Annual Report: Albania 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Albania 2010

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  • Agron Alijaj was arrested in Fier in January. In 2008 he had allegedly seduced a 14-year-old girl and taken her to Kosovo, where he forced her to work as a prostitute.
  • In January Astrit Pata and his son Nelgert were fined and sentenced to 15 and 16 years’ imprisonment respectively for trafficking two women and forcing them to work as prostitutes.

Enforced disappearances

  • The trial of former officers of the National Intelligence Service, Ilir Kumbaro, Arben Sefgjini and Avni Koldashi, which began in 2008, continued. They were charged with the abduction and "torture with serious consequences" of three men in 1995. Proceedings against a fourth defendant were separated because of his ill-health. The fate of one of the victims, Remzi Hoxha, an ethnic Albanian from Macedonia, remained unknown. Despite the serious charges against him, Arben Sefgjini was in May appointed head of the newly established Probation Service within the Ministry of Justice. Ilir Kumbaro was tried in his absence. He had been arrested in 2008 while living in the UK under a false name; in December he was released after his appeal against extradition to Albania was upheld in a UK court, on the grounds that his arrest warrant was no longer valid.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Police and prison guards allegedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated detainees. In January the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture’s report on its visit to Albania in June 2008 stated that "ill-treatment by the police" often appears to be related to an overemphasis on confessions during criminal investigations”. The Committee had received allegations of serious ill-treatment in police stations in Korça, Pogradec and Elbasan, and at Korça remand centre. The authorities subsequently said that disciplinary measures had been taken against several officials at Korça remand centre.

  • In April Edison Lleshi, aged 15, threw himself out of a window of the police station in Peshkopi, breaking a leg and sustaining other injuries. The Ombudsperson concluded that he did this after being beaten and threatened by police officers who had questioned him about a theft. Disciplinary measures were taken against seven police officers, and a criminal investigation was started against one of them.

Detention conditions

A new prison was opened in Durrës and a reformatory for juvenile offenders in Kavajë. Classes were started in several prisons for inmates who were illiterate or had not completed compulsory education. Following the establishment of a Probation Service in April, a number of prisoners were released on probation, which helped to reduce overcrowding.

Conditions in many prisons and remand centres remained harsh owing to old, poorly maintained and insanitary buildings. The National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture, under the Ombudsperson, inspected 12 prisons and some 30 police stations. It concluded that conditions in many were below national and international human rights standards for the detention of prisoners, despite an EC-funded programme for penitentiary reform. Medical facilities were often inadequate, and there was little specialist treatment available for prisoners with mental illnesses. In almost all cases, the Ombudsperson called for major reconstruction or repairs to detention areas at police stations. He also criticized the frequent lack of separate areas for women and minors in police stations. Minors were sometimes held with adults, and women in the offices of the judicial police or in corridors.