Madame President, Minister Kuçi, Mrs. Morina, judges, prosecutors. Thank you all for coming today. It is a true honor for me to be here.
The Forum of Women Judges and Prosecutors was founded back in 2013, as you have heard, with the support of the United States Embassy. When it first started, a number of people predicted that there would not be that much interest and that it would not last long. Fortunately, it turned out that the skeptics were wrong. What started out as an informal association of prosecutors and judges has developed into a professional organization dedicated to promoting the equality of women in the justice system throughout Kosovo. In less than three years, membership has grown to almost 75% of all women judges and prosecutors in the country. The Forum meets regularly and has held over 100 workshops, training sessions, and outreach events around the country. Those are outstanding accomplishments. I am proud that the U.S. Embassy supported them every step of the way. We will continue to do so.
I would also like to recognize the strong support of President Jahjaga for the Forum. As I have said elsewhere, her service has showcased the important role that women can and should play in government. In America, March is Women’s History month. This is a month when we remember the trailblazers of the past, including the women who are not recorded in our history books. We honor their legacies by carrying forward the valuable lessons learned from the powerful examples they set. I hope the President is just one of the first among many female leaders, including many in this room, who will work to ensure a positive future for Kosovo and all of its people.
As you might expect, domestic violence is an issue that has been a focal point for the Forum’s work. It is a challenge that continues to plague every country in the world. Simply put, it is a human rights violation.
The judicial system in my country has dealt with this problem for many years. It has not been easy. The Department of Justice’s OPDAT program has worked closely with the Forum of Women Judges and Prosecutors to share the hard lessons that we have learned. We have brought in domestic violence experts to provide guidance and training, sponsored international visits to observe best practices, and facilitated numerous roundtables to identify challenges and needed improvements in the judicial system. Those efforts led to the development of the domestic violence benchbook being launched today. The manual will not only improve the handling of domestic violence cases by the judiciary. It will also expand overall understanding of the complex issues and relationships that are a part of the most domestic violence cases.
In conclusion, I am proud of the role that the United States has played in helping you address the serious problem of domestic violence. I believe that this manual and the training that OPDAT provides will help you tackle this difficult issue. I look forward to a continued partnership with the Forum of Women Judges and Prosecutors. Together we can help reduce inequality in the legal system and society in general.
Thank you very much. Hvala. Faleminderit shumë.