Review Status of Prison Personnel
The Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC) has continuously monitored the respect for the rights of inmates and detainees. Based on the findings and conclusions of such monitoring, AHC has provided suggestions on how to improve the situation and in, certain instances, has also reacted publicly.
For AHC, it is disturbing that within a relatively short time, there have been changes or dismissals of leading officials of Institutions for the Execution of Penal Decisions (prisons). Some time ago, the General Director and his deputy were prosecuted and tried for corruption. Dismissals among the ranks of other levels of employees in this system have not been so few. Causes have varied a lot, including corruption abuse of office, various legal violations, actions or inaction running against measures to guarantee security, etc.
The evaluation of whether reshuffling/dismissals of prison personnel is based on the law is up to the court, which is set to motion through a petition of the affected persons. However, AHC looks at this issue from a broader aspect. It is our opinion that one of the factors that have a negative influence on the instability of prison administration is the system that has to do with the status of prison personnel.
The United Nations minimal standard regulations require that prison personnel at all levels enjoy the status of civil servants. According to these regualtions, special importance is attached to the conditions and criteria for their recruitment. They need to possess the appropriate level of education and some necessary knowledge. Before being hired for the jobs, they need to undergo a qualifying course and, at the same time, their figure should be clean and untarnished. Even after assuming duties, personnel should be trained in a continued manner in order to guarantee humane tratement of persons deprived of their liberty that should be rehabilitated and reintegrated effectively in the society.
Based on this issue, there have been discussions in the media recently about the conduct of vetting of personnel in important sectors of the public administration. It is worth mentioning that vetting is a process sanctioned in the Constitution of the country and has been regulated by special law for functionaries of the justice system (especially judges/prosecutors). This process has been based on some guarantees that require respect for the right to due legal process and its conduct by independent institutions, with functionaries that enjoy high moral and professional integrity.
Therefore, AHC suggests that the conduct of vetting in key sectors of the public administration, if deemed necessary, needs to be reflected through relevant amendments to legislation in force and by respecting citizens’ fundamental rights. In this way, public trust in the vetting process, independently from the sector it is conducted in, would not be shaken. For every public servant to be subjected to the process, there need to be all necessary legal and constitutional guarantees for its conduct in an objective, impartial and professional manner. For AHC, considering the specifics of the sector or field, vetting may be implemented also for the personnel of Institutions for the Execution of Penal Decisions.