USAID’s Property Rights Program (PRP) is a four-year activity that aims to address the property rights challenges and to develop a plan for the stabilization of the property rights regime in Kosovo. The program will work in partnership with the Government of Kosovo (GOK), selected municipalities and other relevant local and international stakeholders. USAID has allocated $8.5 million for the implementation of the Property Rights Program.
This quarter marked the transition from assessment and preparation to implementation for major project initiatives under all four PRP objectives.
Objective 1: Better Coordination and Policy Priorities
This quarter saw the steady development of the five Concept Notes for the National Strategy on Property Rights, which was accompanied by the full and active engagement of the Thematic Working Groups. (TWGs). During the quarter each TWG held two working sessions with the experts leading the development of the Concept Notes, and participation was lively and constructive. At the most recent TWG working sessions held in December 2015, the TWGs reviewed the draft Rationales for each of the Concept Notes and provided substantive comments and suggestions. The final versions of the Concept Notes will be provided for final review by the TWGs in February 2016.
PRP provided extensive guidance to the experts drafting the Concept to help them develop a unified and comprehensive approach to their research and to prioritize issues. PRP also played the central role in coordinating among the MoJ, the TWGs and PRP’s experts drafting the Concept Notes.
PRP continued to cooperate closely and constructively with the EU-funded Civil Code and Property Rights Project (CCPR), facilitating discussion with judges of issues in judicial practice relevant to the Civil Code; and collaborating with CCPR to complete and submit to the MoJ the analysis of international practice related to the renunciation of inheritance.
During this reporting period, PRP also provided support to the MoJ by way of organizing and participating in a three-day workshop in order to finalize consultation and drafting of the Draft Law on Notary. PRP also supported the MoJ on drafting the Concept Document for the Law on Inheritance with a focus on renunciation and provided Comments on the Draft Concept Document for the Law on Public Property which was approved by the Government of Kosovo on December 30, 2015.
Objective 2: Improved Court Procedures Related to Property Claims
PRP completed and submitted to USAID its Final Report on Differentiated Caseflow Management, an assessment of case flow practices in the four Courts of Merit (CoM) in the adjudication of property cases. The assessment is based on an analysis of over 1,800 disposed property cases, as well as site visits to the courts and discussions with judges. The principal finding in the Report is that the adjudication of all property cases, regardless of the specific subject matter, entails very significant delays that far exceed international best practice.
The Report includes an Action Plan of immediate actions to improve case flow management and court performance, and PRP has gained the approval of the judges for the Action Plan. Implementation will commence in early 2016 in the four CoM.
During this quarter, PRP facilitated a workshop with the KJC, court presidents and heads of Civil Divisions of all Basic Courts along with PRP’s Judicial Advisory Council to present the preliminary findings of the Report and to review and discuss the proposed Action Plan. The workshop produced consensus among the judges on the need for reform and ultimately led to the final approval of the Action Plan.
Objective 3: Enhanced Women’s Rights to Use Property in Practice
PRP provided the MoJ with its analysis of international practices on the renunciation of inheritance and presented its findings and recommendations to the MoJ Working Group on Renunciation. This was followed by a three-day workshop to draft the Concept Document on the Renunciation of Inheritance.
PRP produced its first media product for its national campaign on women’s property rights, “For Our Common Good.” The Public Service Announcement (PSA) features H.E. President Atifete Jahjaga, Minister of Justice Hajredin Kuçi, Aferdita Saraqini-Kelmendi (the Director RTV21), and the World Judo Champion (junior category) Distria Krasniqi. PRP officially launched the PSA and its nationwide campaign on December 10, 2015 (on International Human Rights Day). President Jahjaga and Minister Kuçi were joined by US Ambassador Greg Delawie in delivering remarks at the event in support to the campaign. The PSA is currently being aired on the Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) television network in Albanian and Serbian languages.
In this quarter, PRP also commenced the production of a series of additional media products for its campaign, holding a successful tender and awarding the contract to a local production company. Filming and production are well underway according to schedule for final approval and airing this upcoming quarter.
PRP continued its leading role in coordinating stakeholders’ efforts related to gender equality and women’s property rights in Kosovo through the Gender Coordination Group on Women’s Property Rights. PRP also continued to provide technical assistance to the USAID E4E implementing partner and sub-grantees, which are conducting activities to support further awareness raising of the issue of women’s ability to exercise their property rights.
PRP also cosponsored together with E4E subgrantee, KCBS, a Conference on Women in Business, which was attended by over 170 business women from Drenas/Glogovac, Kamenicë/Kamenica, and Rahovec/Orahovac.
Objective 4: Improved Communication, Access to Information and Understanding of Property Rights
During this quarter, PRP provided additional information to USAID in support of its proposal for G2G funding for municipalities. The initiative is designed, among other things, to make additional information on land holdings easily available by helping municipalities to scan and index the archived hard copy documents of their Municipal Cadastral Offices (MCOs). In addition to making more information available on the ownership history of land parcels in the municipality, the initiative is designed to improve information-sharing among Kosovo institutions; facilitate the adoption of streamlined registration procedures at the MCOs; improve local citizens’ knowledge and understanding of administrative requirements and procedures; and support more effective municipal planning and use of municipal land.
At the end of 2015 USAID informed PRP that it had selected Viti/Vitina municipality for a pre-award assessment for this initiative.