During an interview with Deutsche Welle, director of the Independent Monitoring Operation Genoveva Ruiz Calavera made what I consider a dangerous and deceptive claim. That the vetting process, which will reassess all Albanian prosecutors and judges, aims “to consolidate in an incontrovertible manner, once and for all, the rule of law in Albania.”
I find it difficult to understand how a well-educated person would make such gratuitous claims. Ruiz Calavera should be perfectly aware of the fact that both inside and outside the EU the “rule of law” is under considerable attack and that overall the judiciary systems in the EU are becoming less and definitely not more independent.
We only need to look at what is happening in Poland at the moment to understand to what extent the independence of the judiciary is always at risk, even within “consolidated” and “democratic” states. In Poland, one of the largest EU member states, the Law and Justice Party (PiS) owns an absolute majority in the Sejm even though it won only 37.6% of the popular vote.
With this parliamentary majority, the PiS proposed a law that would “force the entire Supreme Court into retirement and give the country’s justice minister the ability to decide which judges can stay in their current roles.” According to PiS chairman Jarosław Kaczynski, “courts in our opinion are the stronghold of post-communists in Poland.”
If accepted, the law proposed by the PiS would put the entire judiciary branch of government under direct control of the executive branch, which is currently ruled, by an absolute majority of the PiS.
The language used by the PiS party is eerily reminiscent of the words used by Prime Minister Edi Rama when he speaks about the judiciary as stronghold of “corruption.” “Post-communists” in Poland, “corrupted judges” in Albania – it is all sung to the same tune. Let us not forget that the current vetting institutions were completely selected by members of Parliament, members that many among us consider at least as corrupt as the judges and prosecutors that set drug lords and criminals free on a nearly daily basis.
And that is not all. The independence of the judiciary branch and the “rule of law” is useless when the leaders of Albania themselves are completely immune to any such independence or rules. Only recently, the Prime Minister himself, in a gesture that one could call “Erdoğan-light,” published an online list of “bad” public servants, in which he basically circumvented any form of proper legal procedure. The hundred people on his list were publicly accused without any form of investigation or due process.
Is Ruiz Calavera really convinced that a “vetted” judiciary would have jumped in and that a public prosecutor would have filed a lawsuit against Edi Rama for violating the privacy of those on the list while publicly slandering, without any evidence except the “anger” of his Facebook followers, hundred people who are supposed to be innocent until pronounced guilty by a court of law? Did anyone read what this man said? “It will be hell […]. You have seen nothing yet!”
Instead, the EU remained silent, Ruiz Calavera remained “independent,” and no judge or prosecutor moved a feather. As long as Edi Rama and his band, which now like the PiS have an absolute majority in Parliament despite winning less that 50% of the popular vote, are above the law, you can vet as much as you want.
An even when the vetting would be successful, and cases such as the above would be properly prosecuted at a court of law, there is nothing one can do against an absolute majority and the wild “will of the people.” Rama owns the will of the people now, and he will direct it wherever he needs to: against “corrupt” judges, against “corrupt” civil servants, against “corrupt” journalist, against “corrupt” teachers… we know where this goes right? Just look at the picture!