Albanian parliament adopts first crucial justice reform law

By bne IntelliNews August 30, 2016

The Albanian Parliament has adopted the bill on assessment of judges and prosecutors on August 30, the first of the package of seven laws which are part of the crucial judicial reforms. The law was passed without the support of the opposition.

The law is aimed at increasing the professional and ethical responsibility of judges and prosecutors, and improving the overall quality of the justice system. The judicial reforms are needed for Albania, a candidate country since 2014, to open accession talks with the European Union.

The bill was approved with 88 votes in favour, none against and one abstention, news agency ATA reported. However, the opposition MPs left the session before the vote, claiming that the law is unconstitutional.

A day before the vote, the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) submitted 28 amendments to the law. The party also claimed that the draft does not explain explicitly the procedures for nomination and selection of candidates.

“The less political rhetoric on judicial reforms, and more commitment to the process in a responsible way, will make it possible for the system to be changed for the benefit of all Albanians,” parliament speaker Ilir Meta said in a speech before the vote, according to the assembly’s statement.

The law will provide mechanisms for assessing the moral integrity and the level of independence of Albanian judges and prosecutors.

It has 71 sections and envisages that the revaluation process include control of judges and prosecutors, taking into account three components: the assets of judges, prosecutors and other entities, detecting or identifying their links with organised crime and corruption, as well as the evaluation of their work and professional skills, ATA said.

If there is a negative assessment of one of the three components, the special commission will decide whether the candidate will undergo a special programme at the School of Magistrates, where judges and prosecutors are trained, for a period of one year.

Upon receiving a negative evaluation, the judges or prosecutors can be dismissed.

The European Union and the US have requested the rapid adoption of the legislative package in order to accelerate the implementation of the reforms. 

A total of 40 laws are expected to be voted on by the end of the justice reform process.

Broadcaster Top Channel reported earlier this month that according to preliminary calculations by the finance ministry, Albanian judicial reforms could cost around $40mn per year.

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