Fundamental Rights and Freedoms

Article 21 [General Principles]

1. Human rights and fundamental freedoms are indivisible, inalienable and inviolable and are the basis of the legal order of the Republic of Kosovo.

2. The Republic of Kosovo protects and guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms as provided by this Constitution.

3. Everyone must respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others.

4. Fundamental rights and freedoms set forth in the Constitution are also valid for legal persons to the extent applicable.

Article 22 [Direct Applicability of International Agreements and Instruments]

Human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the following international agreements and instruments are guaranteed by this Constitution, are directly applicable in the Republic of Kosovo and, in the case of conflict, have priority over provisions of laws and other acts of public institutions:

(1) Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

(2) European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols;

(3) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Protocols;

(4) Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities;

(5) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;

(6) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;

(7) Convention on the Rights of the Child;

(8) Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

Article 23 [Human Dignity]

Human dignity is inviolable and is the basis of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Article 24 [Equality Before the Law]

1. All are equal before the law. Everyone enjoys the right to equal legal protection without discrimination.

2. No one shall be discriminated against on grounds of race, color, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, relation to any community, property, economic and social condition, sexual orientation, birth, disability or other personal status.

3. Principles of equal legal protection shall not prevent the imposition of measures necessary to protect and advance the rights of individuals and groups who are in unequal positions.  Such measures shall be applied only until the purposes for which they are imposed have been fulfilled.

Article 25 [Right to Life]

1. Every individual enjoys the right to life.

2. Capital punishment is forbidden.

Article 26 [Right to Personal Integrity]

Every person enjoys the right to have his/her physical and psychological integrity respected, which includes:

(1) the right to make decisions in relation to reproduction in accordance with the rules and procedures set forth by law;

(2) the right to have control over her/his body in accordance with law;

(3) the right not to undergo medical treatment against his/her will as provided by law;

(4) the right not to participate in medical or scientific experiments without her/his prior consent.

Article 27 [Prohibition of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment]

No one shall be subject to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 28 [Prohibition of Slavery and Forced Labor]
1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

2. No one shall be required to perform forced labor. Labor or services provided by law by persons convicted by a final court decision while serving their sentence or during a State of Emergency declared in compliance with the rules set forth in this Constitution shall not be considered as forced labor. 

3. Trafficking in persons is forbidden.

Article 29 [Right to Liberty and Security]

1. Everyone is guaranteed the right to liberty and security.  No one shall be deprived of liberty except in the cases foreseen by law and after a decision of a competent court as follows:

(1) pursuant to a sentence of imprisonment for committing a criminal act;

(2) for reasonable suspicion of having committed a criminal act, only when deprivation of liberty is reasonably considered necessary to prevent commission of another criminal act, and only for a limited time before trial as provided by law;

(3) for the purpose of educational supervision of a minor or for the purpose of bringing the minor before a competent institution in accordance with a lawful order;

(4) for the purpose of medical supervision of a person who because of disease represents a danger to society;

(5) for illegal entry into the Republic of Kosovo or pursuant to a lawful order of expulsion or extradition.

2. Everyone who is deprived of liberty shall be promptly informed, in a language he/she understands, of the reasons of deprivation.  The written notice on the reasons of deprivation shall be provided as soon as possible. Everyone who is deprived of liberty without a court order shall be brought within forty-eight (48) hours before a judge who decides on her/his detention or release not later than forty-eight (48) hours from the moment the detained person is brought before the court.  Everyone who is arrested shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time and to release pending trial, unless the judge concludes that the person is a danger to the community or presents a substantial risk of fleeing before trial.

3. Everyone who is deprived of liberty shall be promptly informed of his/her right not to make any statements, right to defense counsel of her/his choosing, and the right to promptly communicate with a person of his/her choosing.

4. Everyone who is deprived of liberty by arrest or detention enjoys the right to use legal remedies to challenge the lawfulness of the arrest or detention.  The case shall be speedily decided by a court and release shall be ordered if the arrest or detention is determined to be unlawful.

5. Everyone who has been detained or arrested in contradiction with the provisions of this article has a right to compensation in a manner provided by law.

6. An individual who is sentenced has the right to challenge the conditions of detention in a manner provided by law.

Article 30 [Rights of the Accused]

Everyone charged with a criminal offense shall enjoy the following minimum rights:

(1) to be promptly informed, in a language that she/he understands, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him/her;

(2) to be promptly informed of her/his rights according to law;

(3) to have adequate time, facilities and remedies for the preparation of his/her defense;

(4) to have free assistance of an interpreter if she/he cannot understand or speak the language used in court;

(5) 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;

(6) to not be forced to testify against oneself or admit one’s guilt.

Article 31 [Right to Fair and Impartial Trial]

1. Everyone shall be guaranteed equal protection of rights in the proceedings before courts, other state authorities and holders of public powers.

2. Everyone is entitled to a fair and impartial public hearing as to the determination of one’s rights and obligations or as to any criminal charges within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.

3. Trials shall be open to the public except in limited circumstances in which the court determines that in the interest of justice the public or the media should be excluded because their presence would endanger public order, national security, the interests of minors or the privacy of parties in the process in accordance with law. 

4. Everyone charged with a criminal offense has the right to examine witnesses and to obtain the obligatory attendance of witnesses, experts and other persons who may clarify the evidence.

5. Everyone charged with a criminal offense is presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law.

6. Free legal assistance shall be provided to those without sufficient financial means if such assistance is necessary to ensure effective access to justice.

7. Judicial proceedings involving minors shall be regulated by law respecting special rules and procedures for juveniles.

Article 32 [Right to Legal Remedies]

Every person has the right to pursue legal remedies against judicial and administrative decisions which infringe on his/her rights or interests, in the manner provided by law.

Article 33 [The Principle of Legality and Proportionality in Criminal Cases]

1. No one shall be charged or punished for any act which did not constitute a penal offense under law at the time it was committed, except acts that at the time they were committed constituted genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity according to international law.

2. No punishment for a criminal act shall exceed the penalty provided by law at the time the criminal act was committed.

3. The degree of punishment cannot be disproportional to the criminal offense.

4. Punishments shall be administered in accordance with the law in force at the time a criminal act was committed, unless the penalties in a subsequent applicable law are more favorable to the perpetrator.

Article 34 [Right not to be Tried Twice for the Same Criminal Act]
No one shall be tried more than once for the same criminal act.

Article 35 [Freedom of Movement]

1. Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo and foreigners who are legal residents of Kosovo have the right to move freely throughout the Republic of Kosovo and choose their location of residence.

2. Each person has the right to leave the country.  Limitations on this right may be regulated by law if they are necessary for legal proceedings, enforcement of a court decision or the performance of a national defense obligation.

3. Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo shall not be deprived the right of entry into Kosovo.

4. Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo shall not be extradited from Kosovo against their will except for cases when otherwise required by international law and agreements.

5. The right of foreigners to enter the Republic of Kosovo and reside in the country shall be defined by law.

Article 36 [Right to Privacy]

1. Everyone enjoys the right to have her/his private and family life respected, the inviolability of residence, and the confidentiality of correspondence, telecommunication and other communication.

2. Searches of any private dwelling or establishment that are deemed necessary for the investigation of a crime may be conducted only to the extent necessary and only after approval by a court after a showing of the reasons why such a search is necessary.   Derogation from this rule is permitted if it is necessary for a lawful arrest, to collect evidence which might be in danger of loss or to avoid direct and serious risk to humans and property as defined by law.  A court must retroactively approve such actions.

3. Secrecy of correspondence, telephony and other communication is an inviolable right. This right may only be limited temporarily by court decision if it is necessary for criminal proceedings or defense of the country as defined by law.

4. Every person enjoys the right of protection of personal data. Collection, preservation, access, correction and use of personal data are regulated by law.

Article 37 [Right to Marriage and Family]

1. Based on free will, everyone enjoys the right to marry and the right to have a family as provided by law.

2. Marriage and divorce are regulated by law and are based on the equality of spouses.

3. Family enjoys special protection by the state in a manner provided by law.

Article 38 [Freedom of Belief, Conscience and Religion]

1. Freedom of belief, conscience and religion is guaranteed.

2. Freedom of belief, conscience and religion includes the right to accept and manifest religion, the right to express personal beliefs and the right to accept or refuse membership in a religious community or group.

3. No one shall be required to practice or be prevented from practicing religion nor shall anyone be required to make his/her opinions and beliefs public.

4. Freedom of manifesting religion, beliefs and conscience may be limited by law if it is necessary to protect public safety and order or the health or rights of other persons.

Article 39 [Religious Denominations]

1. The Republic of Kosovo ensures and protects religious autonomy and religious monuments within its territory.

2. Religious denominations are free to independently regulate their internal organization, religious activities and religious ceremonies.

3. Religious denominations have the right to establish religious schools and charity institutions in accordance with this Constitution and the law.

Article 40 [Freedom of Expression]

1. Freedom of expression is guaranteed.  Freedom of expression includes the right to express oneself, to disseminate and receive information, opinions and other messages without impediment.

2. The freedom of expression can be limited by law in cases when it is necessary to prevent encouragement or provocation of violence and hostility on grounds of race, nationality, ethnicity or religion.

Article 41 [Right of Access to Public Documents]
1. Every person enjoys the right of access to public documents.

2. Documents of public institutions and organs of state authorities are public, except for information that is limited by law due to privacy, business trade secrets or security classification.

Article 42 [Freedom of Media]

1. Freedom and pluralism of media is guaranteed.

2. Censorship is forbidden.  No one shall prevent the dissemination of information or ideas through media, except if it is necessary to prevent encouragement or provocation of violence and hostility on grounds of race, nationality, ethnicity or religion.

3. Everyone has the right to correct untrue, incomplete and inaccurate published information, if it violates her/his rights and interests in accordance with the law.

Article 43 [Freedom of Gathering]

Freedom of peaceful gathering is guaranteed. Every person has the right to organize gatherings, protests and demonstrations and the right to participate in them. These rights may be limited by law, if it is necessary to safeguard public order, public health, national security or the protection of the rights of others.

Article 44 [Freedom of Association]

1. The freedom of association is guaranteed. The freedom of association includes the right of everyone to establish an organization without obtaining any permission, to be or not to be a member of any organization and to participate in the activities of an organization.

2. The freedom to establish trade unions and to organize with the intent to protect interests is guaranteed. This right may be limited by law for specific categories of employees.

3. Organizations or activities that infringe on the constitutional order, violate human rights and freedoms or encourage racial, national, ethnic or religious hatred may be prohibited by a decision of a competent court.

Article 45 [Freedom of Election and Participation]

1. Every citizen of the Republic of Kosovo who has reached the age of eighteen, even if on the day of elections, has the right to elect and be elected, unless this right is limited by a court decision.

2. The vote is personal, equal, free and secret.

3. State institutions support the possibility of every person to participate in public activities and everyone’s right to democratically influence decisions of public bodies.

Article 46 [Protection of Property]

1. The right to own property is guaranteed.

2. Use of property is regulated by law in accordance with the public interest. 

3. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of property. The Republic of Kosovo or a public authority of the Republic of Kosovo may expropriate property if such expropriation is authorized by law, is necessary or appropriate to the achievement of a public purpose or the promotion of the public interest, and is followed by the provision of immediate and adequate compensation to the person or persons whose property has been expropriated.

4. Disputes arising from an act of the Republic of Kosovo or a public authority of the Republic of Kosovo that is alleged to constitute an expropriation shall be settled by a competent court.

5. Intellectual property is protected by law.

Article 47 [Right to Education]

1. Every person enjoys the right to free basic education.  Mandatory education is regulated by law and funded by public funds.

2. Public institutions shall ensure equal opportunities to education for everyone in accordance with their specific abilities and needs.

Article 48 [Freedom of Art and Science]

1. The freedom of artistic and scientific creativity is guaranteed.

2. Academic freedom is guaranteed.

Article 49 [Right to Work and Exercise Profession]

1. The right to work is guaranteed.

2. Every person is free to choose his/her profession and occupation.

Article 50 [Rights of Children]

1. Children enjoy the right to protection and care necessary for their wellbeing.

2. Children born out of wedlock have equal rights to those born in marriage.

3. Every child enjoys the right to be protected from violence, maltreatment and exploitation.

4. All actions undertaken by public or private authorities concerning children shall be in the best interest of the children.

5. Every child enjoys 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.

Article 51 [Health and Social Protection]

1. Healthcare and social insurance are regulated by law.

2. Basic social insurance related to unemployment, disease, disability and old age shall be regulated by law.

Article 52 [Responsibility for the Environment]

1. Nature and biodiversity, environment and national inheritance are everyone’s responsibility.

2. Everyone should be provided an opportunity to be heard by public institutions and have their opinions considered on issues that impact the environment in which they live.

3. The impact on the environment shall be considered by public institutions in their decision making processes.

Article 53 [Interpretation of Human Rights Provisions]

Human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by this Constitution shall be interpreted consistent with the court decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

Article 54 [Judicial Protection of Rights]

Everyone enjoys the right of judicial protection if any right guaranteed by this Constitution or by law has been violated or denied and has the right to an effective legal remedy if found that such right has been violated.

Article 55 [Limitations on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms]

1. Fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by this Constitution may only be limited by law.

2. Fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by this Constitution may be limited to the extent necessary for the fulfillment of the purpose of the limitation in an open and democratic society.

3. Fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by this Constitution may not be limited for purposes other than those for which they were provided.

4. In cases of limitations of human rights or the interpretation of those limitations; all public authorities, and in particular courts, shall pay special attention to the essence of the right limited, the importance of the purpose of the limitation, the nature and extent of the limitation, the relation between the limitation and the purpose to be achieved and the review of the possibility of achieving the purpose with a lesser limitation.

5. The limitation of fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by this Constitution shall in no way deny the essence of the guaranteed right.

Article 56 [Fundamental Rights and Freedoms During a State of Emergency]

1. Derogation of the fundamental rights and freedoms protected by this Constitution may only occur following the declaration of a State of Emergency as provided by this Constitution and only to the extent necessary under the relevant circumstances.

2. Derogation of the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by Articles 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 31, 33, 34, 37 and 38 of this Constitution shall not be permitted under any circumstances.

Constitutional Chapters

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Photos from public debates