The speech of the Ombudsperson, Mr. Sami Kurteshi at the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo
Dear Mr. Speaker, Honourable MPs, The Honourable members of Government`s cabinet,
Based on the article 135, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo and article 27, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Law on the Ombudsperson, I submitting to you the eleventh annual report of the Ombudsperson Institution of the Republic of Kosovo, which includes period of time 1 January 2011 - 31 December 2011.
Understanding the annual reporting as a mutual constitutional obligation of the Ombudsperson and the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, I thank you for the opportunity to present this report to you.
Revealing the annual work of the Ombudsperson Institution includes all its operational levels which are presented in a logical order based in the constitutional mission of the Ombudsperson, which is: protection, monitoring and promoting of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. So, one of the main postulates displayed in this annual report is the situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Unfortunately, the situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Republic of Kosovo leaves much to be desired.
The Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms constitute the core of a legal order of the Republic of Kosovo. The Legal justice, acceptable and applicable in the practical life to all individuals without any distinction in the whole State territory, constitutes the core of a legal State. Unfortunately, in the Republic of Kosovo, these essential pillars of a legal State are continuously affected and continue to be fragile in every field of life.
A direct consequence of lack of commitment by the State mechanisms in the field of enforcement of justice is loss of confidence on the rule of law. This lack of confidence stretches from the poorest and most vulnerable categories of our society, to the heights officials of the State. Still, the justice system in the Republic of Kosovo is being implemented selectively. Instead of equalizing differences, our justice system is increasingly deepening the trench between the defenceless citizens and the State, but the only essential obligation to of the State is to defend the citizen.
Losing the confidence on the legal state and lack of commitment of State mechanisms for improvement of this situation proves lack of awareness for improvement of the current situation. Such situation strengthens the positions of the class which is violating Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms on the front of the increasingly vulnerable citizens.
Lack of institutional awareness for enforcement of law and establishment of the rule of law is being accompanied by a concussion, which is affecting all segments of a legal State in the Republic of Kosovo. Increasing loss of citizens` confidence on the justice mechanisms in Kosovo is causing other much greater and dangerous consequences, such as the increased attempts of citizens to take justice in their own hands. Unfortunately, such a situation leads to legal anarchy, which is overtaking all fields of our society. While, as a consequence of such a situation, we notice worsening of interpersonal and social relationships.
The Ombudsperson, based on his constitutional and legal mandate and competences, continuously draw attention to situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Kosovo, especially regarding dimensions of violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by the State institutions of the Republic of Kosovo. The Ombudsperson, continuously issued recommendations on who to improve the situation, on failures and the observed shortcomings. But, unfortunately the lack of impact of the Ombudsperson`s recommendation on the State authorities is still obvious and some of these institutions, unfortunately, do not put even minimum effort to improve the situation.
Non-implementation of these recommendations by those authorities and bodies which are in charge of law enforcement and to set up conditions for the citizens to resolve their problems constitutes a serious concern.
The Ombudsperson Institution is continuously engaged in improving the situation of Human Rights through its findings of violations and recommendations for elimination of such violations, by continuously communicating with the relevant institutions and mediating between them and the citizens. It continues to do so, despite numerous difficulties, be that as a result of negligence of the institutions to establish a better climate for protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, or be that a consequence of ignoring implementation of Ombudsperson`s recommendations or even due to efforts to weaken the institution.
The tendency of various State authorities to minimize the role of the national independent institutions, in generally by disregarding their findings, by not implementing their findings or by even putting unlawful efforts to affect their independency stipulated by the constitution, constitutes serious concern.
Such a fate is accompanying the Ombudsperson Institution as well. The Ombudsperson Institution is engaged to establish a climate in which the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo would have a possibility to resolve their problems based on the law and constitution. But unfortunately, despite achievement of some modest results, much remains to be desired. Therefore, the Ombudsperson hopes that the Ombudsperson Institution will have a stronger support from the Assembly, Government and Municipalities in the material aspect and in providing adequate infrastructure in order to exercise its constitutional mandate, which is protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The Ombudsperson Institution, despite numerous obstacles, has made important steps towards providing to the citizens and peoples in need necessary services. Expect the possibility to lodge complaints in all forms of communication, directly in the Ombudsperson`s offices every working day, by mail, electronic mail, through the family members, lawyer or by phone, the Ombudsperson Institution has also organized “Opened Days” which take place once in a month and provide the possibility for a direct contact between the institution and the persons in need. These “Open Days’ are organized in all Municipalities of Kosovo. Such events take place in the premises of Municipal Assemblies of Kosovo. Also, in order to increase transparency towards the citizens and all those who lodge complaints, the Ombudsperson responds to every request addressing him in a regular manner in written form.
All these actions are accompanied with an additional obvious burden for the Ombudsperson`s staff members and subsequently require human and material resources as well. The relevant authorities did not accord to the Ombudsperson the above-mentioned necessary material and human resources. So the only satisfaction for the Ombudsperson Institution remains the increased confidence of citizens and the other institutions towards the Ombudsperson`s work.
During the reporting year 2011, the Ombudsperson registered 1453 cases, or 220 more cases than in the previous year. It must be emphasized that except the increase of cases for 15% of the citizens who addressed the Ombudsperson through their submissions, the number of positively resolved cases has also increased for over 50%.
The biggest number of complaints was lodged against judiciary at all levels. The complaints are usually lodged against excessive duration of court proceedings – delaying of justice; non-enforcement of final judicial decisions–failure of the state to put justice in place and exceeding of statutory limitations for over 2300 cases rendering in the courts. Indeed this is clearly about denial of justice. All the above-mentioned facts constitute violation of the rights provided by the constitution, such as the right to judicial protection of rights.
Unfortunately, a number of complaints are related to unfair decisions containing elements of corruption and forgery, which implies injustice done by those who are supposed to put the justice in place. Despite the insufficient efforts put in order to combat this phenomenon by the judiciary itself, based on the Ombudsperson`s data, in generally, in this respect, there is no significant improvement comparing to previous reporting periods.
During the 2011, the Ombudsperson institution has registered a number of serious complaints lodged by citizens related to non-implementation of final decisions of the independent state institutions by the state institutions itself, or unlawful decisions of state institutions. Most of these complaints in this respect are related to violation of law in cases of employment or at working place in the private and public sector.
A considerable number of complaints, which is continuously increasing, are related to lack of legal regulation of pensions, health care insurance, necessary health care protection, and lack of medicaments from so called essential list of medicaments in the public health care institutions.
Violation of the property rights, no matter whether that occurs due to excessive duration of court proceedings, non-enforcement of final judicial decisions or testified forgeries, is one of the fields of complaints accompanied with serious consequences to the interpersonal relationships. In such cases when the state justice pushes the citizens against the wall of injustice, they take the justice in their own hands.
Another field of human rights where we noticed an increase of number of complaints is the failure to protect the environment. We have an increasing reaction by the citizens, be that because of the awareness of a large number of citizens regarding intolerable situation or as a result of worsening of the situation in this field.
The Ombudsperson remains concerned due to the security situation in the Republic of Kosovo. The increase of murder cases occurring due to use of fire weapons is obvious.
The freedom of movement in the city of Mitrovica, as well as in the Municipalities of Leposaviq, Zubin Potok and Zveçan is almost entirely limited, especially for the persons of non-Serbian ethnic background, but also for the Kosovo and international authorities. The same applies for the physical security.
A difficult situation regarding freedom of movement is also noticeable in the road traffic. In the urban centres, except occupation of sidewalks as a result of irresponsible parking of vehicles, lack of responsibility and intolerable chaos is noticed during the ride in the urban areas and open roads. Except direct endangering of the peoples` life as a result of accidents with fatal consequences, quiet often, the freedom of movement of pedestrians, especially of children, elders and persons with disabilities, is limited.
Difficult economic situation in the country affects majority of citizens of the Republic of Kosovo by impacting directly the quality of their life. Lack of perspectives for young people is a matter of concern, as well as the situation of retired persons. In this respect, the Ombudsperson once again demands the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo to adopt the Law on Healthcare Insurance and the Law on Invalidity and Pension Insurance. Also, the Ombudsperson reiterates demand to incorporate the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, as one of the international human rights instruments for protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which is directly applicable in the Republic of Kosovo.
Of particular concern for the Ombudsperson is the structural isolation from the political life as a consequence of social self-isolation of RAE communities. Efforts put until now by the public authorities of the Republic of Kosovo, including here the Ombudsperson Institution, for a meaningful integration of these communities in the public and social life did not provide desirable results, except some improvements in the habitation infrastructure.
The Ombudsperson, aiming to improve the situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, for all particular cases when he reached a conclusion that violation of Human Rights occurred, issued appropriate recommendations through the annual and special reports addressing the public institutions, such as the Ministries, Municipalities and other respondent Agencies. But, unfortunately, in this respect, the public institutions failed. So far, the Ombudsperson did not receive information or a notification from any public institution whether his recommendations were implemented. Such a policy continues year after year. The Ombudsperson is very much concerned because of such an attitude of public institutions towards his recommendations.
As the implementation of the law is the main principle of functioning of a legal State, in the Republic of Kosovo, despite some modest efforts, non-enforcement of law is the main indicator for loss of confidence of citizens on State authorities whose legal and constitutional obligation is to enforce law. While, this loss of confidence, puts the Ombudsperson in a position in which the citizens address him and demand him to restore justice. This occurs due to non-enforcement of law in most of the cases, but also due to violation of law in particular cases by most of the State authorities.
In this respect, for the improvement of relationship and communication between the public authorities and citizens, as well as aiming to increase the effectiveness of the public authorities, the Ombudsperson deems as necessary adoption of a modern, clear and enforceable Administrative code.
The Ombudsperson will continue to point out irregular and illegal actions and omissions of the public authorities; aiming to play the role his role in setting up a society which would be based on the principle that all persons are equal before the law. But, despite these actions and efforts to improve the situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, I want to emphasize clearly that the Ombudsperson does not administer justice.
It is the State authorities and courts who put the justice into effect. It is precisely these authorities who should not violate principles of legal justice, because if they do violate these principles then they have affected the confidence of citizens, which is necessary for functioning of a democratic society. This should not happen and should not be allowed to happen.
A hope for a better future, although trampled, did not vanish. Efforts to restore order and law are promising. Therefore, the Ombudsperson demands more individual and social commitment, especially the institutional responsibility by public authorities for their actions and omissions.
By being the observer of constitutional and legal implementation of Human Rights and Freedoms of the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo, the Ombudsperson at the same time is also the body that sheds light on the cases and warns the public institutions in case they disregard legal and constitutional implementation of Human Rights and Freedoms of the citizens of Kosovo.
The Ombudsperson hopes, but also requests and insists that all public authorities and organizations exercising public authority in the Republic of Kosovo take into account findings of the Ombudsperson and implementation of his recommendations issued in the annual report or in special reports, aiming to improve and advance Human Rights situation.
I now remain at your disposal for further necessary explanations and thank you very much for your attention.