From: Alice Taylor
Civil Society Call Out Week of Integrity Organizers for Partnering with Government

An open letter has been sent to the International Chamber of Commerce in Albania, the Netherlands, the Dutch Ambassador in Tirana and the Ambassador of the EU in Albania raising concerns over the promotion of the Albanian government during the Week of Integrity 2020.

Signed by a number of Albanians living both in Albania and abroad as well as foreign citizens, they claimed there was a lack of transparency and integrity in the Integrity Champions award. The letter, seen by Exit said:

“We have multiple reports from people who nominated Integrity Champions that their nominations were never acknowledged, even after they sent follow-up queries to ascertain that their nominations were received.  There is no publicly available information about nominees, about how nominations were reviewed or evaluated, or about the jury and award selection criteria.  The complete absence of transparency in the process for awarding integrity champions undermines the credibility of an award that is supposed to promote transparency.”

The letter also calls out an apparent conflict of interest due to the promotion of integrity but then partnering with the Albanian government and accuses them of reputation laundering.

” As per the most recent analyses of corruption in the Western Balkans, Albania is at risk of “total state capture.” When rule of law is being “undermined by political leaders whose main motivation is to capture the state for private gain,” the ordinary citizen can only look with contempt at the speakers from the Prime Minister’s office and Ministry of Justice giving lectures about integrity. The high-profile position given to government speakers in the Integrity Awareness Week activities serves more to launder the reputation of government officials than it does to promote anti-corruption initiatives.”

The signatories explained that they believe it’s the responsibility of the organizers to ensure the integrity of those taking part. They note that anti-corruption battles are being fought daily by Albanians in academia, civil society, and activism and they should have been central partners and given a leading voice.

In an accompanying note, the signatories state that they have made the letter public after they first sent the letter to the organizers but did not receive any reply.