Twinning project relating to correctional and probation services successfully completed

The EU Twinning Project “Strengthening the correctional and probation services in Kosovo” implemented by the IRZ in partnership with the French junior partner Justice Coopération Internationale (JCI) was successfully completed on 3 November 2016 in Pristina.

The legal situation in the correctional and probation services in Kosovo already meets European standards, there are, however, still deficits in the practical application of the laws.

This twinning project was therefore aimed at making a specific and sustained contribution to the further development of the correctional service in Kosovo, supporting the work of the probation service within the judiciary and improving its image in the general public, thus providing a real alternative to the traditional correctional service.

A project term of 24 months with more than 100 local expert assignments produced the following positive results, among others:

  • 25 implementation and administrative regulations relating to the penal law of Kosovo to enhance the application of the laws, which have almost entirely been adopted and enacted;
  • a strategy for the execution of penal sanctions including an action plan commissioned by the Ministry of Justice of Kosovo (Strategy for execution of penal sanctions 2016 – 2020);
  • round table discussions with members of the probation service, lawyers, the police and judges in all regions of Kosovo to promote alternative sanctioning forms (e.g. probation, community work);
  • revision of the training syllabus for prison officers;
  • participation in drafting the documents for accrediting a study course at a university of applied sciences for the higher correctional service;
  • modern organisational and managerial concepts for prisons;
  • evaluation of the means for prisoners to file complaints;
  • training for managerial staff and other key persons in prisons based on the ”UN Prison Incident Handbook“ for dealing with extraordinary situations observing human rights;
  • translation of the mentioned handbook into the national language;
  • development, and initial test run in pilot projects, of management and treatment programms for the probation service and prisons;
  • alignment of the probation and correctional services’ data bases for a consistent offender management. In this context, active support was provided in the determination of requirements, tendering and procurement of computers and software with a volume of approx. € 300,000.
An outstanding feature of this project was its practised European cooperation. In contrast to many other EU projects experts from France, Germany, Spain and Romania were working in mixed teams at the respective places in Kosovo and have jointly organised training sessions and seminars for their partners from Kosovo. Usually, expert teams cooperate in projects of the same countries of secondment or the project partners only cooperate in the components assigned to them. It is the way this project was handled that we imagine the future Europe!

Delegation from the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council visit Germany

During the period from 25 to 28 October 2016, members of the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council visited the North Rhine-Westfalia region of Germany, by invitation of the IRZ, to learn about the structure and organisation of public prosecutor’s offices in Germany and to find out about the cooperation between public prosecutor’s offices and the courts.

The high-ranking Kosovan delegation, which was led by Prosecutor General Aleksander Lumezi, started their visit at the Ministry of Justice for the North Rhine-Westfalia region. After the delegation has been welcomed by Dr. Michael Scholz, Head of the International Cooperation division, Dr. Claudia Gotzmann, a judge at the local court, gave a lecture on the following subjects:

  • Authorities under the laws relating to staff matters,
  • Job requirements for public prosecutors (in general) and
  • Disciplinary measures and assessment guidelines.

The guests were particularly interested in German disciplinary law. There was a lively exchange of experiences on issues concerning the responsibility for recruiting and promoting public prosecutors.

The knowledge gained here was expanded still further on a visit to the Prosecutor General’s offices in Düsseldorf that afternoon. After all, the Prosecutor General’s offices are responsible for recruiting public prosecutors in the North Rhine-Westfalia region. Prosecutor General Emil Brachthäuser welcomed the guests in person and gave a lecture on the subjects “Structure of the Prosecutor General’s office” and “Assessing public prosecutors.”

The last port of call for the fact-finding mission was the Higher Regional Court of Cologne on the following day. Here, the Deputy Chairman of the 1st Criminal Division, Dr. Oliver Mertens, and Dirk Schreiner, a judge at the Higher Regional Court and member of the 2nd Criminal Division, provided some interesting insights into the work of the criminal divisions of the higher regional court and the cooperation in this respect with the Prosecutor General's office.

The visit to Germany provided the foreign guests with plenty of valuable inspiration and showed them how important it is to keep informed about practical local conditions, as well as the theoretical framework.

Work meeting with UNICEF Kosovo in Bonn

A meeting was held on 11 October 2016 at the IRZ offices with two representatives of UNICEF Kosovo. This informal meeting served mainly to explore potential opportunities for cooperation between UNICEF Kosovo and the IRZ in the field of young offenders’ institutions.

Attending the meeting on behalf of the IRZ were Franziska Simon, representing Project Section 4, Elke Wendland, the Project Manager responsible for Kosovo, and Stefan Scherrer, Deputy Director of the regional court of Göttingen and an acknowledged expert in juvenile criminal law. Child Protection Officers Afrim Ibrahimi and Ardian Klaiqi accepted the invitation of the IRZ on behalf of UNICEF Kosovo.