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(Dec 31, 2012) On September 18, 2012, the Assembly of Albania (the parliament) approved constitutional amendments that provide for automatic lifting of parliamentary immunity from criminal prosecution for legislators, judges, and other high-level government officials in corruption cases. (Press Release, Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), Head of OSCE Presence Welcomes Restriction of MPs' and Judges' Immunities in Albania (Sept. 18, 2012).) The amendment was recommended by the European Union delegation to Albania and was supported by ruling and opposition parties in the Parliament. (Albania Curbs Immunity for Law Makers and Officials, EUBUSINESS (Sept. 19, 2012).)

The amendment was also promoted by Albania's Prosecutor General, who has frequently called for its adoption, in particular to strengthen the fight against corruption in the judiciary. Speaking before the Parliament in July 2012, she stated "[t]here is a sort of corporatism between judges to protect each other and prosecutors" when they are indicted for corruption, and "[t]hey don't view the case as an indictment against a judge or prosecutor but rather as an indictment against a friend or colleague." (Besar Likmeta, Albania Courts Lenient Towards Corrupt Judges, BALKAN INSIGHT (July 4, 2012).)

The provisions implementing the amendments are to be introduced in the Code of Criminal Procedure. The changes will allow for the investigation and criminal prosecution of members of the legislature, judges, and members of the Council of Ministers (national government) without prior authorization issued by the Assembly as required under current law. (European Commission, Commission Staff Working Document: Albania 2012 Progress Report, at 12 (Oct. 10, 2012), European Commission website.)

As reported by news sources, "the changes will make it easier for prosecutors to investigate officials on corruption charges." (Albania Curbs Immunity for Law Makers and Officials, supra.) Corruption is said to be widespread within the judiciary, where "[p]oor working conditions, a lack of adequate safety arrangements for courts and judges and generally low remuneration, plus the absence of adequate controls and the opaque system of appointments, promotions and transfers, continue to be key risk factors for corruption … ." (European Commission, supra.)

Author: Peter Roudik More by this author
Topic: Constitution More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Albania More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 12/31/2012