Photo courtesy of US State Department.

State Department report: Domestic Violence Still a Problem in Kosovo

In the annual report of the U.S. Department of State on human rights it is underlined that during 2022, problems such as lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, serious government corruption and impunity were high up on the respective agenda in Kosovo.

Serious government corruption and impunity, lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence, including domestic or intimate partner violence, sexual violence and crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting ethnic minorities or other marginalized communities, are some of the main issues underlined in the report of the State Department on Human Rights for Kosovo.

The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – the Human Rights Report for 2022 was published on Monday.

It is emphasized that the Kosovo government took steps to identify, investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed human rights abuses, but at times lacked consistency.

Gender discrimination continues to be a problem

 Social discrimination is one of the main issues highlighted in this report, with special emphasis on gender issues.

The government did not enforce effectively the law for rape and domestic violence regardless of gender, including rape of a relative or spouse and by law rape, writes in report.

“EULEX noted that courts often applied penalties lighter than the legal minimum in rape cases and that law enforcement bodies rarely took steps to protect survivors and witnesses.”

It is stressed that Police investigated cases of domestic violence before transferring them to prosecutors who determine if and when charges should be filed, but the rate of prosecution was low, and, often, sentences were reduced after an appeal had been lodged. 

Also, single mothers and women with disabilities, from minority ethnic communities, or living in rural areas faced different forms of discrimination, including unequal access to public services.

Corruption and lack of transparency in Government

The report shows that the law was not implemented successfully as regards to corrupted officials; lack of effective judicial oversight and general weakness in the rule of law contributed to the problem. 

Additionally, according to the document, many government and opposition officials, civil servants, and the media reported incidents with senior officials engaging in corruption or acting with impunity.

“Some corrupt officials, however, continued to occupy public sector positions,” writes in the report.

The US State referred to the data of Anticorruption Agency that published 29 opinions on specific instances of potential conflicts of interest and hypothetical future activities that could constitute a conflict of interest.  

Trouble with freedom of media 

The government generally respected the right for freedom of expression, including that of the press and other media. But, in addition, credible reports insist that some public officials, politicians, businesses, and religious groups sought to intimidate media representatives.

 “Journalists encountered difficulties in obtaining information from the government and public institutions, notwithstanding laws providing access to public documents,” wrote in the report.

It is highlighted that there were no reports of direct censorship of print or broadcast media, although journalists claimed pressure from politicians and organized criminal groups often leading them to self-censorship.

“Journalists occasionally received offers of financial benefits in exchange for positive reporting or for abandoning an investigation,” reads the report.

The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices observes respect of human rights and liberties on a global scale, covering 198 countries and territories. The aforementioned rights are stated and described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in other international agreements.

21/03/2023 - 18:15

21 March 2023 - 18:15

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.