Head of government Sali Berisha
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 3.2 million
Life expectancy 76.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 18/17 per 1,000
Adult literacy 99 per cent
Women increasingly reported domestic violence and sought legal protection, although many later withdrew complaints. There were arrests and convictions for the trafficking of women for forced prostitution. Some detainees in police stations and prisons alleged torture or other ill-treatment. Detention conditions in police stations and many prisons were often very poor, despite some improvements in the treatment of prisoners. Adult orphans were denied their legal right to adequate housing.
In April Albania became a member of NATO and applied for membership of the EU. In November the European Council agreed that Albania should be considered for EU candidate status. National elections were narrowly won in June by the governing Democratic Party and its allies. The main opposition party, the Socialist Party, boycotted parliament in protest against voting irregularities. Unemployment, particularly among young people, was high. Corruption in the judiciary and government remained a serious problem.
Violence against women and children
Women, particularly in urban centres, increasingly reported domestic violence. Nonetheless, many incidents went unreported and women frequently withdrew complaints under family pressure and for lack of economic independence. According to official figures, in the first nine months of the year, 990 occurrences of domestic violence, mostly against women, were reported. Courts dealt with 640 petitions from victims for protection orders. Domestic violence was not a specific offence in the criminal code, and was generally only prosecuted when it resulted in death, severe injury or was accompanied by threats to life.
- In October Lirie Neziri and her four children sought refuge from her repeatedly violent husband at a hospital in Pukë, where they spent a week sleeping on the floor. Following media coverage, police arrested her husband, and she and the children were given temporary shelter at a social centre in Shkodër.
Trafficking in human beings
According to the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2009, issued in June, Albania remained a source country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour, including forced begging. The report stated that the government "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so." Prosecutions remained scarce because victims feared reprisals by their traffickers, or were pressured by their families to withdraw complaints. During 2009 the Serious Crimes Court convicted five people of trafficking women for prostitution and four of trafficking children.