Albania lacks independent oversight institutions, leaving the door open to corruption

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat



Translations: SQ


Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement, said today that Albania remains vulnerable to corruption because of political interference and a lack of independence at key oversight institutions.

The National Integrity System Assessment - Albania 2016, the first-ever in-depth assessment of corruption risks in Albania, evaluates how effective the anti-corruption measures are at all principal institutions and sectors, including all branches of government, the judiciary, media, public and private sectors, and civil society.

“Albania falls short of the European Union requirements on anti-corruption and unless it introduces key reforms this could derail EU accession,” said Cornelia Abel, Coordinator for Southeast Europe and Western Balkans at Transparency International. “It is troubling that institutions that are set up to ensure decision makers act in the interest of Albanian citizens are not given the strength, impartiality and resources to do so.”

The assessment finds that key institutions for fighting corruption, such as the Prosecutor’s Office, the High Court, the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the High Inspectorate for the Declaration and Audit of Assets and Conflict of Interest (HIDAACI), are subject to political pressure and interference that undermines their ability to fulfil their role to stop corruption.

Albania’s legal framework does not guarantee the independence of these key institutions from political power despite the recent reforms designed to meet a key EU requirement for starting accession negotiations.

“Albania’s recent judicial reform was a good start, but now needs to be implemented,” said Transparency International’s Abel. “Several laws of the justice reform package remain to be adopted by Parliament, and all eyes are on the government and the opposition to work together to make this reform real. Much more needs to be done if Albania aspires to start accession negotiations with the EU.”

The Central Election Commission (CEC), which is responsible for overseeing political party and campaign financing, is hampered by political interference as political parties nominate its members. Despite an oath of impartiality, political loyalties have been evident in the past years. Protection of CEC members is weak, with parties being able to change the composition of lower level commissions at will – even on election day. The CEC remains under-resourced, with only two employees responsible for overseeing campaign financing of all political parties, and external auditors left with the bulk of the work. External auditors lack incentive to take on this task, leaving political parties and the countries’ decision-makers without adequate oversight.

Political parties – found to have the lowest level of integrity compared to all actors and institutions assessed – are not obliged to report campaign funds and expenditures during election campaigns, which means that voters do not know who is supporting which candidate before making their choice. 

“This report shows where changes are clearly needed to fight corruption. Albania has one of the highest levels of perceived corruption in the region. Albanians are disillusioned with the political system, and they’re tired of seeing the corrupt use money or influence to buy their way out,” said Abel. “Elected and appointed officials must understand that they hold their positions to improve the lives of the Albanian citizens. Any abuse of position must be exposed, denounced and punished.”

In addition to the completion and implementation of justice reform, Transparency International sets forth the following key recommendations to root out corruption in Albania and ensure key oversight institutions are able to function without political interference:

  1. The Parliamentary ad-hoc committee on electoral reform must assume full function. A key focus of its work should be the independence of election administration.
  2. Parliament must urgently establish an ad-hoc committee – assisted by a technical secretariat – on conflict of interest reform and lobbying regulation. This committee should have a mandate to propose changes that simplify the legal framework, strengthen the independence of key institutions and render enforcement possible.
  3. Political parties must adopt higher standards when they choose electoral candidates and public functionaries to ensure professionalism and higher levels of integrity in the public sector.


For any press enquiries please contact

Berlin
Julie Anne Miranda-Brobeck
E. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
T. +49 30 3438 20 666

Tirana
Cornelia Abel
E. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
T. (+355) 069-56 46 090

Latest

Support Transparency International

Anti-Corruption Award 2018 - Nominations Open!

Our Anti-Corruption Award recognises the courage and determination of the many individuals and organisations fighting corruption around the world.

Nominate an anti-corruption hero today! 

Comment gagner la lutte contre la corruption en Afrique

Aujourd’hui est la Journée africaine de lutte contre la corruption – une occasion opportunité pour reconnaitre le progrès dans la lutte contre la corruption en Afrique et le travail significatif qui reste encore à accomplir.

How to win the fight against corruption in Africa

African Anti-Corruption Day is an important opportunity to recognise both the progress made in the fight against corruption in Africa and the significant work still left to do.

Increasing accountability and safeguarding billions in climate finance

In December 2015, governments from around the world came together to sign the Paris Agreement, agreeing to tackle climate change and keep global warming under two degrees centigrade. They committed to spend US$100 billion annually by 2020 to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and protect themselves against the potentially devastating effects of climate change.

After Gürtel, what next for Spain’s struggle with political corruption?

At the start of June, the Spanish parliament voted to oust Prime Minister Rajoy after his political party was embroiled in the biggest corruption scandal in Spain’s democratic history. At this critical juncture in Spain’s struggle with political corruption, Transparency International urges all parties to join forces against impunity and support anti-corruption efforts in public life.

Risk of impunity increases with outcome of Portuguese-Angolan corruption trial

A verdict last week by the Lisbon Court of Appeals in the trial of former Angolan vice president Manuel Vicente has disappointed hopes for a triumph of legal due process over politics and impunity. It also has worrying implications for the independence of Portugal’s judiciary.

The UK just made it harder for the corrupt to hide their wealth offshore

If counted together, the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies would rank worst in the world for financial secrecy. Fortunately, this could soon change.

The new IMF anti-corruption framework: 3 things we’ll be looking for a year from now

Last Sunday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) unveiled its long-awaited framework for “enhanced” engagement with countries on corruption and governance issues. Here are three aspects we at Transparency International will be looking at closely in coming months as the new policy is rolled out.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media