The final plenary session of the year for the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission included several high profile opinions, including for Albania, Hungary, Malta and Turkey.
The Venice Commission legal experts find that the power of the prime minister in Malta widely overshadows that of other government bodies, including the president, parliament, cabinet of ministers, judiciary and ombudsman. Although the experts praise recent judicial reform as a “step in the right direction”, too many remaining imbalances risk the proper rule of law in Malta.
A joint OSCE-Council of Europe Venice Commission opinion determines that because a special immigration tax of Act XLI in Hungarian law violates free expression and association, it should be repealed.
In addition, the Venice Commission finds that a draft opinion on draft constitutional amendments of Albania to enable the vetting of politicians fails to provide sufficient guidance and safeguards and may lead to abuse of power. While acknowledging the legitimate aim to remove offenders and their influence from governance and political life, the Venice Commission expresses concern that the lack of legal clarity and certainty concerning the scope and implementation of the proposed vetting procedure could lead to severe implications for the rights of those subject to it.
Finally, another joint Venice Commission and OSCE opinion criticises late changes to election laws in Turkey. Changing key parts of voting legislation in Turkey – just a few weeks before elections in June, and in a hasty and non-inclusive way – was problematic and contrary to international standards, according to the opinion.