Naureda Llagami, head of the Albanian High Council of Justice (KLGJ), reported that the country’s courts, and especially the Appeals Court, suffers from a shortage of judges.
On Wednesday, Llagami spoke on the development of justice reform before the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs.
Llagami expressed her concerns over the challenges facing the courts as a result of the vetting process—which has led to the dismissed of several judges from their posts—and judges’ voluntary resignations.
She also added that another reason for the lack of judges was that candidates hesitate to apply for judicial vacancies.
“Out of 75 judges who should be [on the bench] providing services, there are currently only 25 judges at work, resulting in a slow pace of work,” Llagami said.
The High Justice Council has opened and reopened applications for judgeship posts, but there have been no nominations, Llagami stated.
Among the concerns raised during the report before the Committee on Legal Affairs, attention was also paid to the financial consequences of the ongoing judicial reform, as the state budget has lost about € 250,000 to pay the salaries of judges whose final vetting assessment is still pending.
Judges whose re-evaluation has yet to be finalized continue to receive 75 % of their salary, while they cannot adjudicate cases, which are passed on to their overloaded colleagues.
Llagami proposed that the country’s courts and human resources be reorganized, adding that Courts of Appeals should be grouped into 12, rather than 22 seats across the country. Llagami’s proposal hinged on the fact that the workload among district courts is uneven, and a reorganization would reduce time delays and increase access to justice for all citizens.
According to the 2020 report, there has been a decrease in the number of cases handled by the courts, due to the pandemic and the vetting process.
Llagami stated that because of the 2019 earthquake, some court buildings would need to be reconstructed. She also called for more financial support for information technology as, according to her, the High Court still obtains data manually which slows down the work flow.