On 08 June, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and its partner, the Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), presented the report: “Justice in the Eyes of Citizens: Third Report on Monitoring of Court Hearings by Citizens”.
The report is the result of a EULEX-supported project titled “Building trust in the judicial system and increasing the realization of human rights through monitoring of court hearings by citizens”, which is implemented by KLI. The purpose of this project is to allow the citizens to see court proceedings in the criminal field with their own eyes and to understand how the justice system functions based on their own convictions and without interpretation from others.
To implement the project, KLI recruited 20 citizens as lay monitors, who participated in the monitoring of 600 criminal court hearings in criminal matters throughout Kosovo. Through this project, KLI and EULEX aim to monitor transparency and implementation of human rights and freedoms in Kosovo courts.
Gzim Shala, KLI’s Programs’ Manager and Senior Legal Researcher, highlighted that through lay monitoring, citizens can hold the justice institutions accountable. “After monitoring 600 court proceedings, the lay monitors got a clearer understanding of how the justice system works. Most of the monitors have said that in the beginning of the monitoring process they did not have a good impression of the justice system. However, this changed for the better after they completed the monitoring sessions. There was also a satisfactory level of transparency during the court proceedings,” Shala added.
The Head of EULEX’s Monitoring Pillar, Benny Tollestrup Jensen, said: “Through lay monitoring, citizens are exercising their core right to monitor court proceedings, and this opens the doors for them, to this abstract entity called the judicial system. Following two successful phases of this project, KLI, supported by EULEX, continued with the third phase of the implementation. By empowering ordinary people, we empower trust-building in Kosovo.”
Naim Jakaj, Legal researcher at KLI, presented the findings and recommendations of the report stating that out of 600 court sessions, 559 of them were open to the public, which proves that the system is transparent. The findings also show that the judges were very open to the lay monitors and to the public.
During the presentation of the report, lay monitors who participated in the project expressed their gratitude for being part of this process, adding that it has tremendously helped them get a clearer picture of how the judicial system works.
The report is available here: https://www.eulex-kosovo.eu/eul/repository/docs/KLIReport2023.pdf