Enforcement of the laws is compulsory for all
The Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC) has addressed the High State Audit (HSA) with a request for copies of lawsuits that HSA submitted during 2014 to the Prosecutor’s Offices of Tiranë and Durrës, as well as copies of complaints by HSA to courts toward decisions by the prosecutor’s offices to not initiate or to drop penal prosecutions. This request is based on article 23 of our Constitution, which sanctions the right of everyone to be informed about the activity of state bodies, as well as on Law No. 119/2014 “On the right of access to information.”
Although three months and a half have gone by from the date of our request, the HSA has not provided a response, which is in violation of article 15 of Law no 119/2014 “ON the right of access to information,” which according to item 3, stipulates that the deadline for obtaining information in any event should not be more than 20 working days.
This delay, aside from representing a violation of the Constitution and the law has also harmed AHC’s work for studying the problem of the fight against corruption and the abuse of office. The Albanian Helsinki Committee, with support from the U.S. Embassy’s Democracy Commission Small Grants Program, is implementing a project for highlighting the Albanian investigative and adjudicative practice in penal cases related to corruption, with the purpose of increasing accountability in the justice system and the public’s trust in it, in the fight against this phenomenon. Among other things, AHC has planned, in the context of this project, to carry out a research study of the activity of the High State Audit (HSA) in addressing and filing lawsuits on potential cases of corruption or abuse of office by state officials during 2014 and the investigation of lawsuits by the Prosecutor’s Office at the Judicial District Courts of Tirana and Durrës.
The High State Audit is a constitutional body and the highest institution for economic and financial auditing that, among other things, is tasked with checking the economic activity of state institutions and other persons in the private or public sectors, as well as the use and protection of state funds by national and local government bodies (Article 163, letter ‘a’ and ‘b’ of the Constitution).
HSA also has the right and the duty, in certain cases, to address penal prosecution bodies as well as the courts, with lawsuits in accordance with article 15, letter ‘gj’ and ‘h’ of law no. 154/2014 “On the organization and functioning of the High State Audit.”
The Albanian Helsinki Committee also finds with regret that failure to provide the requested information is in contravention of the agreement established between AHC and HSA in the context of a Cooperation Agreement of 19.10.2015, which refers also to the law on the right of access to information.
In closing, we deem it necessary to emphasize that for as long as HSA does not implement the law, the above mentioned agreement is just a formal one.