Statement of the Embassies of the United Kingdom and the United States on the Kosovo Judicial Council, August 25, 2017
The Embassies of the United Kingdom and United States take note of the recent appointments by the Kosovo Judicial Council of the Head of Appeals Court and the Head of the Supreme Court, following the annulment of the previous appointments process by the Constitutional Court.
After the Constitutional Court decision, representatives of our Embassies suggested to the KJC improvements it could make to its appointment procedures in order to build public trust in the justice system. We welcome the fact that some of these proposals were adopted by the Council in revised Regulations. However, as we indicated to the KJC at the time, we were disappointed by the decision to keep the vote secret. We believe that establishing an open ballot would have sent a strong signal of the KJC’s commitment to the principles of transparency, meritocracy and accountability.
Unfortunately, our observation of the recently re-run selection processes for these positions has caused us again to question the KJC’s sincere commitment to these principles. The absence of any meaningful discussion on the merits of the short-listed candidates means that a member of the public attending these processes would have been unable to understand why one candidate was preferred over another. The written reasoning subsequently provided by the KJC does nothing to correct this impression. We must emphasize that our concern is about ensuring a transparent process, not about individual candidates.
Building Kosovo citizens’ trust in the justice system is not only a matter of having procedures that are in line with the Constitution. It is also a matter of ensuring that recruitment, selection and appointment processes are established and conducted in such a way as to maximise openness and the transparency of decision-making. Given the critically important position it occupies in the Kosovo justice system, the KJC should lead by example on this. It will require the commitment of all KJC members and strong leadership from the Chair.
We look forward to working with the KJC to make progress in achieving this.