President Jahjaga’s speech at the meeting of the National Council on the Survivors of Sexual Violence during the War

I would like to welcome you at the third meeting of the National Council on Survivors of Sexual Violence during the War, a meeting which also marks the anniversary of the establishment of the Council.

Honourable participants,
I would like to welcome you at the third meeting of the National Council on Survivors of Sexual Violence during the War, a meeting which also marks the anniversary of the establishment of the Council.

A year ago, with a special decree, I established this particular inter-institutional and social coordinative mechanism, unprecedented till then, based on the imminent need which we had as a society to address the victims of sexual violence during the war.

15 years had passed since the end of the war, and the subject relating to this category of civilian victims of war, continued to remain a taboo, where the guilt of this grave injustice continued to weigh heavy upon the victims.

It was the voices of women’s associations which from the very first moment tried to break the silence which reigned over this consequence of war, helped by other seekers of justice, who dared to speak openly about this. But even 15 years after the war, debates being held within our society reflected the deep stigma, going as far as denying this harsh war truth.

It was the time to, as institutions and as a society, we recognize this crime in unison, and to jointly deal with the harsh consequences this crime left behind, not only for the victims, but for all of us.

From the very first steps, you the institutions of the country, nongovernmental organizations and you, the citizens of our country, expressed the dedication and determination to support this joint initiative lead by the mission which aims to bring peace to equal citizens of the country, victims of one of the most macabre crimes of the war.

I can say with full conviction that since last year, together we have achieved to open a new chapter, which has only one direction, that of guaranteeing and offering of rights to the victims of sexual violence during the war, as its civilian victims.

Together we have managed to make the issue of rehabilitation, reintegration and re-socialization a subject that is more and more represented into central and local policies, a subject about which, we as a society, have already started to speak about openly,

Dealing with this consequence of war is not east, but it is not impossible either; with the necessary resolve, with the support and readiness, we shall achieve to offer the opportunity for a better and safer future to the victims and their family members, and we have already begun to do so.

On March 20th of last year, the promulgation of the draft law in the Parliament marked an important step in recognition of the legal status of the victims of sexual violence as civilian war victims. A step which tasked us to undertake all the necessary measures in drafting of all required legal procedures in order to offer the survivors of sexual violence during the war all the prescribed benefits.

The working group, established last year upon the request from my Office, continues to work on drafting of necessary administrative and application guidelines, which will open the way to the establishment of the Governmental Commission  for the verification and recognition of the status of victims of sexual violence during the war as foreseen by law. A process which has the backing of local and international experts, lead at each moment by the principle of offering of a dignified application process in conformity with the best international practices, adapted to the specifics of our society.

I am convinced that while we approach the final preparatory stages, which aim that the 5 year limit as prescribed by law, serves in its entirety for application process, the government continues to undertake all necessary measures including the budgetary implications in order to enable full implementation of the law and the initiation of the process of verification and recognition of the status of victims of sexual violence during the war.

Honourable participants,
When we commenced this journey, we clearly knew that rehabilitations means more than legal recognition, it also means psycho-social help, access to medical services, access to justice, economic empowerment and fighting of the stigma.

At the second meeting of this council, we established the working groups as coordinative structures in addressing of all these issues, which in accordance with the competencies of institutions and organizations involved, undertook concrete steps towards improvement of life and offering of services required by the survivors of sexual violence during the war.

These working groups were led by the aim to strengthen existing mechanisms, to raise the social awareness, to identify and coordinate activities which support psycho social rehabilitation and economic empowerment, as well as determine the policies for the implementation of legislative agenda in support of the survivors

On our journey, we also joined important international initiatives which lead the mission for prevention of this form of torture in conflicts. We joined the initiative initiated by the former United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Mr. William Hague, and the UN special envoy Ms. Angelina Jollie, to which we offered our contribution in drafting of the International Protocol; and we also gained their support, in which we continue to count.

This initiative organized the largest World Summit ever last June, which reaffirmed the great truth once and for all, that sexual violence is a tool of war which affects societies in conflict worldwide.

It is our aim to prevent this tool of war by not allowing us that guilt for this crime does not lie with its victims. We are and we shall remain determined to bringing justice to the victims and will remain dedicated to not allow these crimes to remain unpunished and that real perpetrators face the justice.

During the many meetings I have had abroad, I have raised the issue of this consequence of war, by asking for international recognition of the crime committed to the innocent citizens of Kosovo, for which I have received the backing of our friends.

One of them is the Sungjoo foundation, which dedicated a separate fund for the economic empowerment of women, civilian victims of war. With the support of this fund, we jointly managed to create cooperation alliances and support of NGO’s, international and local ones, in initiation of projects related to economic empowerment of civilian war victims, by integrating them in existing programs which enabled the process of their reintegration and re socialization, and which moreover, opened the doors towards economic wellbeing of the whole family.

Similar projects which aim economic empowerment of survivors of sexual violence during the war will continue to support the process of psycho-social rehabilitation, as the only sustainable way to guarantee the offering of opportunities for a better life as a part of this society.

Therefore, I appeal to all local and central level institutions, to offer their support, to see the opportunities for their integration in different programs and to show special care for this sensitive category of our society.

Offering of the access to medical services is another necessary priority in addressing of the rehabilitation of victims of sexual violence during the war. A number of them are no longer among us due to the violence exercised upon them. A large part is still continuing to suffer health problems as consequence of this crime.

As part of continuous consultations and recognition of this need Ministry of Health decided to establish a working group for the purpose of undertaking of necessary steps including the legislative ones, in offering of a more efficient and qualitative access to services to the survivors of sexual violence during the war. I expect form this Ministry to continue the support for the intensification of the work of this group and for the dedication to undertake concrete measures in fulfillment of obligations and institutional responsibilities for the improvement of lives of these citizens of our country.

Honourable participants,
Consequences of this crime will continue to exist in our society for many years to come, but we must ensure that wounds of this war consequence are not transmitted to younger generations, we must prevent this war consequence from touching the future of our society, of our children.

We have done lots of work in awareness raising on this crime, with organization of events, local and international initiatives; we have also received the support of the artistic community, who have offered their work in favor of this aim, as has done the crew of the “ Thee windows and a hanging” movie. We will also continue to do this in the future.

As we are fully aware that breaking of the stigma is crucial to the guaranteeing of application for legal recognition, is crucial to rehabilitation, reintegration and re-socialization, crucial to economic development, and is also crucial to the conclusion of the peace building process in our country.

Honourable participants,
Inter-sector and social coordination created during this year has proved that together we can do more; together we can improve the lives of our citizens and change their realities. My office has received requests supported by a number of institutions, local and international organizations and requests articulated directly by the survivors themselves, for the continuation of this mechanism. And I would like to share with you the news that I have taken the decision to extend the mandate of the Council.

I would like to thank all the actors who have supported this process during the year, not only this year but during the four years I have been in this office. From the very first day I have closely worked with the nongovernmental organizations and continued with institutional work. I would like to thank the Embassy of the United Kingdom and the US Embassy, international organizations such as UNWOMEN and OHCHR, and Consul Ms. Vlora Çitaku. I expect from all of you to continue with your devotion to offering to all the citizens equal access and equal treatment.

In this discussion I have often said that there is no us and them, we are them and we are one.

From this position I address all these friends, all those ladies, their families and their friends, all the institutions of the country and state that we must continue with our support and help, not just personal and human, which is an obligation of every one of us, but also institutional support, until this no longer remains a taboo issue, and that this part of the society is no longer stigmatized by the society.

Thank you.

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