We know that the Albanian people today do not trust their judicial system. We have spent months talking about corrupt and incompetent judges and prosecutors and a system where you must pay money for justice. We are here today to talk about the people who are working quietly to change this system, to make it harder to demand bribes, to publish the names of corrupt officials and to educate judges, lawyers and prosecutors about international standards.
USAID has spent almost 10 million dollars over the last five years to support the Judicial Sector Strengthening Project. The purpose of this project has been to empower Albanian NGO activists, independent journalists, court officials and professors to work for change. Albania still has a long way to go to clean up its judicial sector. You will hear today many of the success stories that give us all hope that the tide is shifting in favor of reform. Five years ago, no court sessions in Albania were being recorded. Today 80 percent are recorded and the Ministry of Justice and the High Council of Justice are pushing to reach 100 percent. This brings more transparency to the courts. Five years ago, a criminal case in Korca or Kruja required 9 court sessions to reach a decision. Today, it takes only 3 court sessions thanks to the active case management techniques introduced. This brings justice a little more quickly to the people.
For the past five years, the JuST program has supported Albanian Journalists for Justice to create an independent website for publishing articles and editorials without censorship or interference. This allows open criticism, which can help bring change. Let me thank JuST Chief of Party Jay Carver and his very talented staff. They have worked with every judge, court secretary, court information technology professional, and court chancellor in the country to make this project a success. We are proud of the many accomplishments of this innovative program over the past five years. We look forward to continuing our work in the judicial sector and our support for a comprehensive judicial reform. The people of Albania deserve an honest, fair and independent judicial system. The JuST Program has helped Albania to move closer to this goal.