Serbia

Kosovo: Ensuring human rights and the rule of law

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UNMIK PR 1686

PRISTINA - UNMIK's institution-building pillar, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has played an important role in the development of Kosovo institutions that ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law. Today effective remedies are available when laws are broken or human rights are violated. This is an important achievement considering that when UNMIK arrived in Kosovo in 1999 there was no functioning justice system.

OSCE played a central role in establishing the judicial system in 1999 by identifying judges and providing necessary logistical support. Since the establishment of the justice system, OSCE has served as a monitor of the system to ensure its compliance with international human rights standards. Through public reports, effective recommendations have been made to improve the judicial system and to ensure that human rights standards are met.

The development of an effective legal community has also been an OSCE priority. In addition to helping to develop the structures for an effective legal community, OSCE has focused on capacity-building for the Kosovo Chamber of Advocates (KCA), the legal aid system, and the Kosovo Bar Association. Following a detailed assessment of the legal community, OSCE helped kick-start the KCA in 2000 and continues to provide technical assistance, legal education and training to KCA members, and material and logistical support.

OSCE's active role in setting up a legal aid system for Kosovo has helped to ensure that it is in line with international standards. By monitoring the legal aid system, OSCE ensures the protection of rights and interests of all communities and, in particular, vulnerable groups. OSCE helped re-establish the Kosovo Bar Exam in 2001. From 2001-2006, OSCE helped 1,500 lawyers to prepare for the exam through a comprehensive preparation programme.

OSCE also analyses and reports on issues related to human rights and rule of law in Kosovo. Reports have covered topics such as access to justice, parallel structures, the implementation of Kosovo Assembly laws, and a needs assessment on alternative dispute resolution.

OSCE has created a number of institutions that support the legal community. Two have transitioned to full local ownership: the Kosovo Judicial Institute, which trains judges and prosecutors, and the Ombudsperson's Office, which investigates complaints concerning human rights violations and abuse of authority by officials. Both still benefit from special advisers provided by OSCE. In addition, OSCE has helped to establish two independent NGOs: the Kosovo Law Centre, which cultivates the professional skills of local lawyers, and the Criminal Defence Resource Centre, which acts as a resource centre for defence counsels.

For further information, contact Public Information Officer Hanna Snarberg, E-mail: snarberg@un.org, Tel: +381 (0)38 504 604 ext: 5790, Mob: +377 (0)44 151 858.