From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
European Commission Refuses to Defend Independent Judiciary

A week before the opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania are expected to be discussed during the European Council Summit, the European Commission has refused to take the opportunity to remind Prime Minister Edi Rama and his government of the independence of the judiciary, which it claims to be the desired outcome of the justice reform.

In response to two questions by Exit, the EU spokesperson failed to heed the alarm expressed by both the High Prosecutorial Council (KLP), the Union of Judges, and most recently the Albanian Helsinki Committee that the independence of the judiciary is at stake.

Exit asked the European Commission: “Do you support the statement made by the High Prosecutorial Council that the government should refrain from prejudicing judicial processes?” to which the spokesperson responded:

We noted the High Prosecutorial Council’s statement concerning some government officials’ views about certain legal proceedings at the Durres Prosecutor’s Office.

As the High Prosecutorial Council mentioned, suspicions of criminal offenses that any prosecutor has allegedly committed should be reported to the Serious Crimes Prosecutor, while allegations of misconduct that requires disciplinary action should be reported to the Attorney General (until the High Justice Inspector is established).

Exit further asked: “Do you share Prime Minister Rama’s assessment that there exists a ‘criminal organization of super-corrupt prosecutors and judges who know that they won’t pass the vetting and work the whole day to grab what they can grab’?” Again the European Commission’s fails to appreciate the seriousness of the allegations, and even appears to tacitly support Rama’s assessment:

The EU expects that any evidence of misconduct or crimes committed by magistrates should be reported so that the competent authorities can conduct investigations.

In what can only be described as a direct blow to the judges and prosecutors that reached out to the international community overseeing the justice reform, neither of the two answers addresses the threat posed by the Rama government to the independence of the judiciary and the vetting process, which are core principles of the justice reform.

It is indeed remarkable that the European Commission and other international representatives spare no effort to join Prime Minister Edi Rama in attacking “corrupt” judges, while they have not a single time denounced the widespread corruption among the political class, evidence of which has been presented all over the media. Damian Gjiknuri, Vangjush Dako, Saimir Tahiri, Ulsi Manja, and dozens of other Socialist politicians have been implicated in corruption, drug trafficking, vote buying, illegal construction,… The list goes on and on, and is as long as the Commission’s silence is stubborn.

My point is not that there are no corrupt judges and prosecutors; they certainly exist and are dealt with through the vetting process. But the constant protection and support that the European Commission has been offering to the “structured criminal organization” that is the current government will make sure that no independent judiciary will ever arise from the ashes of the justice reform. An independent judiciary can only exist if politicians are no longer tempted to corrupt it and use it for their own gain with impunity. The European Commission fails to acknowledge this simple fact.

The European Commission’s weakness expressed in the face of a leader with the autocratic tendencies such as Edi Rama, in the hope not to “ruffle any feathers” at the eve before the European Council Summit, is not just unforgivable – it is callous. With its response, the European Commission has betrayed everything it claims to stand for, not in the least the principles on which the European Union was founded.

As an EU citizen and taxpayer I say: A curse on them and their houses!