Supreme Courts have a fundamental indispensable role in the process of harmonising national judicial practice with international standards and addressing current justice reform challenges in the EU integration process. This was the key message of the international conference organised today in Tirana by the Albanian Supreme Court in co-operation with the European Union and the Council of Europe.
The conference gathered judges from the Supreme Courts of Germany, Italy, France, Azerbaijan, Türkiye, North Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro, as well as the European Court of Human Rights and the USA Federal Tax Court. It highlighted the milestones of the more than a century-long journey of the Supreme Court of Albania, and the transition from national values to more universal ones in line with the European Convention on Human Rights, as part of Albania's path towards European Union membership.
In his opening remarks Sokol Sadushi, Vice President of the High Court of Albania, welcomed the participants and stressed the importance of public trust in the justice system which remains a main challenge. “The judiciary fulfills its mission effectively only when the public has confidence that the courts, even when make mistakes, act completely independently. This means trust in an independent, honest and impartial judiciary, to protect democracy and the rule of law", said Sadushi.
H.E Bajram Begaj, President of Albania in his remarks stated that the Supreme Court of Albania has indispensable contribution ensuring the opportunity to have a jurisprudence in line with the standards and principles of European justice and in respect to protection of human rights. “True democracy could not exist without a justice system that preserves the basic values of society: human dignity and that protects individual rights," said Begaj.
Holta Zaçaj, President of the Constitutional Court emphasised the importance of an independent justice system as one of the main pillars of the rule of law. “This independence is neither a favour nor a privilege, in fact it is a responsibility and a duty for all judges. It is imposed by human rights themselves and is actually a prerequisite to guarantee that the referee is impartial," she said.
Naureda Llagami, Chairperson of the High Judicial Council of Albania was focused on the importance of the justice reform. “With the 30-year transformation that culminated in the justice reform, we are closer to a better justice, although still far from our aspirations and objectives. Our partners, the European Union and the United States, and many countries near and far from us, who have not lined up to support Albanian justice, deserve credit for this," concluded Llagami.
Christiane Hohmann, EU Ambassador to Albania in her remarks said that: “EU integration is a serious project, and a qualitative and independent judiciary is among the key pillars. The Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils should continue to maintain the high standards of the vetting when fulfilling their tasks of ensuring the independence, accountability and appropriate functioning of the judicial power and of prosecutors. The School of Magistrates also plays a central role to make sure in attracting and preparing the future generations of judges and prosecutors in Albania. They have the future of justice in their hands, but also the future of Albania’s EU membership.”
Yuri Kim, Ambassador of the United States of America in Albania mentioned that the foundation of justice reform in Albania is the separation of political influences from the judiciary. “Preserving the integrity and independence of justice institutions and eliminating real or perceived interference is critical to success and is also critical to public trust.”, said Ambassador Kim.
Christophe Poirel, Human Rights Director, Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law, Council of Europe stated that: “Judicial dialogue is an important component of our co-operation activities in Albania. Bringing together eminent judges from different countries today provides an excellent opportunity to share national perspectives and experiences, learn from each other, and discuss common challenges".
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*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.