Draft laws should be discussed in inclusive manner

The Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC) has continuously had at the center of its attention the study of legal initiatives in order to assess and suggest improvements that would guarantee higher standards of respect for human rights and freedoms as well as preserve and strengthen the rule of law. AHC has reacted especially in some cases with regard to procedures followed for the review and approval of draft laws. Inclusivity in this process is a democratic value and a guarantee to see draft laws from different standpoints, adapt them better to constitutional principles and legislation in force, the needs of the country’s democratic development, as well as to prevent interests or standpoints of certain sectors of the public administration, of groups of interest, to the detriment of the rest of citizens.

In recent days, AHC has become aware of some important lawmaking initiatives that are related to the organization and functioning of important state structures that have a major impact on the lives of the country’s citizens. As such, we may mention the draft law “On State Police” as well as two legal initiatives by a group of MPs for additions and amendments to the law “On the Magistrates School” and “On the organization and functioning of the HCJ.”

With regard to the draft law “On State Police,” AHC has submitted to the Assembly an extensive material that contains remarks and suggestions as it is of the opinion that the draft law has room for improvements; this would better guarantee respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution and by law. However, we are of the opinion that it would be better for the draft law to go through the review and approval procedure after the approval of the package of improvements to the Penal Procedure Code, given that this important law conditions many of the functions and competences of State Police. On the other hand, the draft law should be subjected more broadly to consultations and discussions among government structures, groups of justice professionals, groups of interest, and the civil society, by making the proper time available to them.

With regard ot the legal initiative of a group of MPs, AHC wishes to emphasize that, while it formally considers it in accordance with article 81/1 of the Constitution, our opinion is that all lawmaking initiatives should be subjected, equally, to the same procedures of review and approval, according to the Constitution and the laws and standards of a democratic state. Nevertheless, objectiveness, the necessary time and space and inclusivity in discussing them are essential requirements for a democratic society and state. This is even more essential when it comes to interventions into legislation that regulates the activity of the judicial power.

For these reasons, AHC suggests that it would be more effective that these lawmaking initiatives are subjected to open preliminary discussion and debate, in an inclusive manner, soliciting especially the views of professionals and specialists of the area, as well as the broader public. We would like for international structures, which have been present and active in Albania for years, to speak out also publicly about their assessment of important draft laws that the country needs to improve or approve, in order to deter political abuse with regard to their stance.

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