This is in reference to our previous post “Will Tropoja Bailiff Eduart Mrishaj Succeed in Shutting Down Valbona Hydropower?”
APPARENTLY NOT. He says . . . he just doesn’t want to. Despite having a high court ruling, he just doesn’t want to do his job, as it interferes with his personal comfort.
Today, 7 October, we visited the local PUBLIC bailiff, with all the necessary documents in hand (an original copy of the high court decision, and our formal request for the bailiff – Eduart Mrishaj – to ‘execute the decision’). He read through them and then . . . refused to do anything.
He refused to act despite the fact that it is his job, despite the fact that all our documents are in order. Despite the fact that this is a high court decision. He refused to act despite the fact that this is what he, the public bailiff, is there for.
He said that the office of public bailiff is free, and can choose what to enforce (NOT true – imagine if you went to the police and they said ‘We are free, and we can choose what crimes to take an interest in. We don’t like yours. So even though you’ve been beaten and robbed, it’s just too bad for you.”). He said “I did my job the last time you had one of these orders, and people said bad things about me in the media, that’s not fair, and I’m not going to suffer that again.” He also said “Since the last time, I’ve married and now have relations to some of the people working on the hydropower.”
To understand his position, you need to know that there was a similar stop work order, based on a different lawsuit (which challenged only the construction contract of the hydropowers) in 2018. We presented it, he executed it, and – yes – there was a flurry of vituperative messaging on facebook. The decision was also effectively blocked when the developer’s parent company Gener2 counter-sued the office of the bailiff with an absurd claim that since the stop work order related to a construction permit which had expired, the base suit was substantially about a non-existent document. And arguing about something non-existant was absurd. Of course this means they tacitly admitted that they had NO construction permit. But the whole mess effectively blocked the bailiff from acting. And yes, he did appeal the decision, but mysteriously filed the appeal one day late, so that the appeals court was able to throw it out. He said the online website for appeals was down on the deadline day, which is quite possibly true in today’s Albania. Draw your own conclusions.
He said “You have choices – you could take a private bailiff. I think that’s what you should do.”
I pointed out (without him apparently noticing the insult) that we had looked for a private bailiff back in 2018, and only found one who for 35,000euro would take the case against Gener2. Eduart Mrishaj ‘expressed disbelief.’
Gogol meets Kafka. I found myself standing in his office, choking back tears of anger. Deep breath. Force a smile.
“I can understand why you don’t want to be in the middle of this,” I said (and I CAN). “Would you be willing to put your refusal in writing?”
No. If my boss in Tirana asks me, I can tell HIM why I refuse the case.
“So . . . what can we do? You want me to write to the head of bailiffs, saying you refuse to execute the high court order?”
“Could you just accept the case, let us pay the required fee, and pass it up the system?”
“But you don’t want me to go over your head?”
When I get home, I talk to our lawyer. “But he HAS to, it’s his job, you have to tell him he just has to.”
And I say “Short of nailing the documents to his forehead, which is impossible and I don’t want to do, I could not get him to do anything. Should I have slapped the documents down, and left? No, because then we have no documents, AND no proof.”
This is access to justice and rule of law in rural Albania, today 7 October 2021. Make pretty and keep the EU monitors happy. But does anything actually work?
Tomorrow we will regroup. We will send the decision and request to execute by registered mail, so they can’t pretend they didn’t get it. To the local bailiff, to the head of bailiffs and to the Ministry of Justice. We will also be informing every international body we can get to pay attention about how access to justice and rule of law are working for rural Albanians today.
For five years we have been hearing ‘No.” We are not stopping until we get to Yes.