Ambassador’s Remarks at the Judicial Roundtable on Prosecution

Chief Justice Zaganjori, Deputy Minister Peci, Ambassador Vlahutin, distinguished experts, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Who is most afraid of judicial reform?

I know who — corrupt ministers , criminal deputies, incompetent judges, and prosecutors who take your money but never prosecute anyone.  These people without face want to continue to fill their pockets with the money of the Albanian people.

Think of them every time you hear these people criticize judicial reform.

Because Albania is a genuine democracy, there must be open and honest dialogue about whether these constitutional proposals by our experts are the right reforms to address Albania’s serious problems.  All of Albania’s political parties must engage constructively and stop the political attacks.  I am encouraged that last week seven experts appointed by the opposition were appointed to work on drafting of the new laws.  I encourage all of us, Albanian and international partners alike, to listen closely to the discussion and constructive suggestions about this reform.

I can assure you that the United States fully supports the current proposals.  We participated in the writing and expert discussions on every one of the constitutional amendments.  It is a radical reform that will for the first time take steps to eliminate corrupt and incompetent judges and prosecutors from Albania’s judicial system.  This is the heart of this reform.

Lastly, an Albanian judge recently said that he questioned whether the constitutional proposals would compromise Albania’s judicial independence.  To that I say, not a single Albanian believes the judicial system today is independent — not independent from the demand for bribes, not independent from telephone justice in which powerful people call judges directly with instructions, and not independent from criminal intimidation by organized crime.

This reform will give Albanians a real chance to make the judicial system independent for the first time.