Remarks by Ambassador Donald Lu at the Open Government Partnership Event

Minister Harito, Mr. Hroni, ladies and gentlemen,

Open Government Partnership is about making government more responsive and transparent by shining a light on corruption, fraud, and inefficiency.  But you in this room know that these important efforts are empty without independent police investigators who are not afraid to go after the bad guys.

When I was in university, Hollywood released a movie called “The Untouchables”.  Famous Albanian-American actor Robert DeNiro played gangster Al Capone.  The story was about an elite investigative unit called “The Untouchables.”  They were not called that because they were above the law, but because they were immune to corruption and intimidation.   At a time when Chicago was famous for deeply entrenched, high-level corruption and mafia control, this incorruptible, independent unit was able to arrest the famous Al Capone.

This is what we hope will be created in Albania – an independent investigative unit for combatting corruption and crimes by high-level officials.  There is a proposal that this be part of the functions of the National Bureau of Investigation or BKH, modeled after the American FBI.

But why should regular Albanians believe these special policemen will be beyond influence and corruption?

Because the United States will invest in making it so.  We have set aside millions of dollars to pay for the equipment and training for these policemen. Their training will be at the FBI Academy in the United States.  An FBI agent will be assigned to Tirana to support the creation of the organization.   And all of the BKH policemen will receive lie-detector tests and have their bank accounts monitored to ensure that they are not taking bribes or working for organized crime.

In footnote 13 of its final opinion, the Venice Commission welcomes the anti-corruption functions of the BKH being established under a special independent prosecutor, independent from both the Prosecutor General and the Albanian State Police.  The investigators of the BKH will be composed of judicial police. Its director for anti-corruption will be a judicial police officer who report to an independent, special prosecutor.   That prosecutor will be accountable to the Albanian people.

Political leaders are trying to use the debate over the BKH for political reasons.  They all agree that corruption and political influence prevent justice from being done in Albania.

I ask those on the right and on the left to agree that the BKH is vital for anti-corruption in Albania.  I ask them to agree on the model for anti-corruption that I have discussed today – an institution supported by the American FBI, independent, and accountable to the Albanian people.

And I ask them to recognize that this institution should be created at the same time as the judicial reform.   After all, judicial reform will create this Special Prosecution office, the SPAK, which will direct the anti-corruption efforts of the BKH.

Let me end with a quote from the film “The Untouchables”.  One of the elite policemen, played by Sean Connery, asks the prosecutor who is the head of the Untouchables,

“You said you wanted to get Capone.  Do you really wanna get him?  You see what I’m saying is, what are you prepared to do?”

The prosecutor responds, “Everything within the law.”

Let’s make sure that Albania passes the right law on an independent and tough anti-corruption unit.