Citizens want more action to protect domestic violence victims in Kosovo.
By Muhamet Brajshori for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 21/03/13
Diana Kastrati was killed in a domestic violence dispute. [RIP Diana Kastrati/Facebook.com]
Kosovo's judiciary is failing to protect the right of life, citizens experts said after a recent case of domestic violence resulted in murder.
On May 18th 2011, Pristina resident Diana Kastrati was reportedly killed by her husband after her request for emergency protection against domestic violence was refused by the Pristina Municipal Court.
Kastrati's parents recently filed a case with the Constitutional Court of Kosovo, which claimed the Municipal Court of Pristina's inaction to comply with its constitutional and legal obligation to award the emergency protection order violated Kastrati's individual rights.
The constitutional court ruled there was a violation of the right to life, and that the authorities failed to take necessary measures.
Gezim Kastrati, Diana's father, told SETimes that he and his wife took the case to the court to challenge the judiciary sector in Kosovo in hopes that authorities will take more pro-active measures when citizens are in threatening domestic situations.
According to the law, police and the courts must provide protection for women and girls affected by domestic violence.
Ajshe Qorraj, the public information official at Kosovo's Judicial Council, told SETimes that the Kastrati case was examined by the council.
"It was found that the case judge did not act on the request to issue a protective order … and a disciplinary penalty was given," Qorraj said.
The ruling of the constitutional court will "have a positive influence on judges to scrupulously respect the legal provisions on domestic violence."
Behxhet Shala, executive director of the Council for Defending Human Rights and Freedoms, told SETimes that the state is responsible for what happened to Kastrati, and for the fact that her husband has yet to be arrested for her murder.
"Concrete actions must be taken, because these local institutions have failed to protect human rights, and, in addition have failed to protect the fundamental right, that the life of a young girl," Shala said.
Shala believes that there is criminal liability for those who failed to protect Kastrati because there were indications that she was in grave danger.
"Institutions should [also share in] the responsibility for what happened," Shala said.
Edi Gusia, head of reporting and monitoring at Kosovo's Gender Equality Agency, told SETimes that the Kastrati case shows how the law was applied contrary to the policies and laws adopted for the protection of victims of domestic violence.
The agency is working on a commentary on the law of domestic violence, which would make it easier for the courts to take decisions.
"Respecting gender equality and protection of women's rights -- and human rights in general -- cannot be achieved without rule of law and institutional responsibilities," Gusia said.
Liridona Kozmaqi, Kosovo State Prosecution spokeswoman, told SETimes that her office provides protection to victims 24 hours a day, and that they have increased vigilance for cases of domestic violence.
"As a result of public awareness, the Office for Protection and Assistance to Victims has more cases than in previous years, when the victims sought help from victim advocates," she said.
Kozmaqi said that when victims report cases of domestic violence, the prosecution advocates are informed by police, and [are able to] offer legal assistance and representation to the victims.
In most cases, the office orders the perpetrators to be detained for 48 hours after the report is received, while the cases are investigated.