Editorial: An ugly circus instead of a constitutional court

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 22, 2019 09:57

Editorial: An ugly circus instead of a constitutional court

Story Highlights

  • Are we witnessing then the demise of the myth that justice reform was done impeccably? This situation certainly warrants a lot of criticism. We need to reexamine what went wrong keeping in mind that nothing is as powerful as respect for norms and political culture. Nothing written in a piece of paper, even if that paper has the blessing of Brussels and Washington, can replace the genuine strength of local ownership.

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TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL

If there was one single institution in Albania which was mostly spared the reputation of being a pawn in political hands now that is no longer there. Even in the most problematic days of the evaluation of the previous justice system, when the disappointment with this sector was rife in public, there were still respectable numbers of citizens that placed trust in the professionalism and gravitas of the Constitutional Court.

Similar to other institutions that were left dysfunctional, the Constitutional Court also saw its membership wither away as the vetting process struck down some of the judges whose mandate had not finished yet. The lack of a Constitutional Court reverberated throughout all the contested developments in Albania and was deeply felt when there was a need to assess the constitutionality of certain actions and decisions.

It was deemed as a key gap that needs to be filled in immediately by the German Bundestag which made it the number one request in its list of conditions prior to the opening of the accession negotiations.

Last week Albanian citizens saw how even this court that is supposed to the guardian of the new constitution is up for grabs in the political fight for power. A strong disagreement between the parliament majority and the president manifested itself in the selection of new members of this court, generating a situation which has both colors of ridicule and serious concern.

Arguing that the President took more time than allowed to pick a candidate from those proposed by the Justice Appointments Commission, the parliament majority went ahead with appointing their candidate reasoning that she had gotten the maximum points in the evaluation. The president responded by mandating his own choice and having her take the oath. The selection of the majority on the other side, being unable to take the oath at the president office went ahead and completed the procedure at a notary's office!

This ridiculous turn of events strikes a hard blow right at the heart of the justice reform which has been presented so far as a perfectly designed system that would take care of the politicization of the new justice system. And yet again we see how hard it is to make that claim.

Are we witnessing then the demise of the myth that justice reform was done impeccably? This situation certainly warrants a lot of criticism. We need to reexamine what went wrong keeping in mind that nothing is as powerful as respect for norms and political culture. Nothing written in a piece of paper, even if that paper has the blessing of Brussels and Washington, can replace the genuine strength of local ownership.

Albanian citizens deserve a constitutional court. What they are getting instead is an ugly circus.

Ironically the only way out of this absurd web seems to be again not local ownership but an outsider referee. Both the European Commission and the US State Department have already urged stakeholders to seek the legal opinion of the Venice Commission over the issue of the members of the Constitutional court. Therein lies the tragedy of this reform which seems will never be adopted by its domestic parents but will continue to live for long under the foster care of internationals.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 22, 2019 09:57