Protection from domestic violence
You may be a victim of violence at home and the perpetrator could be anyone in your family. You need to know that you do not need to put up with violence and that there are strong legal provisions in place ensuring your safety and security when faced with violent family members. These issues are addressed in the Law on Domestic Violence. According to this law, in emergency cases, after you or anyone else has alerted the police, the head of the Regional Kosovo Police Unit has the right to issue a temporary emergency protection order that could provide you with protection from a violent family member. The law obliges the police to respond to any acts or threats to commit acts of domestic violence. An emergency protection order, or a longer term protection order, can be extended by a competent court after it has been petition by yourself or another public authority (police, Center for Social Work, etc). The specifics of a long-term protection order depends on the risk. For example, they could mean ordering the violent family member to take psycho-social treatment, prohibiting him/her from approaching you, providing you with security personnel, etc. Violators of protection orders face the risk of being fined financially up to 2000 EUR or facing up to six months in prison. The Law on Domestic Violence also obliges the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, in cooperation with other line ministries to support and raise support structures and systems that provide social assistance and medical services to victims of domestic violence.
The Kosovo Police is the most important actor in providing support to victims of domestic violence. Anyone can report such violence to the police and the police are obliged to respond, by arresting the perpetrator if there is any criminal offence at play. It is also the duty of the Kosovo Police to respect the victim’s right to privacy and inform him/her of all of the rights it is entitled to according with the Law on Domestic Violence. The court is also obliged to issue protection orders and deal with perpetrators swiftly based on the degree of risk for the victim. Another institution which can assist you in this direction is the division for protection and aid to victims, which is part of regional prosecution offices. These offices can provide you with advice and support services.
Reporting domestic violence is often hard in closely knit communities. If the police or local judges do not respond to requests for support, then you can try and address appeals to any potential local NGO’s or women’s shelters in your area. They could both provide you with useful advice and use their experience and influence to address the matter appropriately with security institutions.