ORGANIZATIONAL STUDY OF THE ALBANIAN JUDICIAL SECTOR

3. LEGAL EDUCATION

LAW SCHOOLS

There are three law schools in Albanian (Tirana, Elbasan and Shkoder). The Law School in Elbasan does not enroll students anymore and in two years time will be closed.

Tirana Faculty of Law

The Faculty of Law in Tirana is the largest law school in Albania with some 3300 students of which about 2200 are the remaining correspondence course students.

It functions in a environment, which has improved during the last years, but is also fraught with problems. Some positive aspects have emerged since the beginning of this year. For example the new Law on Higher Education improved the level of autonomy of the universities in Albania, allowing room for research activity on the part of universities. It also improved the concept of student recruitment.

Still when it comes to implementing the Law on Higher Education a number of endemic problems are observed. These problems are as follows: high level of influence from politics, student overpopulation, thus insufficient premises and financial resources, lack of adequate faculty and teaching materials, most of professors are young and inexperienced, the dean is still not elected according to the new law but appointed by the rector, lack of autonomy in decision making, low level of teaching methodology, lack of institutionalized relations between student association and the upper management and, finally, poor overall management.

In the past, students could also enroll in legal correspondence courses, however these are being phased out. In addition, several judges entered the judiciary through an accelerated (six-month) training program in 1993.

An examination of all sitting judges, administered by the OSCE and the Council of Europe, took place in May 1999. Although the purpose of the examination was to weed out those judges weak in legal knowledge, the examination questions were very simple. In the end, only four judges failed the exam. Several judges, including some of the six-month judges refused to take the exam. As a consequence the Supreme Council of Justice dismissed them.

THE SCHOOL OF MAGISTRATES

To combat the lack of proficiency of the entire judiciary, the Government of Albania with the support of the Council of Europe created a Magistrates School.

Very briefly the mandate of the School of magistrates comprises:

  1. Teaching of regular students;
  2. Provide on-going training for the sitting judges who have less than five years of experience;
  3. Provide on-going training for the court administrators.

The first class of 20 students has just completed the two-year program and all of these students came directly from the law faculty. In a previous discussion that IPLS had with the Director of school, Ms. Karmen Qineti, she reported that although the school is prepared and willing to provide training to sitting judges with less than five years experience, the High Judicial Council must nominate the candidates to be trained. According to the director of the magistrates School, the High Judicial Council has not nominated any judges to this date. This may happen now that the majority of district court judges have been tested and re-certified in their position. The Magistrates School is also charged with developing a continuing education program for the judiciary, but is waiting for the High Judicial Council to initiate the process.

At present the School of Magistrates has an Acting Director, Ms. Fatmira Luli, since Ms. Qineti is out of the School for one year due to studies in the United States. According to the new Director, in reality, while the school has been successful to accomplish its first task i.e., teaching of regular students, they haven't been able to provide any on-going training for the last two categories. Mrs. Luli puts as the main reason for such failure the fact that the school has limited financial resources and lack of staff.

It should be noted here that the new Director has better relationship with the Government than the previous Director Ms. Qineti. This might bring to an amelioration of the physical conditions of the school as well as give a push toward the accomplishment of the two remaining task of the School. (IPLS note).

Other Actors involved in on-going judicial training

There are currently two on-going training programs for the judiciary in Albania:

  1. Commercial law Training accomplished by East-West Management Institute under a contract of USAID and,
  2. Criminal law Training in Poland accomplished by United States Department of Justice.

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Institute for Policy & Legal Studies 2000