US determined to press ahead with new tough anti-corruption structure in Albania

Leyla Moses-Ones
US Chargé d’Affaires Leyla Moses-Ones during a recent speech in Tirana

Tirana, Albania | 04 Apr 2019 (Tirana Echo) – The United States says that justice reform in Albania is moving forward, and won’t be stopped, as two crucial anti-corruption structures are expected to be erected soon, according to a senior US representative in Tirana.

During a recent speech in Tirana by US Chargé d’Affaires Leyla Moses-Ones, the progress of justice reform in Albania is obvious through the strong assistance the United States and its EU partners are giving to Albania’s authorities in advancing the country’s European integration and strengthening its traditionally weak rule of law.

Moses-Ones said a new anti-corruption prosecutorial structure (SPAK) and a parallel FBI styled national bureau of investigation (BKH) will soon bring the much desired results, despite widespread skepticism in public opinion.  

The High Prosecutorial Council will soon bring about the prosecutors of the SPAK, and then the National Bureau of Investigation.  Our assistance to the High Judicial Council will soon lead to the Anti-corruption and organized crime court.  U.S. Department of Justice officials are mentoring Albanian prosecutors, who are already bringing about notable prosecutions — and we expect more.” said Leyla Moses-Ones during a speech at the inauguration ceremony of the Police Case Management Project in Tirana this week.

The US representative said the United States supports all of Albania’s new institutions, such as the Councils and the SPAK, as well as existing institutions that are willing to fight against corruption or organized crime.  “Justice reform is moving forward, and it won’t be stopped,” said Moses-Ones.

Since 2014, Albania has embarked upon a total overhaul of its highly corrupt justice system with US and EU backing.

The reform is currently vetting all judges and prosecutors in the small Balkan country while the two crucial bodies to go after high level political crime, SPAK & BKH, are expected to start functioning by the end of this year.

Last month, the US Department of State slammed Albania in its latest Human Rights Report for 2018, on pervasive corruption in all branches of the government, saying that human rights issues in Albania included pervasive corruption in all branches of government and impunity which remains a pervasive problem.

Prosecution, and especially conviction, of officials who committed abuses was sporadic and inconsistent. Officials, politicians, judges, and persons with powerful business interests often were able to avoid prosecution.“ noted the report.

EU leaders agreed last June to start membership talks with Albania providing the small Balkan nation shows substantial progress in its crucial reform of the highly corrupt justice system.

Brussels has hinted that several member states, notably Germany, France and the Netherlands are reluctant to grant the green light and agree to formally opening accession negotiations with Albania which needs to get its act together in fighting endemic corruption and break close political links to organized crime.

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