In January 2013 BIRN published its fifth court-monitoring report, which covered from January 2012until December 2012. The data in this report were incorporated as a result of monitoring the total of 1,441 trials, of which 1040 trials were held. The main findings of BIRN are categorized into twelve points and refer to different problems, ranging from monitoring cases of corruption, procedural violations, violation of the parties rights during the hearings, to the use of mobile phones during the period of trials.
The corruption cases that were monitored have shown that there are still some ex-ministers who were charged but were faced judgement. Moreover, they showed a lack of transparency and professionalism, such as uniforms or proper translators, are still present in courts.
Statistically there was a slight improvement in the courts from the previous years. In 2010 the percentage of unannounced sessions was 50.1 per cent while in 2012 this decreased to 22.4 per cent. Also unlike in 2009,when 59.9 per cent of sessions started late due to the delay of the court or judge of the case, the cases monitored in 2012 notice an improvement with only 33.08 per cent of sessions starting with delays.
BIRN held a press conference to show the monitoring results. Representatives from judicial and other institutions were present, including Kosovo’s Judicial Council, Supreme Court, State Prosecutor; the Ombudsperson, representatives of embassies in Kosovo, OSCE representatives, EULEX and civil society.
The Chairman of the Kosovo Judicial Council (KJC), Enver Peci, commended BIRN for its performance, and added, “it has targeted the areas where the judiciary should engage more.” He also discussed that due to monitoring by BIRN, KJC started disciplinary proceedings against judges who have made procedural violations and isdoing its best to address these issues.
The President of the Supreme Court, Fejzullah Hasan, said that BIRN helped to highlight errors and omissions, which were impossible for them to investigate on their own. He also said that it is unfortunate that schedules were disrespected and uniforms were not used. He also added that there were procedural violations found by the court itself: “The party has told us that the judge has not even been present during the sessions, but in the records he or she is written as present.”
“I was pleased while reading carefully the report by BIRN and I would like to congratulate you for the actual findings which are welcome in our work,” said special prosecutor Besim Kelmendi. He also addressed criticism about the prosecutorial system in terms of the unpreparedness of prosecutors. Moreover, he encouraged BIRN to continue the monitoring of the courts.
Diane E. Tourell, a legal analyst of OSCE, complimented the report of BIRN and stressed that the OSCE is also concerned about procedural violations and welcomes such reports in the future.