From: Bledar Qalliu
Kosovo NGOs, EU, US Blast Proposal for Top Prosecutor

The process leading to Kosovo Prosecutorial Council’s (KPC) unanimous proposal for Chief State Prosecutor was slammed by the European Union, United States and NGOs dealing with justice.

On Thursday, KPC proposed Blerim Isufaj to President Vjosa Osmani for a 7-year term as the country’s top prosecutor. 

Prosecutor Isufaj was ranked first in the list of candidates with 98 out of 100 points. Four complaints by other candidates were reviewed and declined today at the KPC meeting, whose 11 members then voted in favor of Isufaj. The KPC stressed that the process was “objective, transparent, comprehensive and fully based on meritocracy.”

However, a number of NGOs working closely with justice issues had already raised serious concerns over the process for candidate assessment and had demanded for it to be repeated. Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) and FOL Movement said the KPC proposal was unacceptable and urged President Osmani to consider their previous criticism of the process before taking a decision on Prosecutor Isufaj’s nomination.

They maintain that assessment of candidates was not objective and violated principles of meritocracy. Isufaj’s application and interview showed serious professional shortcomings, but nevertheless he was ranked first, they maintain.

Criticism by NGOs was supported by the German embassy, while the EU Delegation in Kosovo slammed the KPC decision to disregard their previous calls for a merit-based process.

“Despite the EU’s continued calls to ensure a fair, transparent and merit-based selection of Chief State Prosecutor, Kosovo Prosecutorial Council concluded the selection process disregarding these principles. Surprised & disappointed with the KPC’s actions,” the delegation tweeted.

Even harsher and more detailed criticism came from the US embassy in Prishtina.

“On several occasions the United States expressed expectations for the selection process of the next Chief State Prosecutor that we believe are shared by Kosovan citizens: that it be fair, objective, transparent, and merit-based. 

The fact that KPC members disregarded legitimate appeals and the recommendations of the review panel falls short of that standard. The U.S. did not have a preferred candidate nor did we judge the qualifications of individual candidates.

We are concerned that the manner in which the KPC conducted these proceedings has damaged the confidence of the Kosovan public and our confidence in the KPC as a public institution,” they tweeted.

Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu considered reactions by all relevant international partners as a sign of the state of affairs in the country’s justice system, in her speech in parliament.

The government of Kosovo has planned a justice reform similar to that of Albania. However, unlike the Albanian case, where they pushed at full throttle for the controversial reform, the EU has criticized the Kosovo government’s plan, suggesting that the justice system should reform itself. The EU suggestion was supported by justice institutions, including the KPC.

President Vjosa Osmani will have the final say on the appointment of Blerim Isufaj as Kosovo’s top prosecutor.


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