EULEX in partnership with UN Women facilitated the first of a series of working group meetings with Kosovo Police, Chief State Prosecutors Office, Institute of Forensic Medicine and Kosovo Forensic Agency to assess the institutions joint capacities in the acquisition and use of forensic evidence when investigating Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) allegations.
Held last Friday, the working group met to discuss how the institutions could work in a more collaborative way to increase interoperability when investigating SGBV and Domestic Violence (DV) cases, enhancing forensic evidence capture in a way the supports the victim and promotes a victim centred investigative approach.
Senior representatives from each institution discussed all aspects of forensic evidence and its value; from identify the opportunities to secure the evidence through to the delivery of such evidence in court proceedings. All participants agreed that it is imperative that the focus within these types of investigations should be the victim.
EULEX has monitored both SGBV and DV cases dealt with by the criminal justice processes of Kosovo over the last five years and found whilst individual institutions had the required capacities and capabilities; opportunities for more effective partnership working could be observed. The aim of the working group was to utilise the opportunities of more effective partnership working to , gain a better understanding of each institutions capacities, requirements and working practices with a view to creating an agreed multiagency service level agreed.
Ms. Sevdije Morina, Deputy Chief State Prosecutor who chaired the meeting noted that “this is a first step towards tighter inter-institutional cooperation which will improve the ability of authorities to collect all possible evidence in highly sensitive cases, with the upmost respect to the victim”.
This first working group meeting resulted in positive dialogue and a commitment from all institutions to improve the value use of forensic evidence, promote joint practices that would result in the effective use of forensic evidence in court proceedings. This increased focus on forensic evidence supports the victim and generates increased confidence in the criminal justice process within Kosovo.
EULEX representative, Mark Dixon said, “EULEX is very pleased to support the relevant Kosovo institutions in assessing how these institutions can enhance their existing joint capacities in securing forensic evidence in Sexual and Gender Based Violence investigations. Victims of such offences face many challenges within the criminal justice process, and any enhanced capacity that supports and corroborates the victims account and assists in establishing the facts of an investigation are welcomed.”