Albania Parties Split Over New FBI-Style Agency

Albania’s parliament was split on Thursday over the planned formation of a new body to fight corruption, modelled on the FBI, called the National Bureau of Investigation, BKH.

Rama speaking in the Parliament

The new structure will be considered part of the police although it will closely collaborate with the General Prosecutor’s office as well. One or more representatives from the prosecutor’s office will be permanent members of the bureau whose head will be appointed by the Interior Minister with the approval of the General Prosecutor.

Opposition parties previously supported the initiative – but on Thursday their MPs complained that the draft was inappropriate because the model does not leave the structure in the hands of state prosecutor. “This institution should be 100 per cent under the authority of Prosecutor, as was… supported by the Venice Commission and agreed with our American partners,” the head of Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha said.

Under the government draft, this new body will have an independent assessment commission within which experts from international missions will be represented. “The Independent Commission of Review will be made up of experts in criminal justice, appointed by the European Union mission and the government of the US,” the government draft reads.

The initiative has enjoyed strong support from the international community in Albania, who want to see a tougher fight against corruption at high level alongside judicial reform. FBI officials visisted Tirana in April 2015 to help the Albanian government launch the new anti-corruption agency.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama accused the opposition of agreeing to the model before – and now changing its mind. “The draft that government has passed and brought into parliament is the draft that you [opposition] agreed to, 100 per cent. Now you are telling a big lie,” Rama told opposition MPs. While the government draft can pass in parliament with only the votes of ruling party MPs, cross-party consensus over the creation of the bureau is seen by the international community as an essential guarantee that the initiative will function in future.

Balkan Insight

12 February 2016