A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Albania parliament adopts controversial decommunization law

[JURIST] The Albanian Parliament [official website, in Albanian] on Monday adopted a law banning former members and affiliates of the nation's Communist-era secret police force from holding public office. The so-called lustration law will employ a 5-person commission to screen from political candidacy [Reuters report] all associates of the Sigurimi [LOC backgrounder] secret service during Albania's Communist regime from November 1944 to December 1990. The bill passed in a 74-2 vote, with one abstention and 63 members of parliament boycotting the vote. Minority parties including the Socialists expressed fears that the law will be used as a political tool to suppress their faction. Several international parties, including the US Embassy in Tirana [press release], the Council of Europe [press release], and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe [press release], urged Albania to proceed with greater care to ensure that the law meets international standards of constitutional protection. At least two dozen sitting judges and prosecutors face termination without a hearing under the law. Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, a supporter of the law [press release], defended the text as a "moderated version" [press conference transcript] of the Czech lustration law of 1991 [ICTJ backgrounder], which has been upheld as legal.

Poland passed its own lustration law in 2006, and though portions were found to be unconstitutional [JURIST report], provisions remained in force authorizing the disclosure of names of public officials who worked with the secret police. Last year, Poland's Institute of National Remembrance began officially publishing a list of public officials [JURIST report] who worked with or were spied on by the country's Communist-era secret police. Similar measures also exist in Bulgaria [HRW report] and other former eastern bloc nations.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.