Mission to Kosovo under UNSCR 1244

2 - 3 December 2009


1. Objective

The objective of the mission to Pristina, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 was to assess the current situation in the territory in regard to the areas falling under the mandate of UNODC, so that assistance could be provided through the Regional Programme to Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 in order to better effectively confront outstanding issues.

The entire engagement was planned and undertaken in line with the UN's status neutral position concerning the unilateral declaration of independence and the status of Kosovo as a territory in accordance with the UNSCR 1244.

2. Participants

4 UNODC representatives took part in the mission: Mr. Stephen Thurlow, Ms. Ekaterina Kolykhalova, and Mr. Hakan Demirbuken from UNODC Vienna, and Ms. Ela Banaj, Project Coordinator in Tirana, Albania.

3. Activities

The UNODC representatives had meetings with the representatives of EULEX, UNMIK, OSCE and the German Embassy and presented the work of UNODC and the Regional Programme, stressing that the goal of UNODC is to work in coordination and partnership with other actors in the region and to ensure the ownership of the Programme by the national authorities.

Inputs were received regarding what is required could be provided by UNODC, and the future assistance will be based on these inputs. The work that UNODC will be doing, subject to the availability of funding, will have to be closely coordinated with the other types of assistance that are being administered in Kosovo.

In the meeting with EULEX, UNMIK and the local Police, local Customs, and local Prosecutors Office, the issues related to the work in the areas of serious and organized crime, illicit trafficking, and border and customs control were discussed. During the meeting with EULEX and the local Judicial Council, issues related to justice and integrity were discussed, and in the meeting with the Chief of the Anti-Trafficking Section, OSCE, possible ways for cooperation in the area of prevention and countering trafficking in persons were addressed.

Generally, there is clearly a will on the part of the local authorities to work closely with UNODC, and there is a large potential for UNODC involvement in Kosovo under UNSCR 1244. A lot of assistance has been provided and while Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 has achieved some significant progress, much more can be done in the areas falling within the Pillars of the Regional Programme for Promoting the Rule of Law and Human Security in South Eastern Europe.

4. Outcomes and Follow-Up Action/Recommendations

  • Good cooperation exists among local authorities even though they are all under-staffed, in need of technical support and training, as well as the provision of equipment;
  • EULEX does not possess the mandate to undertake training and capacity building activities. However, OSCE does provide training in Kosovo under UNSCR 1244;
  • Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 does have strategies on organized crime and the reduction in supply and demand in place, but the implementation of these strategies will pose a significant problem for the local authorities;
  • The legal basis for investigating organized crime is absent (respective legislation is currently being drafted). Generally, gaps in legislation are huge, in particular regarding countering drug trafficking. In response a lot of new legislation is currently being drafted with the support of EULEX; however, a serious challenge is ensuring that this new legislation is in line with the EU standards;
  • There are serious gaps in data collection, especially as it relates to heroine trafficking. Generally, statistic and data gathering need to be supported;
  • Intelligence capacity, the gathering of intelligence, and the exchange of information needs to be built up. In addition, support is required so that intelligence is used properly in criminal procedures. In response, EULEX developed a project fiche in this area;
  • Organization of controlled deliveries is needed as a prerequisite to countering trafficking;
  • Currently, the exchange of intelligence with the neighbouring countries is insufficient. Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 has no representatives in SECI Center, SEE Police convention, and other regional organizations. It is of utmost importance for Kosovo to be able to attend the meetings of various SEE regional bodies, and to acquire at least an observer status in them. Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 does not have a liaison officer in Interpol;
  • After the independence, the MOUs with neighbouring countries need to be reviewed (currently have agreements with Albania, FYR of Macedonia, Turkey, Finland and other countries);
  • Improvement of coordination between the capital and the regions is required;
  • While cooperation between national institutions is in place, a better linking of the police and prosecution is needed considering the evident gaps in their communication. Better coordination between internal and external drug control units is also required;
  • Case backlogs in courts are large and must be addressed;
  • Admissibility of evidence is a problem and needs support;
  • More equipment is required for all law enforcement agencies (including surveillance equipment);
  • Drug detecting dogs are necessary for an increased efficiency on the part of drug law enforcers;
  • More trainings are required for local law enforcement authorities. Sustainability of training was said to be missing;
  • Witness protection is said to be nonexistent;
  • Forensic capacities are in principle in place but legislation supporting it is said to be complex, hence procedures are very slow (pre-trail judge needs to issue an order to examine a drug). Customs don't have enough forensic capacity. The lack of qualitative expertise poses a problem;
  • Financial investigations require support. Trainings in asset recovery are required. A new agency for asset recovery will be established as of January 2010, and respective legislation will be introduced;
  • Assistance with countering new techniques of crime, including cyber crime is required;
  • Prison conditions are satisfactory but assistance in the prison administration are welcome. Smuggling into prisons is a serious problem;
  • No rotation of judges is in place (some of them are in the same capacity since 1999);
  • Working conditions and salaries leave much to be desired;
  • Capacity to identify corruption cases is said to be nonexistent. The provision of training in this regard in crucial;
  • There is an internal (international) EULEX Anti-Corruption Task Force, but at the national level, the coordination in this area is seriously lacking;
  • Training is required in asset recovery, money laundering, and all related areas. The confiscation of assets is currently not addressed at all;
  • Transparency and judicial independence is lacking. The Anti-Corruption Agency, the Strategy and the National Plan are in place, but they are highly politicized, have yet to be implemented due to limited commitment on behalf of the Government;
  • There is a problem with the translation of various types of legislation, and at times no unified law exists;
  • Enormous amounts of remittances need to be addressed; and
  • Juvenile justice is currently not addressed;
  • Whereas the legislation on issues related to human trafficking is in place, the implementation is very poor;
  • General knowledge of law enforcement authorities regarding the international understanding of human trafficking is very low;
  • Reporting of cases or suspicions of involvement in human trafficking is very low. Consequently, no reliable data is currently available;
  • Identification of the victims of human trafficking is a very serious problem;
  • Reintegration of victims is nonexistent;
  • No special prosecutors for the cases of human trafficking exist, hence prosecutors would benefit a great deal from trainings on human trafficking cases;
  • Child pornography is a serious problem, including in the context of cyber crime.