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.
Summary of results for the reporting period and key achievements.
Objective 1: Better Coordination and Policy Priorities
To support development of a National Strategy for Property Rights under Objective 1, PRP provided assistance to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to prepare the technical documentation required under the applicable legislation to request a decision from the Government of Kosovo (GOK) authorizing the MOJ to draft the National Strategy for inclusion in the GOK’s Strategic Plan for 2015. In parallel, PRP worked with the MOJ, the Department for European Integration and Policy Coordination of the MOJ, the EU Support to the Civil Code and Property Rights Project (CCPR) and USAID to establish the modalities for the Property Rights Sector Working Group SWG), through which the National Strategy will be developed and presented to the GOK. The MOJ submitted the request to the Prime Minister’s Strategic Planning Office on March 10, 2015, and approval is pending.
PRP is also working with the MOJ and CCPR to assess property classifications prescribed under the laws of the former Yugoslavia to be updated consistent with the requirements of a land market to support Kosovo’s economic development. The issues of restitution, both pre and post-conflict, and challenges regarding a resolution of the claims related socially-owned enterprises (SOEs) also constrain the development of a robust land market. These are significant issues will be addressed by the SWG through the National Strategy.
Upon request of the Adviser of the Prime Minister without Portfolio, PRP provided assistance to implement a technical agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia related to the return of cadastral documents removed by the Serbian regime during the conflict and finalization of a draft Law on the Kosovo Property Comparison and Verification Agency (KPCVA) to resolve discrepancies between the returned documents and documents currently maintained in Kosovo’s Municipal Cadastral Offices. A working group has been established consisting of the Director of the Legal Office of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Kosovo Cadastre Agency (KCA), the Kosovo Property Agency (KPA), a member of the US Embassy, and the European Special Representative to develop the final draft of the legislation. The Office of the Prime Minister has requested PRP to assistance to prepare by-laws to implement the new law as it expects it will be passed in the next two months.
Objective 2: Improved Court Procedures Related to Property Claims
PRP facilitated a participatory process with the Kosovo Judicial Council (KJC) to select four Courts of Merit that will work with the PRP to develop, pilot and test court procedures to more efficiently adjudicate property claims and disputes and ensure women’s rights to inherit property are fully enforced. In consultation with the KJC, the presiding judges of the seven basic courts, the presiding judge of the court of appeals, the Basic Courts of Peja, Gjilan, and Ferizaj with the Branch in Sterpce were selected as the Courts of Merits. The President of the Court of Appeals and Court Presidents highly recommended establishment of an Advisory Committee comprised of thought leaders and agents of change in the court system to assist the KJC and PRP develop procedures and processes to increase court efficiency. It is expected the Advisory Committee will be fully functional in the next quarter.
Objective 3: Enhanced Women’s Rights to Use Property in Practice
In February 2015 the Tetra Tech ARD Director of Grants Management and PRP Grants and Subcontracts Manager assessed capacity of USAID’s Engagement for Equity (E4E) implementing partner, Advocacy Training & Resources Center (ATRC), and provided support to ATRC to begin the process of issuing and administering grants under the E4E program. ATRC was provided training on USAID grant-making procedures, systems, and planning processes throughout the entire grants cycle. Additionally, ATRC was provided assistance to develop RFA topics that will assist PRP achieve its program objectives related to public education, outreach, and advocacy activities to improve women’s access to property rights in practice.
PRP continued to work with key stakeholders to refine its Behavior Change Communications (BCC) strategy and messaging that will serve as a key component in the information and outreach program that the PRP will support ATRC to implement through grants to CSOs under the E4E program. PRP facilitated participatory workshops on January 28 and March 30, 2015, to further develop BCC content and messaging. Another key outcome from the workshops was the formation of a Property Rights Communications Working Group to coordinate information and outreach activities promoting women’s property rights that are currently being implemented by government agencies and donor funded projects.
The Minister of Justice expressed support for the recommendations presented in the Gender Report Dr. Sandra Joireman prepared for PRP during the last quarter. He requested PRP to facilitate an event jointly with the MOJ to present the ministry’s support for reform based on the report’s recommendations to strengthen the property rights of women. The event is scheduled for April 22, 2015. The Minister has created a working group, on which PRP specialists will serve, to recommend amendments to legislation as part of the Ministry’s reform efforts. PRP also worked with CCPR project experts to review legislation and practice regarding family and inheritance law and produce a draft an analysis of these laws.
PRP has secured places on both the Inheritance and Family Law working group established by the CCPR project and the working group established by the MOJ to amend the Inheritance Law. It is expected the two working groups will begin drafting activities in the next quarter.
PRP provided technical assistance and inputs to the Agency for Gender Equality (AGE) to develop an Administrative Instruction (AI) for Registration of Common Property. A draft AI was produced and PRP will support public consultation in the next quarter. PRP also provided technical input to CCPR’s analysis of the Inheritance Law.
Objective 4: Improved Communication, Access to Information and Understanding of Property Rights
PRP developed and submitted to USAID a substantially revised proposal for activities to be implemented by municipalities with direct assistance from USAID to improve the sharing of land-related information to assist courts to more efficiently resolve property claims and to facilitate market transactions. USAID will provide comment and feedback to further develop the proposal in the next quarter.
Key priorities for the next quarter are to advance development of the National Strategy for Property Rights; develop and implement reform activities through the Courts of Merit; assist ATRC to implement E4E activities in support of PRP efforts to change attitudes and behaviors about women’s rights to property and assist the MOJ to develop legislation to strengthen the property rights of women; and work with USAID to further develop the proposal for direct funding to municipalities to improve the sharing of land-related information to assist courts to more efficiently resolve property claims and to facilitate market transactions.