6 March 2020
Students of our Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Transitional Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law (MTJ) spent, as part of the programme’s annual study trip, four days in Kosovo where they met with a wide range of experts and institutions involved in post-conflict reconstruction and the rule of law.
‘The study trip forms an integral part of the programme and allows students to learn about how, in a specific context, institutions are dealing with the past, victims’ representation or the re-establishment of the rule of law’ explains Frank Haldemann, Co-Director of the MTJ.
‘As the study trip takes place at the beginning of the second semester, students already acquired the necessary tools to analyse a specific situation and ask the right questions. As they are directly involved in the organization of the trip, they also come well prepared and with a good understanding of the challenges and dynamics at play’ stresses Thomas Unger, Co-Director of the MTJ.
In meetings with government officials and parliamentarians, students could discuss and exchange around transitional justice issues and challenges in Kosovo.
Parliamentarian Saranda Bogujevci shared with students her personal experience as a survivor of the war and her path to representing her fellow citizens and survivors as a member of the Parliament.
The Speaker of the Parliament Vjosa Osmani – the first woman to hold such a position in the Balkans region – notably exchanged around preparatory work to establish a truth and reconciliation commission.
Students also had the opportunity to meet with Abulena Haxhiu, Minister of Justice and discuss with her Kosovo's agenda for transitional justice and dealing with the past. In the meeting Nazlie Bala, a prominent women's rights defender now working at the Ministry also shared her experience providing support to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
‘This study trip to Kosovo has been an eye-opener. We had the privilege to meet representatives of the government and civil society. We met with the speaker of the parliament Ms Vjosa R. Osmani as well as the minister of justice Ms Albulena Haxhiu during their first days of office. We also heard personal stories of war's survivors and their experiences in the aftermath of the conflict in particular with international justice. It was a unique opportunity to put in perspective what we learned in class ’ says Jessica Guez.
Students met with staff from the Kosova Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, an organization that provides psychosocial support to survivors of torture and sexual violence and carry out campaigns to tackle the stigma around it.
‘It was inspiring and fascinating to see the active involvement of women in parliament, justice institutions, civil society organizations, who faced the war and are now contributing to accountability, memorialization, victims’ recognition, gender equality, and truth-seeking processes in Kosovo. The school notes, shoes, clothes, marbles of children at the ‘Once Upon a Time and Never Again‘ exhibition deeply touched the hearts of each and everyone and delivers a clear reminder that children are particularly vulnerable in situations of armed conflict and that documenting and memorialization actions can play a vital role in avoiding the return of violence‘ says Cholpon Kainazarova.
Students also visited Prizren to explore the country a little bit and unwind after the meetings in Pristina and the exam session that took place prior to the trip.
‘Prizren is a beautiful old town located two hours drive away from Pristina. Prizren's old town is filled with Ottoman-era architecture. At the time of our trip, trees in the streets of Prizren were wrapped in knitwear made by women to support the victims of sexual and gender-based violence‘ explains Ana Theresa Corzanego Khatounian.
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