Factors and players preventing the reform in justice

Factors and players preventing the reform in justice
This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al

By Plator Nesturi

The decision of the Supreme Council of Justice (KLD) to overrule the proposals of the minister of Justice for the impeachment of three judges, reopens once again the debate on the factors and the players who push the reform forward and those who prevent it. While the entire system has been overwhelmed by new laws and the vetting on judges and prosecutors, such decision, which dismisses the proposal for the impeachment of those who are accused of serious violations of the deadlines that exist for judges to make their rulings public or those who have released drug traffickers from prison, would seem extremely unreasonable now. However, this did happen. And immediately after this, the declaration of the minister of Justice was followed by a statement released by president Meta, who condemns the decision taken by KLD and considers it as being in total discordance with the current reality and the reforms that are being taken.

However, the decision gives way to another controversial topic, which has led to a legal gridlock on the justice system regarding the legitimacy of the institutions of justice. It’s been two years now that the Constitution has been amended. The reform foresees the creation of the new institutions of justice which have other powers. But we still continue to operate with the old institutions and laws which have been discarded long ago. The KLD itself is operating based on a transitory law because the amended Constitution has altered the situation and based on this, the KLD should no longer exist. Even the President of the country should no longer be the head of this institution of justice. KLD should have been replaced by the High Judicial Council and the High Inspectorate of Justice.

The same thing should have also happened with the prosecution. The prosecution should have been organized differently and the Prosecutor General is only given the role of an administrator. In this case, the High Council of Prosecution should be set up. This institution should not only elect the Prosecutor General, but it will also be in charge for the appointment of all prosecutors.

We are therefore in front of an absurd situation, where all the justice systems find themselves in a state of illegitimacy. Let us not forget the fact that the Constitutional Court is no longer functional, because its judges have been impeached for not passing the vetting process. Can we blame someone for this abnormal situation? Of course, politicians.  Parliament should have voted the setting up of the High Judicial Council and the High Council of Prosecution, but this issue is being dragged on endlessly. Nobody seems to rush on this issue; on the contrary, everyone seems to be gaining time.

This is where the international community is putting more pressure. On paper, we have approved the reform in the justice system and we have even amended the Constitution for this. But this is not enough. It’s true that the vetting process has started with judges and prosecutors being screened, but this cannot be done superficially. For as long as the new institutions have not been set up, nobody can say that the reform has started. Up until now, this reform has only been approved on paper and the files of the parliamentary committees which are still dealing with the candidates have not yet been voted. The functioning of the new institutions, in particular SPAK and the Bureau of Investigation are the ones that specialize in the domain of the fight against corruption and traffic and they are the institutions that everyone expects to yield results in the fight against corruption in justice and politics. While everyone is declaring that the vetting process has started, the only thing being done is a screening based on the assets that judges and prosecutors have declared. This means that we have a process of self-assessment. A thorough investigation cannot be made through self assessments, but by going deeper. Then we would really say that a vetting process is taking place. So far, we’re only seeing those judges and prosecutors who cannot justify discrepancies in their expenses and incomes, leave. Nonetheless, they seem insignificant, because they are being removed from office for a few lek, while millions are in the hands of other officials.

Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy

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