Meta Vetoes Law on Police Vetting: Puts Police Under Government Control

President Meta turned back to parliament the law on the vetting of police for not providing conditions for impartial vetting and for its potential risk to bring the police under government control.

The original law proposed by former Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj last year determined March 2020 as the deadline for the vetting of the 13,000 police officers and officials working in related institutions. Only 111 officers were vetted until last month– one year after the law was approved in parliament.

The parliament passed the initial law in March 2018 and last month it also approved several changes proposed by Minister of Interior Sandër Lleshaj. According to the minister, the changes aimed at a faster vetting process and lower financial costs.

On April 19, President Meta argued that the real objective of the law, including changes proposed by Minister Lleshaj, was to bring the state police under government control. Among his arguments presented to the Parliament in returning the law, Meta wrote:

“The real purpose of the government is to control this process [the vetting of police] through an evaluation body– the General Directorate of the Service for Internal Issues and Complaints (ShÇBA)– which is a structure actually directly dependent on the political functioning of the Minister of Interior, ie the government.”

The president also pointed out that the law “enabled delays with no deadlines in the vetting process”:

“Not determining the closing time for the vetting process creates the ground for this process to be used as a punitive or blackmail mechanism for the entire police structure, which can cause a disturbing situation within the structure.”

Meta argued that leaving an open end to the completion of the vetting process could specifically result in a risk for the police to be influenced, a higher pressure on them in their daily work. Additionally, it could also enable a longer presence with the police force of officers and officials who don’t deserve to be in it and are therefore prone to blackmailing.

Last year, had also explained that the law at question could bring the police under government’s political control.