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Beginning 2002, the ABA worked to improve implementation of Albania's right of access to information legislation and administrative procedure code. As part of this endeavor, the ABA, in collaboration with local partners such as the Citizens Advocacy Office (CAO), developed forms for filing cases, distributed public education brochures, held a training series for nongovernmental watchdog groups and local public officials across the country, and assisted the CAO in developing a database tracking the status of cases filed under the right to information and administrative procedure codes.
In July 2004, a workshop at ABA ROLI's Annual Meeting brought together access to information experts from Romania, Croatia and Bosnia to share best practices with Albanian counterparts.
As part of its judicial reform efforts in Albania, the ABA worked closely with the National Judicial Conference (NJC) to develop the organization into a self-governing judicial body that promotes the independence and effective functioning of the judiciary. The ABA assisted the NJC in developing draft legislation to better define its role and responsibilities as part of the Albanian judiciary. In May 2005, the Albanian Parliament approved the law, establishing the NJC as a statutorily authorized body and giving it powers of budget and administration. The ABA was asked to assist with the restructuring of the NJC in accordance with the law beginning in fall 2005. In addition, the ABA worked with the Ethics Commission of the NJC on developing a program of activity in June 2004, which the Commission subsequently adopted. To date, the NJC has met in plenary session several times and formed a series of permanent committees.
In 2002, CEELI published its inaugural Judicial Reform Index for Albania (JRI). The ABA developed the JRI as a tool to help assess a cross-section of factors important to judicial reform. In early 2004, the ABA updated the JRI for Albania and publicly released it in July 2004 at the ABA ROLI Annual Meeting in Tirana. In December 2004, the ABA held a roundtable discussion in Tirana on the results of the JRI. The ABA conducted the third round of the JRI in 2006 and has a fourth round scheduled for 2008.
In 2006, the Regional Institution Building Advisor (RIBA) program provided institution building assistance to the High Council of Justice in Albania. The council is the state authority given responsibility in the Constitution for the protection, appointment, transfer, dismissal, education, moral and professional evaluation, career and control of activity of judges of the courts of first instance and of appeal. Some of the duties of the council include proposing judges for appointment to the courts of first instance and of appeal and deciding disciplinary measures taken against judges. The RIBA program conducted an organizational needs assessment of the council which highlighted several areas of need for institution building assistance. A training on strategic planning and analysis was delivered in April 2006, followed by training on fundraising and financial management in June.
Through its legal profession development program in Albania, the ABA sought to create both professional and nongovernmental legal organizations that are programmatically, organizationally and financially sustainable while providing services and programs to their members and clients. The ABA collaborated with the National Chamber of Advocates (NCA) in conducting a series of training seminars across the country introducing and discussing the changes outlined in the new Law on Advocates. A separate series of roundtables were held on ethics of advocates and the judicial complaint process in June 2004. The trainings were designed to stimulate discussion among Albanian lawyers on issues of corruption and ethics. The ABA also assisted the NCA with the drafting and adoption of a Code of Professional Conduct and organized continuing legal education trainings focusing on the code and its implementation.
In response to the NCA's need for increased capacity and funds, the RIBA developed a series of trainings to enable the NCA to increase its institutional capacity, ensure better services to its members and society, and fulfill its new role. The RIBA facilitated a strategic planning process with NCA leadership, and completed a draft strategic plan.