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News 09 Jun 15

Albanian Justice System Slammed as Totally Corrupt

An expert panel summoned by parliament's Commission on Justice Sector Reform has said that corruption is endemic at all levels of the justice system, from police to judges.

Aleksandra Bogdani
BIRN
Tirana
 
  Special Parliamentary Commission on Justice Sector Reform. Photo: LSA

A Special Parliamentary Commission on Monday delivered a damning report on the courts in Albania, saying corruption is widespread at all levels.

This includes the appointment of judges in the most important courts.

The report says judges pay between €100,000 to €300,000 to the High Council of Justice, the body that nominates judges, to get their posts, or to move to better positions within the system.

It is the first time that an official report has given credibility to reports of judges paying huge bribes to move from courts in poor areas to urban centers where the economy is more developed and where the potential to collect bribes from people awaiting justice is correspondingly higher.

The High Court of Justice, headed by the country's President, has faced criticism in the past for botched administrative investigations and for failing to punish judges accused for wrongdoings.

The report states that corruption is seen a “normal” way to deliver justice at all levels of the system, from police to prosecutors and judges.

The report states that Justice Police Officers often accept bribes to botch evidence, while prosecutors take bribes to dismiss criminal proceedings and judges take bribes to cause unnecessary delays.

The experts say the high level of corruption remains undocumented but that their conclusions are based on public perception and information collected by people with inside information.

“In any case, people involved in corrupt transactions avoid speaking over the phone. The payments are made in cash. The proceedings are often sent outside the country or are received by relatives of the judges or prosecutors,” the report notes.

The special Parliamentary Commission on Justice Sector Reform was created on 27 November 27, 2014 and is headed by the chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Laws. The Commission is expected to draft a law on reforming the system.

Based on EU recommendations, the report proposes the de-politicization of the High Council of Justice and suggests that the President should be removed from his position as head of the council, as the current constitutional system of electing the president doesn’t guarantee a politically independent president.

The report also proposes the de-politicization of the High Court. Judges in the High Court are currently elected by parliament on the basis of political nominations from the major parties.

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