Prishtina, 13 October 2021
The Government of the Republic of Kosovo, led by Prime Minister Albin Kurti, held its 39th meeting, whereby among other things, approved the Concept Document for the Development of the Vetting process in the Justice System.
At the beginning of the meeting, Prime Minister Kurti, in his introductory speech, said that to restore the citizen’s trust in justice, we are committed to reforming the justice system and completing the legal framework needed to fight corruption and organized crime and shedding light over, and punishing war crimes. For the judicial and prosecutorial system to act fairly towards all citizens, he added, it is necessary to have professional and people with integrity at all levels of these systems. Therefore, today is a special day, because we are taking an essential step toward implementation of one of our key commitments, which is justice institutions vetting, said Prime Minister Kurti.
The Concept Document assesses the justice system as one of the main pillars of the democratic functioning of the state, which is built on the grounds of building an independent and impartial system and its members.
It examines and analyzes five options for conducting Vetting in the justice system in our country:
1. First option – no change option;
2. Second option – improving implementation and execution without legal amendments;
3. Third option –developing vetting through legal amendments;
4. Fourth option – vetting through constitutional amendments; and
5. Fifth option – development of the vetting process through two stages. First, initial vetting through external mechanism created by constitutional amendments; second, the ongoing evaluation of performance, integrity and wealth, by transforming this mechanism into internal mechanisms of judicial and prosecutorial councils.
The Concept Document recommends the Government to adopt the fifth option, recommending vetting with constitutional amendments made by an ad-hoc body and the same continues with ongoing evaluation within the Kosovo Judicial Council and the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council.
During the meeting, the government approved seven (7) draft laws:
1. Draft Law on Ratification of the Loan Agreement between the Republic of Kosovo, represented by the Ministry of Finance, Labor and Transfers, and the European Investment Bank for the financing of the project “Kosovo Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic for SMEs “. The agreement provides a loan of EUR 40 million.
2. Draft Law on Amending and Supplementing the Law No.04/L-089 on Humanitarian Demining. The provisions of this law are mandatory to all institutions of the Republic of Kosovo treated within the framework of this law and the basic law for activities related to the field of humanitarian demining.
3. Draft Law on Patents, which defines conditions, procedures for patent registration, and rights deriving from registration and implementation of these rights.
4. Draft Law on Industrial Design, which defines conditions and procedures for industrial design, as well as rights deriving from the registration, measures, procedures and means for implementation of the rights and Community Design.
5. The Draft Law on Protection of Competition, which defines rules and measures for the protection of free and effective competition in the market, competencies and organization of the Competition Authority, and procedures for the implementation of this law.
6.Draft Law on Amending and Supplementing the Law No.04/L-074 on Agriculture and Rural Development Advisory Services, as part of the process of simplification, merger or elimination of permits and licenses within the program for reducing the administrative burden.
7.Draft law on ratification of “Amendment no. 1 of the financial agreement for IPA 2018 between the Republic of Kosovo and the European Union. This agreement provides for the use of funds in the amount of 1.5 million euros.
Furthermore, the Government has approved the State Migration Strategy 2021-2025 and Action Plan 2021-2023. The National Coordinator for the State Migration Strategy is appointed by the Minister of Internal Affairs, who can delegate this responsibility to one of the Deputy Ministers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The strategy identifies four (4) main objectives:
1. Regular migration management;
2. Ensuring safe, organized and orderly migration;
3. Internal migration management;
4. Advancement in the field of migration management and international protection system
Upon proposal by the Ministry of Local Government Administration, the Regulation on amending and supplementing the Regulation on Administrative Review of Municipal Acts was approved. The regulation sets out the procedures for reviewing and assessing the legality of municipal acts, obligations of the Ministry of Local Government Administration, line ministries and other institutions responsible in this process.
The Government also approved the Annual Official Statistics Plan 2022. The main objective is to create a stable statistical system, expand production with new research and improve quality of official statistics in accordance with international methodology. The objectives in the annual work plan for 2022 result from the 5-year program for official statistics.
The Action Plan of the Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers for the implementation of the recommendations of the Annual Audit Report for 2020 has been approved by the government cabinet. The decision obliges all budget organizations with regard to the implementation of this plan. The level of implementation will be monitored by a mechanism designated by the Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers in coordination and support from the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Government also approved the Report on the State of the Environment in Kosovo 2020. The report includes data regarding the state of the environment and change in the environment compared to the previous report; environmental pressures, environmental impacts on the health of the population, the state of endangered environments, implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan, measures taken for environmental protection, functioning of environmental institutions and financing of the system for environmental protection.
A final decision on expropriation for public interest of structures, agricultural crops and investments in immovable properties which are affected by the construction of the Prishtina-Mitrovica National Road in the cadastral zones of the municipality of Vushtrri, was approved at today’s meeting of the Government. Two other decisions on further consideration of expropriation claims for public interest have also been adopted. The first decision for the properties affected by the implementation of the project for the expansion and rehabilitation of the existing road in the village of Bajgora and the second for the properties which are affected by the implementation of the project for the expansion of surface mining for the exploitation of coal for electricity production in the villages of Hade, Shipitulle, Palaj, Leshkosic and Sibovc in the Municipality of Obiliq.
In today’s meeting, the government cabinet approved the decision on the approval of the request of the Ministry of Health for the negotiation/renegotiation of contracts for the supply of Covid-19 vaccines. The purpose of renegotiating the agreement is to provide vaccines for the entire population of the Republic of Kosovo and also the fact that the current agreement expires at the end of this year. The decision to establish the Committee for coordination and assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic situation was changed by the appointment of Mrs. Dafina Gexha Bunjaku at the head of this Committee instead of Mr. Arben Vitia.
On the proposal of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the Government approved the decision whereby Mrs. Majlinda Kelmendi is recognized as a citizen with special merits for her contribution to the promotion of the sport of Judo in the local and international arena. Majlinda Kelmendi will enjoy the right to receive a monthly salary in the amount of 1,321.32 euros per month.
The Government Cabinet approved the decision to request the President of the Republic to grant authorization for the conclusion of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation with the Embassy of the United States of America for the Fulbright Program. This Memorandum aims to strengthen and develop links between participants in the implementation of the Fulbright Academic Exchange Program in education, science and research that are mutually beneficial.
The Government of Kosovo approved the decision for the establishment of the Ministerial Commission for the Youth Guarantee Scheme, composed of:
1. Minister of Finance, Labour and Transfers;
2. Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports;
3. Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation;
4. Minister of Industry, Entrepreneurship and Trade; and
5. Minister of Local Government Administration.
This Commission is a mechanism which supervises and monitors the institutions in the implementation of the Youth Guarantee Scheme in accordance with the guidelines of the European Union.
After reviewing the request of the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure regarding the allocation of three hundred and fifty thousand euros (350,000.00 euros) for the co-financing of projects with UN-Habitat, the Government has approved the decision for the allocation of these funds.
The decision to recommend the President of the Republic of Kosovo to grant authorization to the Minister of Finance, Labour and Transfers for the signature of the Financing Agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and the International Development Association, for the “Kosovo Social Assistance System Reform Project”.
Initiatives for international agreements have also been approved by way of special decisions as follows:
– Initiative for the negotiation of the Loan Agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and the European Investment Bank for the project “Mitrovica Wastewater Development”;
– Initiative for the negotiation of the Loan Agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the project “Mitrovica Wastewater Development”;
– Initiative for the negotiation of the Amendment No. 2 of the Grant Agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and the European Union for the project “EU contribution for the availability and access to COVID-19 vaccines in Kosovo”;
– Initiative for the negotiation of the Agreement on Kosovo’s participation in the “Creative Europe” program, a program of the European Union for the cultural and creative sectors, between the Government of the Republic of Kosovo and the European Union;
– Initiative for the signature of the Tripartite Financial Agreement between the European Union, Kosovo and Montenegro for 2020, for the IPA II cross-border cooperation program between Kosovo and Montenegro.
After the review, the supplementation and amendment of the decision for the appointment of the Temporary Board of the Public Hydro-economic Enterprise “Ibër Lepenc” J.S.C. was approved. Mrs. Hyrmet Mydyti was appointed chair of the board, while Mr. Avdi Gjonbalaj member of this board. This supplementation and amendment of the decision is due to the resignation for personal reasons of Mrs. Hajrije Morina from the position of Chair of the Temporary Board of the Public Hydro-Economic Enterprise “Ibër Lepenci” J.S.C..
The government by special decisions has appointed temporary boards in:
– The Regional Water Company “Hidroregjioni Jugor” Sh.A. in Prizren:
1. Arberor Prekazi – chairperson;
2. Nurten Sktash-Beden – member;
3. Seat Bilibani – member;
4. Saxhide Mustafa – member.
– Public Enterprise, Regional Water Company “Bifurkacion” J.S.C., Ferizaj:
1. Shpend Gjugja – chairperson;
2. Kujtesa Mashkulli-Ahmeti – member;
3. Venera Ajeti – member;
4. Naim Rexhaj – member.
– Also, with a special decision, the Board of Directors of the Central Regional Public Water Company “Hidrodrini” J.S.C. in Peja was discharged.. The discharge occurred due to the failure of the control of the quality of drinking water, which was also ascertained in the report of the National Institute of Public Health and the Water Regulatory Authority. The government has appointed a new board consisting of:
1. Bajram Mustafa – Chairperson;
2. Zamire Deçani-Beqiri – member;
3. Luljeta Krekaj-Lutfiu – member;
4. Abedin Neziraj – member.
On the proposal of the Ministry of Economy, the Government of the Republic of Kosovo has annulled the decision No. 13/59 of January 21, 2021, which it has assessed as illegal.
The full speech of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti
Distinguished members of the Cabinet
Today we are starting the meeting with a special item on the agenda.
I believe that many of us agree that in these 22 years, since the end of the war, we have lacked many things, but if there is one thing that has bothered us the most and hurt us the worst, it is the lack of justice.
Although our justice institutions are functioning, so far they have been more in function of the system than of the citizen. There is often no genuine justice in them.
When I say genuine, I mean a more direct relationship of justice. A relationship where inside the courtroom in the confrontation between the weak and the strong, justice prevails, when between the poor and the rich, justice prevails.
Indeed, we have gained freedom, but now we need to institutionalize freedom through justice.
To do this, we need democratic institutions and societies, which are protected by an independent justice system.
The judiciary must be independent, not only in form but in content. Therefore, judges and prosecutors are chosen on the basis of the depth of professional knowledge, not the depth of personal connections.
The judiciary protects our freedoms and rights and is the best guardian, not only against injustices, but also against any undemocratic tendencies of power. To restore the citizen’s trust in justice, during these 200 days, our Government is committed to reforming the justice system and completing the legal framework needed to fight corruption and organized crime, as well as the elucidation and punishment of war crimes.
In order for the judicial and prosecutorial system to act fairly towards all citizens, it is necessary to have professional people and with integrity at all levels of these systems. Unprofessionalism and lack of ethics in the judiciary are a direct threat to justice, but also to democracy.
Therefore, today is a special day, because we are undertaking the fundamental step for the implementation of one of our key commitments, which is the Vetting of justice institutions.
Vetting will show the current situation within the judicial system, in terms of professional capacity, and then the work ethic and integrity of the actors of the judiciary in general.
The whole process will be organized in such a way as to ensure the necessary involvement of the representatives of the judicial and prosecutorial system, through joint work within the working group.
The working group established by the Ministry of Justice, and consisting of representatives of the judiciary and prosecution, civil society and experts of the field have drafted the Concept Document and proposed the methodology of the vetting process, by voting on constitutional amendments that would allow sufficient room for drafting the Law on Vetting.
Considering that the current legal overview allows room for the smooth running of the vetting process, thus by supplementing / amending the relevant laws, the Working Group has proposed as a second option, the implementation of the vetting process through amendments to the laws.
The first phase of vetting will cover the evaluation of members of the Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, and consequently the senior management positions.
Vetting will be done through an independent Mechanism by judges and no judges, elected by the Assembly and the Office of Presidency for the sake of balancing powers, with the presence of internationals. These structures, after vetting, will be transposed within the Councils, as bodies for ongoing performance evaluation. The mechanism will operate with the assistance of the Secretariat for Logistical Affairs, and in the second instance will be decided by the Appellate Panel.
The concept document in front of us paves the way for this important process for strengthening the justice and democracy of our state.