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April 05, 2007

Third Judicial Reform Index Launched in Albania


On March 16, 2007 the Rule of Law Initiative launched the third volume of Judicial Reform Index for Albania. The 2006 JRI revealed that, despite some limited advancements in select areas, fundamental progress in establishing an independent, accountable, transparent and efficient judicial system remains elusive.

Of the 30 factors, seven rated positively:

  • initial judicial education
  • continuing judicial education
  • judicial jurisdiction over civil liberties
  • system of appellate review
  • input of the judiciary in the budgetary process
  • guaranteed judicial tenure
  • judicial immunity for official actions

Four critically important factors rated negatively:

  • improper influence in the judicial decision-making
  • contempt powers of the courts and enforcement of court decisions
  • career advancement of judges
  • public access to court proceedings

Finally, 19 were rated "neutral," signifying that - in general - Albania's judiciary has made some progress towards establishing international standards but that much work remains to be done in order for the country to become fully compliant.

While only seven factors in this JRI registered an improved correlation from the 2004 assessment, and those were mainly from a "negative" to a "neutral" correlation, this trend should not be interpreted as implying the absence of any positive developments. It is too soon for many nascent efforts to have registered a definitive impact. For example, the High Council of Justice adopted a revised and more comprehensive system for evaluating the performance of judges that replaced the widely criticized previous evaluation system. If properly implemented, this system could play a significant role in the career advancement of judges and contribute to increasing the transparency and objectivity of that process.