Joint statement of the Kosovo’s Ombudsman, UNICEF and KOMF (Coalition of NGOs for Child Protection in Kosovo) – Call for action “Let’s give Juveniles a Chance”

Kosovo’s Ombudsman, UNICEF and KOMF (Coalition of NGOs for Child Protection in Kosovo) through a joint statement for protection of minors in pandemic situation, addressed the President of Republic of Kosovo Hashim Thaqi, President of Assembly Vjosa Osmani, Chairperson of Committee on Legislation Driton Selmanaj, Chairman of Kosovo Judicial Council Skender Çoçaj, Chairman of the Prosecutorial Council Bahri Hyseni and Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu.

Driven by our core mandates for protection of Children’s Rights, we, Ombudsperson Institution of Kosovo, UNICEF office in Kosovo, Coalition of NGOs for Child  Protection (with its 31 member organizations), consider that it is of vital importance to protect the health and lives of these juveniles, and therefore we once again call upon the Judicial Authorities and the Ministry of Justice, to reconsider the following legal possibilities, such as: the early release, substitution of the educational measure with an alternative one, conditional release or pardon.

Based on the juveniles’ rights and the principle of the ‘Best Interest’, and moreover by considering the emergency situation caused by COVID-19, this interest and these rights, should be implemented like never before, not by treating them as a category in need, but by helping them and institutions in order to protect their main interests, which are health and lives of juveniles.

In this aspect and due to this situation, we have taken on board many initiatives and global calls for the protection of children and juveniles during the pandemic, and especially those that call upon the authorities to undertake steps according to the situation for the juveniles that are in detention or serving any of the measures or punishments imposed based on the national legislation, to consider the following actions, and undertake steps regarding the situation with COVID-19, which include:

  1. Establish a moratorium for not sending juveniles to the detention centers;
  2. Release all juveniles that are currently in detention or under any measure or punishment, who can safely be released;
  3. Provide alternatives to institutional measures and placing juveniles under family care or guardianship; and,
  4. Protection of health, welfare and provide rehabilitation of every juvenile who has to continue serving his/her sentence.

These legal possibilities are envisaged in the following legal framework:

  1. Juvenile Justice Code No. 06/L-006, 2018, in Articles 92, 93 and 36;
  2. Law on the Execution of Penal Sanctions, Article 127, now amended with Article 19 of the Law No. 05/L-129;
  3. The Law on Pardon, Article 3.

To read the entire statement, click here.