Strasbourg Court Rules against Albania over ‘Unreasonable Length’ of Court Proceedings

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has sided with two Albanian citizens who had sued Albania for significantly and unreasonably delaying their respective court cases.

Petrit Bara and Eduard Kola had filed separate suits with the ECHR against the Albanian government in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Bara’s case focused on his attempt to overturn a decision of the Faculty of Medicine to elect someone else as dean. He had originally filed a suit with the Tirana Administrative Court in 2016, after his own unsuccessful bid.

Kola sued the Albanian government for a decision that sentenced him to life imprisonment for premeditated murder.

In its Tuesday judgment, the ECHR ruled in the applicants’ favor, ordering the Albanian government to pay a cumulative EUR 4,700 in fines to the two.

The judges stated that Albanian courts had violated Article 6.1 of the European Convention on Human rights, which entitles everyone to a fair and public hearing “within a reasonable time.”

With regard to Bara’s case, the ECHR also found that the Albanian government had violated Article 13 of the Convention which stipulates that if someone’s rights are violated they are able to access effective remedy, i.e., take their case to court to seek a judgment.

The judging panel argued also that these significant delays were unacceptable despite “the context of the far-reaching reform of the justice system.”

Since embarking on its justice reform in 2016, the Albanian Supreme Court has seen its numbers halved, with only nine of a supposed total of nineteen judges currently serving on the Court. This has resulted in a significant delay in judgments, with the Court counting a backlog of 36,609 cases in February 2021.