7 January 2020, Top Story Media Programme: 1 in 3 tenders with no fair competition. Open data promote investigative journalism and enable reporting of corruption over Albanian taxpayers’ money

On January 7th, Top Story, an investigative show, reported on forms of fraud with public procurement tenders in the country. Journalist Entela Bajramaj and the national Top Channel TV team introduced shocking facts on Top Story, such as one in every three tenders being conducted without fair competition. 300 million Euros of taxpayers’ money seem to be lost every year due to abuse with, and misappropriation of, clientelist tenders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AIS, the organization promoting open data in Albania contributed to this courageous television investigation through data released from three important open data databases. Namely:

• Data concerning tenders and contracts with competition issues published on Open Procurement Albania portal

• data concerning clientelist companies published on Open Corporate Albania

• and data concerning payments from the state budget published on Spending Data Albania.

In addition to open data released from our databases, including clear and denouncing arguments, contribution to this programme was also made by Director Aranita Brahaj, who elaborated on the shortcomings of tender procedures.

Corruption is one of the most problematic issues for the country. Justice institutions or anticorruption mechanisms in the country are weak to non-existent. Nevertheless, media and watchdog organisations continue to report facts and contribute against abuse with public money. For four years, AIS has been publishing data and assessing risk of tender irregularities, known as Procurement RedFlag, providing information and identifying issues with every tender conducted by municipalities, the Albanian Development Fund, the Albanian Road Authority, the health sector, and public-owned companies.
Top Story program and Promo are available on YouTube channel

Albania 1 Euro – The Government rented eight state properties for 916 new jobs

The Albanian Government has signed eight contracts in 2019 for economic subjects that have obtained actual rights over state property against a symbolic price of 1 Euro. The Albania 1-Euro programme aims to give potential employers state property to use aiming at increasing private investments and the number of employees. In 2019, six businesses and a non-profit organization have benefited from this programme. Only one of the contractors is a foreign investor. Properties granted for use in 2019 for 1 euro only for up to 60 years are mainly industrial objects and military objects. In total, the Government has granted 537 503 square meters of total surface for 916 new jobs, without any contractual requirements for the people to be Albanian citizens. The investor, who has obtained the largest area is the Albanian company Blu Imperial . More jobs in exchange for the Albania 1 Euro project are expected to be created by the Korean company Yura Co.Ltd , which will open a plant for electric parts for cars. Its investment is estimated to be 6.5 million Euros and expected to create 516 jobs. Open Corporates Albania has prepared transparent passports for the business companies that have won rental contracts for only 1 euro for state property.

Access to Information on Justice, and the integrity and promotion of individuals in the justice system

Data and documents on the justice system after the Reform. Additional access to information on the new justice institutions and individuals being promoted to the system. The new Access to Justice Info database aims at enhancing the integrity of processes and institutions through a data mine and information made available to the public and journalists. All laws, decisions, acts, strategies, reports and conclusions of external monitoring conclusions are published according to the institutions of aksesdrejtesi.al. Similarly, the website contains also a profile for every prosecutor , judge or member of the new justice institutions. The profile aims to provide easy to find documents on the education, professional experience, qualifications, promotion, vetting, self-declarations, and any other documents linked to new individuals in the system. This site is a data mine, which enables also a summary of media articles on the reform.

Open Contracting for Tenders by Albanian Road Authority – Transparency and Risk Assessment of Abuse

Tenders and Contracts awarded by the Albanian Road Authority are now accessible by Open Contracting standards. Following tenders for municipalities, public-owned business companies, health, the Albanian Road Fund and Central Purchasing Agency, the non-profit organization AIS is also ensuring transparency over tender stages and contracts awarded by this key contractor authority in the country. The Albanian Road Authority is the central institution planning contracts for national road infrastructure. The database and the algorithm for corruption risk show that 40 out of 100 tenders 40 are marked by a redflag indicating potential for inequality in the race. Open Contracting – The Albanian Road Authority is one of the activities of the “Improvement of the Integrity of Public Contractors” Project , supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Tirana, Mrs. Guusje Korthals Altes, was also present at the presentation of the database to a group of investigative journalists.

Participants in the Event:

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  • 31 Participants
  • 21 Journalists
  • 24 women and 7 men
  • 10 Audio Visual Media Journalists
  • 8 Print Media Journalists
  • 3 MFE Press Office Journalists

Agenda : Here

#AKSESDREJTESI – ACCESS TO JUSTICE, PROFILES OF SPECIAL PROSECUTORS

AIS, an organization promoting Open Data Albania invites you to access information through our new database entitled access to Justice Info http://aksesdrejtesi.al/. What are the professional profiles of the senior SPAK prosecutors (special anticorruption structure), CVs and their career, level of education, experience with the justice institutions, documents submitted in the application process, decision-making of the qualification institutions and their promotion. All the profiles of the eight special prosecutors are now available on the new website Access to Justice

Altin Dumani http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/38

Behar Dibra http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/70

Edvin Kondili http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/71

Ened Nakuci http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/72

Elida Kackini http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/39

Klodjan Braho http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/116

Enkeleda Millonai http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/73

Arben Kraja http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/25

The Access to Justice Information database contains now data and documents on institutions and individuals promoted under the new justice reform. The data provide information on laws, decisions, reports, decision-making acts, and performance of the system. In addition to institutions, individual passports of accessible information are also created both for judges and prosecutors remaining after the vetting process, as well as for individuals appointed and promoted to the new justice institutions.  The website has just introduced also data for the wealth of the members of the High Council of Justice.

Information on the work of the Justice System institutions are accessible on Justice Info http://aksesdrejtesi.al/institucions

The database contains also data about other individuals promoted to institutions and the justice system. http://aksesdrejtesi.al/persons/3

Money and Power, Integrity and Wealth of Member of the High Judicial Council

The Access to Justice Information database contains now data and documents on institutions and individuals promoted under the new Justice Reform. The data provide information on laws, decisions, reports, decision-making acts, and performance of the system. In addition to institutions, individual passports of accessible information are also created both for judges and prosecutors remaining after the vetting process, as well as for individuals appointed and promoted to the new justice institutions.  The website has just introduced also data for the wealth of the members of the High Council of Justice. The data are obtained based on the right of access to information about the declarations made to the High Inspectorate of Declaration and Control of Assets. The asset declaration data provide information about the interests and economic power of office holders and related persons. On the link below, you may access information on:

  1. Naureda LLAGAMI http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/104
  2. Maksim COKU http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/105
  3. Fatmira LULI http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/106
  4. Medi BICI  http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/80
  5. Brunilda KADI http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/94
  6. Brikena UKPERAJ http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/97
  7. Erjon MUHARREMAJ http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/107
  8. Marcela SHEHU http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/99
  9. Albana TORO http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/108
  10. Dritan HALLUNAJ http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/95
  11. Ilir TOSKAJ http://aksesdrejtesi.al/profil/98

The High Judicial Council is a constitutional institution, established by Constitution after changes made in 2016 as part of the legal package for justice reform. This institution is created to ensure the independence, accountability and smooth operation of the judicial power in the Republic of Albania. The Council is composed of eleven members, six of whom are elected by judges of all levels of judicial power, while five members are elected by the Assembly among non-judge legal professionals. The High Judicial Council exercises the function of appointment, evaluation, promotion, and transfer of judges at all levels. Also, this Council imposes disciplinary measures against judges. The Council leads and takes care of the work of the court administration, except for the maintenance of the Information Technology structures in courts, which is regulated by a special decision of the Council of Ministers. The Council proposes and manages its budget and that of the courts, and informs the public and the Assembly of the state of the judicial system.

Information on the work of this institution can be accessed through Access to Justice info  http://aksesdrejtesi.al/list/1

The database includes also data about other people promoted to institutions and the justice system.  http://aksesdrejtesi.al/persons/3

Albanian Civic Society against the government’s proposed changes to the medial law

The Assembly of Albania is expected to vote on two laws known as the Anti-Defamation Law, a legal initiative of Rama’s Government, at its plenary session on Wednesday. The Civil Society and Representatives of the Albanian Media have called for a protest in front of the Assembly on December 18th, at 09:30. #MOSnaPREKfjalën is the slogan of this protest (banner attached).
We, a group of 15 journalists’ organizations and civil society organisations, have repeatedly asked the Government, since December 2018, through our public statements, to abandon its two draft laws presented as the Anti-Defamation package, listing all of our arguments.
Also, following the submission of these two bills to the Albanian Assembly, we call on the Assembly ti immediately reject these two draft laws, if the government does not withdraw them. These two draft laws threaten freedom of expression and freedom of the media in the country, and fall contrary to the international principles set out in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 19 of the US Convention on Human Rights, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, etc.
The organisations find that the two draft laws, part of the Anti-Defamation package, award almost judicial powers of a sanction nature to AMA and the Authority for Electronic and Postal Communication against media operators,while these bodies, although independent by law, do not provide functional guarantees to be effectively independent, as are bodies of judicial power.
Albania has enough laws to regulate issues arising from media violating the rights of others and any other interference, and there have already been several precedents adjudicated in our judicial system in this regard.
The need for media self-regulation and no legal regulation takes particular importance in those countries of democracy in transition, such as our country, where media is often linked to business and political interests. Self-regulation is a combination of standards stipulating the relevant code of conduct for the media, which are needed to support freedom of expression and enable this conduct to be monitored and held accountable. Self-regulation preserves media independence and protects it from partisan government interventions.
The organizations calls on the Government of Albania and the Albanian Parliament to take into account all of the repeated objections of the international institutions (such as OSCE, EU, Council of Europe and the United Nations), the presence of which contributes to our country and to the rule of law, human rights, and to express themselves clearly and publicly on the draft laws in question, as efforts to violate freedom of expression.
Also, this call of the local organizations has also been supported in the last couple of days, by different international organizations, the most important ones in addressing the issues related to freedom of media and expression, as well as by the International Federation of Journalists, IFJ (with over 600 thousand members from 140 countries of the world), and the Federation of European Journalists EFJ (with about 320 thousand members from 45 countries)
joint statement attached.
List of signatory organizations:
· BIRN Albania
· Civil Rights Defenders
· Citizens Channel
· Faktoje
· Albanian Media Institute
· Albanian Institute of Science promotor of Data Albania
· Albanian Media Council
· Albanian Helsinki Committee
· Union of Albanian Journalists
· New Media Network
· Res Publica Centre
· Albanian MediaLook Centre
· Albanian Centre for Quality Journalism
· Association of Professional Journalists of Albania
· Union of Albanian Journalists

Access to Justice – A database monitoring the integrity of new justice system

Access to Justice Albania is a well-structured database on procedures and individuals being promoted to the justice system following the Justice Reform and the legal reform package adopted in 2016. http://aksesdrejtesi.al/

The database is being created and maintained by AIS, an organisation known for promoting open and transparent data in Albania. Access to Justice Albania through information and easily accessible documents is designed for a good purpose and intended to introduce you to the output and outcomes of the Reform. Information creates guarantees for transparency in the sector. The functioning of this information portal will boost public control over the integrity of institutions and individuals that are part of the system. There will be a comprehensive catalogue of acts and documents for each institution related to its product on this portal. http://aksesdrejtesi.al/institucions

The same applies to each judge, prosecutor or member of the system, for whom a passport of information and documents is prepared, reflecting their career, skills, integrity and self-declarations required by the law. http://aksesdrejtesi.al/persons/1

In addition to the documents prepared by the institutions themselves, there will also be provided monitoring reports by local organizations that are following the process by contributing to this scanning process. The purpose of the database is to enable a broad and full range of information on one single platform, where the relevant documents are easy to access for all. In addition, the database as a good software solution will also be accessible through machine and search filters. http://aksesdrejtesi.al/searchform

The information available in this database is information which the public sector is obliged to create public access instruments. The initiative also aims at challenging the not-so-transparent and consistent publication models of official information and documents, often characterizing the public institutions in the country.

For any details on the Access to Justice Albania, contact info@ais.al.

Information Memo on the State of Schools, where the project is being implemented, in Kurbin and Lezha Municipalities, following the earthquake of 26 November 2019

The “Open ICT Education for Youth Employability” Project, Grant Contract no. 2017/394-533 , implemented by ODK and AIS, scheduled to last from 15 January 2018 until 15 February 2020, targets beneficiaries/educational institutions from Kosovo and Albania. More specifically, high schools from Kurbin and Lezha Municipalities are among the targeted beneficiaries.
Following, you may find some information about the damages caused to the project beneficiary schools by the natural disaster, namely the earthquake of 26 November 2019 in this Memo HERE.

Request for information and access to Evaluation and Actin Plan after the September 21st 2019 Earthquake

Our organisation has submitted today two requests for information and access to documents addressed to the Ministry of Defence, National Civil Defence Agency and the Ministry of Interior.

These requests for information are aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability about measures taken for security and care in cases of natural disasters, in this case following the earthquake of September 21st 2019. The requests were submitted both by email and officially in hard copy through the postal service.

Both requests below for your information:

 

To:         Ministry of Interior,

Subject: Request for information and access to Evaluation and Action Plan after the September 21st 2019 Earthquake for Durres Ministry’s Resort House

From:    AIS / Open Data Albania

Date:     December 4th, 2019

 

Dear Mr. Ms. ,

AIS is a nonprofit organization known as promoter of transparent information through Open Data Albania. Expressing our considerations for the work of your institution, we would like to submit this request for information and access to the following documents:

  1. Copies of any type of documents, memos, reports, minutes, instructions, letters, or notices kept by your institution on the Identification, Assessment, and Action Plan related to the situation created at Durres Resort House of the Ministry of Interior after the 21 September 2019 earthquake.
  2. The documents reflecting the evacuation measures taken after this earthquake by the State Police staff and the civilian residents after the event (September 21st) or the buildings identified as non-habitable.
  3. Information on whether you have already initiated any administrative or criminal investigation into the circumstances, missing measures, or the consequences of the November 26th 2019 earthquake.

This request is based on our legislation on the right to Information and on principles of transparency for good-governance.

Looking forward to your response and copies of the requested documents.

To see the original click HERE

To:         Mrs. Olta Xhaçka, Minister of Defence

Mr. Haki Cako, Director of the National Civil Protection Agency (former Civil Emergency Directorate General).

Subject: Request for information and access to Evaluation and Actin Plan after the September 21st 2019 Earthquake

From:    AIS / Open Data Albania

 

Dear Mr./Ms.

AIS is a nonprofit organization known as promoter of transparent information through Open Data Albania. Expressing our considerations for the work of your institution, we would like to submit this request for information and access to the following documents:

  1. Copies of any type of documents, memos, reports, minutes, instructions, letters, or notices kept by your institution, or drafted by the local authorities (prefecture, region, municipality), and filed with the Civil Emergency Agency on Identification, Evaluation, Reporting, and Action Plan in relation to the situation created with the civilian houses, business facilities, and state-owned buildings following the Earthquake of 21st September, 2019.
  2. The documents reflecting the evacuation measures taken after this earthquake by the State Police staff and the civilian residents after the event (September 21st) or the buildings identified as non-habitable.

 

This request is based on our legislation on the right to Information and on principles of transparency for good-governance.

Looking forward to your response and copies of the requested documents.

To see the original click HERE