Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Monitoring Rapporteurs Andrej Hunko and Joseph O’Reilly appreciated judges and prosecutors’ vetting process in Albania. That is the statement issued by the rapporteurs in the conclusion of their visit in Tirana.
The CoE co-rapporteurs voiced their concern over the fact that, as a result of the ongoing verification process, the country is currently without a High Court and Functional Constitutional Court, while a number of key judicial bodies such as the High Judicial Council, the High Council of Prosecution, as well as the Specialized Prosecutor for High Level Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK) and related Specialized Court, have not yet been established. They welcomed the assurances of many of the relevant partners that progress in the number of vetted candidates would soon pave the way to the establishment of these bodies.
The rapporteurs stressed out the importance of the vetting process in the fight against corruption, underscoring that more steps should be taken and visible progress and concrete results are required, especially in the fight against high-level corruption and organized crime. “In this regard, our expectations regarding SPAK are too high,” they said.
Despite the fact that no new areas of cannabis have been discovered by state police, the amount of cannabis from Albania caught in Greek and Italian borders is still very high, while there are signs that Albania has become a transit country for strong drugs coming from Latin America and Asia.
Political environment, co-operation between the majority and the opposition, as well as electoral reform in line with OSCE / ODIHR and Venice Commission recommendations, were the main topics during discussions with all political forces.
The co-rapporteurs observed that the political environment has remained polarized and confrontational. They also highlighted that the right platform for political interaction and debate is the Albanian parliament and therefore they made an appeal to the opposition parties not to hinder parliament’s work or to boycott important debates and votes.
At the same time, they urged the ruling majority to provide the right space for the opposition to function and get engaged in an open and significant dialogue with the opposition on key reforms and the country’s governance. “This is especially important for the electoral reform, which should be based on a broad consensus, to ensure that local elections in 2019 are accepted as democratic and fair by all the concerned parties,” the co-rapporteurs said.