Vlahutin: Vetting Law Is Key for the Successful Judicial Reform
Albanian Daily News
Published December 9, 2016

Below the EU Ambassador Romana Vlahutin speech at the High Level Forum on Anti-corruption on the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day:

It is simple: you, as a citizen, should not be afraid that if you donít pay some extra, your mother or your child will not get full medical attention; you do not want to be in a situation where getting a job does not depend on your qualifications and skills but on a fee. You donít want to think that your only chance to win in the court depends on your ability to pay.

You want institutions to work properly, and treat everybody equally.

9 December is the International Anti Corruption Day, but the need to raise awareness and fight against corruption is daily.

We should also have less speeches and more interaction with people. Because it is all about citizens.

Corruption deprives citizens and societies of their assets, and even more of their fundamental right and freedoms.

Economic cost is huge, but human and societal cost is even bigger.

It is simple: you, as a citizen, should not be afraid that if you donít pay some extra your mother or your child will not get full medical attention; you do not want to be in a situation where getting a job does not depend on your qualifications and skills but on a fee. You donít want to think that your only chance to win in the court depends on your ability to pay.

You want institutions to work properly, and treat everybody equally.

There is also a bigger scale corruption which brings very high costs to the community and where money goes, instead of into schools or hospitals or good roads, into private pockets.

Serious foreign investors will look very carefully whether to invest in a country where someone will ask them to pay for access to either services or facilities that should be available without any fee.

Fight against corruption is a constant fight that requires functional institutions, judiciary before all, and vigilant citizens. Corruption happens everywhere, not only in Albania of course, but what is different is capacity and willingness of institutions to fight it.

This is what we are trying to help you achieve, functional institutions that will protect every citizen and the whole community from the abuse by interest groups and individuals.

Reform of judiciary is key, and vetting is key for the successful judicial reform. Vetting is not complicated to understand: what commissions need to ensure is to look into facts and see if some members of the judiciary have assets that can not be justified by their income, if some of them had any kind of links with criminal world and if their professional skills are sufficient.

Venice Commission will at the plenary tomorrow adopt their answer to the questions posed by the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of some provisions in the law. What is good is that from the very outset of this process all who were part of it, from the political parties to the institutions of the Parliament, Government and Presidency have firmly agreed that Venice Commission is the key point of reference.

We hope that the opinion of Venice Commission will give clear guidance so that vetting can start, that judicial reform can be implemented and that Albania can move on its path to the European Union.

Any other scenario would not be good, and would delay progress and its benefits for the citizens.

Citizens also have a lot of responsibility.

Fight against corruption starts with each and every one of us.

This fight can not be won without engagement of civil society, and especially without brave and professional investigative media that will research and report facts as they are.

- We need to teach our children what is ethical behaviour, what corruption is and how to fight it, we have to demand their right to education.

- We need to report incidents of corruption; create an environment where the rule of law prevails.

- We must refuse to participate in any activities that are not legal and transparent.

In its yearly report, the European Commission formulated concrete recommendations for Albania in order to tackle corruption:  - demonstrate further progress on establishing a solid track record of investigations, prosecutions and convictions in the fight against corruption at all levels, including asset recovery;

- ensure sound investigation and prosecution of cases referred to prosecutors by the High Inspectorate for the Declaration of Audits and Assets and Conflict of Interest and the High State Audit (HIDAACI);

? amend legislation on interceptions and surveillance, time limits for investigations and admissibility of evidence before courts to make investigations in corruption cases more efficient, in line with European standards and best practices;

? amend the legal framework on political party finances to establish an effective and accountable audit system;

? enhance access to national electronic public registries for prosecutors and police; expand the case management system in prosecution offices and ensure it is used efficiently

Here in Albania, the EU provides support in the fight against corruption through many programs and assistance, from twinning to budget support for your institutions to fight corruption.

We stand by your side in finding the proper way to fight this challenge, as we stand by your side in all other efforts to secure social and economic stability, boost development, secure the rule of law and bring Albania to full membership of the European Union.





Politics
MORE
Economy
MORE
Social
MORE
Current Events
MORE
Op-Ed
MORE
World News
MORE