Keeping up with the debunked and absurdist claims that there will be a Constitutional Court “soon,” the US Embassy has published another installment of its video propaganda series on the justice reform. As with the previous video on the justice reform, the recently published video contains incorrect statements and is brimful with wishful thinking.
The US Embassy claims that 8 out of 9 judges at the Constitutional Court were dismissed by the vetting, with only one judge, Vitore Tusha, being confirmed. The video states that therefore 8 new judges need to be nominated. This is incorrect. Tusha’s term has ended, and she needs to be replaced. Therefore 9 new judges are needed.
According to the video, the Constitution has “set standards” as regards the qualification of Constitutional Court judges, and that these standards are “implemented” by the Justice Appointments Council (KED). One of those constitutional standards is that candidates pass the vetting, with the vetting being implemented by the Independent Qualification Commission (KPK), the Special Appeal Chamber (KPA), and the Public Commissioners. However, KED has decided only to wait for the judgment of the KPK, as admitted by KED chair Ardian Dvorani himself. In other words, the nomination process for the 9 necessary judges is not based on the Constitution.
The video then continues to explain the election procedure, correctly stating that President, Parliament, and High Court each take turns to elect a new judge. However, the video omits the fact that there currently is no High Court, and that the High Judicial Council has violated the deadline to pass the bylaws necessary to elect a new one. President Ilir Meta, who nominates the judges in the High Court, has recently insisted on the drafting of the necessary legislation. Without High Court only two new judges can be elected.
Even if the High Court were elected in the coming months, the KED only accepted candidates for vacancies announced by the President and Parliament, ignoring those of the High Court. This again limits the number of new judges that could be elected within the short term to two.
Of the six vacancies of President and Parliament, the KED has accepted candidates for only 5, which is less than the necessary quorum of 6 Constitutional Court judges to make decision. Furthermore, only a specific ranking of candidates will result in all five vacancies being filled, as several candidates applied for several positions. This will require coordination between Parliament and President, which in the current political atmosphere seems unlikely.
Nevertheless, the US Embassy video claims that this new system “helps to prevent lengthy vacancies.” This is ironic to say the least, as every single deadline in the justice reform process has been violated and the absence of the Constitutional Court has led to a deep political and constitutional crisis.
The video ends with the upbeat message. “this is the way in which Albania will soon have a Constitutional Court.” This is true, if you mean by “soon” somewhere after the new year.