My Impressions on the Integration of the Judiciary in Mitrovica
Author: Nataša Radović, Prosecutor
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash
I am a Prosecutor at the Basic Court of Mitrovica. I live in North Mitrovica together with my family. Since 1994, I have worked for the Serbian judiciary as a trainee, then an expert associate, and later on as a prosecutor.
Since 2017, we integrated and became part of the judicial system of Kosovo. At the beginning of our work, translation was a major issue but now this has been entirely resolved, with the increase of personnel and translators.
In my observation, the process of judicial integration has been successfully completed. There is a high degree of cooperation between the Prosecutor’s Office, the Police and the Court, and one cannot function without the other. We are all engaged in our work and ready to serve the citizens, which in return will contribute to ensuring their trust in our institutions.
The Basic Prosecutor’s Office in Mitrovica covers jurisdiction throughout the territory of six municipalities. In my personal opinion relations between the staff within the Basic Prosecutor’s Office in Mitrovica, are at an enviable level too, promoting cooperation and mutual support among colleagues of all ethnicities. All play their role in ensuring that trials are not delayed. I believe that the jurisdictional process is relatively fast-paced where cooperation has been consolidated among judicial professionals, and we are focused on nurturing fair and professional relationships.
When the system was integrated there were piles of old cases that were difficult to deal with. Today, a large number of those old cases are resolved and closed. At the end of 2017, the data shows that there were 10,768 old cases in the courts’ registry. 4,044 new cases arrived in 2018. In the same year, a total of 5,883 cases were resolved. This means that over 30 percent of filed cases were resolved only in 2019, a year after judges and prosecutors were integrated. 429 cases in which I have been a prosecutor have been closed, and this speaks of my contribution to the Basic Court of Mitrovica since the integration of the judiciary. Citizens now can obtain their certificates that they are not under criminal investigation and other documents issued by local courts and police stations
The functioning of the judiciary has had positive impacts that are felt by the citizens, given that the number of criminal offenses and crimes has been reduced. According to the Kosovo Police data, in 2019 there has been an overall decrease of 13.7 percent of the recorded criminal offenses in comparison to 2018.
During January and February 2019, we had 60 cases of domestic violence reported, while in June and July the number is as low as 20. These are clear indicators that the number of domestic violence cases has reduced. In the last six months of 2018, 16 persons were detained for domestic violence. Between January and July 2019, we have detained only nine suspects.
I am convinced that these numbers also indicate that the citizen’s awareness grows, as they realize that the courts function now and that anyone who commits a criminal offense will be prosecuted. People used to give priority to traditional customs over the courts, but today they report cases, and those cases are being addressed. These are effects of the integration of the judges and prosecutors.
I also serve as a Coordinator for the fight against Domestic Violence. Through daily contacts with the victims and citizens, we have achieved considerable results in reducing the crime rate. Many institutions have been involved in dealing with this problem. The prosecutors closely cooperate with the police, victim’s defenders and lawyers, and the Center for Social Work; and they are all committed to resolving the problems regarding domestic violence with priority.
We have all benefited from the integration of the judiciary. I believe that through inclusion and cooperation we will achieve better results, reduce the number of crimes and offenses, and increase safety for all citizens.
This is a personal opinion from a field practitioner.
The article has been produced with the financial assistance of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kosovo and the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Kosovo-Serbia Policy Advocacy Group and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the Royal Norwegian Embassy or the European Union.