The Independent Qualification Commission (KPC), set up to vet judicial staff on ethics, transparency, and reputation, analysed the vetting process in a luxury resort in Vlora and refused to divulge the name of the company that financed it.
The revelation, published by BIRN, details how a two-day meeting to assess four years of the vetting process took place in the Marina Bay Resort in Vlora. The event took place on 30 September and involved the attendance of the 12 KPC commissioners and three members of administrative staff. Also invited were three International Monitoring Operation observers and two translators but they did not stay overnight at the venue, citing “ethical reasons”.
These reasons included that according to their rules, staff cannot stay in accommodation rated above the average level of the local area.
BIRN sent requests for information to the KPC to ask how much was paid and who paid for accommodation, food, rental of the conference room, and hotel rooms for 14 people, which start at EUR 72 a night.
The KPC replied that the total costs were 300,000 ALL (EUR 2,452) which seems to be quite a good price. Furthermore, they refused to divulge the name of the company that footed the bill.
KPC Secretary-General Edmond Vercani said the company’s name could not be revealed due to a confidentiality clause in the sponsorship agreement between them. Even the intervention of the Commissioner for the Right to Information was not enough to make them reveal where the money came from.
The KPC was set up in 2017 as a key pillar of the justice reform. The aim is to purge the judicial system of corruption and corrupt judges while restoring public faith in the system.
While the initial mandate of the vetting has finished, KPC has barely limped over the halfway mark and is still far from completing the process. An extension of the mandate is currently in parliament.
During the vetting process, many judges and prosecutors have been dismissed for receiving gifts or money from third parties and have been deemed by the KPC as being a conflict of interest or undermining public confidence in the justice system.
A redacted version of the agreement with the sponsor was provided to BIRN where it is detailed that the company works in the field of insurance. The Data Commissioner, Besniok Dervishi said hiding the name of the sponsoring company is a violation of the law on the right to information, and article 23 of the constitution.
Furthermore, the document highlights a discrepancy in the total of the event, a sum of EUR 3000 instead of the 300,000 initially reported to BIRN.