Serbia: OSCE helps regulate security industry in Kosovo

The OSCE Mission in Kosovo is assisting the Assembly of Kosovo in drafting a new law on the private security industry, aiming to replace the current UN interim regulation which will expire with the future Kosovo status settlement.

The OSCE, keen to promote good governance and strengthen parliamentary oversight of the security industry, has focused on encouraging dialogue and fostering an exchange of views on the new draft law between Kosovo's Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) and private security companies.

The UN interim regulation, dating from 2001, bans domestic private security providers from bearing arms, putting them at a disadvantage to foreign companies providing the same services. By removing this disparity, it is hoped that the new law will stimulate business for domestic companies and lead to the creation of badly needed jobs in Kosovo. According to the PISG Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, unemployment is at 42 per cent.

The draft law

The first draft of the law, based on input from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Assembly's Committee on Security and private security companies, is due in September.

The ground was prepared late last year, when a Sub-committee composed of five members of the Assembly's Committee on Security was formed to guide the drafting process.

The Committee on Security's Chairman, Naim Maloku, says that the Sub-Committee, with the OSCE's assistance, has fostered dialogue between the government and private security companies by organizing debates and visits to different countries in the region and the EU.

"This has allowed both sides, the Assembly and the private security providers, to express their opinions and look for the most suitable practices to be applied here in Kosovo," Maloku says.

Gzim Azemi, operational manager of private security provider International Support Service Company, says, "I think this is a very good initiative. We find it very important that the government institutions are taking our views into account while drafting legislation."

Good governance

Kim Vetting, Programme Officer with the Mission's Central Assembly Unit, says that these exchanges are an exercise in good governance practices. "All interested parties have had an opportunity to express their interests and concerns and these are now being taken into account in the legislative process."

To kick-start this work, the OSCE Mission conducted a survey of the private security sector in Kosovo late last year, investigating matters such as the legal framework, the status of security companies and their associations. These findings were compared with the situation in Germany, where private sector security is more liberal, and with Bulgaria, which is more rigid.

Samije Zeqiraj, also a member of the Committee on Security, says, "Observing the practices used in other countries was very useful for us as we will strive to ensure that our law is in line with European standards while drafting this legislation."

The Mission has supported the work of the Committee on Security since September 2005. It has helped it build professional capacities, exchange best practices and develop relations with other security committees in the region.

As the OSCE's Vetting explains, the Committee deals with many issues beyond civilian security industry oversight, such as police and intelligence.

"Developing legislation that will regulate the work of the private security industry once the UN's interim administration is gone and its regulations are superseded - with the future Kosovo status settlement - is just one of the challenges for the Assembly," he says.

Written by Paulo Fraccaro and Nikola Gaon