Unlawful Appointment of Vetting Judge Does Not Affect Justice Reform, Says Chief of the Monitoring Mission

The suspension of a vetting judge for falsifying documents to hide his previous dismissal as judge creates no ground for putting in question the fundamentals of the justice reform implementation, according to Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission and Chair of the International Monitoring Operation (ONM).

Suspended vetting judge Luan Daci has been part of panels that have dismissed dozens prosecutors and judges with a final verdict.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the examination of a case by a court in which one of the judges has been elected in violation of national laws is unlawful.

In an op-ed published on EU Delegation’s website on Thursday, one day after ONM experts published a similar statement downplaying repercussions from Judge Daci’s possible dismissal and sentencing, Calavera defended achievements of the reform.

She insisted that the “only way” for an “independent, accountable and truly impartial judiciary in Albania” is to move forward with the implementation of the reform.

“The current investigation in the case of one of the members of the Appeal Chamber and the subsequent suspension from office, should not be an excuse to attack the judicial reform – it should rather be seen as the most concrete evidence that the system has started to function effectively,” Calavera suggested.

She reminded Albanian politicians that they have voted in favor of the reform, and that its implementation is crucial for Albania’s progress with the EU integration.

“There is no ground for putting in question the fundamentals of the reform process, however difficult and, yes, at times challenging it may be,” Calavera warned, adding that “in the current crucial phase for the progress of the country on the European integration path, this reform must not be undermined by various attacks. This is not a time to derail the reform and its many achievements to date […]”

Similar to the experts’ defense, Calavera also defended the International Monitoring Operation she chairs, justifying their failure to spot Luan Daci’s dismissal as judge with the short time at disposal for reviewing applications and the limited information available. She added that when the ONM was made aware of the allegations, they suggested those who had evidence against Judge Daci to submit it to prosecutors.

Judge Daci’s suspension, according to Calavera, confirms that “citizens now have the appropriate structures in place so that allegations of corruption or misconduct can be properly investigated.”

She called on political actors in Albania to guarantee “the necessary political conditions for the reform to unfold smoothly” and with “more determination and commitment than ever.”