Ambassador’s Remarks at the Judicial Roundtable on Penal Justice

Prosecutor General Llalla, Honorable members of parliament, Director Treshka, experts on judicial reform, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Last week I asked who is most afraid of this reform?

I said that many government and judicial officials were afraid.  The other people who should be afraid are the serious criminals who walk the streets freely every day.

People like Arben Frroku who murdered a police chief but was mysteriously allowed to flee the country pending a court appeal.  People like convicted drug trafficker Emiljano Shullazi who openly has been accused in the media of continued drug trafficking and murder, but has not been brought to justice.  And people like Sokol Mjacaj who was convicted of killing a 13-year old boy but was suspiciously released from prison early and then killed a Czech couple near Thethi.  These are the type of people who should fear a functional judicial system.

According to the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, Albania has the lowest level of serious crimes prosecution in Europe.  The Albanian people demand a system that takes serious criminals off the streets and puts them in prison where they belong.

American and European experts have worked hard with Albanian experts to draft a reform package that will result in more prosecution of serious crime.  The international experts have kept four goals in mind:

— First, to address corruption and political influence.

— Second, to prevent judges and prosecutors from protecting other corrupt and incompetent judges and prosecutors.

— Third, to avoid political capture by any party.

— And fourth, to make sure the new system complies with international standards.

I believe this reform accomplishes these four goals.

Finally, I understand that some people may have been told by their bosses what to say or, even worse, what not to say.  If that is true, it reminds me more of Albania’s communist past than its democratic future. The wolf changes his coat, but never forgets his habits.

The purpose of these roundtables is to hear from the public, including the community of prosecutors, about these reforms.  This is your justice system.  Have the courage to speak your mind and not to blindly repeat what your were told to say. Do not be intimidated by these people without face.

I hope that as a result of judicial reform that Albania will be a safer place with more criminals in prison and fewer able to manipulate judges and prosecutors.