News 15 Sep 15

‘No Trust’ in Kosovo Witness Protection Scheme

Kosovo’s witness protection programme currently has no witnesses under its protection because they don’t trust the country’s justice system, a new analysis by a Pristina-based NGO said.

Petrit Collaku
The launch of the CRDP's witness protection report.

The Centre for Research, Documentation and Publication NGO said that its policy analysis, which was launched in Pristina on Tuesday, shows that the biggest problem with the witness protection programme is that people in Kosovo do not trust the justice system.

The CRDP report also highlighted deficiencies in the law for the protection of witnesses, small budget for the police protection directorate’s inadequate budget and the lack of support from Kosovo’s institutions for the witness protection programme, both political and financial.

Besa Kabashi-Ramaj, a consultant at CRDP, said that people believe that it is not safe to testify in Kosovo due to prejudices that “if you testify you are a traitor, particularly in war crime cases”.

“They fear revenge,” she said.

“Also there is huge distrust towards Kosovo’s institutions, although Kosovo’s institutions did not fail to protect a witness because there was no mandate so far to protect a witness,” she added.

Kabashi-Ramaj said that when the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, began working in 2008, it had greater trust, but over time it lost its credibility, particularly in dealing with trials.

“Now, this negative heritage is transferred to Kosovo’s institutions,” she said.

Kosovo’s directorate for witness protection took over responsibility from EULEX in September 2012.

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