As summertime sweeps across Kosovo, with it has come the season of holidays and festivals! Some people flock to the Albanian coast or the mountains of Montenegro for a much-needed vacation, while others find themselves drawn to one of the many festivals happening in Pristina this time of year. Maybe you will happen upon the gastronomy festival downtown or the repainting of all the murals along Rruga B, or perhaps you fancy a trip to Prizren for the international film festival Dokufest. One of the biggest festivals is the Sunny Hill Festival happening this weekend, a big music fest created by Kosovo’s own Dua Lipa.
This week I thoroughly enjoyed going to Bienalja--an art festival hosted in a new and somewhat unexpected location across Europe every other year--with Edona as my guide. Named Manifesta 14 to celebrate its fourteenth running, Bienalja was spread around 24 locations across Pristina. One of the most notable installations was the multi-floor themed exhibition at The Grand Hotel, which is located in the heart of Pristina and was considered one of the best hotels in the region during its glory days in the 1980s. The first several floors of the exhibition--as well as The Grand Hotel itself--were like a time capsule of the 1980s-1990s. Edona told me about the traditional Albanian furnishings you would find in most homes and reminisced over the colorful carpets and tiles that looked and smelled like her parents’ office buildings. We even got to stand in the room where the former President of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, stayed at The Grand Hotel. Seeing a glimpse of that era, and hearing stories from a Kosovar Albanian who lived it, was a truly special experience.
Now that the campaign against domestic violence has come to an end, CLARD is looking forward and beginning to brainstorm potential next projects. One idea is a continuation of CLARD’s work combating domestic violence, but this time focusing on training lawyers across the municipalities to better handle and do justice in domestic violence cases. There would be an added emphasis on training female lawyers in this area in an effort to provide better trauma-informed legal care as many survivors of domestic violence can be sensitive to sharing their experiences with male officials. Domestic violence cases can also be challenging to handle well because they often involve spinoff issues such as divorce and child custody proceedings. This means the process can get drawn out longer and longer, which ends up being very costly. Thus, placing another emphasis on taking these cases pro bono will benefit both the plaintiffs and the legal system as a whole, which currently lacks effective pro bono work.
Another idea is fostering a sort of weekly dialogue between citizens and the presidents of the courts and wherein the judicial officials can share basic statistics about the number, type, and status of cases on that court’s docket. The idea is increased transparency into court proceedings, which in turn boosts accountability and public trust in the justice system. Both ideas have grown out of requests from the Ministry of Justice and concerns from the civil society, and it is promising to see the government’s growing openness to hearing from and working with the civil society. Pending approval from CLARD’s benefactors, I think both to be brilliant future projects, for specialized trainings and thorough transparency are touchstones of a well-functioning judiciary.
As this week winds sadly to a close, I have been reflecting on my time in Kosovo and all the invaluable experiences I have had with CLARD. I have learned more than I could ever have imagined from my colleagues who so generously shared their work and their lives with me, and I will always carry with me all that they taught me in law and in life. I cannot express the depth of my gratitude for it is an extreme honor to have been welcomed to the CLARD family this summer and an immense pleasure to have learned by its side. Anton and I agreed that we should not say goodbye, so to all my dear friends in Kosovo, until we meet again!
Well that is all, friends, I sincerely hope you will each get a chance to travel to Kosovo someday. Thank you for joining me each week, I wish you the best of luck on whatever your next adventure may be.
Lamtumirë! Gjithë të mirat!