Kosovo-German Seminar on Fighting Corruption

The first seminar on "Fighting Corruption" was held by invitation of the IRZ in Pristina on 26 and 27 November 2015. Eradicating corruption is one of the conditions for Kosovo's entry to the EU.

Speakers at the bilateral seminar included, from the German side, Dr. Matthias Hartwig from the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg and Helmut Leithäuser, Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Wuppertal. From Kosovo, the Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency, Hasan Petreni, and the coordinator of the fight against corruption at the Public Prosecutor's Office, Shqipdon Fazliu, agreed to contribute to the seminar with news of the current situation from the Kosovan point of view.

Dr. Hartwig opened the seminar with a keynote speech providing an overview of how corruption can arise in government, business and society. Helmut Leithäuser added to this lecture with a descriptive report on the daily work of a presiding judge at a major court dealing with cases of commercial law.

During the seminar, a lively discussion started up as to whether existing anti-corruption laws in Kosovo are in fact sufficient, when Kosovo is currently ranked 110 on the Transparency International corruption index. As a result of this meeting, it was established that Kosovo has managed to introduce the legal foundations for combating corruption in the country. The question remains, however, as to whether the existing laws are sufficient and whether they are strictly enforced.

Participants in the seminar, which was financed by funds from the German Federal Foreign Office, mostly included judges from the Supreme Court, research staff from the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court and staff from the Kosovo Ministry of Justice.

Delegation from the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kosovo in Karlsruhe

A twelve-person delegation from the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of the Republic of Kosovo was invited to visit the Federal Court of Justice and the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe from 19 to 23 October 2015.

The guests, made up of five judges from each of the courts, as well as the President of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo, Arta Rama-Hajrizi, and the President of the Supreme Court of Kosovo, Fejzullah Hasani, learned about the internal structure of both German Federal institutions and how they operate. The expert discussions focussed on the role of the German Federal Constitutional Court as a guardian of the constitution and the constitutional protection of human rights.

The expert discussions at the Federal institutions were rounded off with visits to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg and the regional Constitutional Court (Staatsgerichtshof) in Wiesbaden. At the ECtHR, an informative exchange took place with Ledi Bianku, the judge for Albania at the ECtHR, on current cases and the European Convention on Human Rights. With Dr. Günter Paul, President of the Constitutional Court for the Hesse region in Wiesbaden, the delegation was able to find out about the tasks and responsibilities of a regional Constitutional Court (Staatsgerichtshof) and the relationship between this and the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht).

All of the visits featured some very interesting speeches by the hosts, followed by some lively expert discussions.

The visit from the delegation from Kosovo took place as part of the bilateral cooperation between the IRZ and the Republic of Kosovo and was financed by the Federal Foreign Office

Experts from the Probation and Correctional Service in Kosovo visit Germany

"Seeing things with your own eyes is better than thousand words" – this was the motto of a study trip to Lower Saxony financed by the Federal Foreign Office and organised by the IRZ. Eleven experts from the correctional and probation service in Kosovo visited judicial institutions in Lower Saxony from 20 to 25 September 2015: The prisons in Oldenburg, Vechta and Wilhelmshaven as well as the Ambulanter Justizsozialdienst Niedersachsen (AJSD) in Oldenburg.

The study trip was organised on the basis of the EU twinning project "Strengthening the correctional and probation services in Kosovo", which is being implemented. The IRZ is implementing this project in cooperation with its French partners.

The delegation from Kosovo was headed by the General Director of the Correctional Service, Emrush Thaci, and the General Director of the Kosovo Probation Service and Out of Prison Measures, Bajram Bujupi. It was complemented by practitioners from the correctional and probation service in Kosovo.

Detailed expert discussions between the practitioners of the two countries quickly developed during the visit of the institutions in Lower Saxony. Some aspects which are standard in Germany's criminal justice have already been implemented in Kosovo as well, however there is still a lot of room for developments.

The guests were particularly impressed by the various work and treatment offers for the prison inmates - this is something which cannot be offered on a large scale so far. Another challenge for Kosovo is the high number of sentences which are suspended on probation in Germany. In Kosovo above all young people are sentenced on probation or to community work. Adult offenders, however, are rarely sentenced to community work. This circumstance leads to a situation that sometimes not dangerous offenders are imprisoned for petty offences in the prisons which are anyway overcrowded in Kosovo.

Kosovo has accepted the challenge of introducing European rules and standards. The experts from Kosovo could gain many inspirations during this study trip and clarify many questions, including questions of detail. The trip was a helpful step into this direction.