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Finding Kosovo again – meet Njomza Miftari

29 July 2015

Njomza Miftari likes challenges. That is why working as the office manager of the president of EULEX judges fits her like a glove.

Working in a multicultural environment such as EULEX comes naturally to Kosovo born Njomza Miftari. When Njomza was eight years old she moved to Toronto, Canada, one of the most diverse cities in the world. Growing up in multicultural Toronto taught her to see past cultural and ethnic differences and contributed a great deal to her worldview. Yet it was her Kosovar heritage that would eventually dictate her future path to EULEX. 

After graduating from the Loyalist College in Belleville Ontario, Njomza started working as a customs release analyst in the private sector. However, that was not enough for Njomza who had a strong desire to make a difference. Around this time, the idea of learning more about her birthplace started to mature and so she applied, and got accepted, to study public policy and international relations in the Rochester Institute of Technology affiliated American University of Kosovo. “I came to Kosovo in 2010 for many reasons, I wanted to re-explore my culture and of course my birthplace. There is an Albanian proverb “Çdo njeri ndërton fatin e vet” which means that everyone builds their own destiny. I wanted my destiny to contain the rich culture and hospitality that Kosovo offers.”  

Taking an active role in rebuilding her newborn homeland was also a driving motive in Njomza’s return. “My goal was to have a better understanding of Kosovo and the region, especially during this important time of Kosovo’s post-independence era. While working here it is important for me to contribute to Kosovo’s development even if it means in a small way.” As she sees it, Kosovo has progressed a lot since her childhood but there still remains a lot to do. “As a child I have a faint memory of the concrete situation in Kosovo. However, people suffered tremendously during that time – they were not able to exercise their basic human rights. Now people have the freedom but still there is a need for greater and effective enforcement of rule and law and their rights in practice.”

After graduating and completing a brief internship at the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED) Njomza started to work for EULEX. Her first task as a court recorder was hectic but it was also very valuable as it gave her a good overview of legal work and the local legal system. Her duties as a court recorder prepared Njomza to advance to her current position as office manager of the president of EULEX Judges. In her present work Njomza makes sure that the office runs properly and her duties are abundant. Managing the office contains a lot of responsibility and is occasionally very challenging. Yet, challenges are something that Njomza is actively seeking. “My experience with this mission has been very dynamic. The mission environment is completely different from the private sector but this is an advantage because I am always being challenged and placed out of my comfort zone. At the same time I am learning and growing. For me, it is fascinating to witness experts working together from such different backgrounds with the aim to give contribution to justice in Kosovo. It is a win-win situation as they exchange experiences and also learn from each other in many different ways.”

Concerning the future of the legal system of Kosovo, Njomza remains optimistic. “There is substantial progress in the rule of law, however, there are also many challenges that the Kosovo justice system faces. In regards to progress, over the past 16 years institutions have been created which were previously non-existent. In other words the system had to begin from scratch. Progress can be seen from different aspects, starting from the legal infrastructure such as the adoption of laws in compliance with the human rights standards, capacity building and working conditions.”

Njomza places a lot of hope in the Kosovo’s youth in developing the legal system. She gets to work with them often, particularly when she organizes mock trials for law students. EULEX judges run these trials which provide essential practical training for the students of law whose education is quite theoretical in nature. Njomza enjoys these occasions as it is very rewarding to see the students from all over Kosovo strive for the same goal of improving the legal system in Kosovo. “There still remains tremendous space for further improvement towards sustainable and accountable judiciary which serves in the best interest of the people. Kosovo has a large number of young people which enables an easier adaptation to practices and globalization.”

One specific aspect of Kosovo that Njomza has especially learned to love is its nature. Njomza is an avid hiker and trekking around the countryside is something she often enjoys doing in her free time. Her favourite place is the Mirusha Waterfalls which is a great place to hike and swim in the waterfall. The hikes give Njomza a well-earned respite from her hectic work life and also a chance to get in touch with authentic forms of local culture. The people in the countryside always welcome Njomza with open arms and surprise her with their hospitability. Njomza is evidently a people person. When asked of where she feels most at home, she replies that it is where her family is, which currently is more than one place. 

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