Friday, January 17, 2014

Something good, something bad.......

Have been quite busy since the beginning of this new year with not much time for blog postings, but two very recent items that regard Albania in general are popping out all over the news and they are worth taking notice about.  

The first one is a good one since it puts Albania as the number 4 country worth visiting on the NY Times travel list of “52 Places to go in 2014”. This reconfirms the good trend, also established last year by travel agents, for pleasurable tourism in the still not too well known by many, and for some still mysterious nation.   Here is the piece written on this paper by Tim Neville.

Kayaking near Porto Palermo, Albania. Mustafah Abdulaziz


The other news that does not speak well for Albania, unfortunately, is even more important since it greatly affects this country’s way of life and its aspiration of becoming a worthy member of Europe. I am referring to the damning report from Europe Commissioner of Human Rights, which has just become public. 

January 16, 2014 - Commissioner for Human Rights
Corruption and political inference are undermining the effectiveness of Albania’s judicial system, the Commissioner for Human rights warned today.
“The high level of corruption in the judiciary seriously impedes the proper functioning of the judiciary and undermines public trust in justice and the rule of law in Albania,” said Nils Muižnieks.
“The authorities have to step up their efforts to ensure that all cases of corruption in the judiciary are effectively investigated and prosecuted.”
Muižnieks has published a report on the country following his visit last September.
He welcomes the national reform strategy and action plan to strengthen Albania’s judiciary but states that “more resolute action is needed, including more transparency and merit-based procedures in appointing and evaluating judges.”
The commissioner recommends depoliticizing the functioning of the judiciary, starting by strengthening the independence of the High Council of Justice, which ensures the integrity of Albania’s judiciary.
“The members of this council should be elected by a qualified majority in parliament and should exert a more decisive influence on the appointment, promotion and disciplinary proceedings of judges, including those of the Supreme Court.
“Any improper political interference in the functioning of the judiciary should be avoided. This includes removing the involvement of the Minister of Justice in the disciplinary proceedings against judges.”
The commissioner also encourages the authorities to adopt “necessary legislative measures” which would provide for a qualified majority in the parliament’s vote and consent concerning the appointment of the General Prosecutor by the President of the Republic.
Muižnieks signals that the “very slow pace” at which Albania implements judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, notably those relating to the non-enforcement of domestic court and administrative decisions, is an additional factor which considerably weakens the rule of law in the country.
“All judgments delivered by the Court must be promptly, fully and effectively implemented. In particular, the authorities have to address the persistent problem of excessive length of judicial proceedings, and create an effective domestic remedy in this regard.”
The long-standing problem of ill-treatment and of impunity for serious human rights violations committed by law enforcement officers, including those relating to the violent events of 21 January 2011 in Tirana, continue to be an issue of serious concern.
“I am very concerned at the increase of recorded incidents of ill-treatment, including torture,” said Muižnieks. “It is urgent to investigate all these cases along with the reported unlawful acts by law enforcement officers committed during and after the events of 21 January 2011 and to bring those responsible to justice.
“For the process to be credible and conducive to a restored public confidence in the state and its institutions, it is important to impose adequate, dissuasive penalties on any law enforcement official involved in serious human rights violations.”

Having had family ancestors that upheld the rule of law, and were known throughout their lives for their moral, honorable and righteous conduct, I can attest that Albania was a model of rightful and swift judiciary performance since time immemorial, even when the ancient laws were transmitted only orally from generation to generation, but now it can almost be considered in competition with similar situations that do, regrettably, also exist in many other developed and democratic countries.  

While warm, generous hospitality, and friendliness on the part of individual Albanians are now touted  unanimously by anyone that visits the country, these good qualities cannot sufficiently counterbalance the unlikable, ineffective, and loathsome conditions described in the above report.   My sincere wish is that with better and continuous education of the younger generations, who should,  and are proud of their past, these negative traits will be overcome in time and better characters will be forged to responsibly run honest lives for themselves and their fellow citizens.  

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