Challenges of the General Prosecution Office in light of the Justice Reform
Honored Minister and heads of independent institutions!
Today's roundtable has its starting point after a conversation between Mr. Carmine Pirozzoli and me, where I introduced the idea of organizing a meeting with our partners of the international missions providing legal assistance to Albania, for presenting a set of project proposals of the General Prosecution’s office and implement some of them with their support. The idea of organizing a meeting more than just a technical one was crystallized there, with the support of PAMECA mission, aiming at the involvement in this process not only all potential contributors, but also to bring an innovation in the way of communicating ideas and building the partnership of the prosecution with local and international institutions.
The formalization of this enterprise today is the end of a series of meetings I had with some of our partners who have assisted us for a long time in our efforts to consolidate the rule of law in Albania, to whom I have introduced some of ideas that are the main topic of this meeting today. However, at the same time it is the inauguration of a new proactive approach with strategic features of the General Prosecutor's Office, both in terms of promoting ideas for improving and modernizing the capacity of the prosecution, as well as forms of interaction and cooperation with other law enforcement agencies in the country.
While justice reform brought about radical structural changes in the edifice of justice, the long-awaited success would remain sketched only in the imagination of its creators and promoters if the people who would remain or enter this edifice would continue to jangle in the swamp of apathy and mediocrity, waiting for changes to come again from a different world, strange and incomprehensible to them, but which had magical solutions even to the simplest problems to which only the force of goodwill is sufficient to solve.
Reforms are not an end in themselves nor a final solution to problems. They are the instrument that should create favorable conditions for the development of a new reality, aimed at social progress.
The Justice reform is still under progress, because while a complete legal infrastructure for the functioning of the justice system has been adopted new institutions are set up only partially. Although the vetting process has not yet reached the middle of its journey from a quantitative point of view, the judiciary is facing significant shortages in human resources due to the removal of magistrates from the transitional re-evaluation process, while most of magistrates are still in the process or have not started it. The increase of the workload for each prosecutor's office has created an emergent situation, because although, we are in the fourth year of the reform, there is still no clear perspective on when the system will operate at full capacity.
The prosecution is the institution that has undergone the most drastic changes from the reform. The decentralization and independence of prosecutors were evaluated as the best solutions to make the prosecution efficient, while even greater power is given to the court in the investigation phase, to guarantee the public interest and the rights of the subjects.
The change of the functioning culture in an organization is the most difficult phase of any reform that intends to change it radically. Consequently, even for the prosecution, the implementation of the concept of independence is the most difficult challenge to overcome. The new relations that the law has created between directors of the prosecution and prosecutors have created ambiguity within the offices, while a risk of fragmentation of the investigative activity due to different practices in the absence of a centralized authority exists.
The new constitutional and legal configuration has introduced the criminal proceeding with a not easy process of redefining identity features, whereas the dynamics in the life of the country develop with a rhythm that does not tolerate structural or organizational weaknesses. Therefore, finding of effective solutions to improve the internal functioning of the organization and its interaction at the institutional level with other law enforcement agencies remains the only valuable option against the risk the criminal activities pose.
As to the above mentioned, the main purpose of today's meeting is the presentation of a vision we have for what can be done better, the presentation of our ideas on coping with challenges related to the well- functioning of the prosecutor's office. The measures we estimate to be taken are extended in several plans, starting from the internal organization of the offices, the operational infrastructure to the structuring of the inter-institutional interaction.
In this context, the main objective remains strengthening the independence of the prosecutors and the increase of the accountability of them by establishing an efficient monitoring system of their activity in the exercise of their functions.
A crucial part of our vision is the design and implementation of a major project for a better administration of the investigation process via its modernization, as we have entered the digital era, thus perfecting the ways of communication and data management.
The regulation of the interaction between the judicial police and the prosecutor in the pre-investigation phase is an important priority, as through the interventions of administrative nature the unnecessary burden of prosecutors’ work will significantly be reduced, thus increasing in this way the productivity.
We will propose, today, the undertaking of some concrete steps to improve our capacity in investigations related to the laundering of proceeds of crime and financial crime, aiming at the creation of a suffocating environment to the gangrene of informality, which has eroded the economic system of the country for 30 years and has become an obstacle to a sustainable socio-economic development.
Further than these, we will aim to launch a project for a new approach of our institutions in relation to the way of drafting criminal policies, through a scientific perspective based on genuine criminological studies, where the legislative, law enforcement and the academic world interacts to create realistic models on the instruments and ways our society should cope with criminal phenomena.
Additionally, as we improve our institutional capacities, the goal should be to enable them to adapt to a world that is constantly changing, increasingly open and interconnected. We need to be provident and creative, enhancing our analytical skills and prioritizing a consistent strategic approach.
We do not have the opportunity to materialize these ideas alone, without the support of our international partners and the cooperation and contribution of Albanian institutions. Today, we expect from you all a critical view at these ideas, we expect to elaborate them further and we want your new ideas as well, which will then be based on the well-thought-out projects involving anyone who can make a valuable contribution. Through this initiative, we aim to provide a real contribution to the good management of human energies and financial resources that are invested every year to strengthen the capacity of justice institutions in Albania. Coordinating the use of these precious resources and eliminating the phenomenon of project overlap, while meeting the real needs of the beneficiaries, is the right step towards optimizing performance for all of us.
Thanking you for your participation, I express my deep belief that the continuation of the today initiative followed by further steps towards the convergence of ideas and contributions will create new dynamics for inter-institutional interaction, with concrete results in the implementation of criminal legislation, which will serve as important indicators in the process of integration of the country, through concrete achievements that do not aim at meeting the formal criteria for the sake of the process, but such ones to qualitatively change the lives of Albanian citizens.