Strasbourg, 16 February 2005
CCJE (2005) 14
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire on theme “Justice and society”: Reply submitted by the delegation of Albania
All information available by the courts to the public goes in different channels:
Different courts have different practices on informing the general public regarding the functioning of justice. In this aspect, the Supreme Court has made several publications such as booklets, annual statistics books, general information given to the public by handouts or by its web pages.
Also, summary statistics are published by the Ministry of Justice.
Internet is also used by Tirana District Court where all necessary information regarding the organization, the functioning and the structure of the Court is published. All such ways provide useful information on how to be addressed to the Courts together with the way that a case follows upon its arrival.
Time by time printed materials are available to the public.
Time by time outside court organization such as NGO, lawyers associations, international organizations, etc, provide their own information in diverse ways.
A big amount of information is provided also by the auxiliary services of the Courts, such as Offices of Media, (in those Courts where such office exists), Judicial Secretary, Registering, etc.
The different groups of policy makers, academics, public interest groups or private citizens are invited to use all the above sources for getting their information.
Right after opening its web page the Supreme Court published a notice in the main newspapers regarding this event.
All court decisions are available to the public by the offices of judicial secretary in every court.
Beside this, all the decisions of the Supreme Court are published in special edition books and made available for the public. Also, those decisions are distributed to all lower courts.
Decisions concerning case-law (unifying decisions) are published to the Official Gazette. Also Joint Panel decisions are published to the internet.
A private Law School is functioning in Albania, besides the Law Faculties. They have full undergraduate programs and give a complete law education.
A Magistrates School functions in Tirana as a postgraduate program whom prepares the new judges and prosecutors of Albania and is also responsible for the continues training of acting judges and prosecutors.
Other educational institutions don’t seem to have outside actors such as judges, court staff, academics, etc, for providing them with the relative programs.
Courts do not have in general staff specifically in charge of liaising with educational agencies, but such functions are covered by the existing Public Relations (PR) offices.
There is no such a practice in Albania.
B.1 + B.2
All training of judges go through the Magistrates School. During such trainings judges are prepared to deontology as well.
Article 18 of the Albanian Constitution secures the equality in front of the law.
Article 30 of the Albanian Constitution secures the presumption of innocence. Court room infrastructure is designed in such a way to reinforce those principles by placing at the same level public prosecutors and defense lawyers by giving the image of equality of arms. Also, all other practices referred to the questionnaire such as absence of religious symbols, free appearance of the accused before the judge, etc. are applied in the Albanian courts.
Offices of legal aid do function in Albania free of any charge. Those offices offer their services to all citizens in need of legal assistance during a legal process. They do organize by their own means publicity campaigns and informative programs regarding their topics and interests.
The Supreme Court and Tirana District Court have a PR office who is in charge of receiving citizens, taking their complains, or forwarding their request in connection to a case.
These offices respond to the public in writing and also keep all relations with the Media.
There is not yet formed a calendar of educational forums.
All court hearings are public and open to the public and Media. Video or audio recording is allowed at a trial.
It is the Panel that decides due to the nature of the case (minors case, state secret cases, cases of national security) whether or not the hearings should continue in public.
The Code of Civil Proceedings endorses the same restrictions as the European Convention of Human Rights, art. 6/1, as follows:
In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interests of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, when trade or industrial secrets are mentioned which publication can violate law protected interests or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.
Criminal Proceedings Code refers also to the possiblility of trublesome caused by the public or to witnesses protection cases. This Code provides that, the decision of closed doors is lifted wherever the moment such conditions stop existing.
Despite the above restrictions, our Constitution (art. 146) provides that all court decision are publicly proclaimed.
Albanian Parliament has ratified the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data and has sent its instruments to the Secretary General in Strasbourg. At the present moment we are waiting to become full parties.
As a rule, all court hearings are public and open to the Media. Video or audio recording is allowed at a trial as a general rule.
Judicial decisions can be given to everyone interested in, who has to pay a small fee.
The Supreme Court and Tirana District Court have an PR Office and Media and the persons charged with this job are not judges. As a rule, the relevant person should have the necessary legal education or that of a journalist.
As in C.3 and C.5.
Regarding libel or slander, the Criminal Code provides a penalty of 6 months of imprisonment up to 1 year in the case when the offenses are made in public. Nevertheless, until now we have had no imprisonment sentences in penal cases, but only financial penalties have been applied.
Courts can’t interfere with Media, including the journalists they assign to the Courts.
It is requested from journalists that deal with judicial issues to have a basic legal education, especially human rights training.
The information should be reported publicly based mainly on the laws: “On the Right to Information on Official Documents”, “On Personal Data Protection” and “On Information Classified “State Secret””. The criteria which govern the distinction between lawful and unlawful acts are referred among others to the above mentioned laws.
Precautions are usually requested in broadcasting of news concerning provisional arrest of a citizen on the basis of criminal charges. No comments are requested on such broadcasting.
The police officers or prosecution offices can hold press conferences whenever it is considered necessary. As a rule the press release is made public by PR office.
The amounts of compensation in such a case afforded by the Courts are among 5.000 - 20.000 USD. The higher amount decided by a District Court was approximately 20.000 USD, but the case is pending.
The rectification of inaccurate information is demanded by a civil claim to the Court based on the general rules of the Civil Code.
The spontaneous rectification is taken into consideration by the courts as an extenuating circumstance regarding the decision of the punitive measure.
Such proceedings regarding to censorship have not taken place in Albania.
The Constitution of the Republic of Albania provides that:
Freedom of expression is guaranteed.
Freedom of press, radio and television is guaranteed.
Preventive censorship of media is prohibited.
An independent institution “National Council of Radio and Television” exists in Albania, which members are elected by the Parliament on five years terms. This Council monitors informative programs transmitted by national Radios and TVs, guaranties fair competition, gives and removes licenses, etc.
National Judicial Conference (NJC) plays an important role in the event that a judge or a court is attacked by the press for reasons connected with the administration of justice. This is made through the relevant Commission of NJC, which whenever it is necessary reports the situation to the NJC.
Nevertheless it’s up to the judge to clarify the situation.
Under the Constitution, judgments should be reasoned.
They should include all the requirements provided by relevant laws.
Judges are obliged by the law to adequately explain in writing what they finally decide on the relevant case.