At a glance
In pursuing its overall goal of promoting the rule of law and human rights, the Presence provides assistance and expertise to the Albanian authorities and to representatives of civil society groups with a focus on legislative and judicial reform.
Providing legal and technical expertise to state institutions is one of the Presence’s key activities. The Presence regularly offers comments on draft legislation if it is of broad public interest or affects other projects implemented by the Presence. In particular, the Presence has assisted with the drafting of, for example, the Law on the State Police, the Law on the Office of Internal Control, probation legislation, the Law on Protection from Discrimination and the Law on Electronic Monitoring of Persons whose Freedom of Movement Is Restricted by a Court Decision. Overall, the Presence seeks to increase public participation in drafting legislation, as well as furthering the transparency of the legislative process. Currently, the Presence, together with other international actors and national stakeholders, is supporting the Ministry of Justice in its efforts to reform the Criminal Procedure Code. It also promotes the reform of legislation regulating all aspects of the functioning of public administration and has provided input on draft legislation to create administrative courts. The Presence supports the Civil Service Commission in its efforts to increase professionalism and freedom from political interference.
The Presence is involved in a number of judicial-reform activities. From 2003 to 2008, the Presence observed criminal trials in the district and appellate courts and in the first-instance Court for Serious Crimes. On this basis, three reports identifying problems and suggested remedies for improving criminal procedure were published. In 2008, the focus shifted to observing civil trials and, in 2012, the Presence expanded its activities to also study administrative dispute resolution.
Activities to increase the independence of the judiciary, specifically the criteria and procedures for appointing, transferring and disciplining judges, have been undertaken, and the Presence intends to increase its focus in this area in the future. In the past, the Presence has also been involved in establishing witness-protection services. The Presence has also actively encouraged alternative sentences to imprisonment, working with the Ministry of Justice to develop legislation, and assisted the newly established Probation Service in devising training standards for their staff and co-operating with other actors to implement community sentences.
The promotion of human rights is part of the Presence’s mandate. The Presence supported the creation of the Office of the People’s Advocate and continues to assist this institution. Project activities in the area of human rights include strengthening the rights of vulnerable groups, including members of minorities. These efforts focus, inter alia, on the development of systematic protection for children, in particular for those in conflict with the law, and improving protection from domestic violence.
The Presence also assesses the conditions of detention facilities and monitors the observance of the right of prisoners to be treated with humanity, dignity and respect while in detention. The Presence assisted with the drafting of the Law on Protection from Discrimination and helped to establish the Office of the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination, which it continues to support.