Initiative for Justice and Equality (INJECT) hosted a conference titled “Institutional Treatment of Domestic Violence Cases” to discuss institutional commitment on treating cases of domestic violence. On this occasion it was said that last year, 832 cases of domestic violence were reported in Pristina. The second battle the victims face is when reporting the cases to relevant institutions, conference heard.
Despite the confirmation that Minister of Justice Abelard Tahiri and Interior Minister Ekrem Mustafa would attend the conference, they did not show up. INJECT director Luljeta Aliu said the absence of ministers shows their lack of commitment to this sensitive issue.
“This is institutional commitment, I would say to the ministers. I have no comment on this, we can discuss responsibilities of the ministries and their commitment to this issue at a later stage. Today, I am sorry to say, we will not discuss domestic violence but institutional violence, the secondary victimization. This is because we have often heard cases ending in fatalities and we faced justification and criticism be it from the civil society, the media, which investigated these cases and determined there were institutional violations or negligence,” she said.
According to Aliu, if institutions fail to offer protection for persons that experience violence, their whole legitimacy for existing fails. She said that serious violations are being committed when these cases are reported to relevant institutions, which she said is the second battle.
“When a victim reports a case of domestic violence, a violation of the restraining order or such, the communication between the prosecutor and the police is done through the phone and this is a circumstance than can be and is being misused. We are not talking about all the cases, but about those where the external influence is high, when people who should be convicted either use money to exercise influence or their political-social connections to close their cases and manipulate evidence,” Aliu said.
Kosovo Ombudsperson, Hilmi Jashari, said domestic violence is a triple-layer problem in the Kosovo society. Jashari said that as a consequence of domestic violence and failure of the authorities to act, there have been cases that ended in fatalities.
“Last year, Pristina had a total of 832 reported cases in the police, Prizren 178, Gjilan 146, Ferizaj 140 and Peja 150. And we are speaking about cases that were actually reported not those unreported. We consider it a phenomenon that affects the society but what is the response they receive in these cases. The first is the role of the Police, then the prosecution and the judicial system. There are more than ten cases that have unfortunately ended in fatalities, with the authorities being unable to provide adequate protection because ultimately we are dealing with the right to life which is the foundation of all other rights,” Jashari said. He added that the average time required by the judiciary to treat a case is 8.5 years.
Fatos Rushiti, political advisor with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, spoke of the need for other ministries also being included in treatment of domestic violence cases.
“The Ministry of Internal Affairs along with law enforcement agencies, the police, forensics agency and others, are committed to respond to not only cases of domestic violence but all other cases that attack the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo. Without modesty I can say that the Kosovo Police is quite well committed and trained not only on treating cases of domestic violence but also other cases we faced. The police is a law enforcement institutions and has an execution element role. However, other ministries, the prosecution, the courts should also be put in motion because the police cannot perform all roles on its own,” Rushiti said.
Last year, four women were killed by their spouses.