From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
ECtHR Questions Albania on Dismissal of Former Prosecutor Antoneta Sevdari

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has posed a series of questions to the Albanian government regarding the vetting institutions’ dismissal of former prosecutor Antoneta Sevdari.

In February 2018, the Special Appeal Chamber (KPA) decided to dismiss Sevdari and overturned the decision of the Independent Qualification Commission (KPK) which had confirmed her position in office.

Sevdari then took the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that the Albanian state had breached her right to a fair trial. The Court sent the Albanian government a number of questions in order to qualify the basis of her claim.

These include whether Sevdari was guaranteed due process of law, whether she had been able to oppose the composition of the KPA, whether disciplinary action and dismissal of the Hajdari and Daci had been considered, whether the JCC is “independent and impartial”, and whether the KPA is created by law with its members also elected by law.

The ECtHR also questioned whether Sevdari had the time to prepare her defense before the KPA, whether the burden of proof was fairly placed on her, and under what basis did the KPA say she “violated public confidence”. They also asked whether her dismissal had violated Article 8 of the ECtHR, related to the right to a private and family life.

Sevdari’s complaint to the ECtHR follows those of prosecutors Rovena Gashi, Dritan Gina, and Besa Nikëhasani, as well as former Constitutional Court judge Altina Hoxha, who have all filed lawsuits against the Albanian State over their dismissal by the vetting institutions.

Antoneta Sevdari’s complaint after dismissal

Sevdari’s complaint was focused on two members of the KPA panel that dismissed her – Sokol Como, Luan Daci, Ardian Hajdari, Rezarta Schuetz and Ina Rama.

Following her dismissal, she sent two formal complaints to the International Monitoring Operation (ONM), regarding Hajdari and Daci, who Sevdari claimed were appointed to KPA in violation of the law.

She cited Article 6 (1), stating that the judges had been elected based on an irregular procedure because they did not comply with the requirements set out in the constitution. These requirements include having a university degree and a master’s degree in law and no less than 15 years’ experience as a judge, prosecutor, law professor, advocate, notary or senior lawyers, having a very good level of English and not having been subjected to any disciplinary measures of dismissal or similar.

Sevdari claims that Hajdari does not have at least 15 years of relevant experience as his CV states he has only 13. She added that Hajdari didn’t register his business, suggesting he either never worked or hid his income from tax authorities, that he didn’t get a high enough mark in his studies, and did not have a master’s degree. He admitted this during his hearing.

In terms of Daci, he was dismissed from office in December 1997 and also rejected from an application procedure for the Court of First Instance in 2016. He was also unable to provide any evidence of having practiced law such as tax receipts or registration at the Bar Association. His level of English, like Hajdari’s remains under question.

The ONM ignored her complaints, claiming there was no legal basis to proceed, despite multiple violations of the constitution and the vetting law.

Sevdari then took the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that the Albanian state had breached her right to a fair trial.