On 10 and 11 December, under the organization of the Office of the International Coordinator against Domestic Violence, Naim Qelaj, took place the regional Conference on “Access to Justice of Victims of Domestic Violence and Gender-Based Violence”, which was attended by more than 300 participants from Kosovo as well as representatives from the countries in the region such as Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and guests from the United Kingdom and the United States.
The conference aimed to address access to justice of victims of domestic violence and gender-based violence, by focusing on prevention, protection and rehabilitation and reintegration.
The conference was opened by the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Mr. Ramush Haradinaj, whilst it was greeted also by Abelard Tahiri, Minister of Justice; Naim Qelaj, National Coordinator for Protection from Domestic Violence and Gender-Based Violence/Deputy Minister of Justice; Mexhide Mjaku-Topalli, Chairwoman of the Women’s Deputies in the Assembly of Kosovo; Nataliya Apostolova, Head of EU Office/ EU Special Representative in Kosovo; Alia El Yassir, Regional Director for the UN Women’s Office for Europe and Central Asia; Ulrika Richardson, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative; Jan Braathu, Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo; Alexandra Papadopoulou, Head of EULEX in Kosovo; Piero Cristoforo Sardi, Ambassador, Italian Embassy in Kosovo; Colleen E. Hyland, Deputy Ambassador, US Embassy in Kosovo; and Ariana Qosaj-Mustafa, Chairwoman of the Kosovo Women’s Network Board.
During the conference, 12 panels were held which addressed different topics. In the panel “Strengthening professional capacities and improving access to justice for victims increases the trust in institutions”, also Adelina Berisha of the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) was a panel member, who spoke about the work that KWN does to address the violence in families and gender-based violence. She also called upon the justice system in particular to raise the capacities so that gender-based violence cases receive appropriate and prioritized treatment and the punishments for the perpetrators of the violence become more severe.
During the second day of the conference, there was held a workshop with working groups with the purpose of drafting recommendations to improve prevention, protection and rehabilitation and reintegration programs for the victims of domestic violence and gender-based violence.
A joint call that resulted from all participants of this conference was that more has to be invested to financially support the shelters for the victims of gender-based violence, given that also this year the government did not include increase of funds to support the services provided by the shelters in their entirety.
Photograph: UN Women Kosovo