Prishtina, 15 Aprill 2020 – According to the Law on Courts, as of January 2016 Kosovo’s courts are mandated to publish judgments within 60 days of rendering decisions. The public now has access to more than 24,000 criminal, civil, commercial, and administrative judgments on the Kosovo Judicial Council website www.gjyqesori-rks.org.
With the support of USAID’s Justice System Strengthening Program (USAID/JSSP), civil society organizations, FOL Movement and Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Kosovo (BIRN), have been monitoring publication of judgments by Kosovo’s courts since May 2019. FOL and BIRN collect data and assess court compliance with the Law on Courts, Administrative Instruction on Anonymization of Judgments, and Decision on the Standardization of Judgments. Through monitoring and reporting, we aim to raise citizen awareness of the judiciary’s work, while also increasing public trust in courts.
The number of judgments published is considered one of the most significant indicators of judicial transparency. From January 2016 to April 30, 2019, Kosovo’s courts published only 8,983 judgments.
Within ten months, from the beginning of the monitoring period in May 2019 to February 2020, Kosovo’s courts published 14,510 judgments, or an average of about 1,400 judgments per month.
The increase in the rate of publication of judgments was particularly notable in the second phase of monitoring from December 2019 to February 2020, in which Kosovo’s courts published over 2,000 judgments per month, the largest increase recorded at courts.
In December 2019, a total of 2,526 judgments were published; in January 2020; and in February 2020, 2,090 judgments were published on the Kosovo Judicial Council website. These figures indicate a significant increase in the number of judgments published during a three-month period bringing the total number of judgments published by Kosovo’s courts to 23,753.
In addition to the increase in the number of judgments published, adherence to the law and guidelines has also increased in comparison to the first monitoring phase from May to November 2019. There was an increase in the number of anonymized publications and judgments published from corruption and domestic violence cases, which are categorized as offenses that are of greater public interest.
During December 2019 to February 2020, there was an increase in the number of corruption offense judgments published. A total of 33 judgments were published during this three-month period compared to only 61 judgments within the seven-month period from May-November 2019.
The same applies to judgments from gender-based violence and organized crime cases. During the same three-month period from December 2019 to February 2020, courts published 74 gender-based violence judgments and 21 organized crime judgments.
During the aforementioned period, courts also improved adherence to anonymization rules for judgments; courts published only 65 judgments without anonymization.
However, there are still issues with the application of the Template for the Standardization of Judgment Forms in Kosovo’s courts. From December 2019 to February 2020, out of 6,790 judgments published, 1,082 of them, or 16% of judgments, were published without adherence to this template.
When it comes to increasing the publication of court judgments, we noted that the Basic Court of Prishtina has drastically increased the number of publications in relation to the previous period, leading significantly in published judgements compared to other courts in Kosovo. During December 2019 – February 2020, the Prishtina Basic Court issued 1,842 judgments, followed by the Prizren Basic Court with 1,365 and the Mitrovica Basic Court with 759 judgments.
If we count the number of judgments published from 2016 until now, we note that the Basic Court of Pristina leads in the highest number of published judgments, with a total of 4,534 judgments, followed by the Basic Court of Prizren with 4,410 and the Basic Court of Ferizaj with 3,444 judgments.
In addition, the number of judges who are issuing judgments has increased. In February 2020, 58% of judges in Kosovo had published judgments, compared to only 27% in May 2019. From December 2019 to February 2020, the following judges have the most judgments published: Luan Berisha of the Basic Court of Prizren with 189 judgments published; Branka Semenov from the Basic Court of Mitrovica with 86 judgments; and Diana Sina from the Basic Court of Gjakova, with 84 judgments published.
Overall, Kosovo’s courts have implemented a steady increase of publication of judgments, turning its judicial web portal into one of the largest public databases of institutional decisions in Kosovo. This increase can be attributed to the judiciary’s commitment as well as to monthly monitoring commissioned by USAID Justice System Strengthening Program and being implemented by FOL and BIRN, which is serving as an incentive for court staff and court presidents to increase the publication of judgments.
 During monitoring of the Kosovo Judicial Council website from May 2019 – February 2020, a total of 14,828 judgments were published, or 318 more than those listed in the database. This difference is due to the publication of decisions and duplicated judgments by the courts.