BIRN Kosovo Produces Debates for Kosovo’s Runoff Elections

Today, on November 13, 2017, BIRN Kosovo, in collaboration with Internews Kosova, has started the production of pre-electoral debates for Kosovo’s local run-off elections, to be held on November 19th.


The debates, which will be broadcasted live on RTV 21, aim to bring the audience face-to-face with the two runoff mayoral candidates, giving people a chance to hear their political platforms, promises, and how they plan to implement their agendas.

BIRN’s debate model #DebatPernime (#RealDebate) aims to raise citizen awareness about the candidates, and also to serve as a platform for revisiting promises after mayors are elected. BIRN will conduct a mid-mandate fact-check of the assurances made during the debates so that the public can know the extent to which their representatives are keeping their promises.

The run-off debates, which are being filmed at BIRN Kosovo’s premises, will host the two mayoral candidates from all runoff parties within 19 municipalities across Kosovo. Citizens all over Kosovo are also encouraged to submit debate questions and concerns through BIRN’s anti-corruption platform, and on’s Facebook channel.

BIRN Kosovo’s local runoff election will be broadcasted from November 13 -17, 2017.

BIRN Kosovo Journalist Threatened at a Protest in Gjilan

On November 11, Taulant Osmani, a BIRN Kosovo Journalist, was verbally abused and threatened with physical attack during a protest in Gjilan against the relocation of a monument dedicated to the fallen of the 1941-1945 Anti-Fascist War.

Osmani was covering the protest, following his earlier reporting on the tense debate between Gjilan’s residents, governance, and civil society regarding the monument’s relocation. A statue of early-twentieth-century Albanian military leader Idriz Seferi is being erected in its original place.

Osmani was recording a heated discussion among individuals debating the differing sides when one of the discussants asked him why was he filming, while two others tried to attack him and take his phone.

“As a journalist, in order to portray how polarized citizens are regarding this issue, I started filming their debate. The person reacted aggressively with words, he verbally attacked me asking why I’m filming. In that moment, two other individuals intervened by shoving me, cursing at me and grabbing my phone,” Osmani explained.

Osmani said he does not know what would have happened if other residents would not have intervened.

BIRN journalist Taulant Osmani reported the case to the police, and the Kosovo Association of Journalists, AGK, condemned the attempted attack.

UK Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Visits BIRN and Internews Kosova

On November 8, 2017, BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova had the opportunity to welcome UK Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, Alan Duncan, to the their offices. The Minister, along with his delegation and the British Ambassador to Kosovo, Ruairi O’Connell, were on an official visit to Kosovo, meeting with Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, and other Kosovo Government representatives.

During Minister Duncan’s visit to BIRN and Internews Kosova, he and his delegation were given a tour by Internews Kosova director, Faik Ispahiu, and introduced to the staff working in the fields of reporting, investigation, IT, administration, and the legal team. The Minister was also introduced to the work and production of the online anti-corruption platform, a platform for civic engagement in the fight against corruption and misuse of public positions and money.

During the meeting, guests discussed the rule of law, Kosovo’s political atmosphere, and other challenges that the country is facing. Ispahiu also presented the 12-year work and cooperation between BIRN and Internews Kosova, as well as the projects they have implemented in media development and monitoring. Challenges such as fake news and threats against journalists were also discussed.

BIRN Kosovo Hosts a Debate with Law Students at the Gjilan Basic Court

On October 27, BIRN Kosovo, held its second debate within the “Promoting Transparency in Kosovo’s Judicial System” project, supported by USAID’s programme, Justice System Strengthening Programme, JSSP; this time, the debate took place at the Gjilan Basic Court.

The discussion was moderated by BIRN Kosovo’s Chief Editor Kreshnik Gashi and hosted Afrim Shala, the Acting Head of the given court, Sabit Shkodra, the court spokesperson, and law students.

During the debate, panelists were granted the opportunity to brief the students on delivering court decisions to the public by using media and social networks. As such, the law students, currently enrolled at the Faculty of Law in the University of Gjilan “Kadri Zeka”, were informed on the role of social media and how it impacts the courts, including the judiciary’s response to the use and abuse of social media by judges, spokespersons, and other court staff.

The panelists also spoke about the importance of ensuring that judges and spokespersons comply with courtroom rules when publishing on social networks. The judges briefed the students regarding the audio and video recording devices in court hearings. Panelists argued that states should impose rational restrictions on the use of cameras and recording equipment in order to maintain the integrity of its proceedings and operate in favor of justice.

The panelists advocated for appropriate and effective use of social media to promote their work, activities, and services. Students were further provided with information on the risks associated with courts’ use of social media networks, such as the lack of court personnel expertise in social media on delivering court orders and decisions to the wider public, including the poor maintenance of updated court information.

BIRN Kosovo, under the “Increasing Transparecy in Kosovo’s Judicial System” Project, supported by USAID’s JSSP, will continue to conduct debates of similar nature in the coming months.


BIRN Kosovo Holds a Debate with Students at the Prishtina Basic Court

On October 26, BIRN Kosovo, as part of the “Promoting Transparency in Kosovo’s Judicial System”, supported by USAID’s Justice System Strengthening Program, JSSP, organized a discussion at the Basic Court of Prishtina. The discussion, moderated by BIRN Kosovo’s Chief Editor Kreshnik Gashi, hosted judges and administrators, including the head of the Basic Court of Prishtina, Afërdita Bytyçi.

During the debate, the panelists were granted the opportunity to talk about public and student access to court archives for educational purposes. All panelists encouraged the students in the audience to attend cases at all levels of the court, as well as a wide variety of forums, so they can experience law in action.

The students, currently enrolled at the Faculty of Law at the University of Prishtina “Hasan Prishtina”, were briefed on the public right to attend court hearings.  Panelists emphasized that the students should attend court proceedings in order to truly experience the practical side of law, and thus become equipped with well-rounded arguments about statuses and legal patterns.

The discussion also touched visiting the court as an opportunity to learn about and better understand charges and legal processes, and can also help to stimulate ideas about their future legal career options. Students also had a chance to share their requests and ideas with the panelists.


BIRN Kosovo, under the “Increasing Transparecy in Kosovo’s Judicial System” Project, supported by USAID’s JSSP, will continue to conduct debates of similar nature in the coming months.


Elections Complaint Panel Approves 27 Complaints by BIRN and Internews Kosova

BIRN and Internews Kosova monitors closely monitored political entities during the campaigning period for the upcoming local elections on October 22.  So far, BIRN and Internews Kosova have collected evidence regarding 56 potential cases of attempted violations of Kosovo’s election campaign rules; so far, 27 have been approved by the Election Complaint and Appeal Panel (ECAP).

ECAP has fined political entities running in the local elections a total of 66,900 euros based on the written complaints of BIRN and Internews Kosova.

The fines include the following:


  1. The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) was fined 18,850 euros regarding eight approved complaints
  2. The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) was fined 14,850 euros regarding six approved complaints.
  3. Alternativa was fined 11,300 euros regarding four approved complaints.
  4. The Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) was fined 8,500 euros based on three approved complaints.
  5. The New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) was fined 8,100 euros regarding three approved complaints.
  6. Vetëvendosje was fined 3,500 euros regarding two approved complaints.
  7. NISMA was fined 1,800 euros regarding one approved complaint.


The vast majority of these violations were for the involvement of minors under age 18 in campaign activities; violations of this nature resulted in a total of 18 approved complaints and 47,850 euros in fines. It is worth mentioning that this is the first time that ECAP has punished political entities for using children for their political campaigns, based on complaints submitted by BIRN and Internews Kosova.

Due to the involvement of persons under the age of 18, LDK has fines worth 17,350 euros. Podujeva’s mayoral candidate from LDK, Agim Veliu, was fined twice for the same violation worth 6,200 euros. Due to this violation, ECAP punished four other LDK candidates for mayoral positions. Among them, Muharrem Svarqa was fined 3,100 euros, Lutfi Haziri was fined 3,050 euros, and Bajrush Ymeri was fined 3,000 euros.

In four cases regarding the involvement of children in electoral campaigns, PDK was also fined 11,000 euros. As a result of posting a video on Facebook in which children were present, Kadri Veseli from PDK was fined 3,000 euros. Lirak Çelaj, PDK’s mayoral candidate for Prishtina, was fined 3,500 euros for publishing a video that included children. PDK’s branch in Ferizaj was also fined 2,500 euros for publishing pictures of children wearing symbols representing PDK.

AAK was fined twice for the involvement of children in their electoral campaign with the amount of 6,500 euros. A promotional AAK video that included the presence of minors, which was shared on social networks, cost this political party a fine worth 3,000 euros. A promotional video for NISMA’s mayoral candidate for Prizren, Zafir Berisha, also included minors and resulted in a 1,800 euro fine.

BIRN and Internews Kosova will continue to monitor the final day of the campaign, the day of election silence, as well as the electoral process, including the submission of complaints for potential violations on election day.


This Year, for the Third Time in a Row, BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova’s Complaints Result in Fines for Political Entities

On October 20th, 2017, Kosovo’s Elections Complaints and Appeals Panel, ECAP, imposed  fines worth a total of 20,150 thousand euros to five political entities as a result of BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova’s written complaints regarding alleged violations of the Law on Elections during the local election campaign.

As a result of the panel’s decision, The Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, received a fine worth 3 thousand euros; The New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, was fined 5,100 euros; The Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, has received three fines adding up to 6,450 euros; the new Kosovo political party Alternativa has received a fine for 3,600 euros; and finally, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, was fined 2,000 euros.

This decision follows several previous decisions by ECAP to reprimand political parties for violating Kosovo’s Law on Elections following complaints from BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova. will report on each decision individually in the coming days.


Novo Brdo, A Municipality with Tourist Potential but Few Investments

Will the future mayor of Novo Brdo manage to solve all of its problems?

The Municipality of Novo Brdo is one of the smallest municipalities in Kosovo. It has less than 10 thousand residents, around 60 per cent of which are Serb. It has a budget that is barely above two million euros, which is insufficient to solve the problems that have remained since the Kosovo War.

One of the oldest residencies of Kosovo, almost 18 years after the war, still faces problems such as a lack of water, a lack of basic health services, unemployment, the lack of development, and economic weakness to provide citizens with basic infrastructure.

Currently, Novo Brdo is led by Mayor Svetislav Ivanoviq, who is running for his second mandate, and is challenged by four other candidates representing the political parties the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK and the New Kosovo Alliance, AKR.

BIRN Kosovo’s mayoral debate series #DebatPernime (#RealDebates) is presenting research on the issues in Kosovo’s municipalities and offering citizens a chance to hear the mayors’ platforms and solutions.

One major problem citizens bring up is the lack of water. The majority of water system supplied to the municipality is dysfunctional due to the interruption of electricity by KEDS, due to the debt that is over 80 thousand euros.

The water supply is located in the village of Llabjan, which supplies water to the neighborhoods Mustafa, Abaza, Talaj, Haxhaj, Zeqiraj, and Stojkovic. This water supply is out of function due to property issues.

Other non-functioning water supply systems are found also in the villages of Makresh and Kufca.

In 2015, the Municipality of Novo Brdo signed a memorandum with the regional water supply company Hidromorava in an attempt to bring its residents drinking water. However, even two years after the signing of this memorandum, the citizens continue to use wells that they’ve opened on their own.

The poor health of Novo Brdo

The residents of Novo Brdo, apart from lack of water supply systems, have to be careful about consuming the water from their wells, since the doctor in Novo Brdo is only available until four in the afternoon, and only on certain days of the week. There is no gynecologist or care. For health issues, residents must otherwise travel to Prishtina or Gjilan.


The lack of professional medical staff is not the only health problem in Novo Brdo; apart from the terrible infrastructural conditions, residents also face a lack of various medications, especially materials that are spent, which make the commitment of basic medical services impossible in family medicine centers.


Despite the fact that there have been some investments, with only 370 thousand euros available for the municipality of Novo Brdo, the infrastructure of this may continue to disappoint residents.

The lack of a sewage systems in the majority of villages in the Municipality of Novo Brdo is one of the main problems. Also, the lack of roads paved with asphalt in Makresh, Kosaqë, and partly in Pasjak and Llabjan, is an additional problem.

Another problem is the issue of sidewalks and public lighting, both of which are rarely found in Novo Brdo.

Economic development

From almost 10 thousand residents in Novo Brdo, around 1,700 of them are unemployed and are registered with the employment office, while there are 648 cases of residents who receive social assistance due to their essential needs.

For the citizens of Novo Brdo, one primary source of income is mining work. Despite the fact that this municipality has a suitable environment to develop farming, the lack of infrastructure and basic services discourage investors.

The Municipality of Novo Brdo has not managed to enhance the tourist potential of the medieval castle, despite the fact that it is widely visited by citizens from Kosovo and foreign tourists.

Lipjan: A municipality of contaminated waters

Will the future mayor of Lipjan address the residents’ grievances?

In the population assessment conducted in 2012, the municipality of Lipjan has 58 thousand residents and a budget of 13.1 million euros.

Almost half of the neighborhoods in Lipjan do not have a water supply system at all: 29 neighborhoods out of the 62 do not have a water supply system.

The team, after conducting research in the field, has noted that the villages that are linked to the water supply system, such as the villages of Magura and Janjeva, experience severe water cuts.

The villages that do not have a water supply system at all include: Toplican, Gracka e Vgel, Kraishta, Zllakuqani, Krojmiri, and Rusinovci.

The lack of water is one of the many struggles the future mayor will be asked to address after the upcoming local elections, for which there are five candidates running for mayor.

Out of these five men, three already have political positions in this municipality. No women are running for mayor of Lipjan. In the population assessment, conducted in 2012, Lipjan has 58 thousand residents and a budget of 13.1 million euros.

Lipjan also has problems with the sewage systems. Fourteen neighborhoods do not have a sewage system. The remaining areas, 48 villages, have a sewage system, but the sewage ends up in the Sitnica River. The field investigation conducted by shows that the condition of rivers in the Municipality of Lipjan is dire: waste is being thrown into the waters, the surface waters are dirty, sewage pours into the rivers.

The citizens have reported to that in Lipjan’s Janjevka River, near the Ulpiana High School, the city sewage system passes through and the residents of that neighborhood cannot stay in their houses due to the terrible odor.

According to GAP Institute, despite the fact that during this mandate, the municipality built two collectors for the treatment of sewage (collector 1: the treatment of sewage systems in the villages of Kraishta, Ribar i Madh, Ribar i Vogel, Poturovc, Torina, Dobraje e Madhe, and the main collector in Lluga, with a length of 6,600 meters; and collector 2: the treatment of sewage systems in villages Bujari, with the overall collector for sewage systems of Smallusha, Qollapek, Marec, Gllavice, Llugaxhi and Kojska, with a length of 8,000 meters), because there is a lack of sewage treatment/collection plants, the sewage is pouted in the the Sitnica River.

Lipjan also has issues with illegal waste disposals. Our team has shown that the rivers are contaminated, especially because of the waste that is thrown into the waters by the citizens themselves. In the village of Gadime, despite the fact that protective walls for the river have been built, there is still a presence of waste. One part of the river is completely covered by grass, while the other is covered in waste.

Whereas in the Sitnica River, protective walls for the river have been built. According to the GAP Institute, the municipality and the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning have signed an agreement for cooperation on financing the project for building the surface of Sitnica River for the amount of 170,000 euros.


The Municipality of Lipjan, despite the investments in schools, continues to have problems in the education sector. The team has found that in the school Ibrahim Krasniqi school, located in village of Smallusha, students must use the bathrooms outside the buildings, because the bathrooms inside the school building do not have sufficient water to be kept cleaned.

Also, life in the village New Topliqan, the Vellezerit Frasheri Elementary School, where children attend classes from preschool to fifth grade, is a very poor condition. The school’s bathrooms are basically destroyed, and the school does not have a sports hall.

According to data from the Municipality of Lipjan, “8 schools have sports halls, while the majority of schools have open sport spaces.”

Lipjan has only one kindergarden, and no kindergardens have been built during the past four years, not even the multi-ethnic kindergarten, which was an agreement of cooperation with the organization “Rrugetimi” under UNICEF.


In New Topliqan, apart from the problem with the school building, there are also problems with asphalt. The Muse Meta Street is completely unpaved, which causes the road to become muddy. Also in this village, on Rexhep Stublla Street, which leads to the Vellezerit Frasheri Elementary School, the road is unpaved.

The municipality of Lipjan has mainly invested in infrastructure, but what is noticeable is that villages such as Kraishtë, Ribar, Smallushë and Magurë have only partial sidewalks and public lighting. The general audit has given a remark that the Municipality of Lipjan has given a tender worth 28 thousand euros without having a project for building sidewalks in the village Llugaxhi.

Apart from these problems, Lipjan faces also damages to asphalt in the village of New Rifc, where there are cracks on the roads and some potholes.


Lipjan does have gynecologists, but there is a lack of citizen trust in the institution. There are two gynecologists-obstetricians to help mothers give birth to their children. However, in the period January-September, in the maternity department of the center for medicine in Lipjan, according to the director of the main center for family medicine, Agim Krasniqi, there were only 5 births. In the same period, there were 134 cases which included removal of stiches of mothers who gave birth outside of the main family centers in Lipjan. Hence, the number of births given can be even bigger, but the citizens do not believe that there are proper conditions to give birth in the main center for family medicine of Lipjan

The director himself admits that in order to increase the number of births given in this center, a complete team is needed.

“In order to increase the number of births given, we must have a complete team which would include at least two anesthesiologists and gynecologists, as well as serviced for warm meals for maternity. These are conditions offered at the secondary care (hospitals), so it escalates the concept of primary care, respectively the concept of family medicine,” Krasniqi said.

Our investigation shows that also the dentistry building is in a bad condition, and often lacks dentistry supplies.

While the emergency clinic, which was built recently in the village Smallusha, is functionalized, there is no doctor or equipment.

the municipality officials themselves have admitted that there are complaints that main centers of family medicines, centers of family medicines, and other centers of medicine are out of basic supplies.

“Supply from the Ministry of Health with medications and supplies from the essential medicine list is up to 50 per cent, and around 25 per cent is filled from the revenues of the municipality for basic supplies, labs, and dentistry supplies, which is entirely covered by the municipal budget. However, the fulfillment of citizens needs remain difficult to be finished,” the municipality said in a statement.

Also, Lipjan has trouble with money surplus which it has not been able to spend within the year. The audit says that a cumulative surplus worth 757 thousand euros from its own source entries since year 2016 and earlier has been transferred to the year 2017.

“The financial statements of funds, compared to other categories, reveals that there is a lower level of budget spending when it comes to capital investments (86 per cent). This is because of the failures to finish implementing capital projects in accordance with dynamic plans,” stated the audit report for financial statements of Lipjan in 2016.

The own source entries of Lipjan completed during 2016 totaled 1.1 million euros. If the transferred revenues from the previous years are taken into account, according to the audit, Lipjan collected 1.6 million euros in 2016.

The GAP Institute says that Lipjan has the biggest number of economic zones. The municipality has these announced economic zones: the Economic Industrial Zone- QMI with a surface of 87 acres, the Economic Zone “Industrial Park” in Kerqeva with a surface of 139 acres, the Mixed Zone with 120 acres, and the Airport Zone (ZE – A), with 190 acres.


Millionaire mayoral candidates race for Viti

Will the next Mayor of Viti manage to solve its problems?

Four men are vying for the position of mayor of the Municipality of Viti.

The three candidates running against current mayor Sokol Haliti are millionaires. The candidate from the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, Nura, is a businessman.  A slightly less wealthy candidate is Besim Halimi from the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, who claims that his wealth exceeds millions.

Salih Salihu, from Vetevendosje, has real estate worth 2.2 million euros and is also running.

In the meantime, the current mayor, Sokol Haliti, for this year, declared inheritance from his father worth of 125 thousand euros, house worth 70 thousand euros, and about 33 thousand euros cash in the bank.

Although Viti, inhabited by around 47 thousand people, has a department of gynecology, women in this municipality give birth in other cities, considering that is impossible within the municipality of Viti.’s research reveals that Viti has enourmous problems with illegal landfills, drinking water and sewage. The education system is not good either. The municipality of Viti has only one public kindergarten, and only one physical education hall.

The municipality of Viti has a budget of about 10 million euros per year.


The GAP Institute states that Viti has issues in providing healthcare. According to GAP’s data, a doctor in Viti serves 308 residents, unlike the average of other municipalities, where a doctor serves 288 residents.

Apart from insufficient staff, Viti also does not have enough space to take care after those in need.’s investigation shows that those who must be on dialysis have to travel to Gjilan or Ferizaj in order to receive hemodialysis services, considering there is no department dealing with the treatment of these persons.

Although there is a gynecology department in Viti, there are no births taking place there, only check-ups.

Women of Viti must travel more than 21 kilometers to the Gjilan’s hospital or that of Ferizaj in order to give birth.

On the other hand, the Pozhoran village has more than four thousand residents; there are health centers that were built during the current mandate, but there is no dentist. The residents of this village told that they are in need of a team of dentists. Even though the municipality has not provided the health centers with any dentists, three private clinics are currently functioning in this village.

Sports and culture

For the first time in Viti’s history, a football club has managed to play in the local football superleauge. Pozhoran’s KF Vllaznia is playing this year  in the Kosovo football elite; however, the matches are not taking place at its stadium. This is due to the poor infrastructure of the stadium. KF Vllaznia is forced to play matches at the stadium of Gjilan, and Viti’s residents are not able to watch their home team matches.

NSERT PHOTO 1 – Pozheran Stadium

In addition to not being able to watch the KF Vllaznia matches at their own stadium, Viti residents are also not able to attend theater events, since the Municipality lacks a theater. Viti was a grantee for a 3D cinema donation, but it has not been functionalized.


Viti also has an Olympic sports player. Last year, Urata Rama was one of the eight Olympians who presented Kosovo at the Olympics in Rio, Brazil. However, Urata lacked institutional support. In 2016, the municipality provided her with an amount of 959 euros in subsidies during her stay in Rio, which translates into about 80 euros per day.

Illegal waste landfills

Although the center of the city creates the impression of a completely clean municipality with no landfills, this, this changes when one visits other areas across the city. has found that there are over 20 illegal landfills in the Municipality of Viti. This was also admitted by the municipal officials themselves.

According to municipal officials, they have gotten rid of some illegal landfills, but they haven’t managed to completely eradicate them yet.


Only one school in Viti has a physical education hall. Other schools own sporting structures, however, it is impossible to provide physical education classes during the winter season and rainy weather within these structures.

The General Auditor has stated that although the Municipality of Viti has allocated student scholarship funds, it has decided not to allocate the money to the students, but to keep them for itself instead. found that the scholarships planned for the academic year 2016/2017 were only distributed in July 2017. Therefore, 135 students were granted their scholarships late. According to the municipal officials, the scholarships were provided within the academic year; however, the students already finished their exams in June.

There is only one public kindergarten and one other private kindergarten in the municipality of Viti. According to municipal officials, they have the space for kindergarten buildings, considering that they may use a part of a school for it, but they also state that they lack funds to pay the staff.


Sewage and water supply

The Municipality of Viti has also issues with drinking water and sewage. The inhabitants of the villages of Sllatinë e Epërme and Lower, Trestenik, Sadovinë e Çerfeldit and Sadovinë of Jerlive are not yet connected to the water supply network, although the municipality states that it has invested in the water supply system. Four other villages in the municipality, Goshica, Gërmova, Vërbani and Smira, are not connected to the water supply network either.’s investigation shows that in other villages of the municipality, there are problems with water supply systems, which are not managed by Hidromorava. According to the data provided, areas that remain connected to water supply, and are not managed by any company are: Letnicë, Shashare, Skifteraj, Begunce, Kabash, Binqe, Shusht, Terpeze, Budrike and Zhiti.
The village of Tërpezë is already contracted but there is no sewerage network; in the village of Begunce, Ramnishtë and in the eastern part of Viti, the sewage network is only 50 per cent completed. Villages that do not have septic tanks, and consequently, have issues with sewage are Devaja, New Village, Upper Budrika, Goshica, Verbani, Sodovina and Ceret, Tresteniku, Lubishte and Kabashi.