Position Statement on Political Interference in Justice Institutions

Prishtina, March 22, 2024 – The American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo hereby expresses its deep concern regarding the recent suspension of an enforcement agent by the Ministry of Justice. This act, as perceived by AmCham and its members, constitutes a worrying instance of interference in the independent judicial processes of Kosovo. As a leading advocate for the interests of businesses and investors in Kosovo, AmCham is steadfast in its belief that the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are foundational pillars for a robust and favorable business environment. It’s essential to emphasize that the rule of law inherently entails the restriction of arbitrary exercise of power by subjecting it to well-defined and established laws.

In addition, AmCham also voices its concerns regarding the verbal attacks of the executive and legislative representatives on the judiciary branch and justice institutions, including the Constitutional Court and other courts. Such attacks further erode the confidence in the independence and integrity of Kosovo’s judicial system, which is essential for ensuring fair and transparent legal proceedings for businesses and investors.

The establishment of the private enforcement agent function, supported by USAID, has been instrumental in assisting Kosovo institutions to improve the enforcement of civil judgments, while dramatically reducing the backlog of enforcement cases in the Kosovo court system. This function not only enhances the efficiency of judicial processes but also contributes to fostering a more favorable environment for businesses and investors by ensuring timely and effective enforcement of legal decisions.

The interference by the Ministry of Justice not only undermines these pillars but also casts a shadow of unpredictability and lack of transparency over the country’s legal and regulatory framework and adherence to international norms and practices on the enforcement of international arbitration judgments.

The suspension of the enforcement agent, for the second time, viewed against the backdrop of previous instances of perceived interference, sends a disconcerting signal to both domestic and international investors. It raises questions about the assurance of legal protections and the enforceability of contracts in Kosovo. Such a climate of uncertainty is detrimental to the business environment, hindering investment, stifling economic growth, and ultimately affecting the prosperity of the Kosovar people. Failure to respect the separation of powers undermines democratic principles and Euro-Atlantic integration processes. Upholding this principle safeguards against the concentration of power and protects the independence of key institutions, including the judiciary.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo urges the Ministry of Justice to consider the broader implications of its actions on Kosovo’s business climate. Reaffirming commitment to judicial independence and the rule of law is imperative for economic development and investor confidence.