The justice reform, crucial for Albania’s EU progress: FH report

Albania’s progress toward the European Union is directly linked with the progress achieved in the implementation of the justice reform, a newly published Freedom House report said.

“On 9 November 2016, the European Commission issued a positive recommendation for Albania to open accession negotiations with the EU, but this is conditional upon tangible progress in implementation of the justice reform, in particular, the vetting of judges and prosecutors,” the report said.

Freedom House said that on 22 July, after 18 months of intensive technical work and strained political negotiations, the Albanian parliament passed in a unanimous vote an ambitious set of constitutional amendments on judicial reform. “The amendments, and related laws enacted in the second half of the year, are aimed at curbing corruption, organized crime, and political meddling in the judiciary. The political consensus behind the amendments was forged through intense pressure from Albania’s international partners, and implementation of the reforms will be a truly formidable challenge for the country’s divided political leaders.”

“Implementation of justice reform will be at the top of the government agenda with new institutions expected to be established by spring 2017, which will require drafting and enacting more than 40 new justice-related laws. Those who oppose the justice reform will likely intensify their resistance,” the report said.

The U.S. based NGO expressed its concern about the widespread of drug cultivation in the country. “Despite police raids and crackdowns in Albania, financiers and traffickers managed to extend their cannabis plantations across the country, taking advantage of poor farmers and corrupt state officials.”

“The problem seems deep-rooted in the country’s weak economy, youth unemployment, and widespread corruption. Dismantling cannabis cultivation will therefore require complex and unwavering measures, both in the short- and long term, that go beyond the unproductive accusations traded over the left-right political divide.”

In 2017, Albania failed to progress in democracy score, remaining at the same level as the previous year (4.14) with the ratings based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7 the lowest./

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