Tirana, April 2004

The observation of Albanian citizens’ rights by the public order and justice bodies


(Based on the observations made by AHC correspondents network extended in 7 Albanian cities, written by Miss Edlira Papavangjeli, Programmes’ Coordinator with the legal advice of Mr. Niazi Jaho,  Legal Advisor of the AHC)



I.          Monitoring and its objectives


The Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC) has continuously monitored the observation of its citizens’ freedoms and rights in various areas. One of them has been the observation of citizens’ rights by the police (law enforcement officials) and justice bodies.


The AHC correspondent network expanded in seven different cities of the country has undertaken several monitoring missions in the area of citizens’ rights in contact with public order and justice bodies during the period January-March 2004. The main objective was to closely monitor the observation of Albanian citizens’ rights by the bodies of public order and police station administration, as well as in the pre-detention facilities. Besides the improvements made in recent years, there have been identified various violations in these areas, based on which the appropriate interventions have been made near the competent bodies in order to further improve the situation and in few cases to raise the awarennes of the wide public opionin. [1]



II.        Legal bases, approach and monitoring coverage


The monitoring missions are conducted based on Albanian legislation requirements, such as: the Constitution of the Albanian Republic, Criminal Code, Crimnal Procedure Code, Law on “The Rights and Treatment of Prisoners”, the law on “Execution of criminal court verdicts” and respective regulations.


The monitoring mission covered 7 different Albanian districts such as Gjirokastra, Shkodra, Korça, Elbasan, Kukës, Vlora and Fieri. The local correspondents themselves conducted these missions. During these monitoring missions our correspondents contacted heads and personnel of police stations, pre-detainees or prisoners held or serving their sentence in the police station facilitites, as well as their families, defence attorneys, heads of Public Prosecution, and Court structures, etc[2].


After holding the necessary meetings and making the relevant verifications reports were written and the competent bodies were informed. AHC has publicly reacted and it has issued public statements in the written and electronic media on specific issues.


In order to inform and raise the public awareness in general and that of the authorities on problems existing in police stations as well as on the work in general and specifically on the activities carried out by AHC in the area of citizens’ rights observation while in contact with the police, there have been several radio and local television broadcasts.


AHC appreciates the cooperation spirit on the part of state institutions such as the Public Order Ministry, General Prison Directorate, which equipped AHC local correspondents with the necessary authorization and facilitated their work while monitoring the police stations and pre-detention rooms in the abovementioned districts. There were, however, cases of AHC local correspondents being prohibited to interview pre-detainees or other prisoners held in the police stations, not in the presence of the internal personnel of that facility. It is also worth mentioning the fact that with our request, The General Prison Directorate has taken tangible steps in transferring convicts with final form court decision to relevant penitentiary institutions.



III.       Monitoring of police stations and identified problems


A.        Transfer of pre-detentions system and related problems


1.  Article 6 of the law no. 8678, dated 14.05.2001, “On the organization and operation of Ministry of Justice”, states:  “The Ministry of Justice manages the pre-detention system…” while Article 16 of the same law states: “The General Prison Directorate, the institution under the authority of Ministry of Justice, supervises and is responsible for the organisation and management of the pre-detention system …”. This law came into effect in June 2001. Also, based on the decision of the Council of Ministers no. 327, dated 15.03.2003 “On transferring the pre-detention system under the authority of the Ministry of Justice” the pre-detention rooms are transferred under the Ministry of Justice. As a direct result of this decision, an agreement was signed between both respective Ministries, namely, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Public Order in order to transfer the pre-detention system according to a plan, which was to begin in August 2003 and finish by April 2004. Meanwhile, it is only the pre-detention rooms in the Vlora distric police station that have been transferred under the authority of General Prison Directorate. Based on the observations made by our local AHC correspondent, it is evident that the transferring of pre-detention rooms under the General Prison Directorate has met in many difficulties, especially practical ones. As for the internal pre-detention facility personnel, it is under the authority of the Minsitry of Justice and provides internal safety within the pre-detention facilities, while it is the State Police that provides safety outside this facility, also being responsible with providing pre-detention facility with adequate food and hygene-sanitary installations, medical service and food preparation for the pre-detainees. Sharing responsibilities in this way has led to many problems in the observance of pre-detainees’ rights and their treatement according to the empowered law. During our contacts with the heads of pre-detention facilities in Vlora this transfer was depicted as very incomplete and almost formal.


2.  Regarding the transfer of other pre-detention rooms, there can be no justification to the fact that until today the rest of the pre-detention systems remains under the authority of the Ministry of Public Order, while none of the deadlines has been been met. Once more, AHC suggests that tangible steps be taken in sovling this issue in accordance with law no. 8678, dated 14.05.2001 and DCM no. 327, dated 15.03.2003.


B          Convicts with final form court decision and observation of their rights


3. It continues to be of concern the pre-detention of convicts with final form court decision in custodial facilities. In the last quarter of 2003, there were few measures taken in several monitored police stations in transferring a considerable number of convicts with final form court decision, such as in the Korça police station where around 40 pre-detainees were transferred, or in Kukës police station where the number of convicts transferred reached 13.

This lowered the level of overcrowding in the pre-detention rooms of these police stations, nevertheless as it was stressed above, in these pre-detention rooms are still held convicts with final form court decision such as in the pre-detention rooms of Fieri police station (17 convicts), Korça (13 convicts), Elbasan (12 convicts), Vlorë (5 convicts), Kukës (5 convicts), Gjirokastër (1 convict).[3] Keeping these individuals in pre-detention is a serious violation of the rights of this category of citizes and constitutes a law violation on the execution of criminal court verditcts according to which immediately after a court decision of the final form, the convict should be transferred in the penitentiary institucion.

In communicating with our AHC local correspondents the heads of these police stations informed them they had presented written requests requiring the transfer of convicts with final form court decision to the competent bodies, nevertheless according to them the only reply they received was a justification which stated that there was no room available in the penitentiary institutions where the convicts with final form court decision could be transferred to, and in the rest of the cases they got no reply at all from the competent bodies.

            It has to be emphasized the fact that this is not the first time AHC addresses this issue. We would like to mention the letter sent by AHC to the General Prison Directorate, where this issue was treated in its utmost seriosity. After this letter the General Prison Directorate took immediate measures in order to transfer to the relevant penitentiary institution some of convicts with final form court decision suffering of health problems, or female prisoners kept in pre-detention rooms under minimal conditions necessary in the treatment of this category of prisoners.


C         Overcrowding, its consequences and other living conditions within the police stations


4. The overcrowding phenomenon continues to be quite real in each and every police station monitored, even after the transfer of some of the convicts with final form court decision. In several police stations such as the one in Shkodër, the actual number of persons held in this police station was roughly three times higher than the authorized capacity of this institution[4]. As a result the number of individuals held in one cell was about two times higher than the authorized cell capacity. AHC local correspondents have reported even cases of 27 persons being held in one single pre-detention room, at a time when the real capacicity of this space was 10 to 12 persons (Shkodër).  The abovementioned facts are a clear indication of the rights these persons enjoy for the moment, for the simple reason because the family visiting schedule, the time prisoners or pre-detainees should spend outdoors, cleaning, etc, was reduced with regard to the number of persons held in these police stations.


Based on Article 28 of the law no. 8328, dated 16.4.1998 “On the Rights and Treatement of Prisoners” the pre-detainees have the right to spend no less then 2 hours per day outdoors, a time which could be reduced to no less than one hour due to extraordinary hazards, upon the order of the Prison Director.  During the monitoring it was noted that this rights were not observed mainly due to the overcrowding in each of the police station monitored.

5. Moreover, the fact that all pre-detention rooms in the monitored police stations were grossly overcrowded, violates the right of the individuals held in these police stations to a normal life (Article 23 of the Law, No. 8328, dated 16.4.1998 “On the Rights and Treatment of Prisoners”) as well as Article 24 of the same law which stipulates that the dormitories should be appropriate spaces, well ventilated, and equipped with the necessary sanitary and hygene conditions. Out of the undertaken monitoring it was clear that dormitory conditions in all police stations monitored were quite bad, with high humidity, ill illuminated, etc. Rooms were not aired and at times stank.


6. Due to overcrowding and the small number of pre-detention rooms, the great number of pre-detainees and convicts with final form court decision held at police stations, there were cases of minors being held in the same pre-detentions rooms together with the adult ones. The graviest case reported was the one identified in the Fieri police station where 12 minors were held in common pre-detention rooms together with adult persons acused for serious crimes.


7.  After monitoring, AHC local correspondents reported that nutrition in these police stations was very poor, and this was the reason why prisoners’ and pre-detainees’ families delivered them food on a daily basis. Food storing rooms were dump places filled with microbes, as in the case of Korça police stations. In some other cases such as in Shkodër police station, food supplies were kept in plastic bags due to lack of food shelves. Refrigerators to be used by the pre-detainees in order to could keep their food fresh and unspoiled were out of question. Similar conditions violate Article 27 of the law no. 8328, dated 16.4.1998 “On the rights and treatment of Prisoners” which stipulates that pre-detainees and prisoners should have their food provided for, in appropriate quantities, according to their age, health conditions, clime and season.


8.  Although there have been noted few improvements in Gjirokastra and Fieri police stations regaring health care, this service in other cities left much to be desired. Medicine supply for these institutions remains a major concern and in most of the cases the doctor or nurse would treat his patients only will paracetamol (equivalent of Tylenol) or aspirine. It was pre-detainees’ family members or prisoners themselves who provided for the rest of the medicaments. Pre-detainees and prisoners being held in the pre-detention rooms should have access to medical care at all times based in Article 33 of Law No. 8328, dated 16.4.1998 “On the rights and treatment of prisoners”. According to the same law, medical services during pre-detention include: diagnosis and treatment; also supply with medicine and medical instruments as well as prophylaxis from other illnesses.


9. Another distressing problem mentioned in the reports written by AHC local correspondents was the fact of pre-detainees or convicts with final form court decision suffering of mental or physical illnesses. For example, in Vlora pre-detention facility during the monitoring period there were at least 8 persons suffering of mental and physical illnesses. In Fieri police station there were 2 persons suffering of psychical disabilities as well as convicts with final form court decision suffering of chronic illnesses[5]. There have been reports on other cases in Kukës dhe Korça, where pre-detainees suffering of chronic illnesses were held in inappropriate pre-detention conditions.



D.        Hygene and sanitary conditions


10. The monitoring of seven police stations showed that ensuring personal hygene conditions for the pre-detainees and prisoners left much to be desired. The acute problem of overcrowding made it almost imposible taking all the necessary measures to guarantee optimal conditions for personal hygene of prisoners or pre-detainees. This distressing situation goes against Article 26 of the Law No. 8328, dated 16.04.1998, "Prisoners should be provided with the necessary indicated space, equipement and means in order to maintain personal hygene, all this in proportion to the number of users, in order to guarantee optimal personal hygene".


11. Shower and toilet infrastructure and was quite bad in all monitored police stations. Every detainee has the right to shower once in 10 days, but conditions in police stations, with a disturbing overcrowding, did not allow improvements in this respect.






E.         The right to meet family members or relatives


12. The monitorings showed that visits of family members or relatives were limited due to overcrowding as well as lack of appropriate infrastructure in these institutions. For example, generally in Shkodër, there were two alternating pre-detainees meeting simultaneously with their family in the same room.[6]


F.         The right to be informed


13. Also, pre-detainees and arrested individuals were prohibited from reading written materials such as newspapers, books, letters or possessing writing tools, violating thus Article 75 of the law no. 8328, dated 16.04.1998 "On the Rights and Treatment of Prisoners ", where it is stated that: “Clauses of this law shall apply even to arrested and pre-detainees, respecting the relevant limitations put forward in other laws”.


G.        The right to have legal defense and knowledge on other rights


14. The Constitution of the Republic of Albaina in the Article 31/ç stipulates that everyone charged with a criminal offence has the right to defend himself in person or through legal defender of his own choosing, has the right to freely and confidentially communicate with him and if he has no sufficient means to pay for legal defense, to be provided with free legal defense. Also, the Penal Procedure Code, Article 6 and 463/2, stipulates that the defendant/convict has the right to defend himself in person or through legal defender of his own choosing. If the person has no sufficient means to pay for legal defense, then to be provided with free legal defense. Form interviews with pre-detainees in the police stations of Gjirokastra, Shkodra dhe Fieri, resulted that meetings with their attorney had been regular, while in Korça, Elbasan and Vlora some of the pre-detainees were never provided with a lawer, and this right was negated to them several times. Interviews with the pre-detainees showed that in some cases lawyer were not selected according to the list, but based on the police preferences, and called at the end of the investigation processes without reading their content. Also, the interviewed complained about the free legal assistance service provided, whose quality leaves much to be desired.


15. Also not in all cases the arrested or pre-detainees were read their rights guaranteed by the law at the moment of the apprehension or arrest. They were usually informed on their rights after being provided with a defence attorney.



H.        Other problems


16.              AHC local correspondents in their reports underscored the pre-detainees and prisoners’ allegations on use of physical violence against them by the police at the moment of arrest or apprehension and in custody. Our correspondent in Korça city reported that during her interviews with the pre-detainees, they complained of the poor conditions and illtreatement by the administration of these police stations.


17. Our local correspondents in Shkoder and Vlora have reported cases of noncoordination between the judiciary and the police stations administration, which is responsible for escorting the defendents in the hearings sessions. As a result, there have been cases of few judges appointing the hearing seasions in the same hour, which has created difficulties in providing enough escorte police for the defendant taking part in sessions held in district courts.














IV.       Recommendations


1.         Regarding the pre-detention system transfer, AHC calls to all competent bodies to take tangible steps in applying and observing the law no. 8678 dated 14.05.2001 and of the CMD No. 327 dated 15.05.2003.


2.         Measures should be taken in order to transfer all convicts with final form court decision in the adequate penitentiary institutions or change in their favor the time of sentence served in the pre-detention faciliteies as foreseen by law.


3.         More efforts should be made in improving the infrastructure of police stations, improving in turn the living conditions in the pre-detention rooms, which will result in better observance of the pre-detainees’ rights.


4.         Relevant bodies should pay more attention to the classification process prisoners’ or pre-detainees’ security/or custody level and their placement in the pre-detention roomes.


5.         Separation of the minors from the adult pre-detainees should be made with great care.


6.         Equiping a police station with refrigerators is necessary in order to keep unspoiled the food meant for the pre-detainees. Also the latter ones should not keep food in their pre-detention rooms.


7.         Measures should be taken to guarantee appropriate sanitary and hygene conditions, providng thus the pre-detainees with the possibility of maintaining appropriate personal hygene.


8.         Effective measures should be taken in order to provide medical care for the pre-detainees as foreseen by law. Measures should be taken in order to guarantee a sufficient supply of pre-detention facilities with medicaments.


9.         Pre-detainees suffering of mental or psychical illnesses, or chronic illnesses should be transferred to special institutions as foreseen by law.


10.       Pre-detainees should have access to newspapers, books, etc. We shall emphasise once more, that if other measures taken against the arrested or pre-detainees are deemed necessary, apart from those set forward in the law no. 8328, dated. 16.04.1998, they can be taken only if stated or included in other laws (therefore not in regulations or by-laws). AHC suggest a strict application of the Article 75 of the law no. 8328 "On the Rights and Treatment of Prisoners”.



11.       Pre-detainees should have their rights read to them from the first moment of their arrest or apprehension, including here the right of free legal assistance, even in cases when the latter ones do possess sufficient financial means to pay for legal assistance.


12.       State Police bodies and District Courts should take measures to better coordinate between them in order to avoid the futile procrastinations of the criminal procedures.

































Appendage No. 1


I         Monitored Police Stations and Monitoring Period (in alphabetic order)



1. Elbasan Police Station                                14, 21, 27, 28 February 2004 

2. Fieri Police Station                                      22 March 2004

3. Gjirokastra Police Station                           6, 10, 25, 27 February 2004; 3 March 2004

4. Korça Police Station                                   15 – 18 February 2004

5. Kukës Police Station                                   End of January and throughout February

6. Shkodra Police Station                               30 January 2004; 20 February 2004

7. Vlora Police Station                         1–10 February 2004; 20–29 February 2004



II          Interviewed individuals during the monitoring missions


1.                 The following individuals were contacted and interviewed in Elbasan police station:


a-      Elbasan district police administration

-          Elbasan police chief

-          Acting Prison Superintendent/Head of Pre-detention Rooms

-          Other administration staff


b- Held, arrested, detaineed and sentenced individuals

-          22 individuals contaced and interviewed


c- Others

-          Other district police officals


2.                 The following individuals were contacted and interviewed in Fieri police station:


a-      Fieri district police administration

-          Police Station Chief

-          Head of Crimes Office

-          Head of Pre-detention Rooms/ Acting Prison Superintendent

-          Other administration staff


b- Held, arrested, detaineed and sentenced individuals

-          Few individuals contacted

-          2 individuals interviewed


3.                  The following individuals were contacted and interviewed In Gjirokastra police station:


a-      Gjirokastra district police administration

-          Police Station staff

-          Police Station medic

-          Other administration staff


b- Public Prosecutors and various judges

-          2 Public Prosecutors



c- Held, arrested, detained, and sentenced individuals

-          9 persons interviewed


  1. The following individuals were contacted and interviewed In Korça police station:


a-      Korça district police administration

-          Police Station Chief

-          Chief of Public Order (commanded????)

-          Commander of Pre-detention Rooms/ Acting Prison Superintendent

-          Police Station Medic

-          Other administration staff


b- Pre-detainees’ Defence Attorneys

-          3 Defence Attorneys



c- held, arrested, pre-detainees, and sentenced individuals

-          40 individuals contacted

-          20 interviewed


d- Others

-     Pre-detainees’ families and relatives


5.                  The following individuals were contacted and interviewed In Kukës police staion:


a-      Kukës District Police Administration

-          District Police Chief

-          District Police Deputy

-          Public Order Chief

-          Chief of the Crimes Department

-          Chief of the Propaganda and Secretary Office,

-          Information Office staff

-          Internal Guards in the Pre-detention Rooms

-          Head of Pre-detention Rooms/ Acting Prison Superintendent

-          Head of the Disiplinary Commission

-          Section Commandant

-          Other administration staff


d- Held, arrested, detaineed, and sentenced individuals

-          40 persons contacted and interviewed


  1. The following individuals were contaced and interviewed In Shkodra police stations:


a-      Shkodra District Police Administration

-          Head of Pre-detention Rooms/ Acting Prison Superintendent

-          Other administration staff


b- Held, arrested, detaineed and sentenced individuals

-          14 persons interviewed


c- Others

-          Chief of Public Order Office near the District Police Directory


  1. The following individuals were contated and interviewed in Vlora police station:


a-      Vlora District Police Adminstration

-          Police Chief

-          Police Station Medic

-          Other administration staff


b- Public Prosecutors and various judges

-          Deputy Public Prosecutor of Vlora District

-          Other Public Prosecutors


c- Pre-detainees’ and Arrested Defence Attorneys

-          5 Defence Attorneys


d- Held, arrested, detained and sentenced individuals

-          96 individuals contaced and interviewed





Appendage No. 2


Correspondence kept between AHC and state institutions operating in this area 





Appendage No. 3


AHC correspondents’ coordinates




Flowchart: Alternate Process: Vlorë	
Thoma Leka
Mob: 0692294141
P.O Box No.  4366
Flowchart: Alternate Process: Elbasan	
Rudin Peqini 
Mob: 0692184974
P.O Box No. 8










Flowchart: Alternate Process: Korçë 
Keti Qirinxhi 	
Mob: 0682361903	
P.O.Box No. 30
Flowchart: Alternate Process: Fier 
Frederik Jorgaqi 
Mob: 0682692248
P.O. Box No. 615




Flowchart: Alternate Process: Gjirokastra	
Kaliopi Bici 	
Gjirokastra Radio
Mob: 0692486504
P.O Box No. 50
Flowchart: Alternate Process: Shkodër
Andi Muratej
Mob: 0682135517
P.O Box No.165
Flowchart: Alternate Process:  Kukës			
Avni Kataroshi
Mob: 068 2211243	
P.O Box No. 1























[1] It was in the framework of the project “Strengthening of the AHC correspondents’ network in several cities” that these monitoring raunds were conducted, a project financed by SOROS foundation, Tirana.

[2] Please check in Appendage No. 1, the exact dates when the monitoring was conducted and individuals contacted by our correspondents.

[3] These data pertain to the first quarter of year 2004, gathered during the monitoring carried out by AHC correspondents.

[4] These data pertain to the period when the monitoring was carried out, for further details pleas read Appendage 1, of this report.

[5] After AHC intervention and recomandations on transferring these ill individuals to the special institutions, DPSH took quick measures for one of these cases.

[6] This leads to violation of Article 34 of Law No. 8328, dated 16.04.1998 "On the Rights and Treatment of Prisoners " the pre-detainees are allowed to meet especially with their family and relatives as the institution conditions permit.