From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
ONM Chief Ruiz Calavera Can’t Take Criticism: “It Shows Justice Reform Works”

In a recent interview with the Voice of America, Chief of the Management Board of the International Monitoring Operation (ONM) Genoveva Ruiz Calavera declared the following:

“The increasing attacks against the justice reform, vetting, and the ONM, international observers, and our EU assistance missions in this sense are very meaningful. These claims are without basis and unacceptable, but we see them as a confirmation that the vetting is shaking the foundations of a corrupt system.”

This is a remarkable statement for someone who in February 2017 claimed that “The only voice that will be commenting on our work is the public website” and that she would “resist politicization.” We have certainly come a long way.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the legislative framework in which the justice reform operates is rotten at its core. Every single deadline mandated by the Constitution has been violated.

The country is without Constitutional Court and High Court, a situation that was completely unaccounted for when the reform was approved.

Members of the Justice Appointments Council (KED) and the High Prosecutorial Council (KLP) were elected without vetting and several had to leave after it turned out they were unqualified – but not before they participated in quintessential decisions.

Members of the new Constitutional Court and the High Inspectorate of Justice (ILD) do not need to pass the vetting. The High Judicial Council (KLGj) appears to have passed a regulation limiting the vetting of the candidates for the High Court.

All of this poses an enormous risk to the credibility of the justice reform, at a moment when Albanians’ distrust in the European Union has increased considerably.

Ruiz Calavera thinks that all the claims are “without basis.” I think the facts speak loud and clear – and they accuse both an unprofessional and incapable European Commission – with all its “assistance” – and a government bent on capturing the judiciary. As the government currently possesses the necessary majority in Parliament, after filling the seats of the boycotting opposition with whomever was desperate for financial perks and immunity, it will certainly achieve that goal.

Different from what Ruiz Calavera appears to think, those who criticise the justice reform don’t have the “foundations” of their “corrupt system” shaken. Rather, this criticism derives – at least in my case – from a genuine concern for the stability of the rule of law in Albania and the long-term negative effects that an incorrectly and politicized implementation of the justice reform can have on the country. It is perhaps even more than a concern. It is a fear that the justice reform will have turned out to be a vehicle to establish a one-party state.

Unfortunately, Ruiz Calavera’s statements are a poignant example of what I have called elsewhere “justice reformism.” A delusional belief that pointing out factual evidence about failing policies is a sign of corruption.

This is the same type of belief that resulted in many a “heretic” scholar being burnt at the stake. Ruiz Calavera’s idea that any form of attack on herself or the assistance mission she manages would be “unacceptable” basically amounts to claim of infallibility, as if the popes and cardinals of the European Commission, in all their wisdom, have imposed eternally valid laws in the backwaters of “their” continent. The arrogance of such statement would be shocking, if it weren’t so predictable.