Albania's judicial reform package challenged in constitutional court

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-09 03:18:01|Editor: yan
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TIRANA, June 8 (Xinhua) -- Albania's justice reform, deemed as the crucial move towards European integration, has been sent to the country's Constitutional Court by two judges associations here, local media reported Thursday.

The judges have launched a fresh challenge to parts of the reform package, including the vetting law aimed at scanning of around 800 judges and prosecutors in Albania. This process is to be based on the assets checks, background checks for connections with crime and overall professionalism of the judges and prosecutors.

The National Association of Judges and the Union of Albanian Judges are the two associations that have filed a lawsuit with the constitutional court, challenging the legality of the three laws of the judicial reform package.

More concretely, the judges have objected to the law on the governing institutions of the justice system, the law on the status of judges and prosecutors and the law on the reassessment of judges and prosecutors, seeking their annulment, local media said.

This lawsuit comes as an ad hoc parliamentary commission has been set up to select the lawyers that will be part of the vetting bodies.

The associations considered as unconstitutional the scrutiny over ties between the judges, prosecutors and organized crime in the period going back to Jan. 1, 2012.

Their lawsuit, in particular, challenges the procedure on which the vetting of the integrity of judges and prosecutors will be based and the way evidence will be collected by the independent qualification commission and the appeals college.

According to judges associations, the vetting laws provision on the way evidence will be collected by the control groups during the reassessment period goes beyond what the constitution intended.

This is not the first time the two associations, that represent the powerful judges lobby in Albania, have appealed the constitutional court in order to challenge the judicial reform package. In autumn 2016, they joined the opposition Democratic Party in its court appeal against the law on vetting judges and prosecutors.

Although the constitutional court, following a recommendation by the Venice Commission, refused to strike down the vetting law, the decision did not discourage the judges associations.

The constitutional court is expected to convene on June 22 in order to hear the arguments on the new case, local media said.