Kosovo Official: Abolish Ban on Hiring Staff Older Than 50

PRISTINA, Kosovo -- Kosovo's largest public university should abolish its ban on hiring staff who are over 50 years old, a top human rights official said Tuesday.

Kosovo's ombudsperson Sami Kurteshi said the refusal by University of Pristina to hire people who are over 50 is discriminatory and unlawful.

Kurteshi's appeal is a reaction to a recent decision by the university, which said lecturers over 50 "are not suitable to teach." He urged the country's parliament to rescind the decision.

Kurteshi is appointed by the country's parliament to investigate human rights violations by Kosovo's public institutions.

The findings of Kurteshi's office, also known as the Ombudsperson Institution, are not legally binding, but are widely expected to be enacted by Kosovo authorities.

The spokesman for the dean of the University of Pristina said the governing body would look at the findings, but did not say what the response would be.

"The decision to put an age cap was reached with the best of intentions," spokesman Jusuf Iberdemaj told the Associated Press. "The aim was to encourage young lecturers to apply."

Kosovo has one of the youngest populations in Europe. It also has one of the continent's highest unemployment rate, estimated at over 45 percent of its population of 2 million. The University of Pristina has some 50,000 students, with over 15,000 new ones joining each year.