Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is a basic condition for the well-functioning of every pore in society. The protection of these rights is an obligation of each state and each individual. Not only are human rights protected by state acts, they are also protected by numerous international acts, most of which are directly applicable also in Kosovo.

– The Constitution of Kosovo – is the highest legal act in the country, which in Chapter II and III foresees some of the basic rights of each person. Apart from the Constitution, fundamental rights and freedoms are foreseen by laws and sub-legal acts in Kosovo and all laws must be in accordance with the Constitution. The Constitution of Kosovo also stipulates that human rights and freedoms guaranteed by international treaties and instruments are directly applicable in Kosovo and have precedence over the provisions of laws and other acts of public institutions, and these include:

– Universal Declaration of Human Rights – This Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris.

– European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols – This is a document issued by the Council of Europe which entered into force on September 3, 1953.

– International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Protocols – This document was issued by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966 and has entered into force on March 26, 1976.

– The Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities – This document was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe


– Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination – is a convention of United Nations which entered into force on January 4, 1969 in New York.

– Convention on the Rights of the Child – is a United Nations Convention signed on November 20, 1989 and has entered into force on September 2, 1990.

– Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – This Convention was signed in New York and entered into force on June 26, 1987.

My Rights

The right to Dignity is an inviolable right and as such is the basis for other rights. Dignity basically means that everyone has the right to be respected for own values and personality and this right cannot be taken away whatsoever. This means that the right to dignity must be preserved even during the arrest or while serving a sentence.

Example: You have leg pain and go to request help in the family health center in your village. The doctors there let you to wait for a long time in pain and after about two hours they treat you while yelling and insulting you. In this case your right to dignity has been violated. You should go to the nearest police station or report the case on 192. Cameras or any witnesses of a case may serve as proof of evidence for your claim.

Equality before the law means that everyone enjoys equal right to legal protection and before the law every person is equal without any discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, affiliation with any community, property, economic or social condition, sexual orientation, birth, disability or any other personal status. Discrimination means any form of restriction, exclusion, distinction or rejection of equal rights.

Example: You are citizen of Kosovo of the Serbian community. You were deprived of the right to participate in court trial because you do not understand the language in which the trial is being conducted. As a result, you are discriminated against on the basis of language and your right to be equal before the law has been violated. If the Basic Court issues a decision, then you have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals.

The Right to Life is an absolute human right and no other right would be valuable if the right to life was violated. In the Republic of Kosovo we say that the right to life is absolute because death penalty is forbidden, and no one has the right to take the life of the other. This right is also protected in extraordinary situations and can not be limited as is the case with freedom of movement.

Example: Ana and Miri are debating an old problem and suddenly the debate between them escalates. Miri begins to seriously offend Ana, pulls out the gun and shoots her. Ana falls to the ground without any life signs. A pedestrian reports the case to the police and after a few minutes Miri is arrested by the police. The proof of Anna’s death are fingerprints on the weapon, security cameras, and pedestrian witness statement. In this case, Ana was denied the right to life.

The right to personal integrity includes the right of a person to make a decision on reproduction, the right of a person to have control over their own body, the right not to undergo medical treatment against their will, the right not to participate in medical or scientific experiments without their own will, therefore, every person enjoys the right to respect physical and mental integrity.

Example: If a person commits sexual violence against another person, he/she committed a criminal offense and in this case has also violated the personal integrity due to committing sexual violence.

Torture means any act or failure to act which causes another person to experience severe physical or mental pain or suffering, with the aim of obtaining from him / her or any third person any information, to plead guilty to any offense or be forced to do something. If any statement is made under the use of torture, it is not valid and can not be considered as evidence. Torture is forbidden and the state is responsible to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Example: Miri has been accused of murdering Ana. The police, after escorting Miri to the police station, told him to admit that he committed the murder. Since Miri did not want to accept it, the police had locked him in a dark, cold room, not allowing him to eat or drink for 24 hours. Not being able to withstand this suffering, Miri admitted that he committed the murder, without really wanting to admit it. In this case, Miri was tortured by police officers and he has the right to complain to the Police Inspectorate about police behavior.

No one can be held in slavery or in a similar position, no one can be compelled to do work against his / her will, but this does not apply in extraordinary circumstances or in other cases if provided by law.
For example, if a person has been sanctioned by the court with a conditional sentence of community service, that person is obliged to complete the service as foreseen in the law. Any kind of human trafficking is forbidden. The Criminal Code of Kosovo establishes trafficking of human beings as a criminal offense under Article 165 and even foresees serious sanctions with fine and imprisonment, depending on the circumstances and consequences of the act. The Criminal Code defines Trafficking in persons – the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by threat or the use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or the abuse of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Example: You, while being engaged as a legal officer at the Ministry of Justice, have also been tasked to exercise the role of the procurement officer, even though you have not been assigned a contract and you are not qualified to perform that task. You were not satisfied and you did not agree with that decision, but you were forced to accept it due to threats that you would be discharged from your work. Here we are dealing with forced labor.

The right to freedom and security is guaranteed and means that no one can be deprived of freedom, with the exception of certain cases, for example when a person is serving a prison sentence or when the person is in detention, if the person is under health supervision due to illness and poses a risk to society, etc.
If a person is deprived of freedom, the has some important rights such as:

  • To be informed about the reason for arrest in the language that he or she understands;
  • The right to bring that person to court without delay;
  • Notify or to have the family member or other person of his/her choice be notified;
  • To appeal to the court because of the deprivation of freedom;
  • Anyone deprived of their freedom must be immediately informed that he has the right to remain silent and the right to a defense counsel of his or her choice.
    Any person who illegally detains another person, keeps that person closed or otherwise deprived of freedom shall be sanctioned with a fine or prison.

    Example: You have a conflict with your husband for a long time. Initially, your husband reproached you for everything you did. The situation deteriorated further until one day your husband stopped you from leaving the house. So you were enclosed in the home for more than a week until the authorities understood it from a neighbor. Your husband was arrested and punished. In this case your right to freedom has been violated.

Persons indicted for committing a criminal offense have rights that must be respected by the competent authorities. Initially, if a person is indicted with a criminal offense, this does not mean he is guilty and no one is presumed to be guilty unless this is verified.
The rights of the accused under the Constitution:

  1. The right to be promptly informed, in a language that she/he understands, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him/her;
  2. The right to be promptly informed of her/his rights according to law;
  3. The right to have adequate time, facilities and remedies for the preparation of his/her defense;
  4. The right to have free assistance of an interpreter if she/he cannot understand or speak the language used in court;
  5. The right to have assistance of legal counsel of his/her choosing, to freely communicate with counsel and if she/he does not have sufficient means, to be provided free counsel. The accused person has the right to also consult the defense counsel separately and he/her has the right not to make any statements without consultation with his or her defense counsel.
  6. The right to o not be forced to testify against oneself or admit one’s guilt.

    Example: Miri is accused for committing serious theft. After receiving the invitation and appearing in the court, he is not informed of his rights, and the judge even does not allow the lawyer to represent him by excluding him from the session. In this case Miri’s right of the accused was violated including the right to be informed and the right to a defence counsel. Once Miri received the decision of the Basic Court, he has the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals.

Each person is guaranteed equal rights in proceedings before the state authorities and each person the right to review of his/her case in a public, impartial and fair manner. Trials are usually public unless otherwise provided by law. Juvenile trials are not open to public. Those with financial difficulties have the right to free legal aid. Free legal assistance in Kosovo is provided by the Agency for Free Legal Aid of the Republic of Kosovo.

Example: You have filed a suit against your friend Alma for a dispute you had. During the trial, the judge continously favored Alma because she was the daughter of a known minister, even though you had enough evidence against her. Once you receive the decision from the court, you understand that the decision was not in your favor and all this was done because the judge favored the minister’s daughter. In this case your right to a fair and impartial trial has been violated because the judge had sided with Alma.

Every person who received a decision by any court or administrative body has the right to use remedies against that decision. This means that a person may appeal to a higher authority than the one who issued the decision if he / she is not satisfied with that decision or if he or she thinks that any right is violated by that decision.

Example: You receive a decision from the School Directory where you work, which states that your employment contract was terminated. You disagree with this decision of the directorate and want to complain to a higher degree. The Directorate of Education in the Municipality of Prishtina does not accept your complaint without even explanation for this. In this case, your right to legal remedies have been violated, more specifically the right to appeal to a higher authority.

If a person has been tried for a criminal offense with a final court decision, that person can not be tried again for the same criminal offense; the issue is considered to have been adjudicated if there is a final court decision and can not be re-opened.

Example: After serving a sentence for two years, Miri was released from prison and started a quiet life with family. After five months Miri receives an invitation to appear before the court again. Miri was accused again for the same offense for which he had completed the sanction with imprisonment. In this case Miri’s right not to be tried twice for the same offense was violated.

Freedom of Movement means that every person who resides legally in a state has the right to move freely within that state, to choose where to reside or to abandon that state and to return to own country. In order to move freely persons must have adequate travel documents eg. visa, residence permit, etc.

Example: While visiting your relatives in Germany and returning to Kosovo by bus, you are stopped at the border and despite having all the necessary documents, the police do not allow you to cross the border and return to your place. In this case your right to move freely has been violated.

The right to privacy means that everyone has the right to respect for private and family life. No one has the right to enter another’s apartment and to interfere with the privacy of another unless there is an order for raid by the court. Also, the right to privacy implies protection of personal data of each person, telephone privacy, exchange of letters and correspondence.

Example: You want to change the name and gender in the identification documents. Your sex was initially registered as male, but after the hormonal therapy you have taken, you became the first transgender person in the village you live in. You made a request to change the name and gender in the Civil Status Office, but your request is refused despite the fact that you provide all the documents required by law. In this case, you have been discriminated against on the basis of gender identity and your right to privacy have been violated.

The freedom of conscience and religion means that each person can choose his / her own religion and change it, to manifest the religion alone or with community members through prayers, customs, or ceremonies as well as decide about own beliefs. Everyone has the right to express his / her religious beliefs, belief in atheism, or not to declare about his / her religious belief. The Republic of Kosovo is a secular state that means neutral in the matter of religious belief.

Example: Being a preacher of the Islamic religion, during the break hours at your work, you go to the Mosque and perform religious duties. One day, you get a decision from your chief in writing that you are discharged from work because you have practiced religion during the break. In this case, your right of religion or belief has been violated.

Each person who has reached a certain age has the right to enter into a marriage and create a family on the basis of his / her consent. In Kosovo, out-of-marriage relationship is also the same with regards to rights and obligations, for example in terms of care-taking, mutual financial assistance, and so on. In Kosovo, a person’s marriage with another person is prohibited if any of these persons has any other existing marriage. (Polygamy is Prohibited).

Example: You have just reached the age of 25 and you were planning to marry the man you wanted in the next month, to move with him in a small house and establish a living with him. After going to the municipality to get married, you are refused by the municipal official and are not even given any explanation. In this case, your right to marriage has been denied.

Each person has the right to express freely without hinderance, to express own ideas and views and the right to request and receive information.
For example, each person has the right that through: speech, writing, art, press, or other form of expression to present that which the person believes or to receive information that it needs. Freedom of speech is not without limitation!

Example: Tringa, as a journalist of newspaper “Ora”, writes an article abou the life and work of a politician. One hour after publishing the article, Tringa receives a call from the politican who demands that the article be cleaned because it includes hate speech. However, Tringa does not remove the article thinking that if she is forced to remove it her freedom of expression will be violated, and Tringa thinks that she has the right to write anything without limitation. Two days later the politician mentioned in the article files a suit against Tringa for hate speech and the court decides in his favor under the basis that freedom of speech is limited in cases when hate speech is used intentionally.

Each person has the right of access to public documents and this means that every citizen has the right to access these documents by filing a simple written request, verbally or electronically. The person can view the original document or even receive a copy of that document. Citizens may not have access to documents containing any confidential information or private information that should not be disclosed under the rules.

Example: During your master’s degree studies your thesis is “Fines imposed by the Kosovo Police during 2018”, and you file a request to the Kosovo Police to have access to public documents and data to complete your thesis. The Kosovo Police does not allow you access to official documents despite the fact that you have the right to access these documents, and despite that your request for access to these documents was regular. In such a case, your right to access public documents has been violated.

Everyone has the right to establish public information platforms such as newspapers, magazines, radio, etc. Spreading ideas and information through the media is guaranteed and no one can stop it, except in cases of incitement and provocation of violence or animosity based on racial, national, ethnic or religious hatred.
There is also the right to correct or improve an information that is published if it violates the publisher’s interest.

Example: As a Director of the “ORA” newspaper, one day you receive a decision by the competent authorities stating that you should cease publishing the Gazette because there is a large number of such newspapers. This newspaper works for a long time without any remarks about the work. In such a case, your right to freedom of media has been violated.

The Right of assembly means that citizens have the right to assemble without weapons and in a quiet manner, to hold meetings, protests, demonstrations, performances or other rallies and through them to express their opinions, to criticize someone, to disclose their artistic creativity, to express their political opinions, etc.
Rallies can be held in open or closed spaces, and for the organization of a rally the police should be notified 72 hours in advance.

Example: You and some other citizens, being dissatisfied with some government decisions, decide to organize a peaceful protest. The protest was due to begin at 12:00 and around 11:30 began protesters gathering in peace. The police, even though informed of the time of the protests, while seeing that protesters gathering, began to use tear gas against them, in order to annul the protest. In such a case, the right of assembly has been violated.

Freedom of Association means that every person has the right to establish themselves, or together with other persons, an organization, trade union, religious association or other organization for the purpose of protecting his or her interests or for any other purpose.
We must bear in mind that if an organization is established with the aim of violating human rights, violating the constitutional order, promoting religious, ethnic hatred or other hatred, the court may, by a decision, prohibit such an organization.

Example: You and your friends were activists for environmental protection for a long time, and one day you decide to open a non-governmental organization so that you can contribute even more to this issue. In order to do this, you apply at the competent body, but the competent body refuses your application by reasoning that there are many organizations with this same scope of work. In such a case, your freedom of association has been violated.

Election Rights mean that every individual, a citizen of the Republic of Kosovo who has reached the age of 18, has the right to elect and be elected.
Free elections are organized in all democratic states, and in these elections citizens have the right to vote for candidates who they wish to represent them, and have the right to stand as candidated and be elected. The vote is personal and no one can vote for the other; is free and nobody can deny the vote of anyone; is secret and equal.
State institutions support the possibility for citizens to participate in public activities and for citizens themselves to democratically influence the decisions of state bodies.

Example: Upon becoming 20 years old, at the time of parliamentary elections, you decide to run for member of parliament as an independent candidate without affiliation to any political party. The competent authorities do not allow you to run, arguing that you should only run by being part of any political party. In such a case, your right to be elected has been violated.

Property Protection means that everyone has the right to own and gain property, and that property or wealth is protected from other persons who may wish to get hold violently and unlawfully.
The expropriation of private property is allowed in “general interest”, but is always done with compensation.
In addition, the laws in Kosovo protect intellectual property, which includes: literature, artistic and scientific works, interpretations of performing artists, phonograms and broadcasts, inventions, scientific discoveries, trademarks etc.

Example: You had just bought a new car with your savings of past years. One day while parking your car in the parking space of the city, an unknown person hits the window and after breaking it, he steals a laptop and some valuable things in your car. You just notice what had happened, call the police and present the case. The police come to the scene, take the fingerprints, and all the other evidence. In such case, your property rights have been violated.

In Kosovo, each person has the right to basic education free of charge. Primary and secondary education in Kosovo is free, and for age groups between 6 to 15 education is compulsory.

Example: Your sister, even though she has reached the age foreseen to start school, was not send to school by the parents. The school facility in which your sister has attend in the first grade does not provide physical access, there is no level entry, and with her leg problems your sister can only move with a wheelchair. In such a case, your sister has been denied the right to education because of lack of physical access to school.

Freedom of Art and Science means that everyone is free to participate in cultural life, to enjoy art and to participate in advancing science and the benefits that come from it, and everyone has the right to protection of material interests derived from artistic and scientific works.

Example: You as a master’s degree student have defended your thesis in front of the Commission with a very high rating. But since the topic you prepared was about preventive measures for the use of narcotics, the Government of Kosovo used the same work as part of the narcotics prevention strategy. But, the Government of Kosovo did not ask you at all if they could use your work and there was no citation or reference of your work. In this case we are dealing with copyright infringement, which is also incorporated in Article 48 on Freedom of Art and Science of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo.

The Constitution of Kosovo guarantees the right to work, giving each person the freedom to choose their profession and workplace. The right to work does not mean that every person is guaranteed employment, but the opportunity for everyone to provide means of subsistence with work that he or she chose to do freely. The Right is only foreseen as a right, and not as an obligation. This means that a person may consider it reasonable not to work, even though the ability to work is there. Forcible and violent work is forbidden.

Example: You, as a graduate lawyer, have fulfilled all the criteria for practicing the profession as a Lawyer, as a free profession. However, the competent body does not grant you permission to exercise such a function, arguing that there is a large number of lawyers. In such a case, your right to work and exercise the profession has been violated.

The Constitution of Kosovo guarantees and protects the rights of the child by stipulating that: children enjoy the right to protection and care necessary for their wellbeing, children born out of wedlock have equal rights to those born in marriage.
In addition, children have the right to be protected from various forms of violence and mistreatment, and all actions undertaken by public or private authorities concerning children shall be in the best interest of the children.
Children enjoy the right to regular personal relations and direct contact with parents, unless a competent institution determines that this is in contradiction with the best interest of the child.

Example: Your brother is a very quiet child in everyday life, but one day in the kindergarten, he does not obey the guidance of the teacher/caretaker. The caretaker, noticing that your brother is not obeying the rules, starts to use violence against him even by beating him. In such a case, there is a violation of the rights of the child.

Each individual enjoys the right of mental and physical health protection. Social protection includes the rights of health insurance and other rights in the event of illness, rights in the event of pregnancy, birth, reduction or loss of work ability, unemployment and old age, and for members of the family, the right to health care, the right to family pension and other social security rights. Special protection is provided to persons with disabilities, war veterans and war victims.

Example: Nita is an economist and works for the “Money” bank in Prishtina. Nita is pregnant and is expecting her first child. After some health complications, two weeks before giving birth, the doctor recommends that she takes a break from work and stay at hospital because the baby is at risk. Once Nita sends the doctor’s certificate to her employer, he refuses the doctor’s recommended break and summons her to return to work. In this case, Nita’s right to health and social protection has been violated.

Everyone has the right to seek protection if any right has been violated. Rights can be protected by following judicial proceedings and everyone has the right to a fair and impartial trial based on the law.

Example: You have signed a contract with your friend Andi to purchase a car. While you have transferred the amount of money required to buy a car, Andi did not fulfill his obligation, and does not hand over the car. For this reason, you initially initiate the proceedings at the Basic Court. If the Basic Court refuses your claim, and neither the Appellate Court nor the Supreme Court are responsive, then in such case, we are dealing with human rights violations because you are being denied the right to judicial protection guaranteed by the Constitution. In such case, you may refer the case and seek protection at the Constitutional Court, in accordance with the provisions of the Kosovo Constitution.

Initially, state of emergency is considered a war or any other public danger that threatens the survival of the nation. In such cases there may be deviations from the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution but only to the extent necessary under certain circumstances.
Some rights are guaranteed and can not be violated even in a state of emergency, and some of them are the right to life, the right to dignity, and slavery.

Kosovo as a multiethnic state guarantees the rights of all communities. The Constitution guarantees to community members the rights to: express, maintain and develop their culture and preserve the essential elements of their identity, namely their religion, language, traditions and culture, the right to use their symbols in public places, the right to use the language and to write, the right to education in his / her own language, the right to establish private educational institutions, the right to use his / her name and surname in his or her native language, and in areas where significant populations are concerned, traditional local names, street names, settlements and topographic signs are also written in their own language, the right to impartial and timely information in their own language, including the right to express, receive, dispatch and exchange information and ideas, the right to establish own means of public information, in accordance with the law.
These rights are presented as individual, as well as collective rights (community). Minority collective rights means that communities, either directly or through representation by their elected representatives, participate in decision-making or decide on specific issues related to education, culture, information and official use of their language and writing.

Example: Roma community members in Kosovo want to publish a daily newspaper in the Roma language. Upon understanding this, the competent body forbids it by arguing that the Roma language is not an official language in Kosovo and that they are not entitled to because they do not constitute the majority of the population in Kosovo. In this case there was an ethnic discrimination against the Roma community, and their right to use their language and writing as well as the right to full and timely information in their own language has been violated.