Kosovo Judical Council. Photo: BIRN.

Failure to Discipline Judges Blamed on KJC’s ‘Pampering’

Not one judge in Kosovo has been dismissed for disciplinary offences since the Kosovo Judicial Council was entrusted with this task – despite many complaints against them.

The Kosovo Judicial Council has the right to conduct disciplinary proceedings against and propose for dismissal of judges who commit serious offences. However, despite the great legal possibilities open to it, the process has so far failed.

Measures imposed the KJC are characterized by their leniency; most of them are public or non-public reprimands, while in rare cases a  judge gets a lower salary or is demoted  – despite the serious violations some of them are accused of.

This “pampering” approach to judges by the Kosovo Judicial Council is best shown by the latest decision issued for the judge from Kaçanik, Riza Livoreka. 

In January this year, on the show KALLXO Përnime, a video recording was shown  in which Livoreka was heard warning the Malsiu family that if no agreement was reached in a case, they would lose their property.

Immediately after the show, the legal office of BIRN asked the President of the Court of Ferizaj to initiate disciplinary proceedings, and for the judge to be investigated for at least six disciplinary violations.

These were: non-compliance with the principle of judicial independence and impartiality; unequal treatment of the parties in a procedure; notification of court decisions before the issue of a judgment; failure to report cases of possible exclusion, because the judge’s daughter was an intern at the plaintiff’s lawyer; involvement in ex-parte meetings, meeting with one party without the presence of the other party; and involvement in conduct which damages the reputation of the court or may undermine public confidence in the impartiality or credibility of the judiciary.

Although the request was made for an investigation into six disciplinary violations, the KJC found Livoreka guilty of only two violations – damaging the image of the judiciary and holding a meeting without the presence of the other party.

It is not known whether the other violations asked to be analyzed by BIRN were addressed.

Another scandal of the justice system was the involvement of the former member of the KJC, Driton Muharremi, in recordings published by the portal Shqip.com where they talked about exercising influence with a person facing investigative procedures.

In this case, the KJC issued a decision against Muharremi. After being degraded, he decided to resign from the position of judge.

The Judicial Council has been criticized often by local and international organizations for its light-tough measures. The last criticism about the lack of adequate sanctions was in a report of the US State Department.

This report considered the measures imposed by the KJC insufficient to prevent misconduct by judges in future.

Meanwhile, data published by the institutions of the justice system on the discipline of judges and prosecutors highlight the lenient approach taken.

The number of complaints filed against judges and prosecutors that were rejected without launching investigations by council is far higher than the number of investigations it has initiated. 

According to the KJC’s own data for 2021, of the 121 complaints received against judges, 90 per cent were rejected in the first phase, without going to the investigative panels of the KJC.

and 20/05/2022 - 17:07

20 May 2022 - 17:07

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.