Chargé d’Affairs Hyland’s Remarks at the Launch of the Functional Review of the Rule of Law Sector

Chargé d’Affairs Hyland’s Remarks at the Launch of the Functional Review of the Rule of Law Sector, March 9, 2017

President Thaçi, Prime Minister Haradinaj, Speaker Veseli, Minister Tahiri, leaders of Rule of Law institutions, civil society members, diplomatic colleagues, and guests, thank you for the opportunity to speak here today as you launch this ambitious project.  You have an enormous opportunity before you, to drive a decisions-focused review effort for the entire rule of law sector.  What you produce at the end of this process – a sector strategy – will be the guide for reforms to improve Kosovo’s judiciary performance, something all Kosovo’s citizens desire and deserve.

Minister Tahiri, I know you and your team have been working toward this event since you came into office.  I encourage you to acknowledge the enormous body of work that came before you – and the efforts of your two predecessors as justice minister and all the civil servants in your ministry – to develop this project to this point.  I am impressed with the preparation your new team has made:  drafting a concept to guide the effort, establishing technical working groups, and having them meet already in the past two weeks to get the work underway.

We are pleased to see the Ministry acting in the role of a facilitator for an inclusive process that encompasses all institutions, especially the Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils, the Courts, and the Chief State Prosecutor.  It is important that all institutions – including this ministry – participate in framing the issues you will address in the working groups, and that all actors participate in refining the work at hand.  The judiciary is independent, and that must be respected, but at the same time, we want to see the KJC, Courts, and KPC playing leading roles in this process.

All of you have much to be proud of:  last year’s judicial integration, ongoing legislative reforms before the Assembly now, and the recent restructuring of the courts.  We hope this review does not focus on re-doing this great work.  This review can take advantage of highlighting ongoing reforms and get them completed.   I urge you to use this process to look ahead at those issues that still require attention, among them:

  • Clearer means to address corruption, including policy decisions about which agencies have authority and whether to specialize courts and prosecutors; and
  • Standardized practices to ensure integrity of judicial actors (whether that is vetting, or background checks, or some blended process).

Much of the analysis you need for this exercise already exists, conducted by international and local experts over the past ten years.  I encourage you to use this analysis to develop policy decisions, embark on the solutions that work best for Kosovo, in line with your European integration agenda, and follow through on the necessary actions by the relevant institutions.

While this is an effort for Kosovo, and led by Kosovo institutions, the international community is here to help you.  We are committed to your success, and have contributed resources and expertise to this effort.  I encourage you to take advantage of that, and come to us as you need assistance and advice, but really we expect you to do all the work, and I know you are ready to do it.

Congratulations again on launching this effort.  My team and I are committed to helping you achieve a rule of law sector strategy that strengthens Kosovo’s judiciary for the benefit of its people.

Thank you and good luck.