Strong debates on the role of the Supreme Council of Justice in Albania

Strong debates on the role of the Supreme Council of Justice in Albania

IBNA Special Report/Ahead of the reform in September which was warned by prime minister Edi Rama, there have been increasing debates in Albania between state authorities, both political camps and judges. The focus of the debate is the Supreme Council of Justice

Tirana, July 10, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

The clash started after the Supreme Council of Justice (SCJ) overthrew a request of the ministry of Justice to penalize judge Gjin Gjoni, who is accused of the High Inspectorate of the Declaration and Audit of Assets (HIDAA) for failing to declare his 1 million Euros wealth.

SCJ (photo) official said that it overthrew the proposal of the Minister of Justice, Nasip Naco for the dismissal of judge Gjin Gjoni, unable to examine the respective materials which have not been made available neither by HIDAA nor by the Ministry of Justice.

Following this decision, minister Naco refused to propose another disciplinary measure for the judge in question.

Naco’s reaction is strong: “Supreme Council of Justice openly sealed its positioning which is against the interests of the public and every Albanian to have a fair and functional justice system. SCJ admitted its joint culpability for the outrageous state of the Albanian justice system”, said the minister.

In fact, SCJ meeting was also focused on several other disciplinary measures, mainly relating to the dismissal of several judges. SCJ overthrew all of these requests.

SCJ said that the minister could not prove his claims against the judges  and that the legal conditions for their dismissal were lacking.

But, the minister has an entirely different opinion: “The defense that this Council gave to judges who outraged the entire public opinion through their declared assets which are still unjustified, is the strongest proof that the justice system in Albania has turned into a ring where judges protect each other in violation with the law and the public interest”, notes the minister.

He said that after these decisions, “the government is no longer able to collaborate with this Supreme Council of Justice”.

Knowing the restrictions that the government has over the justice system, Naco warned that they will address to parliament to discuss the future of the current SCJ.

“It’s up to MPs elected by the vote of the people to say what they want to do with the members of the Supreme Council of Justice. Will their close their eyes in front of the next outrageous decision or will they once and for all distance themselves from this outrageous decision making and contribute for a fair justice system”, said Naco.

These strong declarations issued by Naco were regarded as unacceptable by SCJ. According to SCJ, these stances are the next step of the scenario which has been prepared beforehand to put the judicial system in Albania under political control.

On the other hand, SCJ says that its decision making activity has been in compliance with the legal framework in force.

Meanwhile, it regards Naco’s warnings for the future of SCJ as “agitation and propaganda, by publicly accusing the Supreme Council of Justice and judges of this country under the pretext of the fight against corruption”.

Vice chairman of SCJ, Elvis Cefa says that an abusive campaign has been launched against this institution which is led by the President of Republic, Bujar Nishani. “This campaign of denigration against the constitutional institution of SCJ, which has started a while ago, is a tragic comical farce which hides in  itself the intention to put under political control every institution and every individual who holds a public office today”.

Cefa also comments Naco’s declarations: “I expected such reaction, after the failure of the minister to legally prove his claims in front of SCJ. Of course, he needed a justification for his bosses”.

SCJ calls on the government “to put an end to public political attacks and allow justice system to conduct judiciary trials against political exponents of the majority uninfluenced”.

Meanwhile, minister Naco insists that SCJ must undergo a reform. He says that “Supreme Council of Justice must first undergo a “self cleansing” and then scrutinize the others”.

Elements from both political camps have also been involved in this clash between state institutions.

The Socialist Party and its parliamentary group say that they’re outraged by the decision of the Supreme Council of Justice not to launch an investigation over fake declaration made by judges about their assets and the decision not to dismiss them.

Socialist MP, Blendi Klosi says that “the justice system is turning into a ring which has in it corrupted judges, who do not work to make justice, but make themselves richer at the detriment of Albanians”.

Klosi says that the justice system in Albania doesn’t function and says that “this was the reason why a year ago, Albanians voted the Coalition for a European Albania”.

He warns that this majority is determined for justice in Albania to be set in motion and for many Albanians to restore trust on the justice system.

Socialist Movement for Integration MP and vice chairman of this party, Ylli Manjani says that the situation in the Supreme Council of Justice is intolerable.

Manjani makes very strong accusations: “The Supreme Council of Justice is 100% working in favor of corruption in the justice system and in favor of incompetence that is leading today Albanian courts”.

Manjani says that “the majority of Albanians are convinced that the justice system is not at all functioning in a normal way”.

He believes that the current Supreme Council of Justice doesn’t represent Albanian judges, and to say the least, the independence of the judiciary system.

On the other hand, the opposition says that the majority aims to put the justice system under control in order not to investigate cases of corruption and criminal cases.

Democratic Party MP and former minister of Justice, Eduard Halimi accused the government of aiming to control the justice system “in order not to have problems with economic corruption of tenders, where 90% of them are made by direct procurement with the clients of the people in power”.

“This government, which holds a record as the government of political and economic corruption, before pointing its finger on the problems of the justice system, must explain before the citizens and the justice system the serious problems with the political and economic corruption”, says Halimi.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party says that “it encourages Prosecution and judicial system to promptly and efficiently investigate and punish every official in the country, in the government and the judiciary system, involved in corruption, at any time, wherever he is”.

The  President of the Republic has also been involved in this debate. During the Judicial Conference, he’s quoted to have said that a part of judges do not start their day of work without first receiving the envelope filled with money by the prosecutor, lawyer or the citizen.

Minister Naco says that he agrees with this declaration made by Nishani and adds: “The message of this declaration must not only remain in the context of words, but a close cooperation  must be formed in order to have action”. /ibna/