Kosovo* National Training
The Kosovo* national training on environmental crime and nature protection took place in Peja on April 28 and 29, 2016. The multi-stakeholder event was organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning (MESP) and the Kosovo Environmental Protection Agency (KEPA). The main topics addressed were:
- the implementation of environmental law related to the protection of nature in border areas and, in particular, national parks;
- combating environmental crime;
- clarifying the responsibilities of relevant central and local institutions in relation to the management, inspection and protection of national parks; and
- the presentation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the prevention and detection of environmental crime, which was very well accepted by the MESP and other participants.
The event was opened by Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Mr. Ferid Agani and Mr. Christian Geosits of ADA. The training was facilitated by Mr. Agron Bektashi, director of REC Kosovo*, and Ms. Florije Kqiku of MESP, the Themis focal point for Kosovo*. Participants represented the MESP, municipal inspectors, the Kosovo Police, environmental experts, academia and civil society organisations.
The most important conclusions reached by the participating stakeholders are outlined below:
- There is a clear lack of coordination in inter-institutional and inter-sectoral activities in Kosovo*. Better cooperation is needed between the MESP; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development; and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and activities should also be coordinated with the Judicial Council, the Prosecution, local courts and the Kosovo Police.
- The very small number of inspectors at both central and local level limits the supervision of the entire territory of Kosovo*, and especially in national parks and protected areas. Financial difficulties and the small budgets of municipal assemblies restrict the inclusion of a larger number of environmental inspectors. Striking power against environmental crime is reduced as a consequence of the small number of inspectors.
- There is a lack of technical equipment at the central and municipal level for monitoring and supervision.
- There is still insufficient information for the general public about environmental crimes and the negative consequences on the environment and public health. Also, awareness campaigns are insufficient with respect to the economic benefits deriving from national parks and protected areas.
- In many cases, judicial and prosecution institutions are ineffective or powerless to combat crime via more rigorous measures.
- The judiciary remains inefficient in terms of penalties for the misuse of natural resources and in environmental crime cases. In most cases the penalties are very lenient, or the cases are not classified as crimes at all.
- Illegal wood cutting, illegal construction, fires, erosion and waste remain the main challenges for the competent institutions in Kosovo*.
In order to tackle the above issues, the following measures were discussed and agreed on:
- Participants agreed to establish an inter-institutional task force in Kosovo* for the coordination and implementation of environmental laws, and especially those related to environmental crimes and natural resources.
- Participants recommended improving the mechanisms for the implementation of environmental laws, as well as increasing the number of inspectors and equipping them with technical means for the effective monitoring and supervision of national parks and the prevention of environmental crimes.
- There is a need for more training to strengthen and professionalise the implementation and compliance chain: inspectors, specialised police staff, customs officers, prosecution and judges.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.