President of Albania returns OFL law to Parliament for reconsideration

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 30, 2020 21:19

President of Albania returns  OFL law to Parliament for reconsideration

TIRANA, March 30 - The President of Albania Ilir Meta has returned the normative act on the OFL to the Parliament for reconsideration, due to seven main reasons. According to Meta, the normative act goes beyond the constitutional powers of the Council of Ministers. It violates the principle of separation and balancing of powers and at the same time certain fundamental human rights and freedoms, the President says, such as the right to private property, the right to a fair trial, or the presumption of innocence.

Moreover, Meta states that it violates the hierarchy of the acts set forth in Article 116 of the Constitution, contradicts important principles at the foundation of the rule of law as stated in the Constitution of the Republic of Albania and in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, it violates the constitutional provisions on the independent functioning of the Special Prosecution Office and the Special Court against Corruption and Organized Crime as well as violates the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.

"Fighting organized crime, structured criminal organizations and groups, as well as any other criminal groups, armed gangs, individuals involved in serious crimes may not be a temporary goal, requiring interim measures," Meta wrote, adding that the interim measures are justified when it is widely accepted that the situation is so alarming that the current legislation is insufficient and urgent intervention as well as extraordinary measures are needed. However, the need to consolidate security in the country requires long-term measures and policies, according to President Meta.

"Under these conditions, but also due to the urgent need to establish a special structure for the investigation of criminal assets, such as the National Bureau of Investigation, the normative act was adopted," he argued, but "the Albanian state lacks neither the legislation nor the structures of the Judicial Police that can carry out their duties based on the existing legal framework."

Moreover, President Ilir Meta describes the Operation Force of Law as a television show. "This legislation needs to be implemented permanently and objectively, as the fight against criminality and criminal assets is by no means a television show for political credit. This was clearly evidenced when a whole group of armed police forces joined for the sole purpose of handing over a written communication. This action could be carried out very simply by a police officer, or even by the postal service," he said

The President did not refrain from criticizing the head of SPAK Arben Kraja, either, stating that "the participation of the head of the Special Prosecution Office against Corruption and Organized Crime in this Committee should not be foreseen in the powers of this body. This is because it openly undermines his position on the prosecution. Being part of this Committee - the legal mechanism of the executive power, puts him in a position unfavorable to the exercise of the constitutional functions of prosecution, when the subjects of investigation or persons being prosecuted by its subordinate structure may also be members of the Council of Ministers themselves, pursuant to Article 135, paragraph 2 of the Constitution. Being part of this committee, would make him look like an executive subordinate or its extensive structure."

The President signed the return of the Special Law on March 26, while the Parliament is expected to convene and decide on April 26.

Reactions towards the Anti-KCK legal pacakge

The government adopted in January a legal package called the Anti-KCK package (anti-Seize Whatever you Can), aimed at seizing the assets of organized crime convicts, participation in criminal and terrorist organizations, trafficking and other serious crimes.

Th Special Law was welcomed by both the U.S. and the EU, while a number of civil society and human rights organizations, such as the Albanian Helsinki Committee, the Institute for Political Studies, BIRN Albania, the Albanian Science Institute, the Cooperation and Development Institute, the Urban Research Institute, etc, issued a statement saying the package’s importance should respect the Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights, due to its ability to infringe basic human rights.

Moreover,in February the Operation Force of Law Operation Rule announced that it had addressed two people with numerous criminal records to declare the source of their assets to two people named with numerous criminal precedents who belonged to notorious criminal gangs in the country. The opposition, however, called it "another propaganda act" of a government which, according to it, "is directly related to crime.”

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 30, 2020 21:19