President Ilir Meta has returned the controversial “Anti-Corruption” package back to Albanian Parliament.
The law which was passed by Parliament on 5 March, gives the government sweeping new powers that circumvent the judicial system. It creates a special police and intelligence service that reports directly to the Prime Minister and has the power to arrest, detain, surveill, intercept communications, stop movement, and search any individual that it suspects of a crime.
Meta gave a number of reasons for his refusal to approve the law. He said:
““[…] The normative act violates the constitutional principle of the separation and balancing of powers, so long as a [government] act is enforced by the power of law, without the necessity and urgency, with the Council of Ministers taking over powers to regulate areas falling within the exclusive competence of the Assembly (parliament) and require qualified majority approval ”.
His arguments for returning the law include:
- Transcends constitutional powers of government;
- Violates the principle of separation of powers;
- Violates fundamental human rights and freedoms such as property right, the right to a fair trial, or the presumption of innocence;
- Violates the hierarchy of the Acts set forth in Article 116 of the Constitution;
- Conflicts with important principles underlying the rule of law laid down in the Constitution of the Republic of Albania and in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court;
- Violates the constitutional provisions on the independent functioning of the Special Prosecution Office and the Special Court against Corruption and Organized Crime;
- Contradicts the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.
While a number of arrests and asset seizures have taken place under the new law, it has been argued it can be used for political reasons. By giving unprecedented and complete power to the government, outside of any supervisory body or the judicial system, the law is wide open for abuse in the hands of the Prime Minister.
EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca said that while the law could work in principle, the EU are “closely monitoring the implementation” to ensure that it is “fully implemented in accordance with human rights.”