By Xhuljo Ferzaj
The implementation of the judicial reform is today’s necessity and tomorrow’s urgency. This reform will build the missing trust on the justice system and democracy; it will help improve the Albanian economy; it will attract foreign investments that are currently missing; it will help accelerate the integration into the EU.
This is one of the most important reforms that Albania must carry out in the process leading to European integration. After the reform, a new system of checks and balances will be possible, it will enable and protect the application of justice in Albania.
The implementation of this reform doesn’t only affect the system or the people, it belongs to both, so it must be complete. Today, there is a court system full of corrupted judges that have deteriorated the justice system. Up to now, it was impossible for a prosecutor to investigate all the allegations of corruption, while the corrupted think they won’t ever be prosecuted; they have been successful in remaining untouchable.
The citizens don’t want corrupt judges. The politicians and government officials must serve the citizens, not ask money from them. The approval of the reforms is not enough to convince the citizens and to restore their trust in justice; the problems remain the same, despite the approval of vetting.
The biggest challenge is not the approval, but the implementation of the reform, even though it requires time. If you analyze the reform in Romania, for example, the biggest obstacle has been its implementation. It required many years for corrupt judges, politicians that cannot justify their wealth, and incriminated people to leave their posts. More than 300 people are currently accused for corruption and hiding their wealth, and these numbers are only the tip of the iceberg. As the judicial reform proceeds, every judge must be held accountable and prosecuted when they go in penniless and come out loaded with euros.
The judges and prosecutors must be reevaluated for their professional and ethical abilities, based on their work history, something that hasn’t been done. It is of the utmost necessity to build an assessment institution that tests the employees of the administration. The assessment criteria must be changed according to the one used in the European Union. During the reassessment of judges and prosecutors in Croatia for the judicial reform, 40 percent of the judges and prosecutors did not comply with the professional and ethical criteria, besides they were deemed to be corrupt. And what about Albania? Surely the numbers would be higher, giving an opportunity to the ones who are ready to be part of this lively process.
Is this European? Do the Albanian citizens feel European with their current justice system environment? The extensive judicial reform has so far disappointed and exhausted the citizens. Obstacles arise from the people involved in the system and outside of it, especially the politicians. Stagnation, a lack of responsibility, professionalism, and transparency in the Albanian system have worked, without a doubt, for a certain group that have profited and remain untouchable, today.
Xhuljo Ferzaj is a researcher and analyst based in Albania. He holds a MSc in International Relations.