Since becoming a potential candidate country for the EU accession in 2000 and in particular after being granted candidate status in June 2014, Albania has taken many positive steps to meet the necessary standards for its EU integration, through among other things, strengthening democracy and the rule of law and the harmonization of its national legislation with the acquis communautaire. In 2016, as part of the pre-conditions for the opening of the accession negotiations for the country, the Albanian Parliament passed a major justice reform which brought about many constitutional and legislative changes, as well as changes to the organization and functioning of justice institutions in Albania. A key component of the reform was the transitional re-evaluation of judges and prosecutors (also known as the vetting process). While the reform itself was supported and praised by the EU and international institutions, the vetting process has affected the functioning of the Albanian judiciary at all levels. The paralysis of the justice system due to the low number of judges who successfully passed the vetting process, as well as the resignation of many others, has significantly increased the backlog and the number of pending cases before the courts. Thus, the aim of the paper is to analyze the influence of the justice reform on individual’s right to a fair trial within a reasonable time in Albania and state’s obligations to guarantee this right as provided by the Constitution of Albania and the European Convention on Human Rights.
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