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Kosovo's parliament passes law on renting prison cells to Denmark

A view of he 300-cell prison in Gjilan, 50 kilometres south east of the capital Pristina, Kosovo where Denmark's would run the new 300-cell facility, on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. (AP Photo / str) A view of he 300-cell prison in Gjilan, 50 kilometres south east of the capital Pristina, Kosovo where Denmark's would run the new 300-cell facility, on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. (AP Photo / str)
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Kosovo’s parliament approved a draft law Thursday on renting prison cells to Denmark to help it cope with its overpopulated prison system.

The parliament voted 86-7, with no abstentions, in favor of the agreement which offers for a 10-year rent to Denmark 300 cells at the prison in Gjilan, 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of the capital Pristina.

After failing to pass it in the previous week's session, Kosovo's government offered a redrafted law on the treaty, which was signed by the two countries in April and May 2022. The draft law needed at least 80, or two-thirds of the 120-seat parliament to pass.

Kosovo will be paid 210 million euros (US$227 million) by Denmark which will be spent on the country’s correctional institutions and renewable energy projects.

Kosovo will profit from the exchange of the best practices, strengthening and the application of the international standards in the correctional system and more, according to the Justice Ministry.

Denmark's Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard called the decision by Kosovo's parliament “really good news”.

“It is crucial for us to secure more Danish prison places and will contribute to getting our hard-pressed prison system back into balance,” Hummelgaard said in a statement. “At the same time, it sends a clear signal to foreign criminals that their future is not in Denmark, and therefore they should not serve time here either.”

Foreigners sentenced to deportation must serve their time in Kosovo under the same conditions as in a prison in Denmark, according to the statement. The execution of sentences in the prison in Kosovo must be in accordance with Denmark’s international obligations.

The treaty provides for the possibility of deporting foreigners directly to their home country after the end of their sentence in Kosovo.

Denmark won’t be able to send inmates convicted of terrorism or war crimes, or mentally ill prisoners. A Danish warden will run the facility, accompanied by local staff.

Kosovo’s prison system has a capacity of up to 2,800. It wasn’t immediately possible to find out the current number of vacancies.

Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania; Associated Press writer Jan Olsen contributed from Copenhagen, Denmark. 

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