About four years ago the Albanian parliament passed the law known as the "law of decriminalization", which had as its objective the removal of public officials with a "criminal" past from parliament and other public institutions.
For many members of the parliamentary majority and the opposition, the law is still necessary, although at the time of its approval it was only considered temporary.
The history of the law
At the end of the 2015, the Albanian parliament - under strong pressure from the United States and the European Union - approved the law on guaranteeing the integrity of elected officials, known as the "law of decriminalization". A legal initiative that had become indispensable following the parliamentary and local elections of some members of the criminal past.
The law was conceived as temporary and had to affect only those who were a problem in Albania's political decision-making process at the time. However, today, its adoption continues to be necessary; testimony - in the opinion of experts - of a lack of political will.
"It is very interesting to observe how individuals who have committed crimes in the past have the courage to stand for high-level positions and how they succeed in winning these roles by becoming the favorite of political leaders.”- said Afrim Kransiqi, a political scientist for the radio Voice of America
To date, more than one hundred public officials (both national and local) and candidates for public positions have been removed because they had committed crimes in the past.
An imperfect implementation
However, as pointed out by Krasniqi, some problems have arisen with the implementation of the law:
"The law provides for an intensive verification phase: we are talking about thousands of candidates for a very short period of time. It is impossible for bodies like the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Central Electoral Commission and others to succeed in this because they do not have the financial means and the personnel.
As a civil society we have proposed some changes because there are articles in the law that contradict and create conflicts, as happened between the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Central Electoral Commission."- highlights Krasniqi.
Revisions that are also necessary for the director of the CEC legal office, Deshira Pashko:
"We need a change, primarily on deadlines. The electoral code has tight deadlines. 70 days before the elections parties are registered, 50 days before the candidates. In the 2019 we had about 10.000 candidates. Deadlines are impossible for a number of candidates."- underlines Pashko with reference to the necessary checks to be carried out on the candidates.
The verification process of public officials takes place at any time, even after he or she has left office. When there are clues or data that raise doubts about the integrity of the person, the CEC or other institutions can ask the prosecutor for an even more thorough verification.
The debate continues today to be very heated especially because the individuals who have committed crimes abroad do not find obstacles in the candidacy neither by the law nor by their party. This could be avoided by the verification of the candidates by the parties themselves before formalizing the candidacies.
"The law provides that the leader of a party, outside the electoral period and therefore at any time of the year, asks the candidate for a self-declaration and for the proxy to verify the person. What was missing, therefore, was the political will to carry out the process. ”- says Gazmend Bardhi, general secretary of the Democratic party.
The law of decriminalization represents a unique model on the continent, through which the Albanian political class wants to remove officials it has elected or chosen for a certain role.
"It is paradoxical and almost a shame for our generation to leave Albania today with a constitution in which there is the word decriminalization. There is no other country in Europe. It is an indicator of the degradation of this political class and of the price we all paid for it."- concludes Afrim Krasniqi.
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