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Albania

Albania

Albania is a parliamentary republic divided into 36 districts (rrethe) and one municipality (bashki).

The Head of state is the President (term in office five years, with maximum of two successive terms) who is elected by the unicameral Kuvënd Popullóre - People's Assembly.

Legislative power rests with the Assembly. Executive power is held by the Council of Ministers, drawn from the largest party in the Assembly and headed by the Prime Minister, and by the President of the Republic, who is elected by the members of the Assembly.

A candidate for President is proposed to the Assembly by a group of not less than twenty of its members. The President of the Republic is elected by secret vote and without debate by the Assembly by a majority of three-fifths of all its members.

The People's Assembly consists of 140 members. One hundred members are elected directly in single-member electoral zones with an approximate number of voters and forty members are elected by proportional representation from party lists. The members of the Assembly serve a four-year term.

The President appoints the Prime Minister (subject to Assembly approval) on the proposal of the party or coalition of parties that has the majority of seats in the Assembly.

The Council of Ministers defines the principal directions of the general state policy. The Council of Ministers takes decisions upon the proposal of the Prime Minister or the respective minister.

The Council of Ministers, in cases of necessity and emergency, may issue, under its responsibility, normative acts having the force of law for taking temporary measures. These normative acts are immediately submitted to the Assembly.

There are three levels of local governing institutions: 1) the Prefecture (the highest level); 2) Regions (the intermediate level); and 3) municipal governments (the lowest level). Albania's central government appoints twelve Prefects to serve as liaisons between the capital and the local prefecture as well as to represent the central government. Each prefecture is divided into several Regions, which are governed by Regional Councils consisting of several local leaders. Each region comprises numerous cities, villages and communes - each with a governing body.

The Prefect is responsible for approving all local legislation (regulations) created within her/his prefecture and must ensure that local law is compatible with national law.

The representative organ of the region is the Regional Council. Municipalities and communes delegate members to the Regional Council in proportion to their population, always at least one member. The chairmen of communes and municipalities are always members of the Regional Council. Their respective councils elect other members through proportional lists from among the municipal or communal councilors. The councils of the communes, municipalities and regions regulate and administer independently local issues within their jurisdiction.

Judicial System

The judicial power is exercised by the High Court, the courts of appeal and district courts, which are established by law. The Assembly may establish courts for particular fields.

There are twenty-nine district courts, six appellate courts and one military court of appeals in Albania. District courts are courts of first instance and are the lowest courts in the judicial structure. Each appellate court hears issues presented by the lower district courts. The High Court is the highest appellate body in the Albanian judicial system, with the exception of the Constitutional Court acting within its jurisdiction. The High Court is divided into three panels (colleges): 1) criminal; 2) civil; and 3) administrative/commercial. The High Court also sits en banc (Joint College), with all members of the Court present. There are two types of decisions issued by the High Court: 1) non-unifying decisions reached by individual panels of the Court; and 2) unifying decisions, decided by the Joint College. Most cases are heard by individual panels. The members of the High Court are appointed by the President of the Republic with the consent of the Assembly. The members of the High Court hold the office for nine years without the right of re-appointment. The other judges are appointed by the President of the Republic upon the proposal of the High Council of Justice.

The Constitutional Court is the only body competent to make the final interpretation of the Albanian Constitution. Through its review powers, the Court may invalidate legislation as unconstitutional, and may decide issues related to the compatibility of laws, normative acts, and international agreements with the Constitution. Similarly, the Court determines whether a law or other normative act is compatible with an international agreement. The Court resolves horizontal and vertical conflicts of competency between government institutions, decides on election related issues and verifies the election of the President and of the members of the Assembly, reviews the constitutionality of a referendum and verification of its results. Additionally, the Constitutional Court is competent to decide constitutional issues surrounding individual complaints claiming a violation of an individual's constitutional right to due process of law, once all legal remedies for protection of individual rights have been exhausted.

The Constitutional Court is composed of nine members, which are appointed by the President of the Republic with the consent of the Assembly. The appointed judges are appointed for nine years without the right to be re-appointed. One-third of the composition of the Constitutional Court is renewed every three years, according to the procedure determined by law.

The decisions of the Constitutional Court are final and have general binding force. The Constitutional Court only has the right to invalidate the acts it reviews. The Constitutional Court decides with the majority of all its members.

Constitution

A new constitution was adopted by referendum on 22 November 1998 and came into effect on 28November. It replaced the interim constitution that had been in place following the abandonment of the former constitution in April 1991.

Initiative for revision of the Constitution may be undertaken by not less than one-fifth of the members of the Assembly. The amendment of the Constitution should be approved by not less then two-thirds of the Assembly. The Assembly may decide, with two-thirds of all its members, that the draft constitutional amendments are to be voted in a referendum. The draft law for the revision of the Constitution enters into force after ratification by referendum, which takes place not later than 60 days after its approval in the Assembly. The approved constitutional amendment is put to a referendum when this is required by one-fifth of the members of the Assembly. The President of the Republic does not have the right to return for review the law approved by the Assembly for revision of the Constitution.

Legislative Process

The most common normative act is a law passed by Assembly. Either a member of the Council of Ministers may introduce a normative act or voters after securing a petition with 20,000 signatures. A draft law is voted on three times: in principle, article by article, and in its entirety. If a draft law is approved by the Assembly, it is sent to the President for her/his promulgation. If the President signs the statute it becomes law and is effective once published in the Official Gazette. If the President does not sign the bill and sends it back to the Assembly for re-consideration (suspending veto), the Assembly can override the veto (with a majority of votes in the presence of more than half of its members), and the statute then becomes law and is effective after publication in the Official Gazette. The President of the Republic has the right to return a law for review only once. Parliamentary law is supreme in Albania except when in conflict with the Constitution.

International instruments must be approved by the Assembly to become law. The procedure to ratify an international instrument in Assembly requires a separate piece of legislation to be introduced to Assembly.

The Assembly may delegate responsibility to the Council of Ministers and individual ministers. Regulations promulgated by the Council of Ministers are called decisions (also sub-statutory acts). Individual ministers may issue decisions, which are considered normative acts. Instructions issued by either the Council of Ministers or ministers relate to the organization of the governmental entity and thus rarely bind third parties. The authority of individual ministers is limited to specific competency or subject matter of that ministry. Ministers' decisions and instructions are binding throughout Albania, as long as consistent with the authorizing legislation from Assembly.

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Albania is:

  • OSCE Participating State since 19 June 1991
  • Member State of the United Nations since 14 December 1955
  • Member State of the Council of Europe since 13 July 1995
 

Status of Ratification of the Main International Human Rights Treaties, Conventions and other instruments

CoE Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and Financing of Terrorism (2008)01 May 2008
CoE Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2008)01 February 2008
Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty (1991)17 October 2007
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Legal Reviews

Joint Opinion on the Electoral Law and the Electoral Practice of Albania

Date : 19 December 2011 English [0.29 MB]

Comments on the Draft Law of the Republic of Albania "On Freedom of Religion and Mutual Relations with the State"

Date : 12 May 2009 English [0.18 MB]

Joint Opinion on the Electoral Code of the Republic of Albania

Date : 13 March 2009 English [0.33 MB]
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