2011 Human Rights Report – Albania (May 24, 2012)
Freedom of Press: The independent media were active and largely
unrestrained, although there were cases of direct and indirect political
pressure on the media, including threats against journalists. At times
political pressure and lack of funding constrained the independent
print media, and journalists reported that they practiced
self-censorship. Political parties, trade unions, and other groups
published newspapers or magazines independent of government influence.
The government controlled the editorial line of the public Albanian
Radio and Television, which operated a national television channel and a
national radio station and, by law, received 50 percent of its budget
from the government. While private stations generally operated free of
direct government influence, most owners believed that the content of
their broadcasts could influence government action toward their other
businesses. Business owners also freely used media outlets to gain favor
and promote their interests with both major parties.
Violence and Harassment: There were incidents of violence against
members of the broadcast media during the year, and journalists were
subject to pressure from political and business actors.
On January 21, police personnel beat journalist Ened Janina, political editor of the daily newspaper Shekulli,
he was covering a political demonstration in Tirana. According to
Janina, a prosecutor initiated an investigation and received Janina’s
testimony shortly after the protest, but he was never summoned again to
testify. The same day, reporter Fatos Mahmutaj was grazed by a bullet
that killed a man standing on the media riser. Mahmutaj claimed on
several television shows that the bullet wounding him and killing
another man came from Republican Guard soldiers. Mahmutaj reportedly
received several death threats after his public statements and left the
country days after the protest. In the spring, Mahmutaj was granted
political asylum in Belgium.
Reporter Artan Hoxha aired footage of the January 21 protest that
allegedly showed how one of the protestors died. Hoxha stated that four
days after the broadcast, unknown men handed his 10-year-old son at
home an envelope that contained three bullets.
Police officers did not enforce the law equally, and an individual’s
political or criminal connections often influenced enforcement of laws.
Low salaries contributed to continued corruption and unprofessional
behavior, which remained impediments to the development of an effective
During the year the Ombudsman’s Office processed complaints against
police officers mainly on arrest and detention problems. The Ombudsman’s
Office received and made inquiries into 2,029 complaints during the
Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention
The constitution requires that a judge or prosecutor issue a warrant
for a suspect’s arrest based on sufficient evidence. There were no
reports of secret arrests. The prosecutor may release the suspect or
petition the court within 48 hours to hold the individual further. A
court must decide within 48 hours whether to place a suspect in
detention, require bail, prohibit travel, or require the defendant to
report regularly to the police. In practice prosecutors requested and
courts routinely ordered detention in many criminal cases. However,
courts routinely denied prosecutors’ requests for detention of
well-connected, high-profile defendants. The constitution requires that
authorities inform detained persons immediately of the charges against
them and of their rights. Police sometimes failed to do so. Under the
law, police must immediately inform the prosecutor of an arrest. There
is not an effective system for handling the monetary aspect of bail.
Instead, courts often order suspects to report to police or prosecutors
on a weekly basis. Courts must provide indigent defendants with free
legal counsel. This right was respected in practice and defendants were
generally informed of this right.
Many suspects are ordered to remain under house arrest, often at
their own request, because they receive credit for serving this time if
they are convicted. House arrest is not effectively monitored, and
suspects can freely move outside without being detected by authorities.
Arbitrary Arrest: Arbitrary detentions or false arrests occurred infrequently.
Pretrial Detention: At the end of November, there were 1,901 persons
in pretrial detention centers and 2, 878 convicted persons in prisons.
Thus, pretrial detainees constituted 39.7 percent of the total prisoner
population. The law requires completion of most pretrial
investigations within three months; however, a prosecutor may extend
this period to two years or longer. The law provides that the maximum
pretrial detention should not exceed three years; there were no reports
that authorities violated this limit during the year. However, lengthy
pretrial detentions often occurred due to delayed investigations,
defense mistakes, or the intentional failure of defense counsel to
appear. Under the law, a judge cannot hold an attorney in contempt of
court to prevent such delaying actions by attorneys.
Limited material resources, lack of space, poor court calendar
management, insufficient staff, and failure of attorneys and witnesses
to appear prevented the court system from adjudicating cases in a timely
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however,
political pressure, intimidation, widespread corruption, and limited
resources sometimes prevented the judiciary from functioning
independently and efficiently. In addition, court hearings are often
closed to the public. Court security officers routinely refuse entry to
hearings and routinely call the presiding judge in each case to ask if
the person seeking admission may attend the hearing. Some agencies
routinely disregard court orders. The politicization of appointments to
the High and Constitutional Courts threatened to undermine the
independence and integrity of these courts.
On September 9, a remotely detonated bomb killed district court Judge
Skerdilajd Konomi in Vlore. The investigation into his death was
ongoing at year’s end.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
Individuals and organizations may seek civil remedies for human rights violations; however, courts
were susceptible to corruption, inefficiency, intimidation, and
political tampering. Many court hearings were held in judges’ offices,
which contributed to a lack of professionalism and opportunities for
These factors undermined the judiciary’s
authority, contributed to controversial court decisions, and led to an
inconsistent application of civil law.
A large number of conflicting claims for private and religious
property confiscated during the communist era remained unresolved. A
2010 European Parliament study found a lack of human resources, constant
turnover within the Office for the Restitution of Property (ORP),
failure to implement existing legislation, and allegations of corruption
hampered efforts to restore property to rightful owners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Section 4. Official Corruption and Government TransparencyShare
The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however,
the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials
frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
Corruption in the executive branch was widespread and pervasive. The
education system remained corrupt, and officials sometimes required
bribes from students for them to matriculate or pass examinations.
Doctors and other medical personnel frequently demanded payment to
provide what should have been free government services. As in other
sectors, high-profile defendants usually were found not guilty, even in
the face of overwhelming evidence. While numerous low and mid-level
officials were prosecuted and often convicted for corruption,
prosecuting higher level officials remained problematic.
The government prosecuted corrupt officials and managed
complaints regarding corrupt police through the ombudsman and the
Internal Control Service of the Albanian State Police. However, broad
immunity provisions for judges, members of parliament, and other
high-level officials prohibit not only prosecution but any use of
investigative measures, hindering the government’s ability to prosecute
The government’s task force against organized crime coordinated
anticorruption activities. The prime minister headed the task force,
which included several ministers and heads of independent state-owned
agencies, such as the public electricity company, and representatives of
the police and intelligence organizations.
Corruption in the judiciary is pervasive. Many judges issue rulings that do not appear to
have any basis in law or fact, leading some to believe that the only
plausible explanation is corruption or political pressure
. Broad immunity enjoyed by judges prohibits prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations until they make a public
request to the High Council of Justice to lift the accused judge’s
immunity, and receive its approval. Few judges have been prosecuted for
corruption because most criminal investigations must remain secret, at
least initially, in order to be successful.
Albanien: US Professor Nikolla Pano, über die korrupte und inkompetente Justiz
Rückblick 1995 und 1996, über das Verbrecher Kartell des Salih Berisha
Komplette Idioten, werden als Richter, Staatsanwälte, Minister,
Polizei Chefs, Direktoren, oder gar als Admiral eingesetzt in 1996: Rear
Admiral Edmond Zhupani
, ohne jede Militär und Marine Ausbildung!
Einzige Qualifikation. Berg Ziegen Hüter, aus Tropoje den letzten Neanderthalern in Euroopa, die in der Bildung und Kultur, weit hinter jedem Steinzeit Menschen zurückgeblieben sind.
Fun Facts About Our New Allies
The Progressive Review (Washington), 22 June 1999
“Albania … offered NATO and the U.S. an important military outpost in
the turbulent southern Balkans (in the 1990-96 period Albania opened
its ports and airstrips for U.S. military use and housed CIA spy planes
for flights over Bosnia)…. The U.S. played a major role in the DP’s 1992
electoral victory, and it then provided the new government with
military, economic, and political support. In the 1991-96 period
Washington directly provided Albania $236 million in economic aid,
making the U.S. the second largest bilateral economic donor (following
Italy)…..Following Berisha’s visit to the U.S. in March 1991, Washington
began supplying direct assistance to the DP, including donations of
computers and cars for the 1992 electoral campaign. William Ryerson, the
first U.S. ambassador, stood next to Berisha on the podium at election
rallies. The U.S. failed to criticize, and at times encouraged, the new
president as he purged critics of his policies within the judicial
system, police, and the DP—often through illegal means. By 1993 DP
loyalists and family members held most of the prominent positions in
Albania’s ministries, institutes, universities, and state media. Citing
the threat of communism’s return, Berisha successfully instilled fear in
the population and discredited his rivals. The U.S. embassy in Albania
contributed to the polarization of Albanian politics by refusing to meet
most of the opposition parties (former communists as well as others)
for the first two years of DP rule. This one-sided view of
democratization helped Berisha dismantle most political alternatives,
some of which were moderate and truly democratic.
The political climate in Albania has become heated over the last few months
When five PD deputies demanded in January that the chief justice’s
immunity be lifted so he could be arrested for abusing his power, the
news hit the country like a bolt of lightning. Brozi, a PD member, had
been nominated by Berisha as chief justice in an effort to stamp out
corruption in the judiciary. Rumor had it that Brozi felt betrayed and
abandoned by the president. Some PD deputies reportedly wanted him out
because he insisted on prosecuting those guilty of corruption,
regardless of party affiliation. The five deputies accused Brozi of
illegally approving an early release from
jail of a Greek citizen convicted on drug charges. The accusation,
however, was clearly politically motivated. Brozi publicly denied any
wrongdoing, saying, ‘The record of my struggle against corruption in
Albania precludes the possibility of me being corrupt.”10
In fact, Brozi has won high praise for his fight to keep Albania’s
courts independent and free from the dictates of politics. He claims -
and many believe him - that some corrupt, high-ranking Democrats who
fear judicial independence are bent on destroying him. The clash between
Brozi and Minister of Internal Affairs Agron Musaraj - whom Brozi has
accused of ”directing a mafia network and employing despotic methods
against arrested people” - is also interesting in this context.11
On 1 February, the Albanian parliament voted 53 to 49 not to lift
Brozi’s immunity. The decision was seen as a smashing victory for the
chief justice and another political setback for the PD.12 Brozi said
after the vote, “The era when votes were dictated has been replaced by
an era when everyone can vote according to his own conviction and
conscience.” Brozi also thanked journalists for their support.13
The Brozi case clearly displays the internal battles and divisions
within the PD, likely caused by widespread corruption at the highest
seats of power, that sooner or later arc bound to wreak political havoc.
The incident, however, could positively affect President Berisha’s
political fortunes if he can muster enough strength and support from the
party to disable the politically and economically corrupt, as he did
with the cabinet reshuffle in December.