Second workshop on writing e-commentary

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ

Transparent and uniform jurisdiction under the rule of law is important for the Albanian judicial system to be accepted by law professionals and citizens. It is also essential in view of the negotiations for Albania to enter the EU, which began recently. Within this context, since mid-2019 IRZ has been coordinating a project, which is being financed by the German Foreign Office and has the objective of further developing the first legal online commentary developed in Albania.

The project ties in with the work of national and international experts, who in 2017 developed an electronic platform as part of the EU Action Grant EURALIUS. The budget for the project was increased by the German Foreign Office in April 2020, allowing project managers to expand the group of Albanian commentary writers by five. Since these five people had not taken part in last year’s training session on writing e-commentary and were not yet familiar with the uniform project standards, the training session was repeated on 13 May 2020 in the form of a online seminar.

IRZ experts Prof. Dr. Bernd Heinrich, Prof. Dr. Jörg Kinzig and Prof. Dr. Bernd Hecker from the University of Tübingen and Prof. Dr. Martin Heger from the Humboldt University in Berlin joined the online seminar. They provided some insights into the German tradition of making comments and led discussions with the participants on the advantages and disadvantages of online commentary compared with print commentary, the various citation systems, international commentary standards and a comparison between the Albanian and German methods of commenting.

The following day was all about “lessons learned”. The expert advisory board, made up of the German professors and two Albanian experts, held open discussions with the eight authors on their past experiences of writing and assessing e-commentary. The online event also provided an opportunity to establish the next steps for the project.
By the end of the year, the now expanded group of authors will need to comment on articles of the Albanian code of criminal procedure and the law on the status of judges and public prosecutors. The project will be rounded off with events for the general public in Albania, during which the results of the project will be presented, with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of jurisprudential and legal commentary amongst law professionals and public institutions.

Online seminar on constitutional complaints for lawyers in Vlora, Albania

Graphic: IRZ
Graphic: IRZ

The series of seminars on Albanian constitutional complaints, which began in 2018, continued on 13 and 14 May 2020 in cooperation with the local bar association. Following on from the first four seminars held in the centre and south-east of the country (Tirana, Durrës and Korça), with participants attending in person, the fifth seminar for lawyers in the Vlora region was organised as a online seminar due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The background for this series of seminars is the changes made to the Constitution in 2016 and the associated right of citizens to be able to go directly to the Constitutional Court with individual complaints. The basis for the online seminar was the 2017 IRZ publication, “Constitutional Complaints – a Handbook for Practitioners from the German and Albanian Point of View”, which was written by the speaker, Professor Dr. Jan Bergmann, Senate Chairman at the Administrative Court of Baden-Wuerttemberg, and his co-author, Dr. Arta Vorpsi, a Legal Advisor to the Albanian Constitutional Court.

On the first day of the seminar, Prof. Bergmann, who was joining the online seminar from Stuttgart, talked about the European human rights doctrine and test schemes for fundamental rights and rights to freedom, as well as the fundamental right to equality. On the following day, he explained to the 17 lawyers participating in the seminar the conditions of admissibility of constitutional complaints in Germany, noted a few of the specific problems associated with this and closed the seminar with a lecture on the current case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

Even though the Constitutional Court of Albania is not currently a competent authority, Professor Bergmann encouraged the lawyers to submit suitable cases to be able to help with the continuous further development of the Albanian legal system. He recommended that they refer not only to the Albanian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights in the complaints, but in view of future EU membership, they should also cite the EU charter.
Now that the IRZ has covered the subject of constitutional complaints in the middle of the country and in the south, a continuation of the series of seminars in Shkodra, the main city in the north of the country, is being planned.

Study visit to Berlin on asset recovery

Dr. Jutta Kemper (left side, centre) welcomes the Albanian delegation with Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Besfort Lamallari (opposite) at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection
Dr. Jutta Kemper (left side, centre) welcomes the Albanian delegation with Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Besfort Lamallari (opposite) at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection

At the invitation of IRZ an Albanian delegation of eleven members visited Berlin between 17 and 20 February 2020 to learn about the German system of asset recovery. The background to this study visit is the Albanian anti-corruption plan. In view of the EU accession talks, amongst others, this plan is a key part of the reform of the justice system.
The Albanian delegation consisted of members of the following institutions:

  • Ministry of Internal Affairs;
  • Ministry of Justice;
  • Special Unit combatting organised crime;
  • Agency for the administration of seized assets
  • Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The delegation, which was accompanied by Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs Besfort Lamallari, started its study visit with expert talks at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. After Dr. Jutta Kemper, Head of Directorate, had welcomed the Albanian guests, the representatives of various divisions presented the main statutory amendments in asset recovery in Germany made in 2017. They also gave presentations on the following topics:

  • temporary securing of assets;
  • judicial procedures of asset recovery;
  • enforcement of asset recovery after a final court order;
  • compensation of victims;
  • international judicial legal assistance, including assistance in the enforcement of foreign judgements.

Together with IRZ expert Detlef Kreutzer, former Head of Department for Economic Crime at the Hamburg Land Office of Criminal Investigation, and Horst Bien, leading Senior Public Prosecutor in Duisburg, Prof. Dr. Martin Heger from the Humboldt University in Berlin then presented the fundamentals of European law with regard to asset recovery and explained the difference between an EU Directive and an EU Regulation.

On the following day the Berlin Criminal Court was the next stop on the study visit. There, Jörg Raupach, Director at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Berlin, and Dr. Nina Thom, Senior Public Prosecutor and Head of the Department for Asset Recovery, explained the responsibilities of the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office as well as the organisational changes within the new legal regulation of 2017. In the following expert talks the participants discussed statistical surveys on asset recovery measures, the cooperation with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and a pending case of clan crime in Berlin, in which 77 properties were confiscated. Afterwards, this case and other cases were examined from a police point of view during a visit to the Berlin Land Office of Criminal Investigation together with Police Vice President Marco Langer and Michael Horn, Head of Department LKA 31.

The study visit was concluded at IRZ’s Berlin office together with the two IRZ experts who had been with the Albanian guests during their entire stay. At first, Horst Bien talked about the organisation and areas of competence of the Duisburg Public Prosecutor’s Office. He presented the details of the statistical survey on asset recovery measures. Detlef Kreutzer finally summarized all topics of the study visit and once again pointed out the regulations which the EU accession candidates have to implement with regard to asset recovery.

Building on the topics of the study visit, seminars with all relevant partners are going to take place until the end of 2020, which will focus on a comparative analysis of the Albanian legal situation and the European requirements. Ideally, the seminar results will lead to proposals for specific legislation.