Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Albanian MPs Face Criminal Records Quizzing

MPs and many state officials will soon have to fill in a detailed questionnaire detailing whether they have criminal records or have had any brushes with the law in the past. 

Fatjona Mejdini
The cross-party parliamentary commission tasked wth cleaning up politics | Photo: LSA

Albanian officials and members of parliament will soon have to fill and sign the questionnaire as part of efforts to implement the law that bans people with past convictions from holding public office.

The law came into force on January 6, and members of the cross-party parliamentary commission in charge of developing the questionnaire say they will have the mandatory form ready this month.

On Friday, they had a meeting with experts from the United States who advised on how the questions intended to reveal any past wrongdoing by MPs and officials should be formulated.

The chairman of the parliamentary commission, opposition MP Oerd Bylykbashi, told BIRN that everyone who fills in the questionnaire should be honest or they will be charged with perjury.

"The form will be detailed, focused on taking information about any possible official’s encounter with justice in the past. They also cannot lie otherwise they will be charged with perjury in line with the Albanian criminal code," Bylykbashi said.

The General Prosecutor's Office will report to parliament each year about the progress made in implementing the law that aims to remove people with criminal records from Albanian politics and state institutions.

"Parliament will have the role of a watchdog as well. We are going to ask the prosecutor to do the necessary checks for those people about whose pasts we have suspicions," Bylykbashi said.

One of the new aspects of the law is that if 500 Albanian citizens ask for background checks on an official or lawmaker, they will be carried out.

Bylykbashi believes that the law will oust criminals from public life.

But many remain sseptical about the real effect that the law will have on politics and the state administration.

All MPs, local politicians, government officials, civil servants and members of the military and police forces are subject to the law that will permanently ban people who have been convicted of serious offenses, including murder, rape, and genocide.

Albania’s international allies have been a major force behind the law and European MPs Knut Fleckenstein and Eduard Kukan are currently visiting the country to discuss the need to get criminal elements out of politics, among other issues.
- See more at: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/albania-to-urge-officials-in-giving-past-records-02-08-2016#sthash.ShK78y6P.dpuf

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