Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides for criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government did not implement the law effectively. Officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. A lack of effective judicial oversight and general weakness in the rule of law contributed to the problem. Corruption cases were routinely subject to repeated appeal, and the judicial system often allowed statutes of limitation to expire without trying cases.
Corruption: The Kosovo Anticorruption Agency (ACA) and the National Audits Office shared responsibility for combating government corruption. As of June, the SPRK had received 44 cases from the ACA. Convictions on corruption charges continued to represent a small proportion of those investigated and charged.
NGOs and international organizations identified numerous alleged failures by the judiciary system to prosecute corruption, noting that very few cases brought against senior officials resulted in indictments. Sentencing of high-level officials convicted of corruption was often lenient. NGOs reported that indictments often failed because prosecutors filed incorrect charges or made procedural errors.
On April 6, the SPRK filed an indictment in the so-called Pronto II Affair against former Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) caucus chief Adem Grabovci, PDK innovation minister Besim Beqaj, and nine other politicians on charges related to nepotistic hiring in public institutions. A trial began in November.
On August 13, Special Prosecutor Elez Blakaj, who was working on the “Pronto” case and a veteran’s pension fraud case, resigned citing political intimidation and anonymous death threats. Prior to the threats, Blakaj brought charges against high-level officials for their alleged role in fraudulently granting veteran status to approximately 20,000 unqualified beneficiaries. SPRK officials, President Thaci, and the mayor of Pristina condemned the threats. In September, police arrested Assembly member Shkumbin Demaliaj on suspicion of inciting violence against Blakaj, though no indictment was issued as of November. On September 14, the SPRK filed indictments against nearly a dozen officials in the veterans’ pension case.
On November 5, the Pristina Basic Court convicted Shukri Buja, the former mayor of Lipjan/Lipljane, and five other individuals of accepting kickbacks from contractors working for the municipality.
Financial Disclosure: The law obliges all senior public officials and their family members to declare their property and the origins of their property annually. Senior officials must also report changes in their property holdings when assuming or terminating their public service. The ACA administers the data, verifies disclosures, and publishes them on its website. Authorities may fine officials charged with minor breaches of the requirement or prohibit them from exercising public functions for up to one year. The ACA referred all charges against those who had not filed to prosecutors.