Vlahutin: There Is No True Democracy without a Justice System
Albanian Daily News
Published October 2, 2017
Speech of EU Ambassador Romana Vlahutin at the 20th anniversary of the School of Magistrates
Madam Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, President Moisiu, Dear Director, Professors, Magistrates, fellow Ambassadors, Dear Students,
It is a true pleasure to be here today celebrating the 20th anniversary of the School of Magistrates, two decades of a new era of legal education, created to teach new generations, to overcome decades of rule by brutal ideology and not law, and an equally damaging idea that a judge can be made in a six months course.
This has not been an easy task and many challenges remain. However, the school has offered excellent new opportunities for legal education. It has managed to establish an efficient regional network. And it has provided continuous training based on the best European models. All of this, too often, with limited staff and limited resources.
Albania is now at the outset of a new judicial system. In the coming months and years the Albanian vetting commission will have an extremely big responsibility to deliver impartial re-evaluation of 800 judges and prosecutors, and their work will be accompanied by very close observation of the senior international judges and prosecutors.
This is very important for the people of Albania, but also outside of Albania. Many will be watching very closely. And here I want to personally thank those decent, hardworking judges and prosecutors who were the first to support the vetting, fully understanding that it is going to bring additional power of respect to all of them who do their work with independence and dignity.
I cannot underline enough how crucial the role of the School of Magistrate will be in supporting the implementation of justice reform. It will be the engine that will sustain the new judiciary, by educating new generations who will take over, strengthen and lead justice in Albania to highest European standards.
New judicial institutions, and especially SPAK, will need to tackle with full force many challenges that law enforcement and rule of law still have in Albania.
Therefore, I want to say it clear and loud that we as the European Union will give our full and unequivocal support and assistance, whenever needed, to police, Ministry of Interior, to the prosecutors and judges in their fight against corruption and organised crime, and in their pursuit of Albania free of those who by disrespecting the law disrespect the country and its people.
Albania has been blessed with a beautiful piece of land and sea, with young and talented population, with many opportunities that need to be seized. Use the wisdom of your past sufferings, and do not allow anyone, absolutely anyone to take away from you what is yours: right to live in a society where the measure of success is your knowledge and your work, and not someone's ruthlessness.
In a democracy, laws must be implemented, and human lives and dignity protected at all times.
Here, today, I want us to remember a mother, a daughter, a sister, a colleague and friend of yours, judge Fildes Hafizi, who lost her life in the most tragic circumstances, proving that unfortunately system is still failing the victims of domestic violence. Her life, among many others, should be honoured by your dedication and hard work, making sure that such tragedies do not happen again.
Justice Zaganjori already said it: To be a judge, it is not a job, it is a mission.
There is no true democracy without a justice system that protects individual rights, preserves fundamental values, allows for the truth to be exposed and the victims protected.
I wish you all the strength, goodwill and motivation for the crucial role you will play in this major change to happen in the Albanian society.
There will be many challenges, but you are not alone. Your fellow citizens are with you, your international friends are with you, European Union is certainly with you. Stay strong, stay smart and stay free from any influence. You are the future of this country and I wish you to be the best, to make Albania proud and to make us all proud.