Who Are the 8 International Vetting Observers?

Last week, the eight international experts of the International Monitoring Operation (ONM) arrived in Albania, to join ONM director Genoveva Ruiz Calavera. The ONM will monitor and advise the vetting committees, who are expected to start their work this month in the context of the transitional reassessment of the courts and prosecution (vetting).

The successful implementation of the vetting pertains to one of the five conditions that need to be fulfilled for the opening of accession negotiations. Even so, the Constitutional Court is expected to make a decision next week on the constitutionality of key elements of the judicial reform, after a case filed by the association of judges.

The 8 experts from from Belgium (1), Italy (1), Bulgaria (1), Croatia (1), Netherlands (2), Sweden (1), and US (1). Half of them have prior experience in an Albanian-speaking context, as judges and prosecutors at the EULEX mission in Kosovo. It should also be noticed that there is a broad expertise represented in the team, with specializations in human trafficking, organized crime, and the relations between the judiciary and the media, all of which are highly relevant in the Albanian context.

The EU has released the full biographies of the eight international experts, which are summarized here:

  • Theo Jacobs, former director of the Central Office for Seizure and Confiscation and currently a prosecutor at the Court of Appeal in Brussels. He is also former Head of the Rule of Law section in the EUPOLCOPPS mission in the occupied Palestinian territories, Chief Prosecutor in the EULEX mission in Kosovo and as Member of the Justice Team of the European Planning Team for Kosovo.
  • Ferdinando Buatier de Mongeot, a criminal judge for preliminary investigations in the Court of Como in Italy. Former international judge at District Court Level for EULEX Kosovo and as a Resident Twinning Adviser in the framework of an EU CARDS Project aimed at
    fighting organized crime and corruption within the State Prosecutor’s Office in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
  • Elka Ermenkova, international judge in the Supreme Court of Kosovo. Member of the Human Rights Review Panel of the EU Rule of Law Mission EULEX in Kosovo and former national judge in Bulgaria.
  • Branko Hrvatin, former President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia.
  • Hans Kijlstra, a judge at the district court of Amsterdam and chairman of the chamber for extraditions and European Arrest Warrants. Expert on human trafficking.
  • John S. Leonardo, United States Attorney for Arizona.
  • Mia Roessingh-Bakels, judge in the criminal section of the Court of Appeal in Arnhem. Expert on matters relating to the judiciary
    and the media.
  • Marie Tuma, criminal judge within the EULEX Rule of Law mission in Kosovo. Former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal
    for the Former Yugoslavia, the Hague.

Both Ermenkova and Tuma will be employed at a later stage, after they finished their current assignments.