Thought Babble

Albania: Justice Reform or Judicial Gangs’ Cleansing?

In Albania, Lady Justice doesn’t have a blindfold on her eyes, she wears Armani sunglasses. The balance in her hand is to measure how much money you can pay and the sword, on the other hand, is there to remind you that she can cut your head off if you refuse to.

The judicial reform that started two years ago in Albania under the supervision of the Euralius mission is trying to clean up Justitia, but the only thing it is doing for sure, is the recycling of corruption-enabled judicial appointments.

The judicial reform that is emptying the benches and piling up tens of thousands of court cases is not fixing the system. It is cleaning the slate to begin from scratch with the same corruption, but with new faces. There will be a need for expediency to get back on track, and expediency in Albania is the best occasion to make some easy money. The cases piled up in the High Court of Albania have stopped in mid-2012. Nobody knows when will a case filed in 2019 will be judged; maybe in 2029, according to some pessimists. This situation will cause one giant problem for the European Court of Human Rights too, because as it stands right now, all Albanians involved in legal proceedings can claim a violation of Article 6 of the Human Rights Convention, for a fair trial to be “held within a reasonable time”. There can be no group justification for this, as one of the great pillars of justice is its individuality. The Albanian government will be financially responsible for all wrong-doing.

In this reform, there is nothing whatsoever to reclaim justice. The judges and prosecutors that have made millions by selling judicial verdicts will just leave and no one believes that there will be any reckoning for their corruption.

The victims of their corruption have no way to reclaim their rights, their lives and the moral and economic damage suffered because of this massive injustice that has been going on for more than 25 years now; lives lost without justice, time and misery that are a direct consequence of the judicial corruption.

The EU treats the situation as “problematic”, but the Albanian judiciary, in reality, is the biggest gang of organised crime in Europe. With the crooked judicial process they own the criminals themselves, that is why the removal of them from the bench without reckoning and restitution, will not bring justice in Albania; it will bring more corruption and chaos. The new judges will be the pupils of the old ones, because they have been taught in school and on the bench by them. Adding to this the fact that Albania is a very small country where everybody is connected to everyone else and the “cousins’ economy” and nepotism are a way of life, it is very hard to imagine any positive outcomes.

Euralius and the EU Commission, unfortunately, have no idea what is really going on. Workshops and seminars are okay to spend an afternoon on, when you think that Albanians are just some ignorant people that only need to be trained properly, but 50% of Albanians actually live in the EU and US, and they mostly need hope and a better vision for the future, not to be patronised. This corruption mess did not stem from Albanians’ inadequate levels of education, but came about as a direct result of the culture of impunity for the political and judicial padrinos that stay in power by shaking EU hands.

Every time the EU Commission and Western Chancelleries have taken a side or normalised a corrupted politician, they have directly contributed to today’s situation.

From this reporter’s personal experience in Albania with the international organisations’ officials, like the OSCE, there was a saying: If you can’t find a job in your country go work for the OSCE in Albania. All the actual laws under the Albanian constitution are compiled with the assistance of the EU; as we now know, a truly failed experiment. The latest changes to the judicial reform package are no different. Albania doesn’t need new laws, it needs clear moral leadership from those who pretend to have such.

So, if we want justice for the Albanian people, there should be a reckoning and restitution for all the wrong-doings of this judicial cast of criminals. If not, even in 10 or 20 years, Albania will not be ready to join the EU.

But, maybe it is for the best, to finally stop trying to impress some bureaucrat in Berlin or Paris and recognise that Albania will have to be cleaned up and built by Albanians. We need to force ourselves to remember our recent history. Even though Albanians are generally slow to react, when we do, it is best not to be standing close-by. Justice and freedom are like breathing air: you cannot go too long without it, thus raise your voice or perish.

Dritan Kiçi
Dritan is a journalist, documentary filmmaker, human right's activist and President of Albanian Citizens Club, a not-for-profit organisation concerned with human rights and civil action.

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