Lu: Judicial Reform Implementation, People Are Already Afraid
Albanian Daily News
Published December 5, 2016

Remarks by
U.S. Ambassador Donald Lu at the Anti-Corruption
Symposium “Eyes to the Future: Breaking the Corruption Barrier”:


The
honorable Prime Minister Rama, ambassadors, judges, prosecutors, policemen,
students and professors,


There
is a famous case of corruption in the United States that was uncovered in 2008.  It involved two judges who received bribes
totaling more than $2.6 million from private jails for teenagers in exchange
for harsh sentencing to keep the jails filled.


One
of the victims of this corruption was 17-year old Hillary Transue who in 2007 posted
a joke on her social media page mocking the assistant principal of her high
school.  Although the posting clearly
stated that it was a joke, the judge sentenced her to three months in jail for
teenagers for harassment.  Her parents
watched in horror as she was taken away in handcuffs.


Over
2,000 young people may have been wrongly jailed and had their lives ruined because
of the actions of these two corrupt judges. 
The two judges were fired and will serve seven years in federal
prison.  All of their cases are now being
re-examined.


I
use this example to stress the terrible human cost of high-level
corruption. In Albania, every family has
a story to tell about how corruption has touched their lives. Some complain about an insatiable tax
inspector forcing them to close their business. Others talk about corrupt businessmen creating
a monopoly in the pharmaceutical sector or controlling politicians to influence
a tender or a property decision. Or how
a corrupt judge or prosecutor demanded money, sex or favors for a corrupt court
ruling.


In
July, Parliament gave to the Albanian people a gift -- the passage of
constitutional amendments to create the Special Structure on Anti-Corruption
(SPAK) and the National Bureau of Investigation (BKH). For the first time in Albania’s history,
these new institutions will provide an independent prosecutorial and
investigative capacity to catch organized crime bosses and corrupt senior
officials. They will do this with the
support of the United States Government.


But
this only works if the people of Albania have high expectations and demand
results from these new institutions. 


You
should expect that many of Albania’s drug dealers and organized crime bosses
will go to jail. 


You
should expect that senior corrupt politicians, from the right and the left,
will face justice.


And
more importantly, you should expect that drug dealers, organized crime bosses,
and corrupt politicians, judges and prosecutors will be afraid.


We see evidence that these people are already afraid and are
trying to fight back against this reform. 



Because of their fear they are inventing stories and telling
lies about the EU Ambassador, EURALIUS and the Constitutional Court. As Chief Justice Dedja said himself, the Court has already sent a revised
translation to the Venice Commission and none of the translation
differences were substantial.  



All major political parties have put their faith in the judgment
of the Venice Commission.  We look forward to its opinion to help guide
Albania in its implementation of judicial reform.



Let
me conclude by thanking our many participants who bring experience in
anti-corruption from Croatia, Romania and exotic Detroit, Michigan – Judge Koraljka
Bumci, Prosecutor Florentina Mirica, U.S. Federal Prosecutor Mark Chutkow and
FBI Special Agent Robert Beckman.  We are
committed to having a lively and honest discussion over these three days.





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