Speech of the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga, at the fourth meeting of the National Council on the Survivors of the Sexual Violence during the War

I would like to welcome you to the fourth meeting of the National Council on the Survivors of the Sexual Violence during the War, at which the main discussion subject will be the discussion of the draft regulation on recognition and verification of the status of the survivors of sexual violence including the application form.

Honourable Minister Abrashi,
Honourable Minister Rrahmani
Honourable Deputy Minister Celaj
Honourable Ambassadors,
Honourable representatives of the judiciary,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Honourable representatives of the civil society,

I would like to welcome you to the fourth meeting of the National Council on the Survivors of the Sexual Violence during the War, at which the main discussion subject will be the discussion of the draft regulation on recognition and verification of the status of the survivors of sexual violence including the application form.
As you know, on the 20th of March last year, Parliament of Kosovo promulgated the draft law through which it recognized the status of the victims of sexual violence during the war, a step which brought us in front of an obligation, obligation to build a reputable process, accountable as per highest international standards, which would enable the full implementation of this law.

It was a recommendation of members of this Council that all bylaws foreseen by this law should be compiled by a work group which would have a wide institutional representation, and would include the experience of the women’s organizations which have offered their services to survivors since the end of the war, and in consultation with best regional practices and beyond, in order to offer a dignified process to the survivors.

Action was undertaken in accordance with this recommendation, and at the very first steps, the working group for drafting and finalization of necessary bylaws, led by the Legal Office of the Prime Minister’s Office in close cooperation with my Office, and found support in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Unwomen, Embassies of the United Kingdom and of the United States, Kosovo Centre for Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, Unwomen Kosovo, local NGO’s, institutions of the country and local and international experts. This working group also took into consideration the International Protocol which arose from the Global Summit for Prevention of Sexual Violence during Conflict as well as other UN documents.

Today after a year’s work of this working group, we are making an important step in the process of guaranteeing of the legal recognition of survivors, finalization of required bylaws, of the draft regulation on determination of procedures for recognition and verification of the status of survivors of sexual violence and application form.

I would like to congratulate the working group on dedication to this important process by building of a close cooperation between institutions of the country and nongovernmental organizations. Thank you for your work.

I am convinced and also expect from the Government of the country to reach the necessary decisions which would pave the way for establishment of the Governmental Committee for the verification and recognition of the status of survivors of sexual violence during the war, as foreseen by the law, and to in conformity with the bylaws commence with the verification process and provision of benefits of the survivors, and thus fulfill
the institutional obligation we have towards them.

We must continue to remain dedicated and vigilant, so that the process of the recognition of the status of survivors of sexual violence during the war remains a dignified process, which is centered towards the wellbeing of  all survivors at every step.

Honourable participants,

Few weeks ago Kosovo was all over the world media with the images of the artistic installation “ I think of you” of Alketa Xhafa Mripa, the images of over 5000 dresses hanging in line at the Prishtina Stadium, which spoke about the heinous crime committed over the  innocent population of Kosovo.
While we were marking a holy day of our country, the liberation day, dresses from all corners of the country, from all around the world, from New York, United Kingdom, gifted by Baroness Anelay, By Cherie Blair, by Rita Ora, which  honoured the strength of the women of Kosovo, manifested a grave injustice, and asked from us to fulfill a civic, institutional and international obligation, to say no to this crime, to say no to stigmatization of the survivors and to act in unwavering devotion to finding of justice for them.

This traversing left us much more aware of the responsibilities which everyone of us has. I am convinced that it has made us even more dedicated to the guaranteeing of their full rehabilitation and more aware of the need to continue the open social discussion on this wound of war, and  thus changing the attitude we have towards the survivors, and fighting of the stigma which surrounds them.

Each and every day we become more aware that the rehabilitation of the survivors requires an all encompassing institutional and social engagement, led by their needs and obligations we have for the realization of their needs.

Honourable participants,

At the last Council meeting, access to justice was raised as a very important issue. As you know, I asked for immediate undertaking of necessary steps for drafting of an action plan for the guaranteeing of access to justice of the survivors of sexual violence.

Under the leadership of the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr.Lirak Çelaj, a working group consisting of representatives of this ministry, of my Office, of the Prosecutorial and Judicial Councils. Of EULEX, has already been established, and invitations to participate have also been extended to the nongovernmental and international women’s organizations, in order to draft an action plan, upon which I am confident that we shall lay the foundations of justice for the survivors. Thank you Deputy Minister for the first steps you have taken in this direction, and I hope that during today’s meeting, you will use the opportunity to present a concrete report about the concrete measures undertaken to date.

Access to justice is a fundamental and Constitutional right of every citizen of the country, so therefore it is necessary that these cases are handled with priority by the institutions of the country by building of necessary mechanisms and specialized capacities required for a dignified treatment of these cases.

At this difficult process of rehabilitation of survivors of sexual violence during the war, I would like to express my gratitude for engagement and dedication of the institutions of the country, of the women’s NGO’s which were the voice of the survivors at all times, of international organizations and diplomatic missions for their endeavors, in order for us in Kosovo to proudly say that we have started to change the social, public and political discourse through which we address the survivors of sexual violence during the war.

With our work we have started to change the life stories of the survivors, and to bring back hope to them, and I would like to say that we still have a lot to do together.

Because of all this, now more than ever, we must continue to engage in fulfillment of the remaining of this journey, in fast commencement of the process of verification of the status of the survivors of sexual violence during the war and benefits foreseen by the law, strengthening of the access to justice, access to healthcare, and to continue with the endeavors for economic empowerment and fighting of stigmatization, social awareness raising, and by saying in unison that in this journey there is no US and THEM, we are US and we are ONE.

Thank you.