviously plays a significant role in this process. The twinning project helped the partners to establish the harmonisation requirements and to develop proposals for the relevant changes to legislation. Training sessions also improved the capacity for legal harmonisation.

The second major challenge for the Kosovan judicial system is legal consolidation. Historical circumstances have led to the existence of standards from various eras in Kosovo. However, it is not always clear which standards are in force. The project supported the Kosovan partners as they took their first steps towards simplifying and consolidating the law. One of the outcomes of the project was the clarification and publication of the four fundamental laws of the justice system.

The IRZ will continue to work with the Kosovan Ministry of Justice in the future and will also continue to support Kosovo in the process of joining the EU.

Seminar on media relations at constitutional courts

On 14 July 2016, the Presiding Judge at the Administrative Court of Mannheim, Professor Dr. Jan Bergmann, gave a lecture on “Media relations at constitutional courts” to judges and expert employees at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kosovo in Priština.

His lecture was part of a full-day seminar, which was financed by funds from the German Federal Foreign Office. The objective was to give participants a clearer insight into how constitutional courts deal with the media.

In the morning, Professor Bergmann explained the importance of active public relations work and introduced the practical advantages. As a next step, he presented the basic structures of public relations work, using the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe as an example. Another topic covered the requirements of media representatives at court.

The afternoon was devoted to a questions and answers session with participants. This led to interesting discussions about, for example, the interpretation of case law in the press and how transparency and confidentiality can be weighed up against each other.

Expert talks held in Hanover and Göttingen on the juvenile justice system

From 6 to 9 July 2016, a delegation from Kosovo led by Deputy Minister of Justice, Lirak Celaj, and Deputy Leader of UNICEF Kosovo, James Mugaju, attended expert discussions in Hanover and Göttingen.

The delegation of seven people began their expert talks on the juvenile justice system with a visit to the Lower Saxony Ministry of Justice in Hanover. The head of department for law enforcement, Christiane Jesse, gave a short and concise introduction to the subject, supported by her colleagues Markwart and Starke.

The following day was devoted to practical experience and the guests were given the opportunity to attend two hearings at the local court in Göttingen. Following a welcome speech by the director, Dr. Dietmar Brosche, a judge at the local court, Stefan Scherrer, described the cases, in which the offenders had already reached the age of 18. The day spent at the local court was rounded off with extremely interesting talks given by probation officer Silke Grotkop (“Duties of the probation officers in juvenile criminal proceedings”) and social worker Karin Faber from the Verein Jugendhilfe Süd-Niedersachsen e.V., an association providing support for young people in the southern part of the Lower Saxony region, on “Services for young offenders outside the prison system”.

On the third and last day of the study visit, there was a visit to the juvenile detention facility in Göttingen and the open prison for young offenders. The guests were given a guided tour of both institutions and a detailed explanation of the concept behind each establishment. In this way, they were able to get a clear insight into the juvenile detention facility and the open prison and find out at close hand about the everyday lives of young offenders.

The professional visit was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Justice.