Building trust in the judicial system and enhancing realization of human rights through lay trial monitoring

03 August 2020

In May 2020, the Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) issued the Report titled “Justice in the Eyes of Citizens”. The Report is the Phase 1 outcome of the EULEX-funded project “Building trust in the judicial system and enhancing realization of human rights through lay trial monitoring”. It was implemented by KLI from October 2019 until March 2020. 

Eighteen non-expert (lay) monitors, selected from a diverse range of age, gender, ethnicity, and regions, monitored 360 sessions of criminal trials throughout Kosovo. They evaluated criminal hearings on simple yet important human rights and procedural fairness issues including: equality before the law, transparency and impartiality of the courts, and fair trial rights. KLI analyzed the feedback from the lay monitors and drafted the assessment report.

The main goal of this project is to allow citizens to participate and evaluate the administration of justice in Kosovo. In doing so, citizens become familiar with important justice concepts and directly observe key justice institutions. In that sense, the project aims at increasing institutional accountability and building the trust of ordinary people to the justice system.  

"This Report highlights the importance of citizens’ participation in the criminal justice system. Giving ordinary people in Kosovo the opportunity to evaluate how their criminal justice system works, how the main actors interact, and how competent institutions deliver justice stands at the very core of this initiative. By empowering ordinary people to assess adherence to applicable human rights standards, the project also aimed at strengthening accountability and building trust in the justice system of Kosovo.

I would like to thank the Kosovo Law Institute and the lay monitors for their cooperation and engagement. Thanks to their work, the assessment report “Justice in the Eyes of Citizens” provides a unique insight in Kosovo’s legal system from the perspective of ordinary citizens. In addition, I want to commend EULEX Thematic Lead Monitor on Hate Crimes, Luis Carnasa Berga, and Justice Monitor, Ioannis Psimopoulos, for designing and implementing this initiative. I am particularly pleased with this original and productive project, as it saw EULEX cooperating with civil society to foster a bottom-up approach to provide more transparency and accountability in the Kosovo justice system", says EULEX Head Lars-Gunnar Wigemark. 

After the completion of Phase 1 in 2019-2020, the project will move to Phase 2 in 2020-2021. It will focus more on the lay monitoring of thematic cases, such as hate crimes, gender-based violence, corruption, juvenile justice, and related topics.