Statement of the President of the Republic, H.E. Ilir Meta

Statement of the President of the Republic, H.E. Ilir Meta

As the President of the Republic, in support of Articles 84 and 93 of the Constitution, I have decreed the announcement of law no. 35/2020 “On some additions and changes to law no. 7895, dated 27.1.1995, ‘Criminal Code of the Republic of Albania’, as amended ”, approved by the Assembly of Albania.

The promulgation of the law was deemed necessary in the pandemic situation that our country is going through, because the duration, the consequences, or possibility of the recurrence of such a situation, still remain unpredictable.

I have closely followed the concerns made public by various actors on proposing and approving changes to the Criminal Code.

Avoiding accelerated procedures in the approval of laws that require a qualified majority is not just a formal constitutional requirement, which must be respected by long-standing parliamentary committees and plenary sessions.

Rather, it is a constitutional requirement that essentially requires making changes to important laws, with broad consultation and consensus.

Therefore, the Institution of the President of the Republic responded to the request for cooperation and consensus by the Assembly and the Government, for the changes in the Criminal Code.

The extensive technical and legal discussion has led to substantial improvements to the product voted by the Assembly.

Given these developments, from this state of natural disaster in which we are in, but above all, due to the legal gap that the Criminal Code has regarding the treatment of actions committed intentionally and the criminal purpose for the spread of infectious diseases, the President considers that the initiative of the Assembly and the Government that the protection of public health must be guaranteed also by criminal norms, in addition to administrative ones, should be supported.

The President of the Republic finds that between the draft proposed by the MP-s, the one approved in the Commission responsible for legal issues, and the content of law no. 35/2020 approved at the plenary session, has substantial positive changes, which have reflected a part of the suggestions of the Ombudsman, civil society, legal experts and the Institution of the President of the Republic, which were particularly related to:

– The type and extent of the criminal punishment in accordance with the principle of legality and legal certainty;
– Clarification of actions or omissions that lead to criminal responsibility;
– Application of the criminal sanction, in an escalated manner, only after the administrative sanction has been applied before;
– Clearly establishing criminal responsibility in the case of the spread of infectious disease included in the list of infectious diseases with high risk to health under the special law, only for actions committed intentionally and by individuals diagnosed as carriers;
– Clarification of the circle of subjects, causing the criminal norm to be applied only on:

a) individuals “who have been previously warned with an administrative measure for respecting the measures”,
b) individuals “diagnosed as carriers”, or
c) for individuals “who have been notified of the obligation to carry out orders by the competent authorities”.
These substantial improvements of the provisions, which have significantly reduced the measures of punishment and more clearly evidenced the elements and forms of consumption of these two figures of criminal offenses, respect more the principle of legal certainty and proportionality.

Meanwhile, the President of the Republic considers that it is necessary that before the entry into force of these new provisions in the Criminal Code:
• The Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the Committee of Experts and the Inter-Ministerial Committee of Civil Emergencies should evaluate the completion of the legal or sub-legal framework directly related to the application of criminal legislation, as well as the clear and exhaustive definition according to law no. 15/2016 of the list of dangerous infectious diseases, related to the implementation of emergency measures, administrative or criminal proceedings;
• All restrictions, special measures or rules, the violation of which leads to administrative and then criminal sanctions, issued by the Minister of Health and Social Protection, the Council of Ministers or any other body charged by law, must be subject to an extensive and ongoing public information campaign, in addition to the mandatory publication and within the deadline in the Official Gazette;
• The information campaign should also include the new criminal norms;
• Local government and the Government must increase their capacity to respond in a timely manner to the needs and vital needs of the most needy and retired pensioners whose freedom of moving outdoors has been totally limited;
• Immediate and direct notification of diagnosed, quarantined or isolated individuals, and of their relatives and contact persons, must be documented.
Increasing the number of tests should be an ongoing goal of the Government.

A cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the Institute of Public Health, the Ministry of Interior, the General Directorate of State Police, the Attorney General, the High Judicial Council and the High Prosecution Council is essential for drafting the integral guidelines that will guide the State Police, prosecutors and judges to apply the new provisions of the Criminal Code, based on clear technical criteria and applicable legal and sub-legal acts.

The adoption of these guidelines and their publication must precede the entry into force of the new provisions of the Criminal Code, in order to have an objective application, in accordance with the constitutional principles and the circumstances that have dictated the adoption of these new criminal norms. in these moments.

The President of the Republic welcomed the other changes in the Criminal Code that address domestic violence, in all forms of its occurrence, while it is seen with reservations the unclear reformulation regarding a part of the circle of subjects added to the provision of family violence.

The President of the Republic finds once again the opportunity to call on all citizens to patiently and strictly respect all the instructions and restrictions made public due to global pandemic.

I also take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of increasing the transparency in the management of pandemics and the importance of caring for the categories most affected by economic and social constraints.