Medica Kosova was part of the seminar delivery on “Access to justice for the victims of wartime rape” in Haxhi Zeka University in Peja
A seminar organized by the Rector of Haxhi Zeka University in Peja gathers nearly hundred students of
law to learn about obstacles and challenges affecting the survivors of sexual violence to access justice in
Kosovo. Ms. Elvana Shala as Good Will Ambassador of Kosovo at UN, Mrs. Feride Rushiti from Kosovo
Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, Leonora Selmani from the Agency for Gender Equality and
Mrs. Veprore Shehu from Medica Kosova were invited as panel speakers in this seminar.
Medica Kosova focused its lecture on factors and cultural impunity causing silence over sexual crimes in
Kosovo which was used by the survivors as a mechanism protecting them from the social stigma. The
organization’s experience while supporting the survivors to testify at ICTY and later at EULEX provided
the audience with knowledge about the effects of stigma generating impunity over these crimes.
Therefore, insecurity caused by culture of stigma can threaten the victim’s wellbeing the same way as
Her personal integrity and emotional stability is violated and hence the process of accessing justice is
very much affected. In most of the cases, this presents a big challenge for justice institutions requiring
implementation of measures that maintain attention at the survivor’s needs for a do-not harm
approach. To justice system, this means more time, patience and implementation of comprehensive
measures that keeps the women’s motivation high and facilitates their positioning toward painful and
hard procedures they have to go through. In other words, what is missing in our justice institutions is
implementation of the restorative justice alternatives, different from only retributive justice present in
Kosova and most countries in the region. To clarify, while restorative justice tries to bring healing and
compensation to the victims, the retributive justice seeks punishment only.
This is why Medica Kosova continues to provide psychosocial and legal support to the victims of rape
and fought for a perspective of compensation by the law providing them public recognition with other
categories of war.
This compensation expected to start at the beginning of 2018 will not only facilitate the work of
women’s organizations with the survivors, but also motivate them to seek for justice. Retributive justice
supports the achievement of moral compensation for the victims and does not cover their trauma
recovery and social security severely affecting their integration in the society. As long as institutions lack
provision of services to complement retributive justice with restorative alternatives, close collaboration
of justice institutions with NGOs as service providers is required. In addition, this collaboration means
sharing and consultations, providing necessary technical assistance and financial resources for the NGOs
supporting the victims before, during and after the trial. This collaboration should not remain at the
level of personal commitment of investigators, prosecutors and judges in supporting the process in the
right order but rather enter into the justice policies that would produce a sustainable impact for the
survivors of sexual crimes in Kosovo.
Above all, the survivors should take the courage and break silence as a price they have to pay for ending
the anxiety overwhelming them throughout these years. We are aware of feeling insecure when this
silence is broken; however, it opens more paths for actions and punishment of perpetrators. “The birth
of my words could be the death of my shame and agony” is a saying taken by many survivors from other
parts of the world who took the courage to access justice and restore their dignity.