10 December 2020
December 10 marks the Human Rights Day. With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, this year we recognize more than ever the importance of human rights standards and principles as a fundamental guide to navigate these difficult times. This insidious pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for rule of law institutions around the world and in Kosovo. As the authorities seek to protect the fundamental rights to life and to health, they have to strike a balance between the measures taken to deal with the pandemic and its consequences, and their impact on other human rights and the rule of law. The authorities also need to ensure that no one is left behind, so that the pandemic does not end up aggravating existing inequalities and discrimination. The rights to a fair trial, to access to justice and to an effective remedy are essential to maintain trust in the institutions and should be ensured at all times.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Kosovo, the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) continued to fully implement its mandate by adapting its work and activities to the changing circumstances in full compliance with the COVID-19 preventive measures. In early 2021, EULEX will publish its findings and recommendations on Kosovo’s rule of law institutions’ COVID-19 response.
Today is also an opportunity to stress a key human rights principle: accountability. As a mission with certain limited executive functions, ensuring accountability is fundamental for EULEX. To provide for external human rights accountability, the EU established the Human Rights Review Panel (HRRP), which reviews complaints from any person claiming that EULEX violated their human rights in the conduct of its executive mandate. The HRRP is independent in the exercise of its functions and performs its functions with impartiality and integrity. In its decisions, the HRRP applies international human rights law.