Since 2009, the Foundation has received funding each year from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to work in Albania and to date has been the Foundation’s largest project.
In this period the work has included:
Assistance with Court Reform.
The Foundation identified the weaknesses in the way the appointments system to the High Court was working/ not working and also in that court’s very serious backlog of cases. Working closely with the Chief Justice, the Albanian Ministry of Justice and the EU Rule of Law Mission in Tirana its efforts led to the development of agreed proposals for legislative reform. A new Law on the High Court was enacted in July 2013, and the Foundation continues to assist in its implementation.
The Foundation also worked with the Albanian High Court to reduce its caseload and to ensure its decisions were published in real time, in a searchable format. It also assisted in ensuring the High Court operations and decisions were demonstrably in line with EU standards and international norms achieved.
Most recently the Foundation has been providing assistance to the Serious Crimes Court and the Constitutional Courts looking at how best to improve their systems of administration
The selection, appointment and promotion of judges
The Foundation prepared a report for the Magistrates’ School (the judges’ training school) in which it recommended new methods for sifting candidates for entry to the School. Its recommendations were accepted, and their implementation led to a dramatic reduction in the number of aspiring candidates, now that it was seen that entry to the School could no longer be obtained by improper pressure or nepotism.
This success led the Albanian authorities to consider whether similar transparently fair procedures could be introduced into the appointment and promotion systems for judges
Improving ethics codes and disciplinary processes for judges and advocates
Following several visits, the Foundation produced a report recommending the introduction of new arrangements for handling and processing complaints against advocates. This led to the agreement and enactment of major amendments to the Law on Advocates. The Foundation advised on how this law should be implemented, now that a new Albanian Complaints Commissioner and a new Disciplinary Committee are in place. The Foundation offers on-going support and arranged for a delegation to visit the UK on a study visit with a range of organisations and individuals including the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, the Bar Standards Bar and the City Law School
Assistance with legislative reform
One of the priorities identified by the EC as a condition for a positive recommendation on Albania’s EU candidate status was the introduction of new legislation on the High Court. However the new law became mired in internal political processes but the Foundation was able to use its independent position to enable negotiations at all levels and enabled significant progress to be made on the reforms. The new law was agreed by all parties and has been enacted. In addition, the assistance provided to the Albanian National Chamber of Advocates has enabled the Law on the Legal Profession to pass through Parliament.
The Foundation has prepared and delivered training modules for two-day and one-day judicial training seminars on ECHR law, EU law and judicial conduct. In addition to a two-day general introduction to ECHR law, the Foundation has also provided one-day seminars on a wide range of topics including discrimination law, equality in human rights law, gender-stereotyping and discrimination in employment, the indefinite detention of non-nationals, domestic violence, access to education and privacy.
It has also prepared a comprehensive Human Rights Manual for Albania which is available either in English or Albanian.The English version can be found here Human Rights Manual for Albania (English Version) and the Albanian version here Manual Trajnimi për të Drejtat Ndërkombëtare të Njeriut (Albanian Version)
It has also prepared a training video on judicial conduct issues, which is currently available in Albanian and English
Visits to the UK
The Foundation has arranged several delegations from Albania including a visit to London by delegates from the Albanian National Chamber of Advocacy. The Foundation organised a three day programme covering the complaints commission, insurance and Advocacy School. We also arranged a visit to London from the Serious Crimes Court including meetings with the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Crime Agency and Southwark Crown Court as well as a visit from the Albanian Chief Justice pictured below