7.11.2012, SETimes, Kosovo, Serbia deploy police attachés

SETimes, 7.11.2012.

setimes

In what legal experts are calling a "significant step," Serbia and Kosovo have deployed police attachés abroad to support judicial authorities against transnational crime.

Serbia currently has attachés in five nations -- United States, Russia, Macedonia, Romania and Slovenia. The interior and foreign affairs ministries in Kosovo also recently reached an agreement to send as many as five attachés abroad.

Afrim Hoti, lecturer of international law and politics at the University of Pristina, told SETimes it is important for Kosovo to have permanent contacts with members of the EU. "In this respect, it is very necessary through these channels to exchange information in order to act and co-ordinate the prevention and fight against crime," Hoti said.

Hoti added that it is critical for authorities to focus on fighting crime in Kosovo, "but I do not see anything wrong to send such personnel in our [diplomatic] missions abroad, as long as they stick to professional criteria and respect budgetary possibilities."

Dragan Djukanovic, from the European Movement in Serbia, said the police attaché positions -- which are delegated and financed by the interior ministry -- are part of interpolice relations.

"This position is very important for the establishment of co-operation among organs of internal affairs of some states," Djukanovic said. Baki Kelani, Kosovo police spokesperson, told SETimes the country is still determining how many attachés it will deploy and their destinations.

While attachés can play key roles in international police work, experts in Serbia and Kosovo say there are still issues that need to be addressed.

Jan Litavski, security adviser at the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies in Belgrade, said the method of police attaché selection has to be transparent in order for their work to be effective.

"Their status, powers and responsibilities are not regulated by current police law, and this should be done by changes and amendment," Litavski told SETimes.

Dalibor Kekic, professor at the Criminal Police Academy in Belgrade, said police attachés don't always have full diplomatic immunity, but argues that they should.

"In order to improve security situations on regional and global levels, as well as international relations in this field, it is necessary to empower police attaches with the same authorities as other diplomats have, even like military," Kekic said.

In Kosovo, police co-operation with other countries and international organisations is difficult, as many nations do not formally recognise the country's independence. Co-operation with Interpol and its centres is done through Interpol UNMIK, an office which functions as part of the UN Mission in Kosovo. Co-operation with Serbia is done through EULEX.

By Muhamet Brajshori and Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Pristina and Belgrade