Serious government corruption and the lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence are mentioned as some of the most serious problems in the US State Department’s report on Human Rights, in the section on Kosovo.
Other problems in the report for 2022 include other forms of violence, as well as crimes or threats against ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups.
As he published the report, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said that the reports published for a good part of the countries of the world demonstrate the commitment of the United States to advance human rights in the world, reports Radio Free Europe. .
Corruption and lack of transparency in the Government
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In the report for 2022, it is mentioned that the law foresees criminal penalties for officials involved in corruption, but that the Government has not implemented the law in its entirety.
“There have been several cases of reporting corruption at the government level. Officials have sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. The lack of effective judicial supervision and the fragility of law enforcement has resulted in this problem,” the report said.
It is mentioned there that some cases of corruption have been repeatedly appealed and that the judicial system has, on occasion, allowed the expiration of the statute of limitations for the cases.
“In December 2021, the Kosovo Institute for Justice has identified 11 cases of corruption that risked statute of limitations; in January, seven of these cases expired due to the statute of limitations”.
The Anti-Corruption Agency and the National Audit Office are also mentioned in the report as being responsible for fighting government corruption.
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“Until September, the Anti-Corruption Agency has published 29 opinions on specific cases that were potentially conflicts of interest and activities that may constitute conflicts of interest in the future. Prosecutors have filed 150 indictments related to corruption, and for 34 cases, sentences have been imposed until October.”
In the report for 2022, it is also mentioned that non-governmental organizations in Kosovo, but also international organizations, have highlighted several times the failures of the judicial system to punish cases of corruption, therefore very few cases of high officials, including in these violations, have ended with punishments.
Moreover, in the section on corruption, two major corruption investigations on the border between Kosovo and Albania were also mentioned.
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“The investigations resulted in the arrest of 74 Kosovo Police officials, two Kosovo Customs officials and 34 Albanian Police officials.”
“Then, in September, three police officers were sentenced to 15 to 30 months in prison for abusing their positions, for accepting bribes and for providing assistance in smuggling goods at the border points between Kosovo and Serbia.”
In a part of the report, it is mentioned that the trial started in 2019 against the former Minister of Agriculture, Nenad Rikallo, still has no epilogue.
He and eight other ministry officials have been accused of abuse of power, as they allegedly manipulated grants.
Discrimination and social abuses
In the section on the lack of investigations into gender-based violence, the report mentions that such cases, including sexual and other violence, are often not reported by victims, due to social stigma and lack of trust in authorities.
“Until September (of 2022), prosecutors have investigated 160 cases of rape and filed 30 lawsuits.”
The report mentions the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Pristina by five suspects – one adult and four minors.
“In December, prosecutors filed a lawsuit against the suspects, accusing them of human trafficking, use of the sexual services of a trafficking victim, and child pornography.”
Then, the murder of a 35-year-old pregnant woman in the courtyard of the University Clinical Center of Kosovo, in November, was also mentioned.
The suspect, her husband, escaped arrest and committed suicide two days later.
“The police have confirmed that the victim previously reported domestic violence and was under police protection.”
The report also concludes that fewer women hold leadership positions in businesses, police or government.
“The Institution of the People’s Advocate has reported that women are often subject to discriminatory employment practices, as well as forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment in the workplace, both in the public and private sectors.”
According to the findings of the report, women in Kosovo “are underrepresented in the labor market, as only one in five women is an active part of the formal labor market.