First, I would like to congratulate the Forum and the help which the US Embassy has provided to the drafting of the manual for judges and prosecutors in handling of cases of Domestic Violence.
Domestic violence is a phenomenon which occurs quite a lot all over the world, and unfortunately, touches upon all social groups, irrespective of culture, religion, age, living standard or level of education.
This disturbing phenomenon is also present in our society, which is going through the challenging stage of building of the state of law and democratic institutions.
Despite the many challenges and priorities, institutions of the Republic of Kosovo have shown exceptional attention to this phenomenon.
Through the mechanisms built in cooperation with civil society and international partners, institutions of the Republic of Kosovo have focused their activities on three main pillars: prevention, protection and rehabilitation and reintegration of the individuals affected by domestic violence.
In our midst, family has an important role, it is the main pillar of the society, the place where love commences, where responsible citizens are made and where the future leaders of a country are borne and emancipated.
But the engagement of the families and of schools and educational institutions alone are not sufficient in successful realization of the protection, rehabilitation and reintegration; this also requires a more concrete and proactive engagement of the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo and other important partners which have provided exceptional contribution to the drafting of the legislation and strategy on domestic violence.
Domestic violence in the Republic of Kosovo, unfortunately, still remains a frequently occurring issue, and in the reports issued by international organisations on progress in Kosovo, domestic violence is still classified as a deficiency which continues to challenge democracy and human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the country and by the laws in force.
Domestic violence, expressed in physical or psychological formats, violates the corporal and spiritual integrity of the victims and remains one of the gravest violations of human rights.
When we speak of domestic violence, the emphasis usually falls upon the abuses of different shapes of women and children, as the most sensitive categories, but men are no exception either, as domestic violence in Kosovo occurs as a consequence of not so good socio-economic situation of women, children and elderly, whose survival depends on other members of the family.
Republic of Kosovo has drafted action strategies to fight domestic violence, and since July 2013, institutions of Kosovo have approved standard operating procedures for the prevention of domestic violence, procedures put in place by the Gender Equality agency, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Police, State Prosecution, Judicial Council, Victim defenders and representatives of many shelters.
The assessment undertaken as a result of the National Strategy against Domestic Violence undertaken by the US Embassy and UNWOMEN has identified that majority of the cases of domestic violence are ignored by the criminal courts and are heard by civil courts as contentious issues between private individuals. This manual addresses the best practices for the justice system in order for them to proceed in this cases in most effective manner, by both criminal and civil courts.
The right to a dignified and violence free life is guaranteed by the Constitution of Kosovo and respective laws, and based upon these guarantees, institutions of Kosovo have undertaken a number of activities which have expressed our determination to become a model in prevention and handling of domestic violence through application of best international practices.
Such a measure is the publication of this manual as well, which was drafted as a response to a real need for the improvement of the handling of cases of domestic violence.
This manual will no doubt help all professionals, especially judges and prosecutors, to asses and better understand cases of domestic violence, to offer equal access to all victims and will also affect the efficiency of the judicial practice.
On this occasion, I would like to express my appreciation for the inscessant work and exceptional contribution to all judges and prosecutors of Kosovo, US Justice Department, civil society, and to all partners who enabled the drafting of this manual, and who have continuously supported the institutions of Kosovo in fighting of the domestic violence phenomenon.
Domestic violence continues to be one of the most widespread forms of violence, which mostly affects women, children and elderly in Kosovo. For this reason, we as a society must clearly state that violence against women, children or elderly, domestic violence of any shape or form, will never be acceptable and none of us will tolerate it, in any form or in any situation.