Policy Goal 3

Policy Goal 3

The criminal justice system is evolving based on the modern principles of European justice, supporting the re-socialization, reintegration and rehabilitation and respect of human rights within an integrated approach and with strong crime prevention practices”.

Policy 3 defines as its goal the criminal justice system orientation towards the prevention of crime, and to ensure that convicts, at the end of their sentence, or during it, have the opportunity to be re-socialized, reintegrated into society and have real opportunities for rehabilitation. These are the modern principles of European justice and they aim to focus the criminal justice system, through the criminal justice, state and judiciary institutions, towards the overall reduction of the crime rate in society and the mitigation of the negative consequences that come from a society with crime problems in all age groups and strata of society.

Achieving the goals set in this policy does not only affect the issues of criminality and criminal policies, but also marks a step forward towards the social emancipation of Albania and the acceptance of social differences and respect for human rights.

Regarding criminal policy, CJS I provided two main focuses: first, enhancing the efficiency of the criminal justice system and anti-corruption measures by consolidating the mission, status and functions of criminal justice institutions (Policy 4) and increasing the protection of human rights in the penitentiary system (Policy 6). These two directions were in full coherence with the very goal of justice reform, the key to which was precisely the punishment of crime through an independent judiciary and the strengthening of state and justice capacities in this regard.

The wording found in CJS II, failing again to provide for the need to consolidate institutions responsible for the investigation and trial of criminal offenses, especially corruption, is not complete, as the need to consider this component again as a goal of reform for the second four-year term is very important and current. This opinion is reinforced by the objectives set by CJS II, where one of the objectives with more measures is precisely Objective 3.2, which requires an efficient and proactive operational prosecution system according to European standards and efficient investigation, as well as the pursuit of corruption and organized crime, which will be fully addressed below (including the General Prosecutor’s Office, SPAK and NBI).

So, in order to have a logical and chronological continuity, referring also to the establishment of new bodies, links of the same mechanism (such as NBI), which were not foreseen in CJS I, Policy 3 should stress the importance of efficient and effective functioning of investigative bodies. Given that one of the biggest “investments” in the prosecution sector was the establishment of SPAK and NBI, also due to the high public sensitivity of the issues investigated by these bodies, the good governance of the prosecution and investigation in Albania will also depend from the success of these bodies. It cannot be claimed that in the four years of CJS I the criminal policy of “punishment” was accomplished, given that the abovementioned bodies were created late and began to yield the first results only the last two years[1]. The most appropriate approach requires a coexistence of both punitive and restorative methods.

Policy 3 is implemented through five objectives:

  1. The Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure have been updated, aiming at an integrated approach to the chain of justice institutions and a restorative approach to justice, replacing the existing punitive approach;
  2. An efficient and proactive operational prosecution system according to European standards, as well as efficient investigation, prosecution of corruption and organized crime;
  3. Improvement of juvenile justice, guaranteeing juvenile-friendly justice, which protects their best interests;
  4. An effective and efficient probation service that uses operational standards, oversight methodologies and individualized case management, but also supports re-socialization, reintegration and rehabilitation and works in line with EU best practices and standards and has been accepted by the courts and the prosecution as a good alternative to imprisonment; and
  5. Development of an efficient prison system based on the ongoing prison reform strategy, which ensures full respect for human resources and uses individual case development plans.

The five objectives combined meet Policy Goal 3, but it has been decided that this Study shall analyze Objective 3.2 due to its urgent importance and the high impact that the success of the investigation of corruption and organized crime would bring to the justice system. Also, the fight against these phenomena is one of the main requirements for Albania for its European integration process.

[1]Author’s note: On December 19, 2019, eight prosecutors were appointed and the functioning of the Special Prosecution Office began. During 2020 (on 31 January 2020, 21 May 2020 and 14 July 2020) five more prosecutors were appointed. For the other two prosecutors, selected by the High Prosecutorial Council, the appointment procedure had not yet been completed as of the end of 2020, because they had not passed vetting by final decision yet. Currently, there are fourteen prosecutors in the Special Prosecution Office. Taken from www.spak.al.