Albanian High Court Down to Two Judges, Becomes Completely Dysfunctional

The Albanian High Court has become completely dysfunctional yesterday, after the Special Appeals Chamber (KPA) dismissed judge Edmond Islamaj, overturning an earlier verdict of the Independent Qualification Commission (KPK). Albania is the first country in modern history to lack a functioning High Court and Constitutional Court.

On June 5, 2018, the KPK confirmed Islamaj in his office as High Court judge. This verdict was appealed by the Public Commissioner, and has now been overturned by the KPA. As a result, the High Court is down to 2 judges, Xhezair Zaganjori and Ardian Dvorani. There is another appeal pending at the KPA against the confirmation of Zaganjori, after the International Monitoring Operation filed a recommendation to the Public Commissioner to do so.

Whilst with 3 members the court was able to decide on some minor issues, now it has become fully dysfunctional.

According to the Albanian law, the High Court should consist of 19 judges. So far, the High Judicial Council (KLGj) has taken no steps to appoint new judges. Since 2015, the backlog of cases at the High Court has tripled from 11,357 to 28,863 in 2018. This backlog poses a serious challenge to the justice system, as long processing times that are the result of this backlog could lead to violations of the fundamental human right to a speedy trial.