Civil Society Leads Court Reforms in Kosovo
A recent report by Princeton University’s Innovations for Successful Societies highlights the collaboration among civil society leaders to make necessary changes to Kosovo’s judicial processes during its nascent independence. The report, An Eye on Justice: Monitoring Kosovo’s Courts, 2008–2014, tells the story of Jeta Xharra of RBF grantee the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), Haki Abazi, program director of the Fund’s Western Balkans program, and Faik Ispahiu of Internews Kosova, and their work to establish a judicial monitoring program in an effort to rebuild public trust in Kosovo’s court system.
More than a year into the project, monitors confirmed a host of procedural violations and lack of professionalism. One notable finding was that during the project’s first year, only 26 percent of the 513 total court sessions monitored took place in a courtroom; the majority were held in the judges’ own offices. By 2014, the shift toward transparency in Kosovo’s courts was noticeable and monitors were more often reporting improvements in the proceedings of Kosovo’s courts.