KWN Comments on Draft Laws Related to Human Rights

Three existing draft laws on human rights are currently being reviewed: The Draft Law on Gender Equality, the Draft Law on Protection against Discrimination, and the Draft Law on the Ombudsperson. Together, these three laws will comprise a single “Legal Package on Human Rights”, which will be a cornerstone of human rights legislation in the Republic of Kosovo.
    Following on prior consultations in Nov., KWN has carefully reviewed these draft laws and submitted detailed written comments on them to the Legal Office in the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo on 23 Feb.
     Some of the key comments on the Draft Law on Gender Equality included to insert the appropriate definitions of “man” and “woman”, better differentiating between “gender” and “sex”, which were frequently used interchangeably in the initial draft. KWN commented that it must be clear that “gender” refers to the social roles and responsibilities given to women and men by the society, whereas “sex” refers to biological differences (e.g., male, female). This is important to clarify in the law, since gender is assigned by society whereas sex is biological. Gender norms can change, whereas, sex change requires a medical intervention. KWN added that the definition of these terms is particularly important relating to gender identity and the protection of persons with different gender identities. In this regard, KWN also recommended inserting definitions for “transgender” and “transsexual” persons, as well as ensuring their protection in later articles.
    Moreover, KWN proposed text towards clarifying the definition of “Gender Responsive Budgeting” (GRB). The article on GRB encourages ministries and municipalities to collect gender disaggregated data, apply gender analysis in all steps of the budgetary process (analysis, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation), and to include GRB in their budget documents.
Another important suggestion made by KWN was directed towards clarifying the role of the Agency for Gender Equality and increasing its role and responsibility in reviewing all laws, policies and programs from a gender perspective. KWN suggested that the law to have more “teeth” by increasing the fines, clarifying the procedures for reporting and seeking justice for rights violations and offering compensation to persons whose rights were violated. This would provide an insentive for persons whose rights have been violated to report violations, which has not existed to date. Without such an insentive, the law runs the risk of remaining merely declarative and not being implemented, which has been a problem to date with the current law. 
    KWN comments provided on the Draft Law on Protection against Discrimination include aligning some of its definitions, such as that for Harassment, to the Law on Gender Equality, and simplifying the language throughout the law so as to make it clearer for the general public. 
  An example of this is the fact that in the current draft law, “Affirmative Action” was very vaguely defined and thus could even be misinterpreted as an excuse for discrimination in certain cases. KWN proposed to clarify this definition as so it cannot be misused. Moreover, KWN proposed to increase fines so that the law can be properly implemented. As it stands, fines may not be high enough to encourage persons report discrimination. 
  Lastly, comments provided on the Draft Law on the Ombudsperson were primarily related tolanguage, as the Ombudsperson was frequently referred to as “him”, “he”, or “Ombudsman”. KWN suggested to insert a gender perspective.
    KWN hopes that our comments will be considered in finalizing the Legal Package on Human Rights.