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Remarks

DCM Michael Murphy’s Remarks, Ferizaj/Urosevac Municipal Court

Septembar 15, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a pleasure for me to be here with the Chair of the Kosovo Judicial Council, Ms. Osmani, and our host, Judge Abdullahu.  I am proud to see all of you gathered here on the occasion of the Model Courts Consortium Meeting.

Kosovo’s declaration of independence called on the people of this country “to build a society that honors human dignity” and declared that a democratic, secular and multiethnic Kosovo would be “guided by the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection under the law.”  These and many other fundamental rights and freedoms along with the principle of an independent judiciary are enshrined in your Constitution.  It is to the credit of Kosovo’s leadership and to the citizens of this country that you have sought to define Kosovo in these terms and have embedded into your country’s founding documents the universal principles of freedom, equality and justice.   

But noble aspirations are not enough to build the country and society your founding documents describe and that the citizens of this country – Albanian, Serb and others – deserve. 

Only the hard, day-to-day work of promoting, protecting and advancing the rule of law will safeguard these noble ideals, ensure the success of Kosovo’s democracy and economy, and allow your country to take its rightful place in the Trans-Atlantic community of nations.  Without a steadfast commitment to the rule of law, none of this is possible.  And that is just what this project is about. 

The physical changes to the Ferizaj Municipal Court are readily apparent to all.  But what is even more important for the citizens of Kosovo are the many changes that you cannot see.   These internal reforms, which are also part of USAID’s Model Courts Program, are just as important as the bricks, the mortar, and the paint that went into refurbishing the building.  

The reforms are the product of a partnership between Kosovo’s judges, its court staff and the talented employees of USAID, who worked together as part of a Court Improvement Team to develop them. 
They will: 1) increase public access to the court; 2) foster greater transparency of operations at the court; and 3) improve the filing and archive systems here.     

The skill and dedication of the people involved in making Ferizaj Municipal Court a model court is commendable.   I want to thank especially the Kosovo Judicial Council for its support.  Thank you as well to our European partners for their on-going support to the Kosovo justice system.  We look forward to our continued collaboration and our continued success in improving the rule of law in Kosovo.

My Ambassador has assured you that the U.S. remains committed to our shared goal of building a democratic, law-abiding, multi-ethnic, tolerant and prosperous Kosovo.  The opening of this court today is a major step towards this goal. 

On behalf of the United States, I am pleased to rededicate the renovated Ferizaj Municipal Court.  My congratulations to you all.

And thank you, Ms. Osmani and Judge Abdullahu.