Venice Commission Criticizes Albania’s Judicial Vetting Process

Venice Commission Criticizes Albania’s Judicial Vetting Process
Venice Commission experts during a work visit in Albania

The Venice Commission has criticized a number of decisions and procedures followed in the vetting process.

In a draft opinion issued on May 29 at the request of the Speaker of Parliament regarding the appointments to the Constitutional Court, the Venice Commission has also criticized cases where prosecutors and judges have been held accountable to justify the income that their spouses had earned before marriage, as well as the the vetting panel’s rigid implementation of the already short deadline to submit documents.

In Tirana, the delegation learned that difficulties were sometimes incurred into, having to provide justification for long-past revenues of spouses. It was also alleged that there was an overly rigid application of very short (two weeks) procedural deadlines, although in some cases certified documents had to be obtained from abroad.

The Commission has found that the vetting has had negative effects on the judicial system in Albania:

  • It has left behind a dysfunctional Constitutional Court and High Constitutional Court;
  • It has led to the Justice Appointments Council’s (KED) failure to operate;
  • It has discouraged many magistrates from applying to new justice institutions, and has led to many resignations, leaving a number of seats in the judicial system vacant.

The Commission has also criticized the procedure followed in appealing vetting panels’ (KPK) verdicts to the Special Appeal Chamber (KPA). They have argued that the criteria considered by the Public Commissioner in deciding on whether to appeal a KPK decision remain unclear.

Furthermore, it seemed to be unclear on the basis of which criteria some decisions of the Independent Qualification Commission were appealed to the Appeal Chamber by the Public Commissioner and others not.

The Venice Commission has also questioned the term of the vetting commissions. They have argued that a nine-year term for vetting commission members at both levels, KPK and KPA, “was excessive because the vetting process needed to be ‘strictly temporary’”.

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