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Searching for to ease crowding, Denmark to ship prisoners to Kosovo

COPENHAGEN, Denmark: Kosovo and Denmark are have completed negotiating a rental agreement for 300 prison cells, to enable the Scandinavian country to reduce the number of prisoners in its overpopulated prison system, while helping the Balkan country upgrade its correctional service infrastructure and deal with its energy crisis.

The Denmark justice ministry stated that Kosovo would be paid $236 million by Denmark for a 10-year agreement.

Danish Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup earlier said the agreement with Kosovo would help “expand the prison capacity in Denmark by several hundred places.”

Eris Hana, a senior legal adviser at Kosovo’s justice ministry and part of the negotiating team, said the agreement includes a donation to help Kosovo utilize green energy worth “more than $68 million over 10 years.”

Kosovo’s struggling energy system, exclusively based on burning coal, only produces 60 percent of its daily requirements, resulting in daily power cuts.

Regarding the agreement, Haekkerup said, “It will be a groundbreaking and historic agreement that will both create space in our prisons and ease the pressure on our prison officers,” adding that Denmark will expand its prison capacity by creating 326 new vacancies in existing jails.

Kosovo’s prison system has a capacity of up to 2,000, with 400 spaces now unoccupied.

Hana said that as part of the plan, the 300-cell prison in Gjilan, 30 miles southeast of the capital, Pristina, will be used to hold Danish inmates.

A Danish warden will run the new facility, supported by a local warden and other staff.

Fatmira Haliti from the nonprofit organization, the Kosovo Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, said transferring some 200 inmates from Gjilan prison to make way for Danish prisoners will overpopulate other prisons.

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Despite systemic improvements and some new facilities in recent years, “Kosovo’s correctional service leaves much to desire and can hardly be compared to those in Denmark,” Haliti said.

The completed agreement is expected to be signed early next year, before being sent to the parliaments of both countries for approval.