KBA and NCSC hosted the central conference in case of closing the "Demand for justice" program

21 September 2017

The Demand for Justice Program (D4J), funded by the US Department of State / INL in cooperation with the Kosovo Bar Association (KBA), organized the Central Conference "From Facts in Action". The final event of the Demand for Justice program - Demand for Justice was followed by the participation of the Ambassador of the United States of America, Greg Delwie, President of the KBA, Osman Havolli, Head of the KJC, Nehat Idrizi, Chair of KPC Mr. Blerim Isufaj, Representative from Kosovo Police, Rashit Qalaj, Head of the Demand for Justice Program (D4J-NCSC) John Furnari, also present were lawyers, judges, prosecutors, police officers, civil society, and justice attendees.

In his greeting speech Ambassador Delawie said that the United States Embassy is committed to rule of law in Kosovo. Partnership with stakeholders from Kosovo, civil society and donors are working to promote a justice system that is fair, legitimate and accountable to citizens. The Demand for Justice (D4J), backed by the US Department of Defense and Law Enforcement, added these efforts by creating space for civil society and justice sector institutions to work together to address concrete obstacles to accountability, access, and involvement in the justice sector. Among other things, I emphasize that the justice system in Kosovo suffers from the lack of efficiency in providing free legal aid to defendants in criminal proceedings, despite the obligation deriving from the Constitution of Kosovo, thus the coalition created for the establishment of first aid clinics free legal aid has managed to bridge this lack of efficiency and in this regard invites the Kosovo Bar Association in cooperation with its lawyers, the Free Legal Aid Agency and the Government of Kosovo to unite their efforts to offer defendants' services in criminal cases without legal representation, which do not qualify for ex officio representation.

Delawie stressed his confidence in Kosovo's success, saying that a country would be judged by the future development of the rule of law or strengthening the rule of law.

President Havolli in his speech emphasized that Kosovo Bar Association is committed to achieving concrete results, intensifying cooperation with institutions of justice system in and out of the country, with the main goal of advancing the rule of law in Kosovo.

Findings from the "Judicial Integrity Initiative" research that is part of the "Demand for Justice" program (D4J) in cooperation with the Kosovo Democratic Institute are worrying as such research is welcome on issues of judicial monitoring of legal aid free in criminal cases.

Mr. Havolli said that the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo has foreseen to apply directly the international agreements and instruments, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its protocols, according to which " ... any accused of a criminal offense has the minimum right, including the right to defend himself or to be assisted by a lawyer of his choice or if he does not have sufficient means to obtain legal aid free ". Many reports and different missions in Kosovo, as well as the report published by the KLI, have expressed concern and pointed to the lack of legal representation of the defendants in the General Departments of Basic Courts in Kosovo.

President Havolli among other things I claim that the Kosovo Bar Association acting in accordance with the Law on the Bar regarding the provision of free legal services to persons in difficult social situation has established its Coordinating Office for assigning lawyers ex officio, for which it has approved the Regulation on the appointment of lawyers ex officio and the provision of free legal aid. Unfortunately, this Rulebook has been suspended by the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, a decision which has affected the disruption of such an order and function. At the same time, this Government decision represents an interference with the justice system.

In this ceremony, President Havolli shared the gratitude to Ambassador Delawie in gratitude for the contribution of the United States Embassy and the American people to the KBA and the advocacy profession in Kosovo through various projects. Program partners unveiled findings to improve integrity, access, transparency and inclusiveness in the justice sector. From the facts in the works, civil society is working with justice sector institutions and young people in solving concrete problems affecting the justice system in Kosovo.

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