Reform in the Albanian judiciary system

Reform in the Albanian judiciary system

Tirana, 13 January 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

The group of senior experts have finalized the revision of the package of reform in the judiciary system, based on the recommendations that the Venice Commission issued a few weeks ago. The draft prepared by senior experts also contains a number of constitutional amendments. This draft comes at a time when a year and a half worth of work by foreign and domestic experts hired by the Ad Hoc Commission of the Albanian Parliament, was wasted, as the Venice Commission overthrew the entire essence of what was written out and the sides had to start everything from scratch.

Since the end of last year, when the Venice Commission sent its recommendations for the reform in the justice system, this process has become the target of political debates, although the majority and opposition claim that the experts are working.

Opposition representatives didn’t participate in the last two meetings of senior experts. They left by accusing the majority of refusing the DP’s request that the members of several justice institutions should not be elected by parliament with only three fifth of votes.

Opposition leader, Lulzim Basha, says that the request is based on the recommendations of the Venice Commission.

“Based on this clear recommendation of the Venice Commission, our experts made their respective proposals and with the help of international experts, a formula of compromise was achieved. After this, Edi Rama’s experts withdrew to consult with Edi Rama. The following day, with the return of the experts on the table, it was clear that Edi Rama’s will is to capture justice and not the reform in the justice system. Saturday’s compromise was undone and it was insisted on a 3/5 of votes, which is controlled by Rama and Meta”, Mr. Basha explains.

Constitutionalist Sokol Sadushi says that a part of the complaints of the DP have been involved in the experts’ material, while the rest, haven’t. He explains that there is no change of the voting formula with three fifths of votes.

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Drafts of the reform in the judiciary system are circulating in the recent days, but the drafters are barely addressing with the essence and how the judiciary system will work following the reform.

The experts, a part of whom tend to belong to the left and some to the right, are preparing drafts that clarify who will have control on the justice institutions and how.

The hottest topic of discussion is not how to make it impossible to buy justice with money, but whether to elect members of judicial institutions with 3/5 or 2/3 of votes in parliament.

Minister of Justice, Ylli Manjani says that more work must be done for the reform in the justice system.

Manjani says that we’re still far from the reform and that lots of time is being spent with constitutional changes. Manjani considers the reform in the justice system as a distant process, criticizing the political class of not having grasped its essence yet.

“I’m worried about the fact that we have not yet entered the essence of the reform in the justice system. We are not yet building a proper justice system which is functional. This is the essence of the reform in the justice system”.

Under these circumstances, ministry of Justice is working to prepare a draft reform. This draft reform comes after the one prepared by senior experts, didn’t find the opposition’s support.

Manjani says that consensus is very important. He explains the draft of the Minister of Justice: “It’s a draft of experts. There are no political proposals, but expert proposals.” Mr. Manjani says that after the finalization of draft prepared by senior experts and that prepared by the Ministry of Justice, there is no obstacle for the convening of the Ad Hoc commission for the judiciary reform.

On the opposition’s side, former PM Sali Berisha says that there could have been compromise for the reform in the justice system, if PM Edi Rama had not rejected the serious proposal, according to him, made by foreign experts.

“He rejected a proposal, which for me was a reasonable one, that showed that neither sides aims at capturing the system”.

Former PM Berisha accuses his descendant that with this draft, he wanted to be proclaimed chief judge and chief prosecutor. “Rama is uncorrectable, unrestrained and blind in his spree for revenge. With the steps that he’s taking, he’s doing nothing else but preventing the reform”, Mr. Berisha said.

Moreover, he accuses the head of the majority of making deals with several opposition MPs in order to pass the constitutional changes in parliament. “I’m convinced that Edi Rama will not be able to secure any votes from the opposition. In spite of the objections that they may have, opposition MPs are not criminals who are bought and sold and they do not belong to the market of crime”, said former Prime Minister Berisha.

The reform in the justice system is an issue which was carried forward from 2015 in Albania. So far, political sides have not found compromise on preparing a joint draft for this reform.

The necessary constitutional changes, which require 84 votes, are seen as “the proof of truth” for the coalition between SP-SMI and for the relations between the speaker of Parliament, Ilir Meta and PM Edi Rama and also about the fact that SMI only insists on consensus, while the head of the government doesn’t see consensus as the only path.

President: Reform in the justice system is a concluded process, unprofessional and biased

President of Republic criticizes the reform in the justice system. According to him, this is “a concluded process, unprofessional, biased and without any clear objectives”.

Bujar Nishani says that “beyond opinions and suggests made by the Venice Commission, the reform in the judiciary system, which must be comprehensive, transparent and long term, is taking place without consulting with the President of Republic”.

The President casts suspicions that the majority might try and corrupt opposition MPs in order to guarantee the necessary votes for the approval of the reform. “I’m concerned to see that there’s a scenario which aims at passing the constitutional amendments with the votes of the majority alone. But the majority doesn’t have these votes. Then, where will it find these votes in order to make sure the reform is completed? They will be taken from particular opposition MPs? How will they be secured? By corrupting them?”

At this point, the president raises another question: “Can the justice system be healed through a process which has its foundations on corruption? /ibna/