Clarifications regarding the mandate of the Acting Ombudsperson
Acting Ombudsperson in Kosovo Hilmi Jashari today responded to a recent press release issued by UNMIK regarding inter alia the current competences of the Acting Ombudsperson.
The Acting Ombudsperson took this opportunity to thank SRSG Joachim Rücker for his support to the Ombudsperson Institution and noted that in recent times, cooperation between the Institution and UNMIK had improved notably.
However, he also felt the need to explain to the public and to persons seeking the help of the Institution that since the promulgation of UNMIK Regulation No. 2006/06 on the Ombudsperson Institution, there had been some confusion regarding the Institution’s competences to investigate complaints against UNMIK. “A number of people have contacted us in response to UNMIK’s press release and so we felt the need to clarify our position,” Mr. Jashari stated.
Under the previous UNMIK Regulation No. 2000/38 on the Establishment of the Ombudsperson Institution, an international Ombudsperson appointed by the SRSG had been competent to examine human rights complaints against both UNMIK and local authorities. Following the promulgation of UNMIK Regulation No. 2006/06, which foresees a local Ombudsperson appointed by the Kosovo Assembly, it appeared that the Ombudsperson Institution’s competences had been limited to dealing with complaints against the PISG. This was confirmed in a letter sent to the Acting Ombudsperson by former PDSRSG Stephen Schook in August 2006, in which the latter stated that the Ombudsperson Institution should now focus on complaints against PISG structures and that UNMIK’s Human Rights Advisory Panel, established through UNMIK Regulation No. 2006/12, was now mandated to deal with alleged human rights violations committed by UNMIK. On the other hand, the Acting Ombudsperson’s numerous requests to UNMIK for guidance on what to do with pending complaints against UNMIK met with no response.
In recent months, however, UNMIK had indicated to third parties that the Acting Ombudsperson still retained the competences of the international Ombudsperson under UNMIK Regulation No. 2000/38, until a new Ombudsperson would be appointed by the Kosovo Assembly. In this context, UNMIK referred to Section 19.2 of UNMIK Regulation No. 2006/06, which states that “the Deputy Ombudspersons in post at the time of the entry into force of the present Regulation shall remain in post and exercise powers and responsibilities in accordance with UNMIK Regulation No. 2000/38 […] until the Ombudsperson Institution has been constituted”, meaning until a local Ombudsperson has been appointed by the Kosovo Assembly.
Up to this point, nothing and nobody had indicated that the “powers and responsibilities” mentioned in Section 19.2 of UNMIK Regulation No. 2006/06 included the mandate to continue investigating complaints against UNMIK. For this reason, the Ombudsperson Institution had not accepted any human rights complaints against UNMIK as of mid-February 2006. “These complainants were thus in a very unfortunate situation, since we had been told we couldn’t deal with their complaints and the newly established Human Rights Advisory Panel was not operative yet”, Acting Ombudsperson Mr. Jashari stated. Indeed, the Advisory Panel only started its work towards the end of 2007.
According to Mr. Jashari, he is gratified that UNMIK has now clarified certain points related to the Ombudsperson Institution’s mandate.