- The Constitutional Court
Below is the speech by the President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kosovo, Mrs. Arta Rama-Hajrizi, at the ceremony of marking the Constitution Day, organized by the Ministry of Justice of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, on 7 April 2017:
Honorable President of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Hashim Thaçi,
Honorable President of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Kadri Veseli,
Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Isa Mustafa,
Honorable Deputy/Prime Minister, Mr. Hajredin Kuçi,
Honorable Minister of Justice, Ms. Dhurata Hoxha,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me, first, to express my gratitude to the Minister of Justice, Ms. Dhurata Hoxha for the invitation and organization of marking the 9th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo.
It is an honor and a special pleasure to address you today, to recall and celebrate the most extraordinary and irreplaceable day in the most recent history of Kosovo after declaration of independence, the day of the adoption of the Constitution.
The Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo represents the superior act in the normative hierarchy of the legal order of the Republic of Kosovo, but the Constitution of Kosovo is more than just a pile of constitutional provisions and it makes more than the determination of the state power authorities and the enumeration of human rights and freedoms. This Constitution gave rise to independence and shaped the spirit of the newest state of Europe, while it gave honor and obligations to the citizens of Kosovo to realize the constitutional ideals set forth therein.
The Constitution of Kosovo is a very modern and advanced document compared to many other positive constitutions and the circumstances under which it was drafted and the solutions it provides in the path of building the state of Kosovo make it very special.
The drafters of the Constitution of Kosovo had a quite challenging mission because they had a duty to make a document addressing and fighting differences, inequality and injustice in the Kosovo society which was installed for decades, while at the same time to provide solutions that would ensure security, equality and justice to all of its citizens. This Constitution was conceived on the premises of building a free, democratic and peace-loving country that respects the values of equal citizenship, economic welfare and social progress, as well as better regional and international cooperation.
And for me as a President of the CC is a special privilege to share some of my views about the unique character of this Constitution, its values, and operational aspects of its implementation, including challenges in the application and interpretation of the constitutional provisions to the often complex and constantly changing realities.
The Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo is a reflection on one hand, of the history and tragic experiences of violence and unprecedented abuse of human rights, and on the other, the commitment to the highest international standards of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights and freedoms.
The Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo embodies this ideal, proclaiming human rights and fundamental freedoms as “indivisible, inalienable and inviolable” and “the basis of the legal order of the Republic of Kosovo.” It embodies this ideal, including in its text a list of eight (8) international agreements and legal instruments, giving them the value of a constitutional category and priority over laws and other acts of the public institutions. In this unique constitutional provision is included the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols.
In addition to classic human rights and freedoms, some of these agreements directly applicable, expand and enrich the list of the rights that are explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution. It should be noted that these agreements do not derive from a standard process of ratification, but Kosovo has embraced them voluntarily, including them in Article 22 of the Constitution. Therefore, when Kosovo adopted the Constitution, all the rights set forth in these international instruments have become the constitutional rights within the legal order of the Republic of Kosovo. And not only it agreed to accept that the European Convention on Human Rights and seven other instruments are directly applicable, but also, in case of a conflict, to have priority over the laws and other acts of the public institutions of the Republic of Kosovo.
In addition to Article 22, the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo has another unique peculiarity, which is a constitutional obligation under Article 53 for interpretation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the court decisions of the European Court of Human Rights; otherwise known as the Court of Strasbourg.
As a result of this constitutional determination, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kosovo, whenever interprets human rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, it does this in accordance with the principles and standards developed by the case law of the European Court.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Constitutional Court is mandated by the Constitution to serve as the final authority for interpretation of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo and for assessment of the compliance of laws with the Constitution.
Having the authority to review the constitutionality of the amendments proposed by the Government and legislators, as well as individual complaints for violation of human rights, the Court exercises the ultimate check on legislative and executive power and is the final arbiter of the interpretation of the constitutional provisions for the rights and fundamental freedoms.
is the ultimate check on legislative and executive power in Kosovo and the final arbiter of the meg of The Judges of the Constitutional Court tried all the time that the promises and guarantees contained in the Constitution do not remain only in written but to be implemented in practice. And to do this, whenever it was necessary, the Court has rendered decisions that annulled the laws or specific provisions in the laws, constitutional amendments and various decisions assessed as unconstitutional. Thus, the Court by its decisions has provided the functionality of the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo in accordance with the Constitution and has protected the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
The constitutional interpretation is not only a matter of the initiative of jurists, lawyers and politicians, but in its shaping and clear understanding, have contributed continuously the cases filed with the Court by all authorized parties, including natural and legal persons, resulting in the issuance of decisions which are binding on all institutions of the Republic of Kosovo.
Since its establishment in 2009 until today, the Constitutional Court has received about 1290 cases and resolved 1200 of them. In the context of individual cases, it should be noted that the Constitutional Court has received and reviewed cases brought by the citizens of Kosovo of all ethnic groups or communities (Albanians, Serbs, Turks, Roma, Bosnians, Montenegrins). This indicates that all the citizens of Kosovo, regardless of ethnicity or religion, have equal access to the Constitutional Court. In this way, the members of the communities in Kosovo, through the cases brought before the Constitutional Court, have proven to have full confidence in the Court and this number grows every year more and more.
With regard to individual cases, the Court has decided on issues such as the right to fair and impartial trial, right to life, equality before the law, the right to legal remedies, the right to property, the freedom of movement, responsibility towards the environment, and a number of other rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
Throughout the years of its operation, all decisions of the Constitutional Court have been executed and implemented, something that indicates the trust that the Constitutional Court has built in Kosovo society and the trust that citizens have in the premises of the Constitution under which provisions they submit the cases to the court.
In its short, but intensive and dynamic history, the Constitutional Court has proved the intent specified in the Constitution to provide to all citizens of the Republic of Kosovo the broadest and the most effective possible protection, as defined by their Constitution, in particular in Chapter II [Fundamental Rights and Freedoms] and Chapter III [Rights of Communities and their Members], establishing the highest standard of these rights.
The Constitutional Court has also rendered a number of important decisions on the issues that are of essential importance for Kosovo such as the issue of equity and/or special rights of minority groups, arbitrariness in the court decisions, the enforcement of the court decisions, and similar issues. In reaching its conclusions, the Court has demonstrated the highest level of independence and the aim to ensure that all public authorities of the Republic of Kosovo respect the Constitution.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo which approved the Constitution on 9 April 2008 consisted of women and men of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, different religious groups, of different social background and opposite political orientations, but no one can claim ownership over this Constitution, because it belongs to Kosovo.
Much progress has been marked in Kosovo since the adoption of the Constitution, but our work is far from being finished. On this day of the Constitution, every citizen of the Republic of Kosovo should feel obliged to read and learn about its constitutional system, the rights and freedoms belonging to them and think critically about what everyone can do to contribute to the development of society using this constitutional system and how to approximate the gaps between the principles enshrined in the Constitution and our social reality.
Happy the Constitution Day!