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October 31, 2014

A Member of Kosovo Delegation Commends ABA ROLI’s Programs

October 2014

On October 22, a four-member delegation from the Forum for Women Judges and Prosecutors of Kosovo visited the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) headquarters in Washington, DC, and met with representatives from ABA ROLI and the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division. Participants discussed the Judicial Division’s work to support judges in the United States, ABA ROLI’s work in Kosovo and the Balkans region to strengthen rule of law, including by training advocates and judges and by building the capacity of legal professional associations, as well as the greatest challenges for judges in Kosovo.

Valbone Dervodeli, judge from the basic level (or first-instance) court in Gjilan, eastern Kosovo. 

The delegation—which represents an informal body of judges and prosecutors that was established in November 2013 to promote the role of women in Kosovo’s justice system through a unified voice and vision—was in the U.S. to take part in the 36th annual conference of the National Association of Women Judges.

Valbone Dervodeli, a member of the delegation and a judge from the basic level (or first-instance) court in Gjilan, eastern Kosovo, said that the purpose of their meetings with various organizations involved in the advancement of rule of law—including ABA representatives—was to exchange experiences and to learn more about the organizations’ programs in Kosovo, Eastern Europe or around the world.

During the October 22 meeting, ABA ROLI representatives shared details about the program ABA ROLI has been implementing in five countries in the Balkans, including Kosovo, since September 2013. The program—which also covers Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia—supported the establishment of a regional network to encourage the region’s bar associations and civil society organizations to collaborate and to share knowledge, best practices and tools. ABA ROLI representatives also highlighted those programs ABA ROLI implemented in Kosovo between 1999 and 2011 to strengthen the justice system, including by training judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys.

“ABA ROLI has done great work [to advance the] justice sector in Kosovo,” said Judge Dervodeli, who is familiar with ABA ROLI’s work in Kosovo through her colleagues and through ABA ROLI-produced training materials. “I’d like to thank ABA ROLI on behalf of the judges and the state for the assistance.” The judge said that the technical assistance ABA ROLI has provided helps to improve the delivery of justice and makes judges’ jobs easier. She said that it is useful to be “face to face with defense attorneys who know their job and who know how to conduct themselves in a trial.”

While ABA ROLI has worked extensively with judges, prosecutors and defense advocates in the past, the country had a reappointment of judges in 2010, and many of today’s sitting judges may not have had direct experience with ABA ROLI. Yet, Dervodeli said that even those judges who were not on the bench before 2010 have benefited from ABA ROLI’s work “thanks to the books and other resources that were published through ABA ROLI assistance.” Further, the judges work with ABA ROLI-trained prosecutors and defense attorneys. Dervodeli said that having well-trained prosecutors and defense attorneys litigate a case “means that trial proceedings are conducted in the fairest way possible and are completed in a timely fashion.” It also means a lot for a judge, she said, to know “that the rights of all the litigants are defended professionally so that no human rights are violated.”

ABA ROLI’s trainings in Kosovo included courses on criminal procedure reform, law practice management, probation, pre-trial detention, professional ethics and plea bargaining. Dervodeli said that the trainings have made it easier for judges to deliver justice and help citizens rest assured knowing that they “have defense attorneys that are better prepared and more skilled in defending their human rights in front of a court panel.”

The judge added that she hopes ABA ROLI and the Forum for Women Judges and Prosecutors of Kosovo will have opportunities to collaborate on new initiatives soon. Checchi and Company Consulting, with funding from U.S. Agency for International Development, organized the delegation’s trip to the U.S. and the meeting with American Bar Association representatives.

To learn more about our work in Kosovo, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].