BIRN Publishes 2022 Report on Handling of Workers’ Rights Cases in Kosovo by Courts and Labour Inspectorate

On January 24, BIRN held a conference for the launch of a report titled “Handling of Workers’ Rights Cases by the Labour Inspectorate and the Judiciary”.

In the current situation, amid ongoing accidents occurring at workplaces, there is plenty of room for improving and advancing workplace policies, it was agreed.

The 2022 report found that almost one person dies in the workplace in Kosovo every month on average, while only 1.5 per cent of businesses have fulfilled their obligation to assess the risks at the workplace.

Although there are no exact statistics on the number of unregistered workers in Kosovo, Labour Inspectorate data show that during 2021 alone, 1,459 employees were found to be working without employment contracts while 433 employees were not declared at the Tax Administration of Kosovo, TAK.

The findings of the report were discussed with two panels, including different actors from public institutions.

On the first panel, the main subject was the handling of workers’ rights by the Labour Inspectorate.

This panel was moderated by Jeta Xharra, executive director at BIRN Kosovo. Panelists included the Chief Labour Inspector Hekuran Nikçi, the General Director of the Tax Administration of Kosovo, Ilir Murtezaj, and Kastriot Berisha, legal officer at BIRN.

Chief Inspector Nikçi claimed that in June 2022, when he became the Chief Inspector, he found the office in a chaotic situation. Statistics show that 15 people died at work 2022, all in construction. Since 2016, 81 workplace deaths have been recorded.

After scrutiny of this report, it was concluded that Kosovo lacks a database of inspections about conditions at workplaces.

Nikçi said Kosovo still lacks inspectors in this field, despite progress that has been made since he assumed office.

This affects the implementation of a database, when there are not enough inspectors and no chance to inspect all businesses throughout the country in order to detect violations at workplaces.

The General Director of the Tax Administration of Kosovo, TAK, Ilir Murtezaj, said fines have been issued to many businesses that did not declare that their workers were working without contracts.

However, Kastriot Berisha, legal officer of BIRN, said cooperation between the Tax Administration and the Labour Inspectorate lacks coordination.

The second panel was moderated by Kreshnik Gashi, managing editor at BIRN. This panel included Jehona Grantolli, member of the Prosecution Council of Kosovo and Fahret Velija, Chairman of the Commission for the Administration of Courts and member of the Kosovo Judicial Council.

Gashi questioned the responsibility of the Kosovo judiciary, saying many businesses clearly manipulate and neglect the mandatory norms of workplace conditions.

The report noted that out of 27 court judgments analyzed regarding cases of deaths and injuries at the workplace, only four resulted in prison sentences. Of these four, two were prison sentences and the other two conditional imprisonments.

This activity was implemented as part of the project “Protecting and Promoting Labour Rights of Vulnerable Groups in the Labour Market”, funded by the European Office in Kosovo and implemented by BIRN Kosovo in partnership with Advocacy Training and Resource Center ATRC.

The overall report can be found at these links:

Report in English language

Report in Albanian language

Report in Serbian language

 

BIRN Kosovo Holds Workshop on Reintegrating Returnees from War Zones

BIRN Kosovo held a regional workshop on January 23 in Peja/Pec on reinforcing the role of Centres for Social Welfare and Municipal Directorates of Education, Emergency and Security, Health and Mental Health, along with other relevant institutions, in strengthening the process of reintegration and resocialisation of returnees from Middle Eastern conflict zones.

The workshop was delivered by Kreshnik Gashi, editor-in-chief at BIRN Kosovo’s Kallxo.com website, and focused on the state’s vision for preventing radicalism and violent extremism that leads to terrorism.

Eleven representatives from the various institutions participated in the workshop.

The workshop was the sixth held by BIRN Kosovo as part of the Resilient Community Programme, which is funded by the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, GCERF.

 

BIRN Kosovo Hosts Debate on Dangers of Online Disinformation Among School Pupils

Over 20 Albanian, Serbian and Roma high school students from the Kosovo municipalities of Gracanica and Lipjan took part in a debate organized by BIRN Kosovo and Gracanica Online on “Increasing security in social media platforms as a mechanism for protection against fake news”, held in Gracanica.

Activity kicked off with presentation of a report, “(Un)Safe Internet” and continued with the presentation and discussion of the panel.

This was composed of Kreshnik Gashi, member of the Kosovo Press Council and correspondent of Reporters without Borders for Kosovo and managing editor of KALLXO.com; Rajko Jovanovic, from the Gracanica-based the NGO Communication for Social Development; Visar Prebreza, Managing Editor at KALLXO.com; and Ivan Miljkovic, journalist with Riznica portal.

The panelists raised the issue of the danger, especially to young people, of privacy, identity and integrity violations on the Internet. The debate concluded that dubious media use inaccurate and disinformation to disorientate the public and draw attention from the truth, inciting hatred and compromising the security of individuals, groups, communities regardless of ethnic, religious or cultural affiliations by creating a false image of the same.

The panel recommended increased caution when using social networks and emphasized the legal consequences that the individuals may face through different types of interaction on these social media platforms.

The youngsters participating in this debate expressed their experience with social networks, denouncing negative phenomena in the environments where they interact but also with the aim of promoting positive initiatives.

This activity was carried out within the UNMIK-supported project “Addressing disinformation through fact-checking journalism”.

 

 

BIRN Kosovo publishes report on justice system’s handling of corruption cases in 2022

BIRN Kosovo has published a report, “The Weary Fight Against Endemic Corruption in 2022”, based on its direct monitoring of the justice system. The report is focused on the performance of the Kosovo justice system in dealing with corruption cases.

BIRN monitored corruption cases from January 1, 2022, onwards using a specific methodology designed for the compilation of this report. The methodology included directly monitoring court hearings and analysing all decisions relating to the 10 corruption cases that are part of the report.

Monitoring was carried out at all of Kosovo’s Basic Courts and at the Court of Appeals. This process included monitoring more than 50 court hearings dealing with corruption cases and analysing the associated documents, from those documenting the investigative phase to those detailing the final decisions, in all instances of justice in the country.

The report therefore reflects the progress of each case from the initial investigation stage onwards, comprising assessment of the quality and impact of the in-depth investigation at the judicial appeals stage. Special attention is paid to the duration of court proceedings and the quality of decisions taken by the courts in these cases, which have been set as a priority for Kosovo’s justice system.

The report also includes individual summary analyses of all monitored cases, chronologically detailing the key moments in the handling of each case.

At the end of the report, BIRN also includes recommendations to justice institutions, such as the Kosovo Judicial Council, KJC, the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, KPC, and the Academy of Justice, as well as the heads of the courts and prosecution offices.

BIRN’s main recommendations are that the KJC, in cooperation with the Academy of Justice, organise supplementary training for judges and prosecutors who handle corruption cases, with a particular focus on the nature of corruption, the importance of publicising judgments, sentencing policies, drafting judgments and conducting financial investigations.

BIRN also recommends that corruption cases be prioritised by judges and that the KJC and heads of Kosovo’s courts should take measures against judges responsible for excessively prolonging these cases.

Click here for the report on Albanian and English.

This activity is implemented as part of the “Media Strengthening the Rule of Law in Kosovo” project, supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation through the Italian embassy in Pristina.

BIRN Kosovo publishes report on justice system’s handling of terrorism cases in 2022

BIRN Kosovo has published a report titled “The Justice System’s Handling of Cases with Terrorism Charges in 2022” based on its direct monitoring of the justice system. The report is focused on the performance of Kosovo’s justice system in dealing with terrorism cases.

BIRN monitored terrorism cases from January 1, 2022, onwards using a specific methodology designed for the compilation of this report. The methodology included directly monitoring court hearings and analysing all decisions relating to the 12 terrorism cases that are part of the report.

Monitoring took place at the Special Department of the Basic Court in Prishtina, as the only competent court for handling such cases. The process included monitoring more than 20 court hearings and analysing other documents dealing with terrorism cases, from those documenting the investigative phase to those detailing the final decisions, in all instances of justice.

The report therefore reflects the progress of each case from the initial investigation stage onwards, including an assessment of the quality and impact of the in-depth investigation at the judicial appeals stage. Special attention is paid to the duration of court proceedings and the quality of decisions taken by the courts in these cases, which have been set as a priority for Kosovo’s justice system.

The report also includes individual summary analyses of all monitored cases, chronologically detailing the key moments in the handling of each case.

At the end of the report, BIRN included recommendations to justice institutions, such as the Kosovo Judicial Council, KJC, the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, KPC, and the Academy of Justice, as well as the heads of the courts and prosecution offices.

The main recommendations are that the KJC, in cooperation with the Academy of Justice, organise supplementary training for judges and prosecutors who handle terrorism cases, with a particular focus on the nature of terrorism, the importance of publicising judgments, sentencing policies, drafting judgments, financial investigation, the identification of recruiters and money laundering.

BIRN also recommends that terrorism cases be prioritised by judges and that the KJC and heads of courts should take measures against judges responsible for excessively prolonging these cases.

Click here for the report on Albanian and English.

This activity is implemented as part of the “Media Strengthening the Rule of Law in Kosovo” project, supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation through the Italian embassy in Prishti

BIRN Kosovo Holds Workshop on Reintegrating Returnees from War Zones

BIRN Kosovo held a regional workshop on November 25 in the Gjakova area on reinforcing the role of Centres for Social Welfare, Municipal Directorates of Education, of Emergency and Security, of Health and of Mental Health – and other relevant institutions – in strengthening the reintegration and resocialization of returnees from Middle Eastern conflict zones.

The workshop, delivered by Labinot Leposhtica, legal officer at KALLXO.com, focused on the state’s vision for preventing radicalism and the violent extremism that leads to terrorism, as well as reflecting this vision to the public.

Eleven representatives from the aforementioned institutions participated in the workshop, three of whom were women.

This workshop was the fifth held by BIRN Kosovo as part of the “Resilient Community Program”, which is funded by the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, GCERF.

 

Arbër Gashi

Arbër Gashi is a graduate in Management and Informatics as well as Business Administration. He has several years of professional experience in the media, project management, business and marketing.

Gashi joined the team in 2018 and is marketing manager at KALLXO.com, where he creates and implements strategic marketing and other plans.

Dhurata Prokshi

Dhurata Prokshi has 14 years of professional experience in NGOs in Kosovo. Her work has contributed to the coordination and implementation of projects, which, through policy design, advocacy, monitoring, capacity building and direct intervention, have aimed at empowering vulnerable groups in society, such as children, women, ethnic minority communities and people with disabilities.

Prokshi also has professional experience in translation and in teaching the Albanian and Serbian languages. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology of Organisation at the Sts Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, North Macedonia.

Jetmir Hoxha

Jetmir Hoxha was first hired as an intern in August 2019.

Through hard work and dedication, he managed to become a junior camera operator and editor in the BIRN Kosovo team. Hoxha has completed economics school and has a passion for football and cameras.