Domestic violence is not just a private issue. In addition to the suffering that results from such violence, society also pays a large price in lost productivity and the cost of medical, police, legal, and social services required to respond to domestic violence. Domestic violence is widespread in Kosovo, with 944 reported incidences in 2010 alone. Yet most perpetrators of domestic violence are never held accountable by the justice system, and victims often fail to receive protection from police, prosecutors, and judges, who may lack the training to respond appropriately, or may wrongly believe such violence is a private matter.
Justice and the People Campaign has identified three key reforms that would improve how the criminal justice system handles cases of domestic violence.
1. Kosovo Police officers in Domestic Violence Investigation Units should be required to provide a “Rights and Resources” brochure to victims of domestic violence. Police are required to inform victims of domestic violence about their legal rights and the resources available to them. Yet very often this fails to happen. Even when it does, victims may be so traumatized by the recent violence they have experienced that they do not remember what they are told. A brochure providing this information would allow victims to refer to the information when they are ready and need to know where to go for assistance. Justice and the People Campaign has developed a brochure that could be used or modified for this purpose.
2. The Kosovo Police and Police Inspectorate of Kosovo should publicize the phone numbers and online form for making complaints against police employees. Police should be held accountable when they fail to perform their duties properly. Publicizing the process for making complaints would help victims of domestic violence to submit complaints against police employees who fail to respond appropriately.
3. The Kosovo Judicial Council and Kosovo Prosecutorial Council should designate certain judges and prosecutors to specialize in domestic violence cases. This should include specialized training at the Kosovo Judicial Institute. Such training would help ensure that officials handling such cases understand the special laws that apply in domestic violence cases.
Citizen & Civil Society Involvement
Justice and the People Campaign is a coalition of citizens and civil society groups that is pressing our institutions to commit to these reforms. To do so, we:
- Hold meetings with officials from relevant institutions to request that they commit to reforms;
- Use advocacy tools, such as sign-on letters, to demonstrate public support for reforms; and
- Verify that reforms are implemented once they have been promised by the relevant institution.
We invite you to join us. As a citizen, you can participate in our Take Action campaigns and join our Facebook group. As a civil society organization, you can work with Justice and the People to demonstrate public support for these and other reforms, and to help monitor their implementation.