Technology Helps Kosovo Courts Overcome Challenges in Online Hearings

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, October 13, 2020
USAID donated equipment to help courts of Kosovo hold online sessions
DPI Millenium for USAID

Since the pandemic hit Kosovo in March, USAID and its partners have been working closely with the Kosovo Judicial Council to develop, adopt, and implement a complete policy framework that enables courts to conduct online hearings.  It was only two months ago that Kosovo courts began holding their first hearings online.  By now, almost all courts in Kosovo have piloted online hearings and are ready to begin administering justice in this new way. 

“This is an incredible accomplishment and I commend the Court Presidents for embracing this emerging trend of online hearings and implementing it within their courtrooms,” stated USAID/Kosovo’s Acting Mission Director Zeinah Salahi during an event at the Pristina Basic Court, where she handed over a donation of technological equipment to the courts for use during online hearings.  The Chairperson of the Kosovo Judicial Council, Skender Cocaj, and the Court President, Aferdita Bytyqi, received the equipment on behalf of Kosovo’s courts.

USAID’s donation of technological equipment will help Kosovo courts overcome the practical challenges of how to conduct hearings safely and expediently during a pandemic, paving the way for more “virtual justice” in Kosovo.  Online hearings are an important tool for Kosovo citizens to access justice when they cannot be physically present in the courthouse—due to travel limitations, medical reasons, or due to issues related to public health, such as the case now during a global pandemic.

The technological assistance is a part of a larger USAID initiative to increase citizens’ access to justice, provide greater transparency of the judicial system, and ensure Kosovo courts can continue to administer justice in a timely fashion.  Past assistance has included the development of innovative features on the court’s website that allows Kosovo citizens to estimate the cost of court fees and criminal fines from the convenience of home.