Interview II: Kosovo Law Institute

My interview with Kosovo Law Institute’s Genc Nimoni increased my understanding of the role of media and the youth in the justice system in Kosovo. I also learned a lot about corruption in Kosovo.  KLI is a public policy NGO think tank that has made its mission to “strengthen the rule of law in Kosovo and to improve the access to justice for all citizens.” KLI was found by jurists within a year of Kosovo’s declaration of Independence in 2008. The organization conducts research on government institutions including the judiciary, publishes reports, and communicates those findings with policy makers, officials, other NGOs, and academics. KLI also broadcasts a news show called “Betimi Per Drejtesi” (which means Oath for Justice). The show utilizes investigative journalism to cover a wide range of issues including the status of the courts, corruption in national and municipal governments, the implementation of legislation, crime, and other legal issues.

Before coming to KLI, Nimoni worked for BIRN for more than four years. BIRN, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network monitors the courts in Kosovo. But more about BIRN later because I’ll be interviewing a member of BIRN in the next few weeks.

One of the biggest if not the biggest problem plaguing the judiciary in Kosovo is corruption. In 2013 the Prosecutorial Council initiated an Action Plan for Increasing Efficiency of The Prosecutorial System in the Fight Against Corruption, but KLI’s findings suggest that corruption isn’t being prioritized like it should be. Only about half of the objectives outlined in the Action Plan were achieved.

 I had watched one of the Betimi Per Drejtesi shows on YouTube before the interview. The particular episode was on Amnesty of Corruption. Betimi, the host of the show, had invited several officials to discuss corruption in the government, but after hearing that a specific case of corruption would be discussed, one of his guests (the suspected corrupt official) left the newsroom before the show began. After the broadcast, the Prosecutorial Council decided to reform their rules on corruption and began disciplinary measures against the prosecutor that left the newsroom.

The culture of impunity from the old pre-war Kosovo has continued into the new independent Kosovo, Nimoni explained. These officials make decisions but don’t want to be held accountable for those decisions.

The main problem with Kosovo’s system is the implementation of laws or the lack thereof, Nimoni said. Kosovo needs more educated, more disciplined, more professional judges who respect their office and duties and are thus willing to implement the law. The old way of the older generation (the pre war generation) in government is a part of the problem. Kosovo needs more youth involved in public policy and affairs. Kosovo needs new people in power with new strategies.

More than 60 percent of Kosovo’s population is younger than 35. But the faults in the current system and the high levels of corruption have disenchanted the youth. Nimoni said he hopes that the younger generation will be more educated, more disciplined, more professional, and more transparent and accountable than the older generation.

"In the past we though the internationals were helping us improve our justice system, to improve transparency, to reduce crime… but last year we saw the EULEX scandal and other cases of corruption among the international agents,” Nimoni said. Kosovo already has a problem with corruption and accountability, and EULEX, the biggest international mission in Kosovo, that is supposed to help is also involved in corruption and has also failed to be accountable.

The EULEX scandal of 2014, involving some high ranking members of the EULEX mission, was about EULEX officials taking bribes. Former chief EULEX judge Francesco Florit was accused of accepting a bribe to acquit a murder defendant and soliciting a bribe in another corruption case. The chief EULEX prosecutor was accused of being complicit to Florit’s corrupt activates.

Nimoni said even the international agents in Kosovo are losing public trust. Despite having a lot of financial resources, international agencies like EULEX are riddled with the same problems as national institutions – corruption and lack of transparency and accountability.

“I have just one hope, and that is in the Kosovo people,” Nimoni said. “I have hope in the younger generation of Kosovo people.”