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 was very productive for PRP: it saw important developments in major initiatives already in progress under all four project objectives – e.g., the National Strategy on Property Rights; caseflow management reform in Kosovo courts; and the media campaign on women’s property rights. In addition, in this Quarter PRP conceptualized and began planning initiatives for a grassroots campaign of public advocacy on women’s property rights to supplement the media campaign, which will be commenced in the next quarter. Furthermore, in this Quarter PRP submitted three analytical reports to USAID for review – “Informality in the Land Sector: The Issue of Delayed Inheritance in Kosovo”; “A Review of the Feasibility of Modifying the KJC Case Registration System to Support Proposed Reforms in Caseflow Management”; and “Issues Affecting the Ability of Members of Minority Communities in Kosovo to Exercise Their Property Rights” – as well as a proposal for pilot activities in the municipalities that receive G2G assistance.
Objective 1: Better Coordination and Policy Priorities
WORK ON NATIONAL STRATEGY ON PROPERTY RIGHTS ADVANCING ON SCHEDULE. 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 full drafts of each Concept Note were completed and presented to the corresponding TWGs for review and discussion during five-day-long working sessions held in February 2016. Participation was lively and constructive, and 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 presented to the Core Technical Group (CTG) for review and discussion at a two-day working session in April 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.
CLOSE COOPERATION WITH CCPR. PRP continued to cooperate closely and constructively with the EU-funded Civil Code and Property Rights Project (CCPR). The two projects met each month this Quarter to exchange current information. PRP has shared its reports on delayed inheritance and notary practice with CCPR, and CCPR has provided its Progress Reports to PRP, to ensure that the positions and approaches taken in the National Strategy will be in harmony with CCPR’s vision of the Civil Code. During this Quarter PRP and CCPR also sponsored a joint workshop on socially-owned property that featured experts from both projects and was well received by local counterparts. In addition, PRP attended all meetings of CCPR’s Steering Committee.
SUPPORT TO MOJ ON LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE ON INHERITANCE. During this Quarter, PRP also continued to work closely with the MoJ on important legislative initiatives. PRP provided the MoJ with a comprehensive analysis of notary powers and practices in selected EU member states, to inform the MoJ’s policy-making process as it finalizes its draft Law on Notary. In that connection, the MoJ has requested PRP to assist in drafting revisions to related laws to create a legislative package to address the issues surrounding women’s renunciation of inheritance, the omission of heirs and uncertainties surrounding the notaries’ jurisdiction over non-contested inheritance proceedings. This work will be completed in the next quarter. PRP is also supporting the MoJ on drafting the Concept Document for the Law of Construction Land.
Objective 2: Improved Court Procedures Related to Property Claims
DATA-GATHERING IN COM’S COMMENCED BY PRP CASEFLOW MANAGEMENT STAFF. During this Quarter PRP conducted its review of the Kosovo Judicial Council (KJC) Case Registration System (the Database) and presented its findings to USAID in its report, “A Review of the Feasibility of Modifying the KJC Case Registration System to Support Proposed Reforms in Caseflow Management.” PRP has concluded that the Database can be modified to support PRP’s case flow management initiative in the four CoMs. The Report outlines the concrete steps to be taken to modify the Database. USAID has provided PRP with comments on the Report. PRP is currently soliciting comments on the report from the KJC and USAID Justice System Strengthening Program (JSSP) and expects to finalize the report in April. The Report will serve as the basis for actions that PRP will take to introduce case flow management reforms in the four CoMs.
HIRING COMMENCED FOR CASEFLOW MANAGEMENT STAFF. PRP has also identified and commenced hiring candidates to work in the Basic Courts of Gjilan/Gnjilane, Ferizaj/Uroševac, and Pejë/Peć to help implement the case flow management reforms and inventory pending property cases.
TWO ADDITIONAL ANALYTICAL REPORTS PRODUCED. In this Quarter PRP also submitted to USAID drafts of two additional and comprehensive analytical reports – “Informality in the Land Sector: The Issue of Delayed Inheritance in Kosovo” and “Issues Affecting the Ability of Members of Minority Communities in Kosovo to Exercise Their Property Rights.” The first of the two reports presents PRP’s analysis of and proposed solutions to the challenges posed by the fact that many land records are registered in the name of deceased persons. The second of the two reports presents findings and recommendations related to issues faced by displaced persons and members of minority communities in connection with the illegally occupied property; receiving timely notice of matters concerning their property; access to justice; and religious and cultural property.
USAID has provided comments on both reports and PRP intends to submit final versions to USAID in April 2016.
Objective 3: Enhanced Women’s Rights to Use Property in Practice
MEDIA CAMPAIGN EXPANDED. During this Quarter the first round of media products were produced for the campaign on women’s property rights, “For Our Common Good” – a total of 20 products in all. (PSAs and News Features for TV and radio, for both Albanian and Serbian audiences. Many of the products have begun airing, and the rest will be broadcast starting in April 2016. They are also being uploaded onto social media. PRP is making plans to expand the coverage given to these media products. In addition, PRP sponsored and/or participated in two television programs on women’s property rights.
GRASS-ROOTS ACTIVITIES CONCEPTUALIZED AND PLANNED. PRP completed planning for a number of activities designed to bring the campaign on women’s property rights to local communities using a variety of approaches.
ROUNDTABLE FOR USAID GENERAL COUNSEL. During this Quarter, PRP facilitated a roundtable discussion on women’s property rights with USAID General Counsel John Simpkins and a number of representatives of civil society and E4E sub-grantees. The event was designed to allow Mr. Simpkins to lead the discussion and gain information from counterparts on the work that USAID is doing in Kosovo.
Objective 4: Improved Communication, Access to Information and Understanding of Property Rights
PLANNING ACTIVITIES IN MUNICIPALITIES. During this Quarter PRP drafted an action plan of potential activities to be carried out in the G2G municipalities when they have been approved by USAID, in addition to scanning the archives of the Municipal Cadaster Office. The goal of these activities is to improve municipal services related to property rights and to increase citizens’ understanding of their property rights and ability to exercise them. PRP intends to finalize the action plan in close collaboration with each G2G municipality.
PRP also prepared and submitted to USAID a proposal to pilot activities within the G2G municipalities to address the issues identified in its report, “Informality in the Land Sector: The Issue of Delayed Inheritance in Kosovo.”