Organisation of the judicial system

The Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo as the supreme law of the state, establishes the General Principles of the judicial system, determining that the judicial power in the Republic of Kosovo is exercised by the courts. The judicial power is unique, independent, fair, apolitical and impartial and ensures equal access to the courts, and shall adjudicate based on the Constitution and the law.

The organizational structure and competencies of the courts are regulated by the Law on Courts of the Republic of Kosovo.

Kosovo Judicial Council - The Kosovo Judicial Council ensures independence and impartiality of the judicial system. The Kosovo Judicial Council is a fully independent institution in the exercise of its functions. The Kosovo Judicial Council ensures that the courts in Kosovo are independent, professional, and impartial, and fully reflect the multi-ethnic nature of the Republic of Kosovo and follow the principles of gender equality. The Kosovo Judicial Council is composed of thirteen (13) members, all with professional qualifications and expertise. Members are elected for a term of five (5) years. The Council shall give preference in the appointment of judges, to members of communities that are underrepresented in the manner provided by law. The Kosovo Judicial Council is responsible for recruiting and proposing candidates for appointment and reappointment to judicial positions, conducting judicial inspections, judicial administration, developing court rules in accordance with the law, hiring and supervising court administrators, developing and overseeing the budget of the judiciary, determining the number of judges in each jurisdiction and making recommendations for the establishment of new courts.

The court system in the Republic of Kosovo includes seven Basic Courts and their Branch Courts, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

The Basic Court adjudicates all types of cases in the first instance, meaning it is the first court where you begin your legal proceedings. In order to enable more efficient processes, the cases are handled by specialized departments functioning in each Basic Court: the General Department which deals mostly with criminal, civil and minor offence cases; the Department for Minors which deals with cases involving juveniles; and the Department for Serious Crimes which handles criminal cases where the punishment is 10 years or more of imprisonment.

The Basic Court of Pristina has two additional departments: the Commercial Matters Department and the Administrative Matters Department. They hear cases within these competencies from all over the country.

The seven Basic Courts are located in: Prishtina/Priština, Mitrovicë/Mitrovica, Pejë/Peć, Gjilan/Gnjilane, Ferizaj/Uroševac, Gjakovë/Djakovica, and Prizren. In order to enable better access of citizens to the justice system, the Basic Courts have a total of 20 branches located in other municipalities. The chart shows the geographic locations of each Basic Court and their branches. You can also check the website of the.kgjk-ks.org, contact the main Basic Court in your administrative territory, or check with your lawyer to find the court closest to where you live.

The Court of Appeals operates as a second instance court, which means if you are not happy with the decision of any of the seven Basic Courts, you may file an appeal against that decision with the Court of Appeals. In addition, the Court of Appeals decides on conflicts of jurisdiction among the Basic Courts. The Court of Appeals is seated in Pristina and has territorial jurisdiction throughout the Republic of Kosovo.

The Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority in Kosovo and decides as a third instance court, which means it is the final court of appeals against verdicts and other decisions brought by lower courts in Kosovo. The Supreme Court decides in the third instance for the claims allowed by law, and on extraordinary legal remedies and other matters as foreseen by law.

The Supreme Court includes the Appeals Panel of the Kosovo Property Agency and the Special Chamber of the Supreme Court on Privatization Agency of Kosovo related matters. The Supreme Court is seated in Pristina and has territorial jurisdiction throughout the Republic of Kosovo.

State Prosecutor

State Prosecutor is an independent institution, having authority and being in charge of prosecution of persons charged for committing criminal offenses, or any other offense as stipulated by Law. State Prosecutor is an impartial institution and acts in accordance with the Constitution and Law. The organization, competencies and duties of the State Prosecutor are defined by Law. State Prosecutor reflects the multi-ethnic composition of the Republic of Kosovo, and respects the principles of gender equality. The initial mandate for a Prosecutor is a three-year mandate. When reappointed, the mandate then becomes permanent until the retirement age, as stipulated by Law, unless dismissed in accordance with Law.

The State Prosecutor in the Republic of Kosovo includes seven Basic Prosecutions, the Appellate Prosecution, and the Special Prosecution Office of the Republic of Kosovo.

The Office of Chief State Prosecutor is the highest instance of State Prosecutor, having the authority over the entire territory of the Republic of Kosovo. Appellate Prosecution is the second instance having the authority over the entire territory of the Republic of Kosovo, which is composed of General Department and Serious Crimes Prosecution Department;
Special Prosecution of the Republic of Kosovo, being the specialized prosecutorial body, has the authority over the entire authority of the Republic of Kosovo;
Basic Prosecution Offices are comprised of the General Department, Department for Minors, and the Serious Crimes Prosecution Department.

International judicial cooperation in criminal matters

International judicial cooperation is governed by international agreements and national law, namely the Law on International Legal Cooperation in Criminal Matters. International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters includes every kind of assistance requested by foreign states or by Kosovo with the intention to support investigative and judicial procedures. Different forms of assistance include extradition, transfer of criminal proceedings, execution of sentences, and all other investigative measures that can be subject to mutual assistance among states.
Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kosovo, namely the Department for International Legal Cooperation acts as the Central Authority for the territory of the Republic of Kosovo on the representation of judicial and prosecutorial authorities in relation to the foreign countries, also reviews and processes all kinds of requests for international legal assistance in accordance with the applicable law and procedures; provides legal opinions to local and foreign authorities regarding the applicable law in Kosovo within the field of international legal cooperation in civil and criminal matters.

When processing requests for mutual legal cooperation for instance, extradition, transfer of proceedings or transfer of sentenced persons, a close cooperation comes into place between the authorities and institutions, such as courts, prosecutors offices, police, and Ministry of Justice.

In cases of extradition from the Republic of Kosovo to another state, the foreign state, in order to initiate the procedure, files a formal request for extradition to the Ministry of Justice. The MoJ then shall establish whether the request meets the criteria for the extradition. If the conditions are not met, MoJ informs the Requesting State and offers the possibility to amend the request. If the request is sufficient, MoJ forwards the request to the competent Basic Prosecution Office. The Basic Prosecution Office takes the necessary measures in identifying the wanted person and his/her whereabouts, as foreseen in the Law on International Legal Cooperation in Criminal Matters and the Criminal Procedure Code. When the wanted person is located, the prosecutor submits the request to the competent Basic Court. Prior to the receipt of a request for extradition, a person sought may be arrested and detained (Provisional arrest pending receipt of a request for extradition) for a period of a maximum of forty (40) days, if the Requesting State submits to the Ministry a request for provisional arrest, which shall indicate that the documents exist and that a request for extradition will be submitted in due time. The request for provisional arrest may be sent electronically.

The permissibility of a request for extradition shall be reviewed by a panel of three judges of the competent Basic Court. The court shall ask the person whether he or she consents to the extradition and shall inform him or her of the legal consequences of a simplified extradition procedure. If the person agrees, simplified extradition procedure takes place.
If the panel of three judges of the competent Basic Court finds that the legal requirements for extradition are met, it shall issue a decision on the permissibility of the extradition. Once the court decision on extradition becomes final, the competent Basic Court shall submit it and any other related decision rendered by the courts, to the Ministry. If the court has decided in favour of the extradition, the Minister may either grant or refuse the extradition. If the court has decided that the extradition was not permissible, the Minister shall issue a decision refusing the extradition.

Transfer of Criminal Proceedings

The foreign state may send a request for the transfer of criminal proceedings to the Ministry of Justice, and then the Ministry forwards such request to the competent Prosecution Office which then decides on the request. The decision on taking over the prosecution may be revised by the competent Prosecution Office under certain special circumstances. If the competent Prosecution Office decides to take over the transfer, the investigation and prosecution are carried out according to the national law.

Transfer of criminal proceedings may be taken over by the Republic of Kosovo only if the offence subject to the request for transfer is considered a criminal offence in the Republic of Kosovo; if the suspected person is a permanent resident of the Republic of Kosovo; if the person is a citizen of the Republic of Kosovo, or the Republic of Kosovo is the state of his or her origin; if the person is serving or shall serve a punishment which includes deprivation of liberty in the Republic of Kosovo; if proceedings for the same or other offences are being conducted against the person in the Republic of Kosovo; if it is considered that the transfer of proceedings is warranted in the interest of shedding light on the case in question and in particular if the most important items of evidence are located in the Republic of Kosovo; if it is considered that the sentence enforcement in the Republic of Kosovo is likely to improve the prospects for the social rehabilitation of the person.

The Ministry shall also notify the Requesting State of any final judgment rendered as a result of the transfer of criminal proceedings. The Requesting State shall be provided with a certified copy of any such judgment.

Execution of foreign judgments in Kosovo

Only final judgments of foreign courts that have been issued against Kosovo citizens or permanent residents of Kosovo shall be enforced in Kosovo.

The procedure for recognition and enforcement may only be initiated on the basis of a written request received by the Ministry. The request shall be accompanied by the original or certified copy of the judgment to be enforced and by any other relevant documents.
After reviewing the formal requirements of the request, the Ministry shall transmit it, together with the supporting documents received, to the competent court. The Basic Court, in the territory where the sentenced person resides or is located, shall be competent to decide on the request for recognition and enforcement. If the residence or location of the person cannot be determined, the Basic Court of Prishtina shall be competent.

The rules and conditions for the execution of a foreign judgment in Kosovo can be found in articles 71-76 of the Law on International Legal Cooperation in Criminal Matters.

The court in a panel composed of three judges shall render a judgment regarding the recognition of the foreign judgment and the enforcement of the sentence imposed.

If the judgment is recognized, it shall be enforced according to the national law by the competent national authority as a sentence that has been imposed by a national court.

Transfer of Sentenced Persons
Transfer of Sentenced Persons from a foreign state to the Republic of Kosovo

A Kosovo citizen that has been sentenced to a prison sentence by a court in a foreign state may request to serve that sentence in Kosovo.
The Ministry may grant the transfer of a person sentenced by another state to a correctional institution in the Republic of Kosovo in order to serve his or her sentence or the remaining sentence, provided that the criminal offence for which the person was sentenced in the Sentencing State is a criminal offence under national law. Transfer may be granted upon receipt of a written request submitted to the Ministry by the Sentencing State, by the sentenced person, or by someone authorized on his or her behalf if the Sentencing State consents to the transfer.

The Basic Court of Pristina has exclusive competence regarding to the court proceedings.

Useful national links

Links to relevant institutions:

Country report 2016: (SWD(2016) 363 final)
MLA report: MLA report Kosovo

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