From: Alice Taylor
‘Anti-Corruption Champion’ Is ‘Very Proud’ of State Department Recognition

Judge of the Administrative Court of Appeal, Ardian Dvorani has spoken about the honor bestowed upon him by the US State Department which recognized him as an “anti-corruption champion”.

The former- Communist-era prosecutor, said that the praise must be shared between many other colleagues who have made efforts over the years to create the opportunity for justice in Albania. He added he feels very “appreciated” and “extremely proud”.

In an interview given to Voice of America, he added:

“I do not want to keep this extraordinary assessment only for myself, but I call it an assessment and I want to share it with many other colleagues, judges, prosecutors, magistrates, who over the years have made efforts and continue to make efforts, to create in Albania the opportunity to deliver justice, in the true sense of the word.”

Dvorani also said that he has a positive assessment of justice reform in Albania. He said it has been comprehensive and profound, having come 25 years after the overthrow of the Communist regime. He said that he acknowledges there have been problems but that the reform has progressed “step-by-step”.

” I see that the reform is bearing fruit. I say that reform will still take time, and even more time is required because it is not a simple matter, it is not that one or two judges or several prosecutors are changed. We have new institutions, we have new constitutional mechanisms, which must guarantee impartiality, independence of the judicial system, professionalism in the administration of justice. All these mechanisms need their time to acclimatize, to get acquainted with the whole new constitutional and legal framework,” he added.

The justice reform which some consider having failed in both its design and implementation brought the country’s legal system to its needs. Not only did it result in the non-functioning of the High Court and Constitutional Court for several years and a backlog of cases numbering tens of thousands, but it saw more than half of judicial staff be fired or quit. The process is not even at the half-way mark.

Furthermore, it has seen a number of communist-era judicial staff, prosecutors, judges, and even security operators, placed into new judicial structures.

Meanwhile, public trust in the reform continues to drop year-on-year. Only 53% believe it will have a positive impact and some 32% think it will be implemented properly. Over 60% of the population think the judicial system is very, or extremely susceptible to political influence and interests. Instead, Albanians prefer to trust the health system, schools, the police, army, and religious institutions, more than the judiciary.

The former head of the IOM, Genoveva Ruiz Calavera praised Dvorani’s recognition. She said the EU will continue to support Albania in strengthening the rule of law, eradicating corruption, and continuing economic development. Calavera has since been assigned to a new role as the head of a department responsible for translations and allocating meeting rooms, rather than supervising judicial reform in Albania.

Dvorani was removed from his position as a judge in the High Court in June 2020. His mandate expired in 2014 but he managed to hold on to his seat for a further six years. As per the Constitution, he would be the first to be replaced once a new member of the court was appointed. So on March 10 2020 when three new members were appointed, he was required to step down.

He called this an “unimaginable mistake” and said the High Judicial Council was influenced by the media.

Following his dismissal from the High Court, he was also required to resign from the Justice Appointments Council. He refused to do this but the Council remained steadfast and did not review his claim. Dvorani was persistent in sending letters requesting he be allowed to continue. The Council stated that the decision was not in their jurisdiction.

Furthermore, when he himself faced the vetting, the Independent Qualification Commission observed the High Inspectorate for Declaration and Control of Assets (HIDAACI) report which concluded that there were inconsistencies. These included several potential violations and possible concealment of assets. The Commission said his inaccuracies in reporting his assets were unintentional and he was confirmed.