Alarmed by the statement of Prosecutor Rexhep Maqedonci, published on March 25, 2019, on the portal Kallxo.com, more specifically the article “The Prosecutor Rexhep Macedonci calls ‘scurvy’ the student who complained of sexual harassment”, we the below signed express our concern on the approach and statements given by the prosecutor concerned.
Abstaining on having influence over the State’s Prosecution independent investigation, the civil society deems that the prosecutor’s statement is prejudicial, offensive, and moreover discourages the victim of this case and also other victims to report similar cases to the Prosecution.
Attorneys’ allegations that a harassment cannot be reported after three years and the allegations that the case is a defamation still without listening to the victim’s statement indicates the incorrect approach of the state prosecution in addressing these cases. At the end the prosecutor warns that he will deal with the denouncers, which is a clear message to the other casualties who have the courage to report such issues to the prosecution. There is no time limit in the Kosovo Criminal Code forbidding the party to report sexual harassment, so it is not the prosecutor’s right to prejudge whether he will investigate the case or not based on when it was reported.
Prosecutor Rexhep Maqedonci, instead of initiating independent and objective investigations into the reported case of sexual harassment, has decided to “blame the victim”, thus directly affecting the conduct of the investigation as well as intimidating and blackmailing the sexual harassment victim to continue reporting and seeking justice regarding the allegation that the professor has sexually harassed. In his statement, the prosecutor emphasized that reporting is taking place 3 years after experiencing sexual harassment, and here seized the opportunity to threaten the victim’s spouse.
According to the Kosovo Anti-Discrimination Law and European Union Directive 2002/73 / EC on Equal Treatment in Employment for Men and Women supplemented by the European Union Directive of 5 July 2006 on the Application of the Principle of Equal Treatment of Women and Men in Employment and Occupation, persons who complain of discrimination or harassment before a court or other legal institution, leave the burden of proof to the person against whom a complaint is filed. This person must prove that the charges against him or her are not true, by providing evidence that there has been no violation.
Also, since January 2019, Sexual Harassment is defined in the Criminal Code as a criminal offense, where in para. 3 of this article states that: “When the offense provided for in paragraph 1 of this Article is committed by the perpetrator who is a teacher, a religious leader, a health care professional, a person entrusted with the caretaking of such person or in any way the perpetrator shall be punished by imprisonment of six (6) months to three (3) years.”
Given the progress of this investigation by the prosecutor Rexhep Maqedonci, through this letter, we the representatives of the civil society are requesting the dismissal of this prosecutor from the case in question because of the negligence with the accused party and the unfit treatment of the victim in question. The prosecutor’s prejudices deprive each victim of sexual harassment from seeking justice while encouraging other potential offenders to continue with their harassment.
It is very important that the State Prosecution and Kosovo Prosecutorial Council refrain themselves from proclaimed positions of the prosecutor Maqedonci in his public statement. Otherwise, this will be cosidered as a silent approval of such access to sexual harassment.
We remind the Chief State Prosecutor, Kosovo Prosecutorial Council and prosecutors in all Prosecutions in Kosovo that the treatment of sexual harassment and other forms of violence and sexual harassment against women and girls requires need serious treatment, objectivity and above all understanding of the relationship of power and discriminatory social norms on women and girls.
Therefore, let this case serve these institutions, including the Academy of Justice, to engage in capacity building of prosecutors and judges dealing with cases of violence and sexual harassment so that victims of these crimes receive dignified treatment and the perpetrators are penalized by merits.
Community Development Fund – CDF
Dajana Berisha, Activist
Ellen Frank-Lajqi, Activist
Environmentally Responsible Action (ERA) group
Forum for Civic Initiatives – FIQ
Kosovar Civil Society Foundation– KCSF
Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development- KIPRED
Prishtina Institute of Political Studies- PIPS
Youth Initiative for Human Rights – YIHR
Organization for Increasing Quality of Education- ORCA
The Program for Studies and Gender Research UP
Advocacy Training and Resource Centre –ATRC
Kosovar Gender Studies Centre – KGSC
Centre for Contemporary Art “Varg e Vi”
Art and Community Centre- – Artpolis
Centre for Social Group Development –CSGD
Balkan Investigative Reporting Network- BIRN
Kosovo Women’s Network- KWN
Network of Cultural Organizations
Syri i Vizionit