Parliament approves decriminalization law in near-unanimous vote

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 21, 2015 10:45

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  • The delegation of the European Union and the U.S. Embassy issued statements of support following the passing of the bill.

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A session of the Albanian parliament, locally known as Kuvendi. (Photo: Archives)

A session of the Albanian parliament, locally known as Kuvendi. (Photo: Archives)

TIRANA, Dec. 21 – In a rare show of political consensus, Albanian lawmakers have approved a law banning people with criminal convictions from holding elected and other high public offices.

The bill, better known as “the decriminalization law,” received a near-unanimous 132 out of 140 votes and came following months of discussion after it came to light that several people elected to public office had criminal convictions in Albania and abroad.

The opposition has often accused the ruling coalition of allowing people with criminal ties to enter politics at the national and local levels.

Under the new law, anyone who has a felony criminal conviction will be banned from holding elected office or from serving in any constitutional institution and senior positions of the public administration.

The law requires some constitutional amendments to reach its full effect, and these are to take place at a later date. They can be done with the high number of votes the bill received in parliament.

President Bujar Nishani signed the bill shortly after its approval in parliament, meaning the law is now in effect.

The delegation of the European Union and the U.S. Embassy issued statements of support following the passing of the bill.

EU officials said the law is expected to increase integrity of officials, strengthen the fight against corruption but also increase the trust the public has on public institutions.

The U.S. Embassy said it welcomed “the courageous decision” of the Albanian Parliament to pass the law on decriminalization.

“This law is the toughest law in Europe against criminals in politics.  While it is the result of the hard work by both the majority and the opposition, ultimately it is a victory for the Albanian people who want clean government and an end to corruption.  While much work still remains in Albania’s fight against crime and corruption, this law represents a bold step in reducing the influence of criminal elements in the country,” the embassy statement said.

This is a web-only update. Read a more in-depth article about this topic in our upcoming weekly edition.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 21, 2015 10:45