By Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
A New Parliamentary Commission Won’t Make Up for Lost Time Legal Affairs Committee Chair Ulsi Manja.

Today newspaper Panorama reported that Parliament is discussing the establishment of an Independent Commission for the Coordination, Monitoring, and Following the Implementation of Law 115/2016 “on the Governance Institutions of the Justice System.”

This Independent Commission will be elected solely by the governing Socialist Party, as its 5 members will be elected from the ranks of lawyers, judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and law professors by means of a secret vote with a simple majority from a list prepared by the Committee of Legal Affairs. Both Parliament and the Committee of Legal Affairs are under tight control of the majority. It’s independence is therefore, let’s say, relative.

But what is most remarkable about this Independent Commission is that its role will be completely irrelevant. According to the Draft Decision, the commission would “monitor the selection process of the candidates and the election and nomination of the members of the governance institutions of the justice system” and make sure this happens within “the legally determined deadlines.”

Following Law 115/2016 art. 1 the governance institutions in question would include the High Prosecutorial Council (KLP), High Judicial Council (KLGj), High Justice Inspector (ILD), the Justice Appointments Council (KED).

Let us start with the fact that the installation of the KLP and KLGj, following Constitution art. 179 should have already happened in April 2017. We are therefore already more than a year past the legal deadline and there is no need for an Independent Commission to conclude that. Nevertheless, the report accompanying the Draft Decision, written by Committee of Legal Affairs chair Ulsi Manja and Klotilda Bushka, is able to claim with dry eyes that “Non-implementation of the deadlines and concrete procedure, even by one institution, influences the progress and wellfare of the entire process of successfully implementing the justice reform.”

Furthermore, the KLP and KLGj members from the ranks of lawyers, law professors, and civil society have already been elected by Parliament, in an election process that was marred by legal violations and the election of unqualified candidates. So there is nothing to check anymore for any Independent Commission.

Finally, the KLP, KLGj, ILD, and KED members that are still be to elected from the ranks of judges and prosecutors are currently all undergoing vetting. As of today only one candidate for the KED (Fatjona Memçaj) and one for the KLGj (Manjola Xhaxho) have managed to pass the vetting. Five other candidates for the governance institutions were already dismissed by the Independent Qualification Commission (KPK). Meanwhile 41 candidates still remain to be vetted, in a process that EURALIUS has estimated will take until the end of 2018. In this drawn-out process there is no role whatsoever for Parliament or any Independent Commission it may establish.

What then will the role of this Independent Commission elected by the Socialist Party be? The qualifications mentioned in the Draft Decision may give us an indication: 10 years without political involvement; MA degree or higher in law; 15 years of experience; of high moral authority, etc. In other words, precisely the same qualifications as necessary to be eligible as member of the KLP or KLGj.

So as this Independent Commission will have exactly zero work to until Parliament actually will elect and nominate the remaining members of KLP and KLGj – not until 2019 – from a pool that will probably be barely larger than the number of vacancies, it will most probably serve as waiting room for those who didn’t make the cut, all paid by public money.