On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, the first hearing session will be held for one of the subjects of the transitory evaluation (vetting) in the Palace of Congresses, i.e. for the broad public. The notification has been made by the Independent Qualification Commission (IQC), on its official website. Thus, the IQC has made possible transparency in front of the public and the media with the publication of notifications for the hearing sessions, in keeping with the Constitution and the law on vetting No. 84/2016. Also, it is positive that the IQC has taken into consideration the recommendation of the AHC to hold these sessions in large halls, making possible the presence of a large public audience to follow them. In our opinion, this will guarantee respect for the process of due legal process and respect for the fundamental rights of the subject of vetting of judges and prosecutors.
How did we get to this decision?
On February 14, 2018, AHC sent an official letter to the IQC, also informing the International Monitoring Operation, highlighting the fact that the existing halls of this Commission do not enable the proper participation of the public and, therefore, create difficulties in respecting the principle of publicity, an essential element of due process. An adjudication room of small dimensions that is also inappropriate may be used by the sides as a practical legal impasse for the lawfulness and validity of the process as it might violate fundamental rights and the principle of fair process, envisaged in article 15, 179/b, addendum F (8) of the Constitution, with a reference to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights with regard to the implementation of article 6 of the European Convention (ECHR).
Furthermore, public access to the halls in which one of the most important processes of justice reform, vetting, will take place, is important as a tool to guarantee transparency, which indispensable in citizens’ trust in the process.
The Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC), with support from the Open Society Foundation for Albania, has engaged in monitoring one of the most important processes of justice reform, that of vetting of judges and prosecutors. In this regard, we have realized one of several achievements, that of taking into consideration the AHC suggestion for the creation of adequate conditions to guarantee a transparent and public process.