About the Project

The overall objective (or goal)

of the proposed action is to “promote judicial integrity and reduce opportunities of corruption in the judiciary”. Judicial corruption is a long-standing challenge for Albania, acknowledged by the Albanian public in numerous corruption perception surveys, the Albanian judges themselves and Albania’s international donors including the European Union. Therefore, eradicating judicial corruption was a major objective of the latest justice sector reform.

Background – Albania has recently completed the regulatory phase of a far-reaching judicial reform. The reform awaits implementation, which has been protracted due to a political stalemate. Top among the goals of this reform is the fight against corruption in the judiciary. The reform includes wide ranging measures aimed at curbing judicial corruption including enhancing the judges’ status, opening up the courts, rationalising court procedures, intensifying asset disclosure by judges etc. However, the fight against judicial corruption is not a one off move. Moreover, the effectiveness of the anti corruption measures of the reform is not guaranteed. Even if the reform succeeds in curbing down judicial corruption in Albania, its results need to be sustainable. Policies and management tools need to be constantly revised to make sure that judicial integrity does not falter. It is therefore necessary to establish a functioning and permanent framework for monitoring judicial integrity in continuity (in other words a system for corruption proofing of the judiciary and the individual courts). The proposed Action proposes to do precisely that. In other words, it aims to complement the reform’s anti corruption measures by establishing a standing mechanism for monitoring judicial integrity in continuity thus providing policy makers, court managers and the public with early alerts and indications of fading integrity standards.

01.
Current situation

The Albanian judiciary is widely perceived as corrupt by the public opinion and other observers, both domestic and foreign. In a survey from 2009 entitled “Corruption in Albania: Perceptions and Experiences”, the Institute for Development Research and Alternatives found that Albanians believed that the outcome of trials is mostly influenced by financial interests, business connections, personal acquaintances of judges and political considerations. Furthermore, in 2012 the Center for Transparence and the Free Information conducted a survey with 58% of the total number of judges, 25% of which believed that the justice system is corrupt, while 58% believed that the system was perceived as corrupted. It seems reasonable to believe that these perceptions have a real basis, while a large number of judges themselves believe them.

On the other hand, perception of corruption is determined by certain objective factors such as excessive length of proceeding, delays in the reasoning of decisions, the poor quality of the judicial service, unfriendly behavior by judges and court administration, lack of transparency and effective communication between the courts and the users of their services, informal contacts between the judges and the parties, judges’ unjustified lifestyle etc. Despite regular measurement of public perception for judicial corruption, there
are no specific forms of studies for the underlying factors of corruption in Albania. The proposed Action promises to fill this gap.

02.
Needs and problems that must be solved

In a nutshell, judicial corruption is the problem that will be addressed by the proposed Action. Clearly, the problem of judicial corruption may be addressed at various levels and by various methods. Such levels and methods include regulatory interventions aimed at enhancing the judges’ status, opening up the courts, rationalising court procedures, intensifying asset disclosure by judges etc. and the intensification of criminal investigation and punishment of corrupt judges. These measures can go a long way in curbing down, or even eradicating judicial corruption. However, their effectiveness is not guaranteed and even if successful, their results need to be sustainable. Policies and management tools need to be constantly revised to make sure that judicial integrity does not falter. It is therefore necessary to establish a functioning and permanent framework for monitoring judicial integrity in continuity (in other words a system for corruption proofing of the judiciary and the individual courts). The proposed action aims to address the problem of judicial corruption by complementing the regulatory solutions provided by the justice reform to fight judicial corruption by establishing a standing mechanism for monitoring judicial integrity in continuity thus providing policy makers, court managers and the public with early alerts and indications of fading integrity standards

03.
Methodology

The methods of implementation and rationale for such methodology;

Method of implementation for activities 1 and 2 – In practice these two activities will consist of in desk research by IPLS staff and a series of workshops with target groups and other stakeholders aimed at collecting and systemizing their views on two things: (i) the particular performance targets (or the desired state of play) at the level of the judiciary and at the level of the individual courts that are conducive to judicial integrity; (ii) the specific and reliable indicators that are able to show with accuracy and at regular intervals (so-called SMART indicators) whether the established performance targets are achieved or not. The completion of these activities will help to build a broad consensus among the target groups and other stakeholders as to what exactly is to be monitored in order to understand whether the judiciary in general or a given court is prone to corruption or, on the contrary, is corruption proof (and if so to what extent). The emerging consensus will be materialized in a policy document (possibly entitled “Checklist of Safeguards against Corruption in the Judiciary”) officially endorsed by the target groups (HCJ, MoJ, and the courts). We anticipate that this work method, in addition to establishing wise performance targets and indicators will also help to achieve broad acceptance of the findings of judicial integrity monitoring by the target groups and the public at large. Their use in policy and management decisions aimed at promoting judicial integrity (or reducing opportunities for corruption) will therefore be more likely.

Method of implementation for activity 3 – This activity will also consist of in desk research by IPLS staff and a series of workshops with target groups and other stakeholders aimed at making a choice among the various available methods to monitor judicial integrity. We’ll discuss with the target groups the relative merits of a formalised method for monitoring judicial integrity (as advocated the World Bank and CEPEJ), and of a more subjective and qualitative data collection methodology based on the perspectives and experiences of the institutional stakeholders and court users. Based on the research and aforementioned workshops we shall develop the national Methodology for Monitoring Judicial Integrity in Albania (including the monitoring tools such as questionnaires, formats for interviews etc.) officially endorsed by the target groups. This method of work should lead to increased and sustainable capacity of the external stakeholders and the judiciary itself to rigorously monitor judicial integrity in Albania.

Method of implementation for activities 4 and 5 – These activities will consist of organizational arrangements for the preparation of the concluding event and IT services for the preparation of the specialised webpage Judicial Integrity Monitor.

04.
Results
  1. A broad consensus among the target groups and other stakeholders as to what exactly is to be monitored in order to understand whether the judiciary in general or a given court is prone to corruption or, on the contrary, is corruption proof (and if so to what extent). This consensus will be materialized in a policy document (possibly entitled “Checklist of Safeguards against Corruption in the Judiciary”) officially endorsed by the target groups (HCJ, MoJ, and the courts). The target groups will be empowered to use the Checklist of Safeguards against Corruption in the Judiciary in policy and management decisions aimed at promoting judicial integrity (or reducing opportunities for corruption).
  2. A national methodology for Monitoring Judicial Integrity in Albania, broadly endorsed by the target groups and other stakeholders, coupled with increased and sustainable capacity of the external stakeholders and the judiciary itself to rigorously monitor judicial integrity in Albania.
  3. Monitoring exercise in 1 (one) selected court by using the developed methodology, data analyses and public reporting on judicial integrity establishing a baseline and revealing trends.
  4. A highly publicised webpage called Judicial Integrity Monitor and Concluding Event launching a program for unfolding judicial integrity monitoring in the years to come.