Will the much debated justice system in Albania be reformed?

Will the much debated justice system in Albania be reformed?

IBNA Special Report/The president gathers political parties in a round-table for the reformation of the Albanian justice system. Pro and cons

Tirana, October 6, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

President of the Republic, Bujar Nishani, in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, has gathered on Monday morning the heads of all parliamentary political forces, in majority and opposition in a round-table. The scope of the national conference is the reformation of the Albanian justice system.

This conference comes with the numerous critics of the international diplomacy over what it considers as abuses in the judicial system in Albania and the high level of corruption. The European Commission has demanded the Albanian authorities to carry out the reform in the justice system, as one of the main criteria for the integration of the country in the European Union, after being recognized as a candidate for EU membership in June.

As shown by the photo, the main panel consists of the speaker of Parliament, Ilir Meta, Prime Minister Edi Rama, head of the opposition, Lulzim Basha and members of the Parliamentary Law Committee.

Heads of justice independent institutions are also present in the conference. Present in the roundtable on the justice system, which will continue throughout Monday, will also be representatives of foreign organizations, who have been supporting and monitoring the justice system in Albania for several years.

This is the second round-table being held on the reform in the justice system, held by Mr. Nishani, since he took office as president of the Republic.

Rama cancelled his agenda

In the middle of this month, the parliamentary law committee has planned on starting drastic changes on the justice system in the country.

Nishani’s roundtable was accompanied with the decision of prime minister Edi Rama to cancel his plans to organize a round-table on the reform in the justice system. Before the start of the round-table, Mr. Rama had confirmed the suspension of the process: “We were prepared. The Minister of Justice and head of the Law Committee, as two important parts of the process, had prepared the draft on the National Conference on the Reform in the Justice system and as soon as we were acquainted with the President’s incentive, we addressed to him. We didn’t advance with the conference organized by the government. We’re waiting on the date set by the president to be part of the opening of this process, along with all the others. This reflects the way we want to do things”, said Mr. Rama.

Halimi: Today’s opposition is different from yesterday’s

Former minister of Justice, Eduard Halimi says that things have changed: “Today’s opposition is different from yesterday’s. It must be involved in reforms which are in the best interest of the citizens and the country”. Stopping on the reform in the justice system, he says that it must be made in public round-tables. According to the democrat MP, meetings such as this one organized by the president, are sufficient to make changes in the laws that regulate the justice system.

Nevertheless, they require voting in parliament. Mr. Halimi says that the opposition doesn’t consider its presence in parliament to conduct these reforms as necessary.

“If the reform will be made in parliament and was started by the government with the personal package in the justice system, it means that this is only being done to replace some people and control the justice system”, notes Halimi. He reminds the fact that the EU wants the reform in the justice system to be guided by international experts.

Halimi says that the opposition has prepared concrete proposals for the reform in the justice system, which he said that they will be presented to the president, who is also the head of the Supreme Council of Justice, the highest institution of the justice system in Albania.

“We’re saying yes to the fight against corruption, but we don’t want it to be used as an alibi to have the system under control”, says Halimi. According to him, “the worst enemy that threatens today the justice system is its political control”.

A panel full of criticism

Rama: 100% of international actors believe that there’s no justice in Albania

The address of the prime minister in the round-table was filled with criticism. He said that the majority of Albanians do not have faith on the Albanian justice system and that the entire international community shares the same opinion.

“90% of Albanians believe that there’s no justice in Albania.100% of the international community believe that there’s no justice in Albania”, said Rama.

He said that “justice is considered as something which is bought and not a right for everyone”.

Rama also thanked the president on his incentive and said that “the meeting for the reform in the justice system is an indicator of the good will”.

He said that the problem in the justice system is a national emergency, while adding that the reform in the justice system cannot be unbiased. Here, he called on “politics to offer the necessary conditions in order for the people who are part of the justice system, to be able to express themselves”.

The prime minister warned that “the EU will never accept us with this kind of justice system” and added that the country has “EU assistance for the reform in the justice system”.

Basha:

The leader of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha says that justice is one of the hottest topics in politics today. He said that the rule of law and the application of the court rulings are closely tied to each other.

In his address, Basha pointed out the constant accusations that the opposition that he leads has addressed to the majority. “The government and its agencies openly violate the constitutional and legal rights. There must be reformation to fight corruption in the system and this must be done by the justice system and not the government, which must keep its hands away from it. Can there be a European model of justice, when the government and majority violates the law, with the aim of controlling and exerting its influence in it”, said Mr. Basha.

The leader of the opposition also commented the July 31 package that the government said that it aims to make a drastic reformation to the justice system. “This package aims at controlling the Law School and Supreme Council of Justice. When our partners demanded to the majority to wait for the experts, the government said that this is an urgent situation. But, besides the request for the removal of the members of the Supreme Council of Justice, nothing else has happened. Populism is not a solution and to speak on behalf of the people is not a solution”, declared Basha.

Nishani: The status of judges needs improvements

“It’s a serious incentive to carry out a serious reform. It must be an all inclusive reform”, said the president of Republic, Nishani in his address. “It’s not a symbolical incentive, but a serious incentive in order to come up with a serious reform, which must be all inclusive and driven by European principles for an unbiased judicial system”, said Nishani.

The president confirms that the problem of the deformation of the judiciary system must be solved. According to him, the reform in the justice system is not only a recommendation of the EU, but a necessity. Nishani says that the reform in the justice system must be all inclusive, efficient and credible. “The driving principle of this reform must be the preservation of the principles of the Constitution. A real and efficient reform must take under consideration the fact that the justice system guarantees a normal functioning of each institution and secures a decent service for the citizens”, said Nishani.

Nishani said that the superiority of the Constitution in the hierarchy of the legal system is very important in preserving the justice system

“The justice system must be the foundation of the functioning of the rule of law. Independence, impartiality and efficiency of the judicial system must be respected by every state man or common citizen”.

According to the president, the coordinated commitment with the support and attention of the international community is the only way to successfully realize this reform.

Ahead of the Progress Report

The all inclusive round-table of the head of the state comes two days before the publication of the European Union progress report on Albania, which is the annual review of Brussels on the work of authorities in Tirana.

A good part of this progress report is expected to be occupied by the reform in the justice system, which the majority is expected to start in the middle of this month, with or without the opposition in parliament.

The citizens are skeptic for the authorities, they hope on the international community

In order to conduct a vox-pop with the citizens on the issue of the justice system, is an easy thing. Many people speak with a lot of pathos over this issue. A part of them are directly affected by the consequences of the chaos on the justice system. The decisions of the courts are controversial, there are many delays, justice is never made, violations of the law are numerous, the interpretations of the law which regulate the justice system are abusive and many other things. Above all, corruption is the main element. Almost all respondents unanimously agree on the abuse with the power of the justice system. One of them, a citizen from Tirana, a 37 year old company manager, says: “Judges now receive so much money that the majority of them have luxury houses, new cars and second holiday homes. We, who live in Tirana, face them every day and we know how rich they are. We also know how their children live in luxury. But, they forget that their wages do not exceed 700-800 Euros a month. Then, how is it possible that they circulate millions of Euros. And they do this without any fear, because the state is controlled by them”.

United States of America, European Union and Council of Europe through the Venice Commission, will monitor every step of the reform in the justice system, for which the sides will offer their insights today in this meeting, in order to come up with joint conclusions which must be followed in conducting this reform. /ibna/