From: Alice Taylor
Kosovo Records Record 1,396 Cases of Domestic Violence in Nine Months

Kosovo has registered a record 1,396 domestic violence cases between January and October 2021, according to Chief State Prosecutor Aleksander Lumezi.

Out of these cases, 445 resulted in a request for a protection order, and 36 were granted an emergency protection order. Lumezi did not divulge any information on the number of prosecutions or convictions for the crimes.

Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani said that violence against women had become a challenge not just for state institutions but also for society.

“We cannot be silent about this situation; we can also not be silent about the need for greater support for victims. The perpetrators must be punished; the victims must be rehabilitated, encouraged and supported institutionally,” she said.

Osmani added that there should be zero tolerance for impunity for such crimes.

Meanwhile, Lumezi said the judicial system is working hard to prevent crime but that more commitment is needed from justice institutions to prevent violence, sexual assault, and murder.

“​​Our commitment must be in the coordination and cooperation as close as possible between law enforcement institutions so that at no time there is neglect in prosecuting and punishing those persons who violate the rights, fundamental freedoms and other values ​​guaranteed by the Constitution and international conventions.”

Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu said the increasing number of cases is concerning.

In August this year, the region was rocked by a horrific crime against an 18-year-old woman. She was dumped outside a local hospital by two men, one of which was her husband. Doctors said she had been physically abused for at least two days before taking her to the hospital. She died from her injuries.

The two suspects were identified from CCTV footage and were arrested. Her husband, one of the men believed to have killed her, had a previous criminal record totalling 136 charges but had managed to avoid lengthy a prison term.

Between 2019 and 2021, there have been 125 reported sexual assaults and 108 reports of sexual harassment.

Domestic violence has also increased, with 1,541 reports in 2019 to more than 2,000 in 2020. The actual figures for all these kinds of assaults are believed to be much higher because there is still a significant stigma around reporting such matters. In Albanian culture, it’s perceived as a shame to talk about personal issues outside of the family. There is also a lack of confidence in the ability of the police to take seriously or prosecute such actions.

The same trends are also being observed in Albania. There have been 12 femicides so far in 2021, sparking protests and manifestations in the capital of Tirana.

One of the most horrific crimes involved the brutal stabbing of a pregnant woman, after which the murderer took his own life.

Albanian women also blame the government for failing to provide adequate education, job opportunities, poverty alleviation, and responses to sex-based crimes.

In 2020, only 13% of domestic violence reports were prosecuted. Out of 4,701 reported cases of domestic violence during the year, the police charged 615. They also issued 2816 protection orders, equating to 59.9% of the reports. As Exit has argued, this is a violation of human rights and the duty of the state to protect citizens.