By Xhezair Zaganjori
Chief Justice at the Supreme Court of Albania
We are now in the phase of drafting amendments of the constitutional and legal framework that relates to the justice system. The aim of this important reform is the improvement of the functioning of the judiciary system and to lay strong legal and institutional foundations for it.
We’re aware of the fact that the European Union, where we want to integrate, is a union of values. Its foundations are made of the principles of democracy, rule of law and protection of human rights and liberties. This is why the continuous request coming from Brussels and other international partners for us, to respect these values which are not negotiable for western democracies, come naturally.
For a consolidated judiciary system
In every democratic state, the judiciary system plays an important role in society, because it’s closely tied to the notion of “justice”, as one of the universal values and virtues of social life. The foundation stone of every governing system relates to the sustainable way in which it offers justice. This is why the first president of the United States of America, George Washington, used to say in a visionary way that: “Administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government.
Such consolidated judiciary system alone, contributes in preserving the stability of social and economic reports, in solving conflicts, protecting individuals rights and liberties, introduction of social peace and the creation of a safe and suitable climate for foreign investments and the business.
Nihilist stances must not be accepted
There’s no doubt that in the recent years, there have been improvements and achievements in the domain of the judiciary system, which have been praised by everyone. Not recognizing them or denying them is a nihilistic approach, which must not be accepted.
Through budget funds and the financial assistance from the EU and other international partners, the infrastructure of a number of courts has been renewed, with suitable spaces for the work of judges, accommodation of the public and quality judiciary services. However, there’s still much to do in this aspect. On the other hand, the majority of judges are serious in their work, they are committed, and show integrity and professionalism while doing their job.
There have also been improvements in introducing and using modern information and technology in courts; the professional level of judges has improved; administrative court has been set up and it’s functioning; legislation has been harmonized with European law and the best practices; the legal framework for the prevention and fight against corruption has been improved, etc.
But, at the same time, we must also admit the fact that we face serious problems on a daily basis, demanding a solution.
The problems that the Albanian judicial system faces
The judicial system is not at the right level in many aspects, remaining far from European standards. This is clearly pointed out by the criticism articulated in the EU annual progress reports for our country.
The number of Albanian judges in relation to the number of population is among the lowest ones compared to EU member countries, but also other countries of the region; courts face a high number of cases and considering the insufficient amount of judges, delays are caused in offering justice; parties spend many hours in court and public’s faith in the judiciary system continues to remain very low.
Thus, our courts continue to suffer the lack of credibility. This lack of credibility comes as a result of corruption, lack of transparency, low quality of judicial verdicts, inadequate working conditions, inadequate communication with the media and the public in general; poor quality of work by the judiciary instances; a lack of active involvement of judges in discussions and decision making for important issues, etc.
In current circumstances, the imperative objective is to successfully finalize the process of reforms which has started in the judicial system, in order to build institutional and social life in the Albanian society based on the rule of law.
All inclusiveness in the justice reform
Praising the work and the efforts of the Parliamentary Committee, I think that the process of reform in the justice system should have been more comprehensive and trust on all levels of the judiciary system should have been greater.
We need and are interested to draft a constitutional, legal and institutional framework, which incorporates international standards in justice and adopts models and systems that have proven to be effective and successful. Under the current pressure, we must not experiment with new models that have not been tried in practice by other countries. Our efforts and contributions in the justice system reform must focus on defining a simple constitutional and legal framework, solid and functional.
The consequences of the situation in the judicial system
We can no longer justify ourselves in front of the public opinion and international partners about the current situation of the judicial system. The consequences of this situation are suffered by the Albanian society, with political, economic and social costs for the country.
Now it’s the right time for us to show our readiness, determination, commitment and responsibility to initiate and undertake substantial multi-dimensional reforms. By undertaking transforming actions, we must make the justice system healthier, promote its independence, strengthen and boost public trust and remove corrupt and incompetent judges from its ranks. For this reason, we, as judges, have the professional obligation, but also a civil obligation to channel all our energies, knowledge and capacities into successfully realizing this reform, by offering our contribution in the process of drafting and implementing this reform.
We are not alone
The process of the reform has not been finalized. We are still in time to offer our insights. We are not alone in this process. We are really lucky to have the attention and assistance of the USA and EU and other international partners, which will act as a guarantee for the success of this reform. /ibna/