Kosovo police at the crime scene in Peja on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. Photo: Adeline Ahmeti/BIRN

After Another Femicide, Kosovo President Declares Day of Mourning

A second femicide in Kosovo in less than a week has prompted President Vjosa Osmani to declare a day of mourning on Wednesday for all those killed as a result of gender-based violence.

A man was arrested in the western Kosovo town of Peja on Tuesday on suspicion of killing his wife in the second femicide in the country in less than a week, prompting President Vjosa Osmani to declare a day of mourning.

The man had previously been found guilty of domestic violence in February 2022, sentenced to three months in prison and given a fine of 100 euros, Peja Basic Court spokeswoman Tringa Zhuti told BIRN. To avoid prison, the man paid an extra 300-euro fine instead. 

Justice Minister Albulena Haxhiu said she had invited the interior minister, the director of the Kosovo police service, the acting chief prosecutor and senior judicial and prosecution officials to a meeting to discuss a response.

“Despite the dedication, the measures undertaken, the campaigns initiated with the aim of gender equality, murders against women continue,” Haxhiu wrote on Facebook. “Violators have often become murderers precisely because of the lack of adequate punishment by the relevant institutions.”

Tuesday’s killing came five days after police arrested a 36-year-old man on suspicion of murdering his ex-wife and wounding her brother in the town of Ferizaj. The man was remanded in custody for 30 days.

Osmani, the president, declared April 17 a day of mourning “in remembrance of all the women and girls murdered in Kosovo as a result of gender-based violence”.

“Tomorrow will be a state day of mourning in Kosovo,” Osmani wrote on Facebook, “but our society will mourn every day as long as our women and girls are being murdered.”

In August last year, Amnesty International issued a report decrying the lack of institutional protection for victims of domestic violence in Kosovo, which has seen a series of protests over the past several years against gender-based violence and femicide.

Last May, BIRN reported that a lack of financial independence and support from family and society means many women in Kosovo who try to flee domestic violence end up returning to abusive husbands. There is also a lack of safe houses, with only seven across the country.

On Tuesday, activists of the Collective for Feminist Thought and Action tried to enter the Peace, Security and Women of Kosovo forum hosted by the Kosovo presidency, demanding a state of emergency be declared in the wake of the latest femicide. 

They were turned back by police who said their presence posed “a security risk” and could harm Kosovo’s image, the activists said.

Shkodran Nikçi, a spokesman for the Basic Prosecution, said an autopsy would be performed on the body of the woman killed in Peja and that the suspected murder weapon had been seized.

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