The Justice Section performs four primary tasks.
1. Monitoring and reporting on rule of law developments
The Justice Section monitors and reports on rule of law developments in order to best advise the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. This monitoring generally focuses on three areas:
• Legislative developments;
• Prosecutions, investigations and trials, such as high-profile cases involving war crimes and other serious crimes; and
• Kosovo’s institutional framework, including the judiciary and corrections.
The Justice Section contributes to the preparation of the quarterly reports of the Secretary-General to the Security Council. The Section also identifies gaps and challenges in the rule of law area, which are then addressed by, or in cooperation with, other stakeholders.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, Dr. Zahir Tanin, briefs the Security Council on 29 February 2016
2. Supporting Rule of Law institutions
The Justice Section has established collaborative working relationships with rule of law actors and international donors in order to finance and implement projects that support and strengthen rule of law institutions in Kosovo. For example, it organises the regular Rule of Law Civil Society Coordination meetings in North Mitrovicë/Mitrovica, which have been in place since 2014. These meetings provide an opportunity to exchange information and coordinate activities in the rule of law sector. In so doing, this has improved collaboration across civil society, non-governmental organizations, governmental institutions and international organizations.
Delivery of office equipment to the prosecution offices as part of a Justice Section project to enhance and support the capacities of these offices and facilitate the efficient processing of cases, June 2016
UNMIK has also funded several projects designed to support Kosovo’s rule of law institutions. Projects implemented since 2016 include:
- The provision of critical equipment for Kosovo courts and prosecutorial offices that improve the security of judges, prosecutors, victims and witnesses in courts.
- The provision of additional office equipment for Kosovo courts and prosecutorial offices in order to facilitate the efficient processing of cases, increase transparency and improve access by non-majority communities.
- Support for the reduction of the case backlog in the Basic Court of Mitrovicë/Mitrovica through the sponsoring of legal interns who cleared nearly 2,500 cases of minor offences and assisted in the drafting of more than 3,500 decisions.
- The strengthening of the capacities of the Mitrovicë/Mitrovica Detention Centre by providing training and support to staff so that they can carry out their work efficiently and in compliance with international human rights standards.
- The facilitation of an independent assessment, by a civil society partner, of the criminal justice system in Kosovo. The review applies the Criminal Justice Toolkit which was developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It examines policing, access to justice, custodial and non-custodial measures, among other areas.
- The facilitation of an independent review, by a civil society partner, of the security measures in Kosovo courts and prosecution offices. This included an analysis of the security of victims and witnesses and a review of the passive and active security measures in place. It also included a detailed review of the applicable rules and regulations.
- The training of northern Kosovo law graduates from different ethnic communities on Kosovo laws and legal procedures. The project was implemented by a civil society organization based in North Mitrovicë/Mitrovica.
Although UNMIK is not involved directly in the Brussels-led dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on the integration of the judiciary, UNMIK encourages participation of all ethnic groups in Kosovo’s judiciary.
Pictures of some of the individuals reported missing since the 1998-1999 Kosovo war ended adorn the front of this government building in Pristina, November 2005.
UN Photo/Afrim Hajrullahu
3. Liaising with INTERPOL on International Wanted Notices
The INTERPOL Liaison Office in Kosovo facilitates the interaction of Kosovo authorities with INTERPOL and its member states on a daily basis. In particular, Kosovo authorities can request the issuance of an International Wanted Notice with respect to people who are believed to be outside out of Kosovo but who are required to serve a prison sentence or appear in court in respect of a prosecution. UNMIK liaises between Kosovo and INTERPOL to process these requests and facilitate the issuance of this notice.
While UNMIK Police transferred its executive functions to EULEX in December 2008, the INTERPOL functions remained within UNMIK due to an absence of agreement between INTERPOL member states. A Memorandum of Understanding between UNMIK and INTERPOL was signed in 2002 and remains in place today.
4. Certification of documents for recognition by non-recognizing UN Member States
The Justice Section certifies documents of Kosovo habitual residents, including academic, civil status (birth, marriage, death, etc.) and pensions to be used in UN member States that do not recognize Kosovo. This service enables Kosovo habitual residents to work and/or study in non-recognizing UN member States and request their pensions from Serbian authorities. From January 2013 to date, UNMIK has certified roughly 7,000 pension-related documents.
The Justice Section liaises closely with rule of law institutions of Kosovo, including the Ministry of Justice, the Kosovo Judicial Institute, the Kosovo Judicial Council, the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council and the Kosovo Chamber of Advocates, as well as with civil society engaged in rule of law initiatives. The Justice Section undertakes all its activities in close collaboration with other United Nations partners, including the police and human rights sections of UNMIK, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office for Projects Services (UNOPS), the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Justice Section also works closely with international partners including EULEX, the Office of the European Union Special Representative in Kosovo, KFOR, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, INTERPOL, the Council of Europe and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Justice Section also works closely with its counterparts at United Nations Headquarters in New York, particularly the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
Kosovo’s rule of law sector has made significant progress since the beginning of UNMIK’s mandate in 1999. However, reports since 2015 from the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe indicate that more needs to be done to address remaining rule of law issues. UNMIK is continuously adjusting its priorities with the aim of best supporting institutions to address these issues.
Most recently, UNMIK and the United Nations Kosovo Team are in the process of developing a more cohesive approach to rule of law assistance in Kosovo. To this end, both UNMIK and UNKT are aiming to develop a joint United Nations police, justice and corrections support programme in Kosovo. The programme will cover the period 2017 -2020 and focus on thematic areas that include capacity building of the judicial system, the prevention of violent extremism, access to justice and juvenile justice.