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Model Courts Program Supports the Transformation of Kosovo Justice System

On September 15, 2009, the USAID Kosovo Justice Support Program inaugurated the newly renovated Ferizaj Municipal Court—the first court to receive renovation financed by USAID’s Model Courts initiative. Since the 1999 conflict in Kosovo, USAID has worked to support the establishment of the rule of law and enable sustainable economic growth. The renovation of 10 courts is a 3 million dollar capital improvement investment paired with long-term technical assistance and training to build an effective, transparent, and accountable justice system in the country.

Through USAID’s Model Courts initiative, court leadership and staff have been trained in all aspects of court administration through the a Comprehensive Court Management Training Program, including structured course modules on administration, case management, and public communications. USAID has worked intensively with Ferizaj Municipal Court and other participating Model Courts to assemble local court improvement teams to develop court improvement plans and to implementá more effective operating procedures. The goal of the renovation is to increase public access to the court and foster transparency of proceedings, establish central case filing, and strengthen archival systems.

The inauguration of the Ferizaj courthouse featured remarks by U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, Michael Murphy, Kosovo Judicial Council President, Lirije Osmani, and Ferizaj Municipal Court President Judge, Rifat Abdullahu. USAID Mission Director, Patricia Rader, participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony held before an audience of several hundred spectators and representatives of the media.

Judge Rifat Abdullahu stated that “As we prepare to cut this ribbon and open the doors to this new building, we renew our commitment to live by that mission statement in the work that we do every day. This court is not a place of dark secrets but a welcoming and open place for people to resolve difficult personal or business issues.á We have done everything we can to make interaction with the court as easy and as pleasant as possible.”

In the near future, USAID will carry out similar renovations in Peja, Prizren, Skenderaj and Pristina. The three-year Justice Support Program is a implemented under contract with the National Center for State Courts.