On January 17, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) hosted an event to release the fourth volume of its Judicial Reform Index (JRI)for Kosovo. The release was timed with the country’s Law Day celebration, which prompted activities in Pristina and else where in Kosovo.
Each ABA ROLI JRI is based on a series of 30 international standard factors, divided into benchmark areas such as quality, education and diversity; judicial powers; financial resources; structural safeguards; and accountability and transparency. The report reflects specific conditions, legal provisions and mechanisms in Kosovo’s judiciary and courts identified during extensive interviews that were conducted in October 2010.
Patricia Rader, Kosovo mission director for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), spoke at the index’s launch. “The JRI points out a number of areas of achievement and positive change in the judiciary, which is the result of hard work by the Kosovar institutions of justice supported by international donors including USAID,” she said. “These improvements should be congratulated. At the same time, the JRI also tells us that while reform has continued, much is left to be done.”
ABA ROLI Country Director Gina Schaar presented the publication’s main findings. Since the last volume, which was conducted in 2007, most factors were unchanged, while four factors moved upward and another six factors moved downward. Referring to the JRI findings, Schaar said that the following issues are among those that remain of concern: judicial selection and discipline; lack of adequate funding and low public trust and perception of courts.
The event was widely covered by local media and representatives from the Kosovo government, local and international judicial and legal organizations and the country’s legal community were in attendance. All attendees were provided a copy of the publication.