Statement for the Press – May 31, 2016

The Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC), the first non-governmental organization founded in December 1990, hereby expresses its concern that the approval of reform of the justice system is being delayed. Our concern derives from the fact that we are an organization that, for over 25 years, has had and continues to have as its main mission the protection of citizens’ legitimate freedoms, rights and interests. In carrying out this mission, we have monitored proactively the courts, the prosecutor’s office, decisions of the prosecutor’s office and judicial decisions.

Albanian citizens are directly interested in seeing justice reform approved as soon as possible. They may not be aware of the details of the provisions in the Project for Constitutional Amendments, but life and practice has convinced them that they cannot go on with the existing system.

Disturbing corruption in these bodies, the phenomenon of impunity, especially of high- level officials, the lack of independence and impartiality as a result of the influence of politics and the crime world, the lack of efficiency, the dragging out of judicial processes and limited citizens’ access to justice system bodies are known to all. As a result, this situation, first and foremost, harms the interests of citizens and the image of our country. They cannot agree with such a system. We think that the representatives of the people should listen to the voice of the sovereign and should sidestep their narrow party interests at such an important and vital moment as the approval of justice reform is.

The majority and the opposition have publicly accepted and appreciated the high-quality opinions of the Venice Commission, the U.S. and EU and the continued assistance of OPDAT and Euralius.

It is the right of representatives of the Assembly to debate constructively and when the occasion arises to achieve compromise, in accordance with basic international principles and standards, without infringing upon the citizens’ interests.

For AHC, the just resolution of the problem and not the number of votes required for approving the draft constitution is of primary importance. AHC considers that the pluralistic and democratic debate in the Ad hoc Parliamentary Committee of reform in the justice system, as well as in the Assembly’s plenary sittings, should be dominated by reason and arguments and not the “race” of mutual accusations and hate speech. As is known, the sovereign is the best judge. When needed, it gives positive or negative grades for its representatives. For AHC, it would be to the detriment of the interests of citizens and the country that lack of political will is camouflaged with unjustified positions or pretexts.

AHC calls upon all parliamentary political parties to put above all else the interests of the people who, among others, demands the reduction of tension and the excessively politicized environment in the country, the improvement of social-economic life, efficient, professional services and access to justice system bodies.

In a democratic country like ours, only fast European integration and the determination to overcome lasting difficulties are important factors that require the fast approval of reform in the justice system.

AHC is convinced that justice reform will have a positive impact on the implementation of reforms in other areas as well. Without carrying out justice reform, we can’t pretend the rule of law, the implementation of the constitutional principle that everyone is equal before the law, and the effective exercise of the right to due legal process.

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