REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA

PEOPLE'S ADVOCATE

 

 

Address: Bulv: “Dëshmorët e Kombit”. Nr.3, Tirana, ALBANIA              Tel:+355 4 253  891     Fax:+355 4 226 095

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANNUAL REPORT

 

2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 2003

 

 

 

Speech of the People’s Advocate

 

Honorable Chairman of the Parliament

Honorable Members of the Parliament

Honorable Representatives of the Diplomatic Missions

and Media

 

I am honored and delighted to provide you with the 2002 Annual Report of the People’s Advocate.

During three years of its existence, People’s Advocate has developed into a modern, well-functioning and integrated institution, welcomed from both, the public administration and citizens.

We all are aware of the fact that reforming judicial system and strengthening internal affairs are amongst the top tasks Albania is undertaking to accomplish with the help of international community, as problems in these areas often lead to violations of human rights – a worldwide concern. The increase in all forms of crimes, such as prostitution, various kinds of trafficking and corruption has become a main concern of the international community and cannot be related only to one country.

In a country like Albania, these crimes occur mostly among socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. That is why the People’s Advocate focuses its work on protecting these people and helping them in reestablishing their violated rights.

People’s Advocate believes that a joint endeavor between political forces and governmental bodies is needed to fight organized crime, all kinds of trafficking and drugs and to create an effective judicial system. This is of equal importance to economic reform and foreign investments.  An effective partnership and strategy could mean fewer retired people struggling to survive, fewer mal-nourished children, fewer prostitutes, less indifference from the authorities and less complaints from citizens.

The People’s Advocate has taken into consideration all suggestions, complaints or criticism made by citizens or any kind of public or private entity in accordance with its mission to help people resolve their issues and receive quality services from all governmental and non-governmental bodies.

 

 

At the end, I would like to cite a paragraph from Mr. Paddy Ashdown, the High Representative of the International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in “What I learned in Bosnia”, which can be applied to the situation in Albania:

“For example, in Bosnia we thought that democracy was the highest priority, and we measured it by the number of elections we could organize. The result seven years later is that the people of Bosnia have grown weary of voting. In addition, the focus on elections slowed our efforts to tackle organized crime and corruption, which have jeopardized quality of life and scared off foreign investment.

In hindsight, we should have put the establishment of the rule of law first, for everything else depends upon it: a functioning economy, a free and fair political system, the development of civil society and public confidence in police and the courts.”

          I keep in mind what Mr. Ashdown said about Bosnia and try to reflect that sentiment in this report. In the meantime, I am open to questions and look forward to your evaluation and assessment.

          Thank you!

 

 

                                                                             People’s Advocate

 

                                                                             Ermir Dobjani

 

 

 

 

 

Tirana, February 28, 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Speech of the People's Advocate                                                  2

 

Table of Contents                                                                         4

 

Introduction                                                                                  7                                                                                                            

Brief Presentation of Report                                                          11

 

CHAPTER I

 

1.

The right of good administration of the European Union, the legal ground for the recommendations of the People’s Advocate

12

2.

The Constitution and the Albanian Law "On People's Advocate" reflect the international experience, as well as the recommendations and advice of the International Community concerning this Institution.

15

 

 

3.

The structure, organigram, and qualities of the People's Advocate staff

21

 

4.

Establishing and commissioning the Institution of People's Advocate in Albania

 

29

5.

International support

31

6.

The Institution's budget allocated for year 2002

32

7.

Institution's difficulties and their causes

34

8.

The foundations for the institution's current achievements

36

9.

Challenges, the institution's targets for year 2003 onwards

36

10.

Future institution strategy

38

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

1.

Summarizing statistics for year 2002

40

2.

People's Advocate and Albanian Parliament

44

3.

Opinions on corruption and anti-corruption

47

4.

People's Advocate and Constitutional Court

52

5.

General opinions on the situation of human rights in Albania

65

6.

The activity of People's Advocate and public relations

70

7.

Open Days, a new experience of People’s Advocate

77

8.

International Relations

80

9.

People’s Advocate and Amnesty International

95

10.

National Conference on: “The right to information, a fundamental human’s right

96

 

11.

Other Activities of the People's Advocate Institution during 2002

100

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

Concrete activity of the People's Advocate targeting the complaints, requests, and notifications (cases), classified according to the governmental institutions

 

 

1.

Council of Ministers (Government)

104

2.

Ministry of Justice

118

3.

Complaints against Judiciary System

129

4.

Complaints against Public Prosecutor Office

138

5.

Ministry of Public Order

145

6.

Ministry of Defense

182

7.

Ministry of Local Government and Decentralization

189

8.

Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

197

9.

Ministry of Territory Regulation and Tourism

205

10.

Ministry of Economy

217

11.

Ministry of Agriculture and Food

218

12.

Ministry of Finance

225

13.

Ministry of Education and Science

228

14.

Ministry of Health

231

15.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

232

16.

Ministry of Transports and Telecommunications

237

17.

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports

239

18.

Ministry of Environment

240

19.

Ministry of Industry and Energy

241

20.

Secret Services

244

21.

Generalisations on Employment Relations

245

22.

Conclusions concerning the cases related to Public Administration

248

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 

1.

Follow-up on cases presented in the 2001 Annual Report

251

2.

Cases started at the initiative of the People's Advocate

(“ex officio”)

252

 

APPENDIXES

 

1.

Evaluations of the International Institutions and Authorities on the People's Advocate performance and activity

274

2.

Acknowledgement letters addressed to the People's Advocate

276

3.

Graphs

281

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I N T R O D U C T I O N

 

The People’s Advocate, now in the third year of his activity, is playing an important role, together with other institutions, in improving the function of the state mechanism. Through supervising the administrative behavior of the Governmental institutions and public authorities, he tries to achieve his objective: protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the citizens through reestablishment of violated rights.

Good governance and administrative behavior are conditioned even by the existence of an independent and unbiased system capable of examining the manner of Government performance. That is beneficial, both to the Government and the citizens.

It is for the first time ever in the history of the Albanian people that the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, adopted on November 28, 1998, following eight years of democratic changes, envisages the Institution of the People’s Advocate (Ombudsman), as a national instance, guarantee of democracy through the genuine protection granted to the fundamental human rights and freedoms in Albania. Based on the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, wherein the duties, status and powers of the Ombudsman are determined in five articles therein, in February 1999, the Albanian Parliament adopted the Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People's Advocate (Ombudsman)”.

At present, there are about 350 Ombudsmen or Mediators in 125 countries, carrying out their activity in all the continents. The International Institute of Ombudsman has members in 111 countries.

In a society characterized by the rule of law, naturally the Courts of Justice are the main defenders of the individuals' human rights. The People's Advocate (Ombudsman) is a non-judicial institution, in other words, a special means in its category, which assists the citizens in overcoming the difficulties encountered in their relations with public administration.

In our case, the Albanian Parliament approved of the People's Advocate, thereby defining the values and principles inherent in this institution. They are independence, impartiality, professionalism, and confidentiality. It is through his activity that the People's Advocate contributes in increasingly drawing nearer the public administration with the citizens it serves. Our immediate goal is to attain the indicators and standards the International Community has assigned and implements with respect to the national institutions of human rights protection.

In article 43, of the Charter of Human Rights of the European Union, adopted by the Nice Summit, December 2000, the existence of the Ombudsman's Institution has been determined as a condition. Therefore, establishing and functioning of the People's Advocate in Albania meets one of the conditions related to accession to the European Union.

For the international institutions and organizations, the Ombudsman and other human rights institutions constitute the fundamental element associated with the human rights infrastructure in a democratic society. Viewed from the prospective of integration for our country, since the European Community legislation is mandatory for each Member State, this legislation, especially under our circumstances, constitutes a source of reference even for the Institution of the People’s Advocate, especially with respect to providing arguments related to the recommendations submitted to the administration. It is for this reason that we take an active part in the communication and collaboration network with the Ombudsmen's Offices in the region, within the framework of the Ombudsman's European Institute.

In this sense, in addition to protecting human rights, one of its principal targets is the development of what is labeled as the culture of good governance. It implies good administration, openness, transparency, and accountability on the part of the public administration to the taxpayers paying taxes to support it. The People's Advocate, through his recommendations, tries to educate the public administration, hence making it aware of the real role it has to play in relation to citizens, that is focus on the factual reason of its existence, respectively the status of civil servants paid by the citizens, rather than that of stingy ownership of the citizens' rights.

 

The services provided by the People's Advocate assists the individuals in offering equal opportunities, so that they could be treated as equals in their relations with the Public Administration. That is attainable mainly through negotiations, impartiality, and broader standards of justice. In the meantime, the role of the People's Advocate shall not be simply restricted to protecting the citizens' human rights in confrontation with injustices and abuses of the public administration and public servants. To accomplish this difficult task he greatly relies on the devotion and hard work of his experts and staff.

The fundamental features for the Institution of the People’s Advocate are independence from the Government, or any other political bias, ease of contacts, speed of performance, flexibility, effectiveness and powerfulness of his recommendations. We would like to highlight the “powerfulness of recommendations”, since it is the very absence of the compelling powers, which stipulates even the existence of the argumentative power to the highest degree possible. It is exactly the legislation-based "argumentative power" which transforms the recommendation provided by the People's Advocate from formally "non-binding" to essentially "convincing to be implemented".

We would like to point out that the Institution of the People’s Advocate all around the world, is expressed in terms of the model associated with the mechanism of check and balance, which, in view of being a constituent part of public power, prevents and hinders the excessive activity of the latter. It even teaches the authorities the principles of administrative behavior and ethics. This institution contributes towards accomplishing what has been termed as "soft justice". It is less formal in character, but easily attainable for all the citizens concerned. Since it is an institution capable of being flexible and multidisciplinary, the People's Advocate intends to adequately enhance progress on the part of administration and good governance.

Although the Ombudsmen possess no compelling powers, they should exercise their persuasive authority to the highest degree possible, with a view to changing the behavior of the public administration and authorities through the recommendations issued by them.

As in other countries, even the Albanian administration cannot be easily spared from the mentality of being “monopolistic institution”. It implies that the tendency to dictate and be confined, rather than listening attentively and clarifying various relevant issues, is omnipresent, especially in dealing with the citizens' problems and concerns. That is exactly another aspect of the work and performance for the People's Advocate, in our efforts to make public aware of the fact that their rights constitute an obligation to the public administration.

The mere existence of the Institution of the People’s Advocate exerts a positive influence on public administration, at least for the simple reason that the latter is conscious of the fact that there is a third party monitoring and observing its performance in relation with the citizens.  On the other hand, we have made efforts and are continuously making efforts with a view to informing the people that they could lodge complaints with our institution, through an easy and cost-free procedure, against the decisions adopted by public administration, in case they are considered unjust or unfavorable to them.

The People's Advocate is neither a prosecution and investigating institution opposed to the public administration, nor is the criticism towards the performance work of the public administration in Albania, a means on its own. Naturally, criticism will be targeting the actions or omissions on the part of the public administration through our Recommendations and reports submitted, as is the case with the Ombudsmen in all the other countries, but our primary goal is not associated with focusing our efforts against the public institutions in Albania, but rather targeting the best performance possible for our public administration.

In the other countries, there is evidence of the Ombudsman's Institution contributing towards positively changing the public image of public administration. Even with us, that could assist in enhancing the awareness of the Albanian public administration as regards the quality of its decisions, and its responsibility towards the citizens.

We emphasize again in this third report that the People's Advocate is not and will never be opposed to the Government, irrespective of the political forces in power, but will always be serving as reviewer towards better governance. That is the essence of the philosophy inherent in the functioning for this institution, hence, as such, it should be well understood and treated by all the policy-making parties and partners in Albania.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRIEF PRESENTATION OF REPORT

 

According to article 63 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, and article 26 of Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999, “On People's Advocate”, the People's Advocate submits to the Albanian Parliament the Annual Report, which shall be discussed in a plenary session.

The Annual Report submitted by the People's Advocate is one of the main instruments which contribute to well-functioning of the rule of law, respecting and protecting the human rights, strengthening democracy, good administration of affairs by the public administration, likewise formulating the country's development policies by the latter.

After the first report submitted in March 2001, on the activity carried out during year 2000 and the second report submitted in March 2002 for the year 2001, this is the third report prepared by the People's Advocate. Its conceptual aspect and manner enable the acquisition of comprehensive information as regards the methodology employed and the activity areas for the Institution of the People’s Advocate, the statistical data included. The activities organized and carried out by the institution, international support, opinions on the situation of human rights in Albania, as well as the opinions related to good administration of works in Albania occupy a special place in our report. In addition, special attention has been attached to our institution's public relations with the media. Our collaboration with the media has been viewed as the most efficient means of having the necessary access to public, hence shaping the indispensable individuality of our Institution, likewise exercising our function in line with the Constitution and the Law "On People's Advocate".

This report portrays the performance and efforts made by the public bodies and authorities (the central and local bodies and authorities included) in the area of respect for human rights. It also introduces the means of resolving the relevant cases, which in our opinion, should serve as guidelines for the activity of the responsible bodies of the administration in similar situations.

The report includes recommendations and suggestions concerning the elimination of drawbacks and "injustices" identified in the course of examining the complaints submitted to the People's Advocate.

Finally, the report involves several detailed analyses in areas, which from our perspective and judgment constitute the essential elements; therefore, much more attention will be focused on them in the future.

 

 

 
 
CHAPTER I

 

 

 

1.    The right of good administration of the European Union, the legal ground for the recommendations of the People’s Advocate

 

Considering the fact that our Government this year succeeded to convince the European powers to open the negotiation for signing of the Agreement of Association and Stabilization with the European Union, it is natural that even the activity carried out by the People's Advocate in Albania should be focused on establishing and safeguarding the high standards of good governance and administration of the state affairs.

Social, political and economic dynamics of the state during this transition period have gone from the regional involvment required by the European Community for the Balkan countries towards the Stability Pact, and finalizing with the association of Albania into the European Union.

Thanks to the vision suggestive of the fact that in democracy the sense of gravity for the human rights protection has shifted from the state to the citizen, even through resolving the simplest complaints, the Institution of the People's Advocate intends to establish among the citizens the conviction and trust that the civil servant or public authority is already paid by the tax-payers to serve him, that is the citizen. Viewed from this angle, equally urban and political, the social attitude and mentality of the Albanian citizen should be re-dimensioned and draw nearer that of the European citizen.

The new Constitution adopted in 1998, the legal framework deriving from it, their compatibility with the international conventions and charters guarantee the above-mentioned aspects. Establishing and functioning of new institutions, apart from the existing ones, their reformation, and invigoration is and should remain continuous and consistent task for every governing team, irrespective of the political allegiance.

One of the first steps in achieving the above objectives is the changing and ameliorating of the legislation toward adoption of a whole package of principles, politics and laws in accordance with the international standards, especially with the Human Right’s Court jurisprudence which is the guidelines for the courts during the exercising of their powers. This is what’s called “acquis communautaire”, which implies 34 areas, including politics, internal, external and social affairs, economics, and the core of this process: the promotion and protection of human rights.

The process of approaching European Union is naturally associated with a multi-layer impact, which is expected to influence both in terms of the detailed approximation of the national legislation with that of the European legislation, as well as in terms of the practical commitment of the Albanian public administration towards its correct implementation. That applies to the three powers, never ruling out the relations between the latter and the civil society institutions, as well as the various individuals in relation to the structures of their state.

The current legal body in Albania constitutes the product of commitment on the part of the Albanian lawyers, the assistance an expertise acquired mainly from the European Union member states. The status of the member states Albania aspires to join stipulates that the Albanian administration and system of justice should provide and respect those standards of good administration, which would justify their compatibility with the EU legal system under the conditions of complete membership. It presupposes that, the lawmaker (Parliament), as well as the public administration and the judiciary, in performing their task and obligations, should take into account, and if required, implement not only the conventions, charters, and standards applicable by Council of Europe, but also those of the European Union.

The standards of good governance defined by the European Union for attainment shall be based on such principles as respecting freedom, democracy, rule of law, and human rights. In article 7 of the Copenhagen Declaration, adopted in 1993 “establishing and respecting the national institutions which guarantee democracy", the Institution of People's Advocate being a case in point has been explicitly demanded. Well-functioning of the People's Advocate presupposes impact on good governance, primarily supportive of the above-mentioned principles. It assumes even greater significance considering that the attitude maintained towards these fundamental principles is a precondition, both to be entitled to and suspended the entitlement granted by the status of EU membership.

The Charter of Human Rights for the European Union Member States, adopted at the Nice Summit, December 2000, constitutes the first official text ever adopted in the world in the area of human rights protection, which officially sanctioned the right of good administration, as a fundamental human right. Defining in this Charter the right of good administration (article 41), the right of access to official documents (article 42), the Institution of Ombudsman (article 43), constitutes new and considerable evolution as regards the development of human rights within the European Union.

In view of the fact that the right to good governance is already considered as one of the human rights, in many countries, the principles of good administration have been explicitly collected in the Code of Administrative Procedures. The content of this code includes a minimum of such principles as: reasoning the verdicts taken; just procedures and right of Defense; avoiding discrimination; taking into account the entire range of considerations related to the relevant issue, and exclusion the irrelevant ones; safeguarding and maintaining the official documents; avoiding unnecessary delays; providing the information clearly and explicitly; offering correct advice; observing the rules and procedures already established; providing the information relevant to appealing against an unfavourable verdict affecting the citizen;  familiarity with and responding to the letters received;  addressing the letters (complaints) to the competent body or service;   apologising for errors committed; the functioning of an adequate and appropriate system responsible to handle the complaints lodged, etc.

In the member states of the European Union, it is termed Code of Administrative Conduct (Ethics), whereas in Albania it has been termed Code of Administrative Procedures.

Undoubtedly, the implementation of this Code of Conduct is equally beneficial to the administration and the citizens. Furthermore, referring to the aforementioned facts, it is evident that the code involves extremely accurate and concrete principles and provisions. Familiarizing the civil servants and officials will contribute to considerably enhancing the quality of administration and services offered to citizens, as well as preserving the coherence established between the various institutions. As regards the citizens, they will have another priority, that of transparent public services, they are entitled to thanks to the social contract they have signed with their Government.

As highlighted by the analyses conducted with respect to the conditions Albania should meet on the verge of the process of pre-admission to the European Union, establishing and consolidating the Institution of Ombudsman has been, and still remains one of them.

This institution, which has been already established and functioning since June 2000, should be harmonized with a highly responsible public administration. It implies that the administration should be open to changes, aware of the fact that is the duty of the People's Advocate to be involved in dialogue with the public administration, to make constructive criticism and provide advice. In addition, the Legislative is required to accept and recognize the recommendations of the People's Advocate with respect to legal changes, or new legislative initiatives. That requires understanding and recognition of the role played by the People's Advocate, both on the part of the public administration, and the Parliament (legislative body), which is impossible to attain immediately, but what is of greatest importance is that it should be comprehended and recognized by all the parties concerned. The People's Advocate in Albania has been contributing and will be contributing towards ensuring mutual understanding.

We would like to mention in this report one of the conclusions reached by the 5th Conference on Legal Reforms of the Judiciary held in February 2003 in Saranda, regarding the support that should be granted to the People’s Advocate in order to allow citizens to have access to the judicial system. The standards put before the administration should stay higher, since the legal ground for the recommendations of the People’s Advocate is the right of the good administration of the European Union.

 

 

2. The Constitution and the Albanian Law "On People's Advocate" reflect the international experience, as well as the recommendations and advice of the International Community concerning this institution.

 

The Council of Europe enjoys an approximately twenty-year experience of work with the Ombudsman's Institutions. The Council of Ministers has issued recommendations and resolutions respectively in 1985 and 1997, which include the following guidelines: Recommendation (85) 13 on appointing the Ombudsman's Institution, his competencies, and further strengthening the Ombudsman's powers; Resolution (85) 8 on fostering collaboration among the Ombudsmen in the member states, as well as the collaboration between them and the Council of Europe; Recommendation (97) 14 on establishing independent institutions which promote and protect human rights, as well as Resolution (97) 11 on collaboration among the national institutions which promote and protect human rights in the member states, as well as the collaboration between them and the Council of Europe.  These documents on the Institution of Ombudsman, adopted by the Council of Europe are testimony of the importance attached to this body, which has been endowed with the authority to examine individual complaints concerning the violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms, etc.

During the past ten years, the Council of Europe has been completely devoted to establishing and supporting the Ombudsman's Institution in the new member states. The support is related to both drafting the respective relevant legislation for these institutions, and providing expertise and assistance in the newly opened offices. Albania is included among the countries, which has benefited from the concrete assistance offered and the collaboration projects. The Council of Europe is currently guiding and managing the co-ordination of Projects on Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe targeting the national institutions of human rights protection, involving the Institution of the People's Advocate in Albania.

In addition, the Council of Europe has determined and defined the indispensable conditions required to outline the principal features and traits of the Institution of People's Advocate (Ombudsman).

They consist of, firstly, the constitutional legal basis envisaging the establishment and functioning of the Institution and electing the appropriate candidate in an environment dominated by a diversity of political views, so as to guarantee the Ombudsman elect, not only his independence, but also his stability in his office, within the term of office determined.

Secondly, the need to provide sufficient financial resources for him to accomplish his mandate.

Thirdly, the Ombudsman's Institution does not substitute the courts of justice; it is not a substitute for the judicial system, which should be efficient and independent. It constitutes part of the human rights instruments, which are indispensable for all the democratic states. They should be biased neither in favor of the administration, nor the individual, but they should target the establishment of good governance culture and the development of human rights.

In the society wherein the rule of law functions, it is natural for the Courts of Justice to be the main instrument for the individual's rights protection. The Ombudsman, or the Institution of the People's Advocate, is an extra-judicial institution, assisting the citizens, in case the latter encounter difficulties in their relationships with the public administration.

According to article 60 of the Constitution, and article 2 of the relevant legislation, the People's Advocate is responsible to protect the individual's legitimate rights, freedoms against the illicit and incorrect action and inaction performed by the public administration bodies, or third parties performing on its behalf. Hence, his jurisdiction includes the Government, the respective ministries, the other central institutions, such as the National Committees for Tourism, Environment Protection, etc; the Intelligence Service, the national banks and the banks involving state capital participation, etc; the local governmental bodies, including the Prefectures, Provinces, Municipalities, as well as the public authorities and Institutions acting on behalf of those public administration bodies and institutions subordinated to them both centrally and locally. As is the case with the legislation applicable in other countries wherein this institution has been established, even the Albanian legislation has not vested the People's Advocate with decision-making powers in relation to the administration bodies, but has entitled the Ombudsman to the respective recommendations. It does not imply that the People's Advocate is deprived of the instruments to protect the human rights and freedoms. His entitlement to step-by-step preceding with the respective cases, according to the administration hierarchy, as far as introducing the case to the Albanian Parliament, in addition to transparency in his activity, the close collaboration with the NGOs, and Media guarantee successes in the tasks and duties assigned to him.

The People's Advocate is independent in exercising his duties and responsibilities. The independence is expressed in terms of several constituent elements, such as: lack of subordination relationships with the other constitutional institutions of the country, the President, Government, courts, etc, being cases in point; lack of involvement in politics, political parties and their political activity; the special budget available to him; the selection of the Commissioners and their assistants by the People's Advocate, within the structure and organigram determined by the Ombudsman himself; determining the Internal  Rules Book , the Code of Ethical Conduct, etc. It is significant and worth reporting that the independence has been and is genuine, typical for the activity associated with the People's Advocate Institution in Albania. In spite of the criticism made public or not, the independence will never be allowed to be violated by the influence to be exerted by any political force, or any other state Institution.

As regards the competencies, every individual, group of individuals or NGOs claiming that their legitimate rights and freedoms have been violated by an act, action or omission on the part of the central or local governmental bodies, or any other body vested with public authority are entitled to lodge complaints, requests, or notifications with the People's Advocate demanding the examination of the case concerned. In special publicly known cases, it is possible for him to initiate the examination procedure at his discretion; taking at a later stage the consent of the individual concerned or inflicted the damage.

The People's Advocate is entitled to demand from the Administration bodies the availability of any information or document associated with the case under examination, or conduct independent on-site investigations, retrieve any file or material related to his investigation, to interrogate any person he considers to be involved in the case under investigation, likewise carry out or demand the performance of a legal survey. He is entitled to request access even to information or documents classified as state secret. Under these circumstances, he is obliged to observe the rules related to state secret disclosure. The People's Advocate is entitled to access to any of the above-mentioned administration offices; he can inspect prisons, pre-detention sites, or other establishments wherein the individuals' human rights have been restricted. In addition, he is entitled to private talks with the individuals held in these institutions. These rights derive from the interpretation of the Constitution and the Law "On People's Advocate", as well as the international practices of the Ombudsman's performance. But, it would be advisable, in the event of supplementing the Law "On People's Advocate", to be explicitly included in this law, with a view to avoiding misinterpretations and imposition of unjust restrictions for this Institution.

According to article 22 of this law, the bodies the People's Advocate has addressed a recommendation, request, or proposal for dismissal should reply within a deadline of 30 days from the day the recommendation, request, or proposal for dismissal has been delivered. The response should contain sensible and well-grounded explanations relevant to the issue concerned, as well as the actions, omissions or measures taken by the respective body.

In case the People's Advocate does not deem the responses and measures taken by the respective body as being sufficient, he is entitled to proceed with the highest body in the administration hierarchy. If there is recurrence of cases, as well as in the event of failure on the part of the respective body to react towards the recommendations made by the People's Advocate, the latter could approach the Parliament by submitting a report wherein concrete measures are proposed with a view to remedying the rights violated.

The right the People's Advocate is entitled to as regards legislative recommendations constitutes an important and efficient tool in preventing the violation of human rights.

Whenever the People's Advocate notices that it is the content of the law itself and the normative acts, not their implementation the source of premises resulting to human rights violation, as recognized by the Constitution, or other laws, he is entitled:

- To recommend the law-making bodies to make proposals with respect to amending and improving the legislation;

- To propose the administration bodies amendments or improvement for the normative acts;

- To recommend the Constitutional Court the invalidation of such acts;

The Institution of the People's Advocate attaches special importance to contacts with the claimants since it has been established to assist in resolving the individuals' needs. His responsibility is related to preventing or discovering the violations of the individual's human rights and freedoms, with a view to correcting the consequences resulting from the right violated. However, it is very important for this Institution to be open and willing to assist anyone demanding assistance and support. Any Albanian or foreign citizen is welcome to visit during the office hours from 8oo to 16oo and contact the Complaints and Public Relations Office employee. The People's Advocate and the Commissioners arrange meetings with the individuals concerned on a case-by-case basis. Toll-free telephone number has been made available for the public with respect to complaints, requests, explanations, and information relevant to the respective area, thereby making it especially accessible to convicts, detainees, or the individuals arrested.

The citizens can approach the People's Advocate in various ways. According to the procedure assigned, the complaints are addressed to the People's Advocate in writing. In cases of emergency, the complaint could be made even through making a phone-call, but it is necessary for the written complaint to be submitted, otherwise the examination procedure will be interrupted. No anonymous complaints or requests will be admitted.

In case the complaint made is incomplete, lacking the documentation required, the People's Advocate will demand that it should be completed, or directly approaches the organ complained against, provided it is evident in the complaint made. In several instances, talks with the complainant are necessary with a view to handling the case under examination properly, especially when it is complicated, hence requiring several explanations.

The People's Advocate and his staff arrange meetings even in various districts of Albania. Appointing the People's Advocate representatives in the districts is another possibility we are planning to arrange and accomplish in Shkoder or any other district this year.

Some of the complaints addressed might not be under the jurisdiction of the People's Advocate, or do not meet the conditions required to be handled by the People’s Advocate Office. Under such circumstances the complainant will receive the response on the part of the People's Advocate, as soon as possible, within the one-month time-limit, hence being advised as to the resources remaining, or the legal instruments to be employed before the complaint is treated by the People's Advocate.

As a rule, the People's Advocate delivers the respective bodies a brief description of the problem concerned, likewise demanding detailed explanations about it. At the same time, the People's Advocate arranges the deadline for the reply to be sent by the respective body the complaint have been addressed. The time limit depends on the problem emergency, and its degree of examination difficulty. However, the deadline should not exceed the 30-day time limit. Sometimes, when the nature of the problem addressed requires less time to handle, the People's Advocate could verify the problem through making a telephone-call, or sending a fax.

Following the investigation relevant to the case concerned the People's Advocate drafts the report associated with the cases and the conclusions drawn, hence presenting them to the parties concerned. The report involves the judgment of the People's Advocate related to the facts and circumstances pertinent to every case, thereby highlighting the individual's rights and freedoms violated, the way they have been violated, as well as the persons responsible for the respective violations. At the same time, the People's Advocate could propose the ways the ways of restoring the right violated. In addition, he could propose the respective compensations to be made for the detriment inflicted to the individual concerned due to violating the respective human right. The People's Advocate could demand from the body having inflicted the violation of the individuals' human right to apologize the latter for the action committed.

The People's Advocate submits an annual report relevant to his activity to the Albanian Parliament. A copy of the report has been delivered to the President of the Republic of Albania, and the Prime Minister. The report contains information and data associated with the activity of our Institution from January 1 to December 31, 2002.

The annual report and the special reports are made public knowledge; therefore, they should be published no later than a month from the time they have been discussed at the Albanian Parliament. A copy of the English translation will be published and delivered by the People's Advocate Office to the counterpart international offices, as well as the international institutions having established working relationships with our institution.

Taking into account what the Albanian legislation envisages, taking into account even its compatibility of the latter with the European legislation, taking into account even the commitments of Albania towards association and integration into the European Union, the People's Advocate avails himself of this opportunity to remind, as always, the Albanian public administration of its obligation to collaborate and understand the recommendations submitted by the People's Advocate, whom the individuals could approach with their complaints. In the final analysis, the just resolution of the complaints lodged will enhance the citizens to trust to their Government.

We would like to point out that recently there have been initiatives made by different Ombudsmen, especially those of Eastern countries, where the violation of human right is an eminent and difficult issue, to ameliorate the legislations on ombudsman toward strengthening his role as a guarantee for a democratic regime. We are studying these achievements in order to implement them in the course of our activity.

 

 

    3. The structure, organigram, and qualities of the People's Advocate staff

 

One of the fundamental principles for the People's Advocate Institution, as mentioned above, is its independence.  According to the articles set forth on the Law “On People’s Advocate”, the Ombudsman is entitled to determine the structure, staff number, the specific qualities and qualifications, as well as their remuneration within the budget allocated and endorsed by the Parliament.

According to article 31 of the above law, the People's Advocate Office consists of three specialized sections responsible for the respective complaints and requests, accordingly:

First Section, responsible for complaints against the central governmental bodies, local governmental bodies, and third parties working on their behalf, headed by Mr. Agron Çaushi;

Second Section, responsible for complaints against police, secret intelligence service, prisons, armed forces, and judiciary, headed by Mr. Jorgo Dhrami;

Third Section handling cases, which are not included in the first two sections, likewise collaborating with the NGOs. This section, headed by Mrs. Florina Nuni, is assigned the task to carry out researches relevant to the area of human rights and freedoms.

In addition to the three specialized sections, the cabinet comprising of the Head and two Counselors is the direct arm of the People’s Advocate in accomplishing his tasks. The complaints registration section, finance services, staff development, international relations, and the administration are auxiliary sectors contributing to carrying out the principal tasks assigned to the Institution. With the exception of the Cabinet, all these auxiliary bodies are subordinated and managed by the Secretary General of the Institution, Mr. Gezim Lleshi.

The Institution of the People's Advocate employs a staff of 47. The People's Advocate himself, subsequent to article 35 of Law "On People's Advocate" has endorsed the total number of employees. Out of these 47 employees, only 20 of them, the People's Advocate included, are directly involved in resolving the complaints submitted. Considering the 4,675 complaints, requests and notifications lodged during 2000 compared to 2,826 in 2001, the staff has been overwhelmed.  However, in case the number of complaints submitted in 2003 increases, it will necessitate a raise in the structure and the wage funds for the year 2004. This will come up after exhausting other resources. It has come to our attention that the Ministry of Finance in 2002 and 2003, unfairly has proposed to the Government to lower the number of our staff to 45 employees. This is in violation of article 45 of Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999, completed with Law No. 8600, dated 10.04.2000 “On People’s Advocate” which stipulates: “The Ombudsman is entitled to determine the structure and the office’s organigram.” We might address the issue to the Constitutional Court as a violation of the constitutional principle of independence.

As regards the professional qualities of our office staff, it should be highlighted that the People's Advocate hold the doctoral degree of “Doctor of Judicial Sciences” and the title of “Professor Associate”, and the Commissioner, Mr. Jorgo Dhrami hold the doctoral degree “Doctor of Juridical Sciences". In addition to them, four other are employed as part-time lecturers at the Faculty of Law, or at the School of Magistrates. Out of 34 experts holding a university degree and employed in our institution, some of them have completed their post-graduate studies in the West European Universities, whereas 20 of them master and speak one or more foreign languages fluently.

In addition, an after hours English teaching course was started from September 2002 until July 2003 for entry and intermediary level staff. At the same time, a paying French teaching class is ongoing for interested people.

Therefore, within the framework of the training opportunities offered by the Council of Europe, Danida, French and Sweden Governments, it has been consistently possible for our institution to acquire the relevant contemporary experience. See details in the chapter on international relations and the office of the People’s Advocate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Table 1

 

 

STRUCTURE OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE PEOPLE’S ADVOCATE

PEOPLE’S ADVOCATE

 

CABINET

 

 

COMMISSIONER for the General Section

 

 

COMMISSIONER for the Section of Administration Bodies

 

 

SECRETARY GENERAL

 

Finance Section

 

 

Public Relations Section

 

MSI Section

 

 

Secretary and Archive Section

 

Business Support Staff

 

Human Resources Department

 

Translation and Library Section

 

Department

of International Relations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Table 2

 

STAFF LIST FOR THE INSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE'S ADVOCATE

No.

DENOMINATION

EMPLOYEE(S)

I

PEOPLE'S ADVOCATE

(1)

II

CABINET

Head of Cabinet, Spokesman of People's Advocate

Advisor of People's Advocate

Secretary of People's Advocate

(4)

1

2

1

 

III

SECTION OF CENTRAL AND LOCAL ADMINISTRATION BODIES

Commissioner

Assistant Commissioner (lawyer)

Secretary + Registrar

(6)

 

1

4

1

IV

SECTION OF SPECIAL SERVICES

Commissioner

Assistant Commissioner (lawyer)

Secretary + Registrar

(8)

1

6

1

V

GENERAL SECTION

Commissioner

Assistant Commissioner (lawyer)

Secretary + Registrar

(6)

1

4

1

VI

SECRETARY GENERAL

(1)

VII

DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Director

Head of Translation and Library Section

(2)

 

1

1

VIII

HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT

Director

Head of Section

Driver

Office cleaner

(11)

1

1

7

2

IX

FINANCE SECTION

Head of Section

Senior accountant, Cashier

Storage - keeper

(3)

1

1

1

X

PUBLIC RELATIONS SECTION

Head of Section

Assistant Commissioner

(2)

1

1

XI

MSI SECTION

Head of Section

(1)

1

XII

SECRETARY AND ARCHIVES SECTION

Head of Section

Archivist + Secretary to General Secretary

(2)

 

1

1

 

The Institution of People's Advocate has a total of 47 employees


4. Establishing and commissioning the Institution of People's Advocate in Albania

 

Implementing the Recommendations of the Council of Europe, in line with the model followed by several European states, the Constitution of the Republic of Albania adopted in 1998 envisaged the establishment of a special institution, which would deal with the protection of the individual's fundamental rights and freedoms, respectively the People's Advocate. His role and function were defined in Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People’s Advocate”. On February 16, 2000, the Albanian Parliament elected the People's Advocate, Mr. Ermir Dobjani, who proposed the three commissioners. On March 30, the commissioners elect Agron Çaushi, Florina Nuni and Jorgo Dhrami were elected. On April 10, 2000, the Albanian Parliament adopted a supplement to law “On People's Advocate”, according to which, the People's Advocate is entitled to determine the structure and staff list of the Institution. This supplement to the law served further strengthening the independence for the Institution. Following that, the structure and staff list for the Institution were determined, with a view to commissioning the Institution. In compliance with Law No. 8549, dated 11.11.1999, “On the Status of Civil Servants”, the recruitment and employment test and procedures to fill the vacancies in our staff, respectively employ the experts, assistant commissioners, and the other auxiliary staff required were organized and completed during the period June-July 2000.

The Internal Rules Book, the Code of Professional Conduct for the Institution of the People's Advocate were drafted and adopted so as the Institution would be established and would function on legal foundations. Although initially our work conditions and premises were insufficient and unsuitable, we started our activity in June 2000 with complaints' verification and resolution. It was on the basis of an accurate strategy defined and determined, following the identification of needs, without wasting any valuable time, that the physical rehabilitation and refurbishment of our offices, which commenced in late November 2000, was accomplished in February 2001.

Along with rehabilitating, refurbishing and equipping our offices, attention was focused on establishing, stabilizing, and consolidating the administrative and management systems of our Institution, determining the policies and procedures related to services offered to complainants, management of human resources and their further training and qualification. Within this framework, our office has accomplished the implementation of a modern system of cases management (DOCULIVE), which enables the computerized storing of the necessary information associated with the complainants' cases. According to the procedure presupposing the utilization of certain software the information registered is possible to be exchanged, checked, and reported on through the computer network. It is through this work system that, during year 2002 onwards, the efficient management of time, direct facilitation, and orientation in the considerable number of complaints submitted to our office will be made possible. The system installed with our office has ensured good functioning for our Institution, hence guaranteeing an enhancing level of services our office provides to the complainants.

Currently, work is underway to draft a manual of policies and procedures applicable for our office, wherein there will be described the mission of our Institution, the respective organizational structures, their terms of reference, the office staff policies, training and the relevant benefits, policies in connection with complainants, standards of drafting the relevant documentation, the procedures of IT utilization, etc.

Apart from that, the strategy of public relations (marketing & lobbying) has been compiled with a view to acquainting the Albanian society with the role of the People's Advocate, making public knowledge the information gathered, analyzing the respective recommendations and solutions, as well as finding out the adequate ways and means required to promote improvement of legislation. In addition, the strategies associated with the other educational activities targeting the community and lobbying policies, thereby concluding the stage of establishing and strengthening our Institution. The promotional network involving new visual communication intended to extend the capacity of public knowledge acquisition concerning the role of the Institution for People's Advocate was conceived and accomplished to serve this function. Consequently, there has been enhanced the possibility of establishing closer contacts between the Institution of People's Advocate with Administration and public, within the mutual framework. To this purpose, during 2002 we organized “Open Days” in different cities.

Our institution intends to serve towards attaining professional, quick, and unbiased solutions for the complaints submitted. Therefore, in addition to establishing, stabilizing, strengthening and efficiently managing the administrative capacities within the Institution, priority attention has been attached to enhancing the people's faith and trust for it, through the services provided.

 

 

5. International support

 

Special significance has been attached to the international support for our institution, which is under the co-coordinating supervision of OSCE, consistently and continuously supported by Council of Europe, the Group of Friends for the People's Advocate, likewise financially supported by the Kingdom of Denmark. The support has been concrete, omnipresent, and extremely efficient. The group termed Friends for the People's Advocate consists of the representations of Tirana-based Council of Europe and OSCE, the Embassies of the Kingdom of Denmark, and USA, such organizations as USAID, World Bank, ABA-CEELI, CAFOD, ACHR, etc.

The Group Friends of the People's Advocate meets periodically at the office of People's Advocate. It has been monitoring very closely the establishment, strengthening, consolidation, and practical activity of the Institution, thereby rendering invaluable contribution, and assistance in protecting the fundamental human rights and freedoms, as well as strengthening democracy in our country. We would like to highlight this fact, since it is through assisting our Institution that the institutions and states they represent have directly assisted the democratic processes and new institutions, as guarantors of democracy.

Council of Europe, both through its office staff in Albania, and directly have rendered considerable contribution by extending invitations to attend the activities organized with the focus on human rights, arranging visits of experts to exchange the necessary expertise, providing financial support, etc. In this respect, we would like to mention the contribution on the part of ABA-CEELI, as well as the American Embassy, through its representative in the Group of Friends. Naturally, the greatest financial support has been and is still being granted by the Kingdom of Denmark through Danida Project, and the active participation in the Group of Friends by the Counselor of the Danish Royal Embassy, Mr. Soren Knudsen. The Office of the Danish Ombudsman has provided the greatest contribution in its assistance through offering assistance and training our staff.

As mentioned in the previous annual reports, the Royal Danish Embassy in Albania has played a decisive role with the assistance provided through the Danida Project, within the framework of the agreement signed by both Governments in Copenhagen, in July 1999, thereby meeting a considerable part of the financial cost for the Institution of the People's Advocate in Albania. Council of Europe has stated its commitment concerning the financial support and expertise required for our Institution, consequently intending the People's Advocate to have its own position and status within the Albanian Administration.

The Group of Friends has played its positive role in assisting, monitoring and evaluating our institution in its very initial steps. This role has been welcomed and is appreciated on our part. Actually, the need for the Group of Friends is diminished; therefore the meetings take place rarely.

 

 

6. The Institution's Budget allocated for year 2002

 

The establishing and efficient functioning of a new institution, the People's Advocate being a case in point, require not only political, institutional, potential human support, but also financial support.

From this point of view, the financial support granted to our Institution by the International Community, especially the Danish Government, through the Danida Project, has been omnipresent, concrete, and efficient. This assistance has enabled our Institution's establishing and strengthening; hence making the accomplishment of the tasks assigned possible. The Albanian Government has had accurate and correct concepts in this respect in view of the fact that it allocated and endorsed a budget amounting to 8.567.000 Albanian Lek, or about 584,385 USD for year 2001, whereas the 2002 budget approved by the Albanian Parliament amounted to 85.194.000 Albanian Lek or 608,528 USD, which has been used to the extent of 95%, referring to the reporting period, respectively:

 

Account No.

Denomination

Planned in Albanian Lek

Expenditures in Albanian Lek

Realization

%

600

Salaries

39.000.000

38.999.798

100 %

601

Social Insurance

5.994.000

5.843.433

97.5 %

602

Operative Expenses

31.000.000

30.621.953

98.7 %

605

Membership fees

200.000

178.129

89 %

231

Investments

9.000.000

5.160.826

56.4%

 

Total

85.194.000

80.812.222

95 %

 

As regards the budget expenses, they have been mainly utilized to pay the employees' salaries, per diems allocated for travels within Albania and abroad, purchases of stationery, work materials and tools, fuels, electricity expenses, overheads, receptions for foreign delegations, etc.

In addition, we have paid the membership fees to the Ombudsmen's European Institute, the Ombudsmen's International Institute, and the Association of Francophone Ombudsmen. The membership fees have amounted to about 1,232 USD or 178.129 Albanian Lek annually.

Thanks to the financial support of the Danida Project, during year 2000 and 2001, the Institution of People's Advocate has accomplished the reconstruction work for the offices, purchasing equipment and a very advanced DOCULIVE system. It has also arranged several professional training and qualification opportunities for our staff. The total value of the Danish assistance granted for 2001 has amounted to 400,000 USD.

119,000 USD Danida’s support in 2002 has been used to organize national conferences, seminars, professional training and purchasing supporting materials for the staff (calendars, posters, and brochures), publication of the 2001 Annual Report, internet fees and maintenance of the equipment. Danida will conclude her support at the end of 2003.

A budget of 86.889.000 Albanian Lek or 665,000 USD has been approved for the year 2003. The budget didn’t include the request made by our institution. We have raised the issue in our previous reports and expected a positive solution by the Government in order to better serve the citizen’s needs. In concrete terms, we have asked to have our local representatives in Shkoder and Gjirokaster based on the requirements of articles 32 and 35 of Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People’s Advocate”. We were not afforded the offices in the cities mentioned above both for reasons of lack of funds and willingness showed by local and central authorities.

We believed that Financial and Legal Commissions of the Parliament during their discussions on a raise of our budget of 3.600.000 Albanian Lek for employees’ salaries came into an agreement. We had that impression after hearing that the deputies voted and charged two representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Gjergj Teneqexhiu and Ms. Mimoza Dhembi to draft the changes accordingly. Surprisingly, the Ministry of Finance sent us the budget, which not only did not include our proposal, but was shortened by the amount of 3.790.000 Albanian Lek from expenses for goods and services.

Our objectives can’t be accomplished without financial support. We think there is a solution to the problem: the appropriate commissions can initiate drafting of a decision from the Ministry of Finance and the funds will be   generated form the Reserve Fund. The foreign donors don’t include such an expense in their grants, so we have to rely on our resources.

 

 

 

 

 

7. Institution's Difficulties and their Causes

 

Under the conditions of transition for a country lacking the tradition of democratic institutions, such national institutions targeting the protection of human rights, as the Institution of People's Advocate, are assigned the difficult task of establishing legitimacy, not only for the Government and authorities, but also for the public concerned.

The difficulties encountered by our institution in the course of carrying out its functions and duties have been view from this angle. The main difficulties could be identified as:

1. There is not the same understanding of the People’s Advocate role and mission from ordinary people and the public administration.  While, the first seems to be conscious of the presence of the People’s Advocate in our society, the public authorities, mainly local ones, are too delayed in responding to the recommendations made by us.

2. Increasing of the work volume carries the risk of being superficial and affects the professional performance of the staff during the performance of their duties.

3. Lack of adequate compatibility and compliance of Public Administration with the recommendations submitted by the People's Advocate, which, thanks to its disposition, have been envisaged to be challenging the Public Administration's decisions.

4. Lack of adequate awareness for the Albanian Public Administration to be seriously committed to implementing recommendations submitted by the People's Advocate.

5. Lack of familiarization on the part of the existing traditional state institutions with the presence and activity of the People's Advocate institution, in its capacity of external examiner, in the even of violations of the fundamental human rights and freedoms in Albania.

6. Failure to establish regular and consistent contacts of collaborations between the respective chains of all levels for the office of People's Advocate with the offices of public authorities and bodies.

7. In view of the consistently dynamic legislation applicable several difficulties have been encountered in implementing the newly adopted laws. In this context, we would like to single out Law No. 8485, dated 05.12.1999 “On the Code of Administrative Procedures”, Law No. 8549, dated 11.11.1999, “On the Status of Civil Servants”, Law No. 8503, dated 30.06.1999, “On the Right of Access to Information over the Official Documents" and the Law “On the Protection of Personal Data”.

8. We should have focused more on very important issues, such as legal regulation and arrangement of property and its compensation, which affect a considerable number of citizens.

9. The legal gaps and vacuum hindering the People's Advocate to extend the scope of his jurisdiction, say, the lack of entitlement to carry out inspections in places where human right are eventually violated more, such as prisons, police stations, mental hospitals, etc.

10. Lack of dispositions on the Law “On People’s Advocate” binding public administration to respond to our office within deadlines provided by law.

11. Lack of offices needed in order to perform the normal activity. Our letter addressed to the Prime Minister on September 17, 2002 says:

“… It’s a fact that in July 2000, the time when the Government accorded to our institution 10 offices it was unclear as to our need for space in order to allow us to carry out the tasks derived by the Constitution and the International Community. At present, after more than two years of his activity, which seems to satisfy both the Government and the international community, the need for additional space has become an emergency.

We would like to get your attention regarding the actual building where our offices are located. The National Agency of Privatization, the Institute of Integration for the Former Politically Persecuted Individuals, Journal Liria, the Association of the Work Handicapped and the coffees (in the basement) belonging to the Ministry of Culture and the High State Control Office have their offices here too. We think that these offices can be relocated to several locations all around Tirana.  Actually, we think that the offices of the National Agency of Privatization, which occupy the other side of the same floor with us, can satisfy our needs.  Another solution might be getting the offices of the Institute of Integration for the Former Politically Persecuted Individuals located one floor beneath us, which can be transferred to the building of the Association of Integration for the Former Politically Persecuted Individuals at the Elbasani road.

Relying on your understanding, we would like to emphasize that our main donor, Danida, has expressed her willingness to support us on the reconstruction of the aforementioned offices.

The General Secretary of the Government has expressed his concern on this crucial issue for our institution and by including it on this report we want to raise the awareness of the Parliament as well.

 

 

 

8. The foundations for the Institution's current achievements

 

The achievement of our institution can be identified as:

1. The independence guaranteed by the Constitution and the international principles of performance for the Ombudsman.

2. Impartiality in exercising the functions of People's Advocate have provided the pre-requisites required to enhance his credibility, both in terms of his relation to public, and the Public Administration authorities.

3. The support offered so far by all the Albanian Governmental Institutions with respect to the needs and activity of our Institution, aware of the fact that one of the conditions for membership or suspension of membership in the European Union, as stated in the Charter of Copenhagen is “respect for and stability of the institutions guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, human rights and protection of minorities". Even the People's Advocate is an institution guaranteeing democracy, since he assists in strengthening the concept associated with the rule of law.

4. The international support already granted, and still being granted to this institution constitutes a considerable advantage.

5. The staff professional qualities, ever increasing demands towards higher standards in our activity, our total devotion to prove that “we know how to establish and set up a democratic institution from scratch”.

6. Experience gained during these 2 years of its existence through the ongoing trainings and the continuous motivation of our staff in completing their tasks.

 

 

9. Challenges, the Institution's targets for Year 2003            onwards

 

From the early days of carrying out our activity, we have intended to set up an independent institution providing services to the citizens whose rights have been violated by the public administration. It will become possible by examining the relevant cases on a step-by-step basis, recommending the respective administrative measures, as well as offering opinions on preventing future violations by the public administration. Some of our activity's aspects implemented so as to attain the above results have been the following: making legal assistance available through recommendations and advice in the event of conflicts involving the administration and public, discovering the administration's defects, reporting the bad behaviour of employees as reflected in relation to public, exerting pressure to change the heavy, burdensome, and vague procedures of Public Administration, creating the conditions for the citizens to enjoy their rights of access to the necessary information from public administration, as well as encouraging the latter's transparency in its activity.

In our view, the following aspects should be focused special attention, so as to meet this target:

1. Consolidating the achievements made so far, intending to enhance the efficiency level for our institution's interventions in resolving the citizens' complaints.

2. More efficient collaboration with the Albanian Parliament with a view to effecting the necessary legal changes, which would bring about greater efficiency for the office of People's Advocate.

3. Establishing more regular and closer contacts with the central and local administration employees. Appointing our local representatives will contribute to meet this target.

4. Continuing with the street promotion and cognition campaign and other forms to reach the public.

5. Demanding and justifying the need for continuous support, both in financial and political terms, through lobbying by the Group of Friends for the People's Advocate with the supreme instances of the Albanian state.

6. Exerting influence towards respect for and stability of the Albanian institutions, which ensure and safeguard democracy and prosperity, especially the impartiality of the Albanian Judiciary.

7. Making public knowledge the main problems identified in the area of violating the human rights by the public administration, as well as exerting "positive pressure" against the Albanian Parliament and Government as regards improving legislation, and it better implementation.

8. Continuance of the program to strengthen the office’s capacities, including the further qualification of our staff.

9. We expect to preserve the actual administrative endurance in the event of no longer receiving funds from Danida. We have been envisaged the installment of a unit who will provide mediation services. This requires understanding and financial support, both from the Albanian authorities and foreign partners as well, whose help is vital in training our experts on this new practice.

10. Technical endurance is related somehow to our financial situation. The information system network requires continuous maintenance. Also, the increasing work volume has brought up the need of an Archive, reformatting the complaints and public relations office and experts as well.

11. Financial endurance might be questioned for the future since the Government is applying a very strict financial policy in considerably reducing the budget. Our successes, other than the dedication characterizing our staff, can be attributed to various trainings taken either abroad at our homologues offices or in Albania. In the situation that the funds from foreign organizations will be reduced in the future, we need internal support but it is clear that we are not a priority for the Government compared with other institutions.

In conclusion, the challenges we will face within the Process of Association and Stabilization to the European Union are as follows:

·        Increasing the standards in handling the cases.

·        Increasing the authority and cooperation with public institutions.

·        Strengthening the collaboration with international partners.

 

 

10. Future Institution Strategy

 

In our opinion and belief the political and financial commitment of the Albanian Government and Parliament to support People's Advocate, as a modern type institution, which plays a significant role in the democratic process in our country, does exist and will exist.

In the course of the three years of our activity, there have never been identified any instances of direct criticism on grounds of political biases, since unless impartiality is maintained, we could very easily become target of political objections. Thanks to our high professional and ethical values, we will continue to avoid biases, hence maintaining the principle of political impartiality.

It is evident that, during year 2002, the number of citizens demanding the services provided by the People's Advocate has been increasing. The positive practice and good messages delivered to the Albanian people have created the necessary environment and awareness enhancement, so that the Albanian citizens could utilize our instrument of protecting their rights against the violations inflicted by public administration.

Through the dialogue established between the Institution of People's Advocate, the human rights organizations, the Albanian Parliament and Government, we will continuously encourage the authorities to undertake measures targeting improvements of legislation and its implementation. It highlights, and brings into the fore the significant role the People's Advocate plays in the area of democratic transformations, likewise justifying the need for the long-term existence of such an institution. In addition, we would like to encourage the authorities to effect the supplementation of the Law “On People's Advocate”, so that it would be more helpful to public.

The strategy of long-term existence is part of the process related to strengthening and developing the Institution, its role and impact in our society. The efficient use of the internal resources, utilizing them on the basis of correct criteria, care for the continuous staff training, qualification, and motivation, as well as good administration constitute the good foundation towards attaining long-term existence and success for our Institution.

Naturally, we are aware of the existence of shortcomings and drawbacks in our activity, since we are exploring new ground, we lack the experience required, therefore we will make efforts to improve our activity method, carefully apply the remarks and suggestions to be made, so as to correctly solve the individuals' complaints and demands, through protecting their fundamental rights and freedoms.

Apart from the targets and objectives presented in the previous reports, which are long-term objectives, from now onwards, the attention and intellectual resources available with our Office will be focused on several preventive strategies, of which education and training in the area of human rights have proven to be the most efficient. It is manifested in a series of actions we have undertaken and will undertake, such as: diffusion of information, training programme implementation, seminars with the participation of several interest target groups, as well as with representatives of Administration, NGOs, etc. At the same time, we will never ignore or neglect the development of practical strategies targeting the efficient education in such areas as training of police, penitentiary services and military forces taking into account our main constitutional obligation: resolving citizen’s problems means protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

1. Summarizing Statistics for Year 2002

(Cases classified according to the respective areas, and the solutions provided)

 

The People's Advocate has carried out his activity normally and efficiently through establishing, inter alias, a comprehensive statistical system. The statistical data provided have created the information infrastructure for the entire People's Advocate Office. We have been guided by the principle that without complete and accurate statistics, there will be no scientific organization and guidance of activity, consequently there will be neither objectivity, nor prospects for our Institution.

As previously stated, the efficiency of establishing and making a new institution function, first and foremost, is measured in quantitative terms, i.e. the volume of work performed to accomplish his principal task: Protecting the human rights and freedoms of individuals, groups of individuals, or NGOs against the illicit, or incorrect actions or omissions on the part of the Albanian public administration bodies. Setting up within the institution such a system which would be ready and willing to assist at any time the citizens submitting complaints, or making any request, without hindering them, thereby making them feel comfortable and welcome, and immediately benefit from the Institution's services, the way they deserve and expect from our administration has been a significant task for the People's Advocate. To meet the target of enhancing the quality level of services provided to citizens by our office, we have adapted patterns of other counterpart offices in Europe. In June 2001, Public Relations Office has commenced functioning. It is in this office that the citizens, at any time during the visiting hours, can submit their complaints, or requests, likewise be given the appropriate explanations by one of the office experts.

In addition, during 2002 our office implemented a new practice, called “Open Days”; we have been to 32 cities and have talked to people and received 603 complaints and requests, which seem to be within our jurisdiction. Analyzing the statistical report of complaints, we have received a considerable amount of complaints beyond jurisdiction. Apparently, many people do not have a clear understanding of the People’s Advocate authority. That was the reason we initiated the program of “Open Days”, which gave us an opportunity to meet and talk to people, explain them about our powers and helping them in finding a solution to their problems. Following up with the “Open Days”, a series of round table discussions took place on some local television stations to inform the public of the role and competences of the People’s Advocate. Consequently, the number of complaints beyond the jurisdiction and competency of the People's Advocate has been reduced.

During the period from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2002, the People’s Advocate Office has handled 4,675 complaints, requests and notifications (the complaints and requests handled by the complaints and public relations office included), of which 435 had been carried over from year 2001, hence reported as such in the Annual Report pertinent to year 2001. As a result, 3,363 complaints, requests and notifications have been handled by our office, of which 767, or 24 % of them, are still being examined. Comparing the number of the complaints and requests dealt with during 2002, an increase of about 1.6 as compared to 2001 is noticed or 5 times more than in 2000.

Referring to the process of handling the complaints submitted, it could be pointed out that 1,100 of them, or 45 % were beyond his jurisdiction, therefore the citizens have been advised as regards the ways they have to pursue to have their problem resolved. Referring to the complaints within the jurisdiction and authority of the People's Advocate, 759 complaints, or 30 % of them have resulted to be unjust, whereas 556 complaints or 22 % of them have resulted to be well grounded. The latter have been respectively recommended for further handling to public authorities, with a view to enhancing public administration, thereby safeguarding, and ensuring the standards of good governance. For the sake of accuracy, it should be clarified that, of those positively resolved cases, not all of them have been supported with written recommendations, since not infrequently have the positive solutions been achieved during the stage of receiving the necessary explanations or orally mediating with the public administration authorities, which finally realized their mistakes, hence giving up their initial negative attitudes. It is clearly evident that correct and just policies require good information basis, which has been paid due attention by the People's Advocate in the course of administrating the above-mentioned data.

22% positively resolved cases in 2002 compared to 25% in 2001 or less than 3 % in 2002 is a relative figure because we handled 124 more positively resolved cases than the year before.

In this Annual Report we will present the cases treated by the People’s Advocate Office, classified according to the respective Ministries, and the other bodies or entities of the Albanian Public Administration subordinated to them, against which the complaint or request has been submitted.

The number of complaints, requests and notifications dealt with by the Institution of the People's Advocate during year 2002, has been as follows:

 

1. Council of Ministers                              - 198

a-     Supervisory Group for the Pyramid

Schemes                                                      -   15

b- Tangible Properties Registration

Offices                                                        -   88

c- Commissions for Ownership Restoration

and Compensation                                       -   59

d- Institute of Integration for the Former

Politically Persecuted Individuals                  -     8

e- National Privatization Agency          -   28

 

2. Ministry of Justice                                 - 358

a-  Prisons                                                   - 220

b-  Bailiff's Office                                        - 138

 

3. Judiciary

a- Courts                                                     - 405

 

4.  Prosecutor's Office                               - 196

 

5. Ministry of Public Order                       - 283

 

6. Ministry of Defense                               - 236

 

7. Ministry of Local Government and

Decentralization                                        - 457

Ministry Itself                                               -   21

 

Local Governmental Bodies

a. Commune                                                          -   22

b. Municipality                                             - 367

c. Prefecture                                                          -   44

Other                                                           -     3

 

8. Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs     - 290

a-   Institute of Social Insurance                    - 174

b-   Administration of Social Benefits            - 116

 

9. Ministry of Territory Regulation

and Tourism                                             - 157

a. Ministry itself                                           -    26

b. Illegal Construction                                  - 126

c. Water pipeline, canalization                       -      5

 

10. Ministry of Economy                           -      9

 

11. Ministry of Agriculture and Food       -    79

 

12. Ministry of Finance                              -    35

 

13. Ministry of Education and Science     -    78

 

14. Ministry of Health                                -    25

 

15. Ministry of Foreign Affairs                  -    21

 

16. Ministry of Transports and

Telecommunications                                   -   50

a. Ministry itself                                           -   10

b. Telecom                                                  -   40

 

17. Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports  -   12

 

18. Ministry of Environment                        -   15

 

19. Ministry of Industry and Energy           -   80

a. Ministry itself                                             -   16

b. Electric Power Corporation                        -   64

 

20. Secret Services                                      -   11

 

Others                                                        -  268

 

TOTAL                                                      - 3,263 complaints

 

 


 

2. People's Advocate and Albanian Parliament

 

The People's Advocate is aware of his institutional position as an Institution legally established the Albanian Parliament, whereas in his capacity as an individual he has been voted by this same Parliament. At the same time, he feels himself as “…a strong arm of Parliament over public administration, so that in the process of enforcing laws he could manage to attain the lawmaker's targets".

From the time it was established onwards, the Institution of People's Advocate has constantly felt the care, and support of the People's Assembly for the Republic of Albania as regards its strengthening and consolidation.

The People’s Advocate Office on several occasions has informed the Presidency of the Parliament as well as several Parliamentary commissions regarding his activity and/or special cases such as the maltreatment from the police in September and December 2002.  Also, in December 2002, we have submitted to the deputies of the Parliament the conclusions of the National Conference on the Right to Information, accompanied by a calendar containing the constitutional disposition and the text of the law. In addition, we have been very active in several discussions on different draft laws and have sent recommendations to be considered by the deputies during the discussions in the Parliamentary commissions.

The presidency of the Parliament has shown willingness in meeting with our homologues all around the world and informing them about the achievements of our institution from his point of view. The Chairmen of Law, Finance and Human Rights Commissions, as well as deputies from the majority and minority parties, have met with the Ombudsman of the Kingdom of Denmark, Mr. Hans Gammeltoft Hansen and the High Commissioner on Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Mr. Alvaro Gil Robles and exchanged opinions on the activities and experiences of Ombudsman in different countries in Europe. Apart from that, the Finance Commission understands of our requests for granting the financial budget, which would guarantee normal functioning of our office.  Although, we have not had a solution yet on setting up two offices in Gjirokaster and Shkoder as we have presented in detail in the section of the Budget.

a. In 2001 Report, we informed the Parliament that we have recommended the Government on three occasions to take measures relevant to drafting laws and other acts so as to meet its obligations emerging from the Constitution of Republic of Albania:

1- On implementing article 181, paragraph 1 of the Constitution on correctly regulating the issues related to properties.

Regarding this issue, in September 2002 we sent a reminder to the Chairman of Parliament and the Prime Minister. You are aware of having adopted last October a resolution on property, to be voted on by the Parliament.  We would like to mention a letter dated January 15, 2003 sent by Mr. Kristofer Paten, Member of the European Commission in Brussels in the framework of the requirements Albania should fulfill for initiating the discussions on Association-Stabilization Agreement with the European Union:

“I have the opportunity to emphasize that a successful accessibility of Albania to the European Union largely depends on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the right to property.”

2- On signing agreements with the religious communities, as required by article 10 of the Albanian Constitution.

Based on the official information delivered by the Chairman of the Committee on Beliefs, part of the Government, a master agreement between different religious communities has been drafted and has to be examined and approved by the Government. To encourage this process, in December 2002 we sent a reminder to the Prime Minister of the obligation derived by article 10 of the Constitution. The fulfillment of this obligation is a priority for the Government in order to prevent some negative phenomena reflected in the deviation of Muslim rites in some undeveloped areas, which carries the risk of breaking the harmony between religions.

3- On adopting the law related to rehabilitation or compensation for the illegitimate acts or actions performed by the state bodies, as required by article 44 of the Constitution. The Ministry of Justice is assigned by the Government to draft a project-law during 2003.

b. During the year 2002, in compliance with our recommendations, amendments have been made to two existing laws:

1. The Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Defense, based on a recommendation made by us, initiated the procedure for amending Law No. 8087, dated 13.03.1996 on the “Additional Social Insurance for Military Officers.” As a result, the Parliament adopted Law No. 8948, dated 03.10.2002, regulating the issue in accordance with our suggestions.

2. Law No. 8950 on the “Civil Status Offices” was adopted by the Parliament on 10.10.2002. We initiated the adoption of article 51, which entitled the civil status offices to address courts regarding the removal of deceased people for whom no relatives or friends are interested from their registers.

c. In addition, during 2002 we have submitted to the Parliament the below recommendations:

1. Opinions on Law No. 8306, dated 14.03.1998” On the Strategy of the Privatization of the High Importance Sectors”, regards to the strengthening of the role of Parliament in the process of privatization.

2. Considering the fact that the collection of weapons from civilians according to the appropriate law hasn’t been implemented successfully in 2002 we sent some amendments on the above-mentioned law to the Government.  They consist of changing the conception of the law: defining in an early phase the obligation of declaring and legalizing weapons for civilians and later on assembling them by the competent authorities. The Government did not take the idea into consideration during the drafting of the project-law, which has been submitted to the Parliament for approval. As a result, we have submitted our suggestions to the Presidency of the Parliament and the Human Rights and Law Commissions and expect positive actions from them.

3. In addition, we have submitted to the Human Rights, Law and Public Order and Secret Services Commissions, a recommendation to initiate some amendments on Law No. 8292, dated 25.02.1998 “On the Special Forces and Fast Intervention”, because the existing law does not contain any legal ground to punish the policemen who violate human rights.

4. A recommendation has been submitted to the Human Rights and Law Commissions to initiate a supplement on Law No. 8328, dated 16.04.1998 “On the Rights and Treatment of Prisoners” vesting the People’s Advocate with power on the inspection of prisons.

We are aware of the legislative initiative taken by deputies Vangjel Dule, Pjeter Arbnori, Shpetim Kateshi and Ligoraq Karameto to include the two last recommendations in the agenda of the Parliament. We will provide you with details on the relevant sections of this Report.

The report submitted will deal with these issues in detail in its respective sections. However, it is our duty to provide more information to the Albanian Parliament concerning our activity, the situation of legitimacy, and the implementation of human rights by the Albanian public administration. Apart from that, we should be making best use of our opportunity to make direct recommendations to the Parliamentary committees the attainment of their legislative initiative to the interest of protecting the fundamental human rights and freedoms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The need for amendments of the Law “On People’s Advocate”

 

In the course of the practical activity of the People's Advocate Office, as resulted from the previous reports we have submitted to you, several problems which make necessary and indispensable some additions and amendments in the Law "On People's Advocate" emerged.

Therefore, there should be explicitly regulated by law the right of the People's Advocate to enter, without requiring prior authorization, the sites wherein there is evidence of possible violation of human rights, prisons, mental hospitals, military units etc., being cases in point. Likewise, this right is necessary in cases of researches or inspections. Fixing deadlines for responses to be given to the People's Advocate, or suspending the respective acts, in case his recommendations have not been examined, further strengthen the position of the People's Advocate and clarify the obligation of the administration bodies towards his recommendations. It is also necessary to anticipate the imposition of penalizing measures provided the People's Advocate activity is hindered. The deadline for submitting the Annual Report to the Albanian Parliament by the People's Advocate could also be regulated by law.

These indispensable changes are based on the respective legislation and work practices for the Ombudsmen in Denmark, Slovenia, Portugal, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Hungary etc., therefore they are necessary to strengthen the activity of the People's Advocate Institution in protecting the human rights and freedoms. Actually, it has not taken any legal steps in initiating the aforementioned changes.

The relationships between the People's Advocate and the Albanian Parliament will continue to be our priority. It is our belief that our institution will always be supported and assessed by all, and we will continue on the road of being a professional and independent body helping people in need.

 

 

          3. Opinions on corruption and anti-corruption

 

During the political, economic and social transition period Albania is going through, without a doubt corruption has been favored for several reasons. We can list some of them: the weakness of the economy, a high rate of unemployment, low salaries and eagerness of some people to become rich through illegal actions. The most dangerous consequence emerging consists of a widely held opinion among regular people that bribing is the way to resolve their problems.

Corruption in every cell of power is the main obstacle to democratising and respecting the citizens' rights. Therefore, it is through influencing good governance that the People's Advocate at the same time as preventive factor for the corruptive behaviours of the administration or public authority.

From the point view of the People's Advocate, corruption is manifested in any action or omission of the civil servant, provided these behaviors clash with or are an expression of indifference towards the implementation of laws applicable, thereby favoring the creation of personal benefits or third party benefits.

Several bodies have been vested with power in fighting corruption, such as Public Prosecution Office, Courts, Police and Intelligence Services. The People’s Advocate plays a different role: amongst other responsibilities he encourages and watches the abovementioned structures to see how effective they are in the fight against corruption.

We are conscious and realistic of the difficulties encountered in cases of proving corruption as criminal offence, whenever the Court of Justice or the Prosecutor's Office deals with the respective cases. However, the People's Advocate has intervened with his recommendations addressed the Public Prosecution office and the Inspectorate of the High Council of Justice in those cases when, following the examination of complaints or requests submitted, there have been grounded doubts concerning the existence of corruptive elements.

Some of the Recommendations made by the People’s Advocate Office in relation to the complaints lodged, whose verification has aroused suspicion on the presence of the corruptive elements are as follows:

1. Recommendations for changes and ameliorations of 3-4 laws on the privatization. We have suggested that the Parliament has wider competences in drafting the contracts resulting from these laws. To this purpose, we sent an official letter on 14.05.2002 to the Former Prime Minister, Mr. Pandeli Majko and Former Minster of Economy, Ms. Ermelinda Meksi, notifying the Chairman of the Parliament as well, in order to submit it to the Commission on Laws and Finance and Privatization. The letter titled “Some suggestions on the Law No. 8306, dated 14.03.1998 on the “Strategy of the Privatization of the High Importance Sectors”, changed with the Law No. 8459, dated 11.02.1999 and the Law No. 8582, dated 23.02.2000 for strengthening the control and the participation of the Parliament during the privatization of the public property” includes:

“Considering your interest shown during several joint meetings and especially the need to become more effective and transparent vis a vis, both the Parliament and the public and broadening the recommendation made in the 2001 report, we have carefully studied laws on the privatization of the strategic sectors: Law No. 8306, dated 14.03.1998 on the “Privatization of High Importance Sectors”, together with its amendments, Law No. 8433, dated 21.12.1998 “Identifying the Form and Formula for the Privatization of the National Trade Bank”, Law No. 8515, dated 21.07.1999 “On the Privatization of the Anonymous Society, Albanian Mobile Communication (AMC)”, Law No. 8563, dated 22.12.1999 “Identifying the Form and Formula for the Privatization of the Savings Bank”, Law No. 8810, dated 17.05.2001 “Identifying the Form and Formula for the Privatization of AlbTelecom” and the Project-Law “Identifying the Form and Formula for the Privatization of INSIG, thereby presenting our proposal as follows:

According to Law No. 8306, dated 14.03.1998”On the Strategy for the Privatization of High Importance Sectors” amended by Law No. 8459, dated 11.12.1999 and Law No. 8582, dated 23.02.2000d, the Government should define the procedures for the election of the strategic investors. In our opinion, the law regulating the privatization of a certain object should cover these issues.

In addition, a separate law should be dealing with the formula of privatization, which defines as the rate of the society capital taken by the state, strategic investors as well as other investors and the allowed possible limit of ”treasury bonds” in privatization, according to article 9 of the above law. Otherwise, articles 7 and 9 should be incorporated in the article 5 of Law No. 8306, dated 14.03.1998. Also, an article should be included in the law, providing that a separate law should regulate the modalities of payment. We insist that the modalities of payment should be decided before finding the buyer. In cases of a late delay, for example, six or more months for objects considerably valued, the price of the object should be lower because in the meantime the buyer will take profits.

Besides the changes on the above law, we think that is important to the process of privatization, in order to assure transparence and minimize the abusiveness related, to reflect the above amendments into Law No. 8563, dated 22.12.1999 “Identifying the Form and Formula for the Privatization of the Savings Bank”, Law No. 8810 dated, 17.05.2001 “Identifying the Form and Formula for the Privatization of AlbTelecom” and the Project-Law “Identifying the Form and Formula for the Privatization of INSIG ‘. We think that the mode of using the profits from the privatization should be defined by the law and not by a Government decision, as it currently is.

We hope you understand, and we are positive that adopting the amendments will serve to the privatization process and minimize the legal gaps that are the premises for abuse and corruption. Our suggestions are based not on any kind of information we possess, but always on the sense of duty of good administration and good governance from the different public authorities.

          2. Recommendation regarding the additional scholarship lists at the Universities. Fortunately, an achievement can be reported for this year: the Government and the Ministry of Education don’t have any more absolute discretion as regards to additional scholarships. The obligation of not including students that have not participated in the entries exams and taking students only from the exam’s list based on their rate, will definitely limit the risk of abusive behavior and corruption as well.

3. We can report as an achievement the new master contract created by the Albanian Electric Corporation for the payment due by users. We have contributed in stopping the Albanian Electric Corporation from using an abusive penalization mode: a collective break of the contract.

4. As we have mentioned before, we have made recommendations for changes in Law on Civil Status Offices, regarding the removal from their registers of deceased people, for whom there has been shown no interest from family or relatives for a long time. The change has multipurpose anti-corruption effects: financial, as it stops people from receiving economical assistance, and political, because it favors the manipulation of elections lists form different political parties.

5. In addition, we have focused our work on fighting the mentality that favors the corruption in every day life, especially in the police-citizen relationship.  The precedent we created in removing an unfair fine of a citizen by a policeman, at the end, will serve to fight the mentality that feeds the corruption, present in our daily life. Otherwise, fighting the “small corruption” plays an import role in increasing the trust of citizens toward the state and building therein-good relations between them.

    6. We keep receiving complaints against the Commissions of Restoring and Compensating Properties to Former Owners, for his abusive actions, mainly for document forgery. Because of an amnesty, we are not able to initiate any actions, nor can the Public Prosecutor’s Office do anything about it. Nevertheless, we have intervened to ameliorate the work conditions of KKK, as an important factor in rendering good services for people.

7. The National Conference on the “Right to Information”, organized in December 2002, proved once more that our institution aspires to help the public administration in providing transparence services to citizens.

During our activity, we have submitted recommendations initiating penal charges and disciplinary measures as follows:

1. Recommendation addressed to Korca District Prosecutor, as regards initiating investigation proceedings for the citizen Njazi Zite, a policeman at the Korca Police Station, concerning the felony of bribery. The respective recommendation has been accepted and after being investigated has been sent to court.

2. Recommendation addressed to the Attorney General to initiate investigation proceedings against the Chairman of Commune Gurre e Madhe, for robbing and damaging the secondary school of the commune, after failing before the Mat District Prosecutor office, which rejected the complaint submitted by the citizen B.B.

3. Recommendation addressed to the Minister of Justice to initiate disciplinary measures against the judge I. Maneku for the loss of documentation belonged to a party in a process.

4. Recommendation addressed to the Minister of Justice to initiate disciplinary measures against the Korca District judge B. Shehu and Tirana District judge A. Broci for unjustified impediment in civil cases.

In the above-mentioned cases, the presence of corruptive elements has not been evidenced, since the People's Advocate cannot presume guilty or not guilty the persons mentioned in his recommendations. That is an exclusive right of the judiciary. In the above-mentioned cases, the People's Advocate has only stated his grounded suspicions having resulted from the respective investigation for the cases concerned and evidence collection, with a view to restoring the citizens' violated rights.

Within the framework of commitments the Albanian state and society have undertaken in combating corruption, the People's Advocate has been rendering his modest contribution, both within the framework of the Anti-corruption Alliance, sponsored by USAID, as well as through taking part as observer in the Board of the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit, established with the Albanian Government. On the other hand, we have rendered our contribution at the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit, both in terms of improving the Anti-Corruption Matrix, as well as within the global frame of these efforts (legislation, institutions, instruments, etc), already reflected in the questionnaire drafted by the Anti-Corruption Monitoring Unit, prepared within the framework of GRECO, (Group of States Committed against Corruption, within the frame of Council of Europe.)

At present, Parliament has adopted a whole package of laws on corruption, which constantly constitutes a high risk for the public administration, and the future of our democratic state as well.

In his capacity of a national instance playing a mediating role between the public administration and civil society, the People's Advocate has made efforts to serve the role of communicator between them.

Irrespective of the legislation approved and the respective structures employed to implement it, the People's Advocate is conscious of the continuous existence of corruptive actions in dealing with the problems practically. The combat against corruption lasts as long as the state exists, provided it is uncompromising in any way.

The People's Advocate in Albania has defined his duties in combating corruption, based on these ideas and the Albanian problem-range.

 

 

4. People's Advocate and Constitutional Court

 

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, the People's Advocate is included among the subjects entitled to commission and set in motion the Constitutional Court.

But, according to article 134, of the Constitution, the subjects entitled to set in motion the Constitutional Court are classified in two groups: subjects entitled to submit a request unconditionally, and subjects entitled to submit a request conditionally “concerning cases related to their own interests only ". This difference derives from the content of article 2, article 134, of the Constitution. The People's Advocate is included in the target group of subjects entitled to approach the Constitutional Court conditionally.

Defining through interpretation the range of issues, which constitute "interests of People's Advocate", the very moment we commenced our activity, was significant as regards the functioning of the People's Advocate Institution. Therefore, June 2000, we addressed the Constitutional Court with our request to interpret the signification of "issues related to the interests of People's Advocate".

In compliance with its competencies, through adopting its Decision No. 49, dated 31.07.2000, the Constitutional Court decided that “People's Advocate enjoys the right to submit his request to the Constitutional Court concerning the compatibility of legislation, or normative acts with the Constitution, or international agreements, concerning the compatibility of international agreements with the Constitution, as well as to interpret the Constitution, provided the issue concerned is associated with his interests". In addition, the People's Advocate is entitled to submit requests as regards issues related to his function of protecting the individual's legitimate rights, freedoms, and interests, provided they have been violated by illegitimate and incorrect actions or omissions committed by public administration bodies and identified by People's Advocate, as wells as when the constitutional rules related to the organization and functioning of his institution have been violated". We are pleased with this Verdict adopted by the Constitutional Court, since it does not restrict our duty as defenders of the fundamental human rights and freedoms.

The entitlement to address the Constitutional Court is envisaged by paragraph c of article 24 of Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People's Advocate”, which determined that “In case the People's Advocate notices that it is the content of law, or normative acts, but not their implementation, which enables and leads to the violation of human rights, recognized by the Constitution or other laws, the People's Advocate is enjoys the right:

c) To recommend the Constitutional Court the invalidation of such acts".

We have applied our entitlement to submit four requests with the Constitutional Court in three instances. The example of the following case has been reflected in the 2000 and 2001 Reports.

1. In his letter, a citizen, former land owner complains that the Decision of the Council of Ministers No.119, dated 18.03.2000 “On the privatization procedures through bidding the state-owned packets of shares for the commercial companies operating in the non-strategic sectors” has restricted him and the other former land owners, having equal conditions, one of the fundamental human rights, e.g. exercising the right to his legitimate property.

Having examined the case concerned, the Constitutional Court, through adopting the Decision No. 26, dated 24.04.2001, decided to recognize our request, hence invalidating as anti-constitutional, paragraph 1, clause “c” of Council of Ministers Decision No. 119, dated 18.03.2000 “On the privatization procedures through bidding the state-owned packets of shares for the commercial companies operating in the non-strategic sectors”, as well as paragraph 4 of Council of Ministers Decision No. 438, dated 14.08.1995 "On Privatization of the State-Owned Enterprises Transformed into Commercial Companies", only as regards the sections wherein it has been stated: First “and the land price determined according to the Council of Ministers Decision No. 312, dated 30.06.1994”, and Second “... in proportions corresponding to the land price recognized by the respective Decision adopted by the Council of Ministers No. 312, dated 30.06.1994”.

The verdict adopted by the Constitutional Court has been welcomed by public opinion, especially by the former owners of the land wherein the state-owned objects subjected to privatization have been built. On the other hand, this verdict is significant, since it constitutes the constitutional foundation for the entire legislation, which should be changed by the Albanian Parliament, subsequent to the application of paragraph 1, article 181 of the Constitution, which obliges the Albanian Parliament “within a period of two to three years from the time this Constitution comes into effect, to issue and adopt the laws correctly regulating the various cases associated with the expropriations and confiscation carried out before this Constitution has been endorsed, thereby guided by the criteria envisaged in article 41". (Guarantees to protect the right to private ownership.) Therefore, we have sent a copy of this decision (even though it was published in 1991 in the Official Gazette) as a reminder, both to the ad hoc Parliamentary commission in charge of drafting a new Law on Restitution and Compensation of the Former Owner, and the Commission on Law and Constitutional Issues.

We expect that even the draft laws prepared by the Parliament, subsequent to article 181/1, of the Constitution, should be endorsed taking into consideration this verdict, so as to completely observe the entire range of the fundamental rights the enormous stratum of people, respectively former owners, are entitled to.

2. In 2001, we have submitted a request to the Constitutional Court to invalidate as anti-constitutional part of Law No. 8377, dated 22.07.1998 “On declaring moratorium and obligations of the former enterprises of Foreign Trade Ministry of the Republic of Albania due to the foreign creditors”.

Unfortunately, the Constitutional Court failed to the treat the case essentially and fundamentally, so as to examine our claims that this law violates the rights of the juridical subjects (equivalent to the individuals' rights, provided they are in compliance with article 16/2, of the Constitution.) The Constitutional Court, through its Decision No. 178, dated 08.11.2001 rejected our request on the grounds of "lack of legitimacy":

“The People’s Advocate requests the annulment of a law that is not considered as an administrative public act. Therefore, this court, subsequent to the application of article 134/2 and article 60 of the Constitution, concludes that in the situation that the People’s Advocate, not being an interested party in the case, lacks the legitimacy to initiate proceedings by this court.”

In 2001 Report, we emphasized that the People's Advocate implements the verdicts adopted by the Constitutional Court, but nevertheless is not deprived of his right to express his opinions concerning the juridical constituent elements of any law or judicial verdict, within the framework of academic discussion. In our view, we should express such opinions subsequent to Recommendation No. R (85) 13 adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the member states of Council of Europe “On the Institution of Ombudsman". "Taking into account the fact that the Ombudsman's opinions could become the main factor in the evolution of the general principles and rules, which regulate the functioning of administration and public servants' behavior", the Governments of the member states are recommended (b) to take into consideration, whenever possible, vesting the Ombudsman with competencies, within the context of his general competencies, especially considering the issues related to human rights directly observed by him, human rights issues under his observation, likewise initiating investigations and providing opinions whenever there is involvement of problems on these issues … and (c) to take into consideration the extension and strengthening of Ombudsman's powers, in other ways, so as to encourage an effective observance of the fundamental human rights in the administration functioning".

Therefore, in our opinion, the Constitutional Court, through adopting Decision No. 178, dated 8.11.2001, has acted in contravention with its previous Decision No. 49, dated 31.07.2000, serving to interpret paragraph 2, article 134 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania. As pointed out in several occasions, Decision No. 49, dated 31.07.2000 has been welcomed in terms of the scope of activity it offered the People's Advocate, as genuine defender of the fundamental human rights and freedoms in Albania, which has constituted and still constitutes the essence of interests for this Institution. As regards the transition countries, even the conclusions of the Ljubljana Conference, organized by Council of Europe, with the National Human Rights Institutions, have emphasized that “... It is important for the Ombudsmen to be capable of submitting to the Constitutional Court an evaluation of the legal and constitutional aspect of rules”. The above Constitutional Court verdict has been criticized by Human Rights Watch in its 2002 Report, published in January 2003 in the section about Albania: “a Decision of the Constitutional Court (ruled in 2001) seemed to have considerably limited the competence of the People’s Advocate to initiate any proceedings regarding the constitutionality of the legislation.”

3. The Constitutional Court is already examining another request submitted by the People's Advocate, concerning the anti-constitutionality of paragraph 3 and 5, article 289 of the Customs Code, which in our opinion violate article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and article 8 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights “On Effective Complaining”.

We submitted the request to the Constitutional Court in November 2001. The Tirana Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a party in the process. According to article 134, paragraph f of the Constitution, the Chamber of Commerce may address to the Constitutional Court for issues relating to its interests (to us this attitude seems a paradox, because the Constitution vests the Chamber of Commerce with the same prerogatives as for addressing to the Constitutional Court.)

On January 24, 2002 the Constitutional Court envisaged the case. The People’s Advocate presented before the court the arguments why this court should accept his request. Because of the importance this case represents, we are including it in this annual report as follows:

 

 

Dear Mr. Chairman,

Dear Members of Constitutional Court,

 

We would like to address you on two issues relating to our request before the Constitional Court.

 

First, the content of the request:

The arguments presented in our request for the anti-consitutitionality of paragraph 3 and 5 of Law No. 8449, dated 27.01.1999, “The Customs Code of the Republic of Albania”, fully explain the right to an individual of an efective complaint. Besides, we would like to stress:

a) The implementation of paragraph 3 and 5 of the above code is an evident and flagrant violation of the individual rights for the reasons below:

In case the obligation together with the fine is considerably high (as it is the case of our complaint) and the subject is unable to pay it, there is no judicial ground to run to court. As a result, there is a violation of one of the main foundamental rights, the right to address to court, guaranteed by the Albanian Constitution, European Convention of Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In article 2 of the Albanian Constitution it is stipulated: “Everyone, to protect his constitutional and legal rights, freedoms, and interests, or in the case of an accusation raised against him, has the right to a fair and public trial, within a reasonable time, by an independent and impartial court specified by law.”. The European Convention has foreseen the same regulation in article 6 while the Universal Declaration in article 10. We are asking this court to take into consideration this additional explanation as well.

b) Removing this fundamental right to an individual, through asking for an immediate payment and inhibiting him from further business causes irreplaceable consequences. The latter gets bankrupt, whether or not he might win the case before the court in 3-4 years, because the implementation of the court order doesn’t have any affect for the bankrupted individual. That is the case of our client. Regardless what the Tirana court has decided, the complainant has addressed to our institution the issue of the anti-consitutionality of article 289 of the Customs Code and not raising issues on the execution of the court decision from the Customs authority. Therefore, according to article 14 of the Law “On People’s Advocate”:  “The People’s Advocate may refuse to initiate or may terminate the investigation of a case if the same case has been decided or is being reviewed by a public prosecutor or a court. In such a case, he shall be entitled to request information by those authorities.” We are legitimated to present this case before the Constitutional Court.

c) We would like to remind this court that the administrative issue fall within the jurisdiction of the Code of Civil Procedures (articles 325, 326, 328 and 329) and the Code of Administrative Procedures, which as it is well known doesn’t contain such prohibition as the Customs Code, article 289.

d) Envisaging the content of the article 17 of the Constitution, it is our opinion that the limitation put in article 289 violates the core of the human rights and fundamental freedoms and exceeds the restrictions set forth in the European Convention of Human Rights as cited above.

Second, Taking into consideration two requests of the People’s Advocate and two decisions of the Constitutional Court: No. 49, dated 31.07.2000 “On the interpretation of paragraph 2 of article 134 for the expression “Advocate’ interests”, and Decision No.178, dated 08.11.2001 “The anti-consitutionality of Law No. 8377, dated 22.07.19998 “On the Declaration of Moratorium...”, it emerges the necesity to clarify the legitimacy of the People’s Advocate for the request of such kind.

The issue we would like to address to this court: Is the People’s Advocate legitimated to request before the Constitutional Court the anti- consitutionality of laws and/or the other legal acts when it is evident that their implementation has resulted in violation of the fundamental rights of individuals from the public administration. Actually, there are two different precedents of the Constitutional Court in two separate decisions. But first, we would like to point out that the organic law of Constitutional Court entitles the People’s Advocate to address to the Constitutional Court on the consitutionality and comptability of the laws and normative acts with the Albanian Constitution and the international agreements (article 49), during the examination of the international agreements before the ratification (artice 52) and during the final interprtation of the Constitution (artice 71).

Since 2000, the time when the People’s Advocate started its functioning, we addressed to the Constitutional Court to interpret the words “issues that affect the People’s Advocate’s interests” set forth in paragraph 2 of article 134 of the Constitution.

We thought that the court took a position with its Decision No. 49, dated 31.07.2000, which from the doctrinal point of view is an integral part of the Constitution. The summarizing part of the decision should be read together with the reasoning one, which interprets the word “interest”. According to the above decision: “Should be considered interested issues for the People’s Advocate, those infringing upon the rights, fundamental freedoms and interests of the individuals, resulting during the implementation of a law, a normative act and from actions and failures to act of the public administration, if these violations are included in the complaints, requests and notification received by its office.”

This decision clearly made the point that the violations from the public administration can occur not only during the implementation of a law, but during a normative act as well. This court affirmed the same approach with its Decision No. 26, dated 24.04.2001, confirming that the violation of the individual’s rights resulted by the enforcement of a normative act (Government decision), which infringes the Constitution. The People’s Advocate addressed this case to the Constitutional Court.

In additional to the arguments cited above, according to article 60 of the Constitution “The People's Advocate defends the rights, freedoms and lawful interests of individuals from unlawful or improper actions or failures to act of the organs of public administration”. In our opinion, the concept “unlawful actions” certainly includes the anti-consitutionality, so the People’s Advocate is legitimated to react when there is a violation of undividual’s rights by the public administration.

Unfortunately, the Constitutional Court has decided otherwise in its Decision No. 178, dated 08.11.2001. The People’s Advocate address to this court to invalidate as anti-constitutional Law No. 8377, dated 22.07.1998. The court decided that the People’s Advocate could address to this court for declaring the anti-constitutionality of the normative acts issued by public administration.

1. Considering the content of the Constitutional Court Decision, No. 178, dated 08.11.2001, it results in the contemporary notion of “public administration” is not quite understood.  In the nowadays-judicial doctrine, this term implies to all the institutions and individuals financed and paid by the state budget as well as the public entities which are a union of property interests of individuals and state institutions. Consequently, public administration is not only the executive power (Government), as it was conceived in Albania before 1990, but it includes the Parliament, Courts, Public Proctor’s Office, People’s Advocate, High State Control, Armed Forces, etc. This definition does not exclude the principle of the separation of powers: legislative, executive and judiciary as it is stipulated in article 7 of the Constitution.

To the contrary, we would like to pose the question: “Which power does the President, the People’s Advocate, the Central Electoral Commission, the High State Control, the Governor of the Albanian Bank and so on, belong to? In our opinion, these institutions together with Parliament, Government and courts are part of the public administration (not private) of the Republic of Albania and are funded by the state budget.

2. The Constitutional Court, in its Decision No. 49, dated 31.07.2000 has interpreted positively once and for all the content of articles 60 and 134, paragraph 2 of the Constitution, regarding the “People’s Advocate’ interests. But with another decision cited above, the court gave a different interpretation of article 60 and 134, paragraph 2 of the Constitution as legitimizing the People’s Advocate to address to this court only for the constitutionality of normative acts, not laws. We oppose this decision for the reasons below:

a) The court has not applied accordingly paragraph 1 of article 48 of Law No. 8577, dated 10.02.2000 “On the Organization and Functioning of the Constitutional Court”, which stipulates that “The terms of reviewing the case are within the object of the application and the reasons provided through it.”  In our request we have demanded the anti-constitutionality of Law No. 8377, dated 22.07.1998 and not the interpretation of the Constitution.

b) According to article 124 of the Consitution and article 21 of Law No. 8577, this court guarantees respect for the Constitution and makes final interpretations of it. In paragraph 4 of the Court Decision No. 49, dated 31.07.2000, relating to our request for the interpretation of the paragraph 2 of article 134 of the Constitution, is stated: “This decision is final and enters into effect upon the approval of the Constitution.”

We are not aware of any other request or notification from this court to participate in a plenary session with regards to the interpretation or the amendment of Decision No. 49, dated 31.07.2000. In this situation, there is an incompatibility with article 80 of Law 8577: “1. The Constitutional Court cannot annul or change its own decisions, but it can: a. interpret the decision in case of doubts or disputes concerning its understanding, but never changing its content, b. complete the decision or correct any possible mistake in calculating or any other evident inaccuracy in it within 2 (two) months from the date of its proclamation. 2. The review of the above-mentioned cases is made at plenary hearing sessions with the participation of involved parties.

c) According to paragraph 3 of article 31 of Law 8577: “The application is preliminarily discussed at a panel composed of 3 (three) judges of the Constitutional Court, including the one who relates the case. As long as the request for abrogation of Law No. 8577 was considered by the session of all judges, we find appropriate that this Court, with Decision No. 178, dated 08.11.02, rejected or request as not legitimated.

d) In Decision No.78, dated 08.11.2001 it states: “The People’s Advocate has not the power to oppose the acts of the legislative power (laws), and following the sentence, it says: “In these cases, the People’s Advocate according to article 24 of the Constitution as well, has the right to make recommendations and not requests before this court…According to article 60 of the Constitution: “The People's Advocate defends the rights, freedoms and lawful interests of individuals from unlawful or improper actions or failures to act of the organs of public administration.” According to the content of this article, we are legitimated to address to the Constitutional Court for the abrogation of such acts as anti-constitutional.

Analyzing the issues above results in the following:

1. The term “normative acts” does not take into consideration paragraph 1 of article 116 of the Constitution: “Normative acts that are effective in the entire territory of the Republic of Albania are: a. -- the Constitution; b. -- ratified international agreements; c. -- the laws; d. -- normative acts of the Council of Ministers.” According to paragraph c laws are considered as normative acts as well.

2. We raise the question: Why should the court make a distinction about the “Advocate’s People interest”, when it comes to legitimate its request for the anti-constitutionality of a law, as in the case of a Government decision?

According to paragraph dh of article 134 of the Constitution:” The Constitutional Court is put into motion only on the request of: …the People's Advocate.” Referring to the name of the normative act the People’s Advocate should address to the Constitutional Court, we would like to emphasize also: article 24 of Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People’s Advocate”, has defined clearly the right of the People’s Advocate to make legislative recommendations. It is true that paragraph c of this article says that the People’s Advocate is entitled to recommend to the Constitutional Court to invalidate those acts. (Laws and other normative acts), but based on article 134 of the Constitution, this recommendation can rename request. Hence, despite the name this act might obtain (recommendation or request), it is important that the organic law on the People’s Advocate, entitles the People’s Advocate when he finds that it is the content of a statute or other legal act and not its application that leads to the violation of human rights recognized by the Constitution or other laws, he shall have the right to recommend to the Constitutional Court to invalidate those acts. In our opinion, the name recommendation or request is not important. We should address to the Parliament this issue during the drafting of the changes of our organic law to avoid the misinterpretation.

We would like to present before you some opinions regarding the role and specifics of the People’s Advocate and courts for the protection of human rights. Both institutions are guarantees for the application of laws regarding human rights. While courts operate on the civil and penal complex payable procedures, the People’s Advocate functions on simple free procedures. Obviously, while the court decisions are mandatory for all subjects, although there are a lot of problems during the execution phase, the People’s Advocate recommendations are not mandatory, but play a very sensitive role in society and its mechanism, such as public administration and the civil society, often assuring its voluntary execution.

Finally, we would like to point out that the legislation of a lot of foreign countries vests the People’s Advocate with the power of representing requests before the Constitutional Court.  This was one of the conclusions of the conference organized by the Council of Europe from12-13 November 2001, in Lubiane on: “The Relations between Ombudsman and Judiciary”. In paragraph 7, it is declared: “In transition countries, which are faced with old, incomplete and not-incorporated laws, as well as in the countries with a strong democracy, it is important that the ombudsmen have the power to make proposals relating to the legal aspect and constitutionality of regulations (laws) before the Constitutional Court. This should help in eliminating the holes in the laws, which might result in negative effects or violation of the rights of individuals.”

In some countries, like Poland, Slovenia and Portugal, the People’s Advocate has the power to address to the Constitutional Court about the anti-constitutionality of the laws that contain the indices and risks of violating human rights. We find not grounded the arguments used by the Constitutional Court in restricting the People’s Advocate from the right to address to the Constitutional Court. If this limitation will be accepted, it will do harm to the individuals’ rights, as they are not entitled to address directly to the Constitutional Court.

According to article 15 of the Constitution: “The fundamental human rights and freedoms are indivisible, inalienable, and inviolable and stand at the basis of the entire juridical order.” The creation of the institute of the People’s Advocate is a real guarantee for the enjoyment of these rights by individuals.

Fourteen months have passed and the Constitutional Court has not promulgated its decision yet. It can’t be rejected for the lack of legitimacy, for the simple fact that the Chamber of Trade is a party in the process.

We hope that the Constitutional Court will take into consideration the arguments presented by the People’s Advocate and the criticism of the Human Rights Watch for limiting with not-grounded, superficial-judicial arguments the powers of the People’s Advocate to seek the abrogation of laws that create premises for the violation of human rights in Albania.

1.The People’s Advocate together with the Association of the Albanian Constructors, in December 2002 presented to the Constitutional Court the request on: “The abrogation of the Government Decision No. 441, dated 26.09.2000: “On the immediate termination of the exploitation of the sand and gravel from the riverbeds”, as incompatible with the Constitution and laws.

In this request we presented:

“The administrator of the Association “Eurovini” has submitted a request to the People’s Advocate as follows: “He is licensed to use machinery for crushing gravel on his land. The Tirana Construction Police, in violation of the law, through two official letters has ordered the suspension of the activity of the subject and the disbanding of the facilities.

In addition, a lot of citizens have submitted complaints to the Association of the Albanian Constructors, as licensed subjects, exercising their activities in the field of inert, pretending that their activity has been illegally suspended and they had been ordered to disband the facilities.

We investigated the case and found that the Tirana Construction Police has acted in accordance with Government Decision No. 441, dated 26.09.2002. In our opinion, the above mentioned decision is issued in violation of article 118 of the Albanian Constitution, becasue it does not consider  Law No. 8093, dated 21.03.1996 “On the Water Resources”, which in its article 6 says: “ The Water National Council is  the central decision-making body for the administration of water resources. The Water National Council is headed by the Prime Minister.” Thus, the body that should make the decisions and administer water resources is the Water National Council and not the Government. This surpassing of competences, from the procedurial prespective is accompanied with the violation of the Constitution and relevant laws even with Decision No. 441, dated 26.09.2002, paragraph 1 and 2 as follows:

Paragraph 1 stipulates: “The immediate termination of the exploitation of the sand and gravel from the riverbeds.” We consider the termination of the exploitation for all subjects, without considering the time and the objects (all rivers), causing harm to the lincensed subjects, which have exploited the rivers according to the scientific methods and no consequence has come out of  their actions. In a few words this “en block” prohibition, penalized unfairly all the subjects when it is well known that, to the contrary, the exploitation of rivers does not cause any harm.

Paragraph 2 says: “ The disbanding of all facilities for crushing gravel from the riverbeds should be halted until 31.12.2002.”

In our opinion, the way the order is formulated violates the Constitution, article 11 and 44, paragraph 1 and is not in compliance with the Civil Code as well. In a lot of similiar cases as the one cited above, the subjects have installed the facilites on their property, so the decision violates the owner’s rights, which are consitutional rights.

Following our reasoning, the owners of lands and the equipment will continue to exploit the limestone, but they are prohibited to use the sand and the gravel from the riverbeds.

We would like to refer to the Consitution once again, precisely article 11, paragraph 3: “Limitations on the freedom of economic activity may be established only by law and for important public reasons.” In our case, the termination of the activity (and not the limitation as the article above stipulates) emerges from a Government decision.

Law No. 8093, dated 21.03.1996, in articles 22 and 23, paragraph 2 identifies the organ for the reviewing, annulment, suspension or the strictly  envisaged by law. We would like to inform the Honorable Members of the Consitutional Court that before we addressed this court, in conformity with the requirements of article 24, paragraph b of Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People’s Advocate”, we recommended that the Government make changes on Decision No. 441, dated 26.09.2002 accordingly.

Letter No. 3992 of prot., dated 14.01 2002 of the General Secretary of the Government said that they have sent instructions to all the state institutions, foreign organizations, civil and physical subjects, relating to the decision in question, but this letter does not contain any legal opposing argument.

Considering what we have introduced above, based on article 134, paragraph dh of the Constitution and article 4 of Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People’s Advocate”, we

 

REQUEST

 

 

The abrogation of Decision No. 441, dated 26.02.2002, “On the immediate termination of the activities for the exploitation of the sand and gravel from the riverbeds.”

The representative of the Government failed to attend the January 15th and 29th’ sessions of the Constitutional Court, despite notification. Before examining the case from this court, the General Secretary of the Government met with the People’s Advocate and apologized for the response given in the letter cited above, and informed him that the Government is drafting a new decision, satisfying the People’s Advocate’s recommendations. Before January 29, 2003, he sent to our institution the Decision No. 19, dated 10.01.2003 “On some Amendments of the Decision No. 441, dated 26.09.2002 of the Government “On the immediate termination of the exploitation of sand and gravel from the riverbeds.” According to this decision, paragraph 1 and 2 are changed as follows:

“1. The activity of the exploitation of sand and gravel should be carried out in accordance with the definitions made in Decision No.1, dated 09.01.2003 of the Water National Council “On the exploitation of sand and gravel from the riverbeds”.

2. The disdain of the equipment for breaking gravel from the riverbeds for the subject that is not equipped with a construction license.”

As we can see, the Government through making some amendments to the previous decision has completed our request addressed to the Constitutional Court. As a result, we asked the Constitutional Court to drop the case and the court was recessed.

As a conclusion, our request was grounded and the case was resolved in favor of the “Eurovini” and to the Albanian Association of the Constructors.

 

 


 

 

5. General Opinions on the Situation of Human Rights in Albania

 

It is well known that one of the main goals of our society in this transition period toward a rule of law state is to build a legal system and strong mechanisms to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Legal framework has reflected the achievements and requirements emerged from the international instruments and mechanisms through largely broadening the scope of human rights and assuring an efficacy on the implementation process.

Human rights are mainly related to the relations established between the individuals and the state. They are controlled and regulate the exercising of state power over the individual, they guarantee the individuals' freedom in relation to the state, and require from the latter to meet the individuals' basic needs, within its jurisdiction. They are easily comprehensible and explicitly expressed in the international instruments, which the states have agreed upon, likewise the human rights standards apply.

The 1998 Albanian Constitution, which further reinforced the constitutional guarantees in the area of protecting the fundamental human rights and freedoms, has been based on these principles. The constitutional chapter on the fundamental human rights and freedoms also includes the entire range of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, which are based on the highest international standards of human rights.

       Article 15.1 foresees: “The fundamental human rights and freedoms are indivisible, inalienable, and inviolable and stand at the basis of the entire juridical order”, while paragraph 2: “The organs of public power, in fulfillment of their duties, shall respect the fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as contribute to their realization”.   The limitation of the rights and freedoms provided for in the Constitution may be established only by law for the public interest or for the protection of the rights of others.  These limitations may not infringe the essence of the rights and freedoms and in no case may exceed the limitations provided for in the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Union Human Rights Charter (Nice Convention.)
       It
must be highlighted that the legislation related to human rights in Albania is modern in character thanks to merging the entire set of international standards on human rights. The Albanian Constitution envisages that the norms and principles recognised by international law, and the international agreements recognised by Albania, are an integral part of the Albanian legal system, likewise these norms are a priority as compared to the Albanian legislation applicable. However, there is still much to be done on the part of the judiciary and the public administration as regards the implementation of the international standards associated with the genuine protection of human rights in Albania.

Based on Recommendation No. (85) 13 adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe concerning the Ombudsman's, we avail ourselves of the opportunity to offer special considerations on the human rights issue. In this report, in the section focusing on certain areas, we have expressed our opinions about the situation of human rights and freedoms in Albania. Whereas, as regards the problems we are introducing in the following, we have relied not only on the complaints submitted to our Institution, but also in the information, and surveys published in the Albanian media, whose credibility is, of course, of average degree. Naturally, even the reports the focusing on Albania, submitted by the prestigious bodies and institutions, such as Council of Europe, European Union, Human Rights Watch and especially the Reports on the human rights and freedoms in Albania, submitted by the US State Department, have been taken into account.

The right to life as one of the fundamental human rights was the main focus of the National Conference organized by the People’s Advocate in December 2001. The Conference aimed at initiating a joint national strategy by all the state bodies and NGOs, as regards the imperative and sustainable preventive measures in defense of the right to life, especially targeting the phenomenon of blood feud.  The conclusions and Recommendations drawn by the Conference have been published. To our knowledge, the Ministry of Public Order, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Local Government and Decentralization and Ministry of Education and Science have been responsive to our recommendations.

It is common knowledge that the situation of individual freedoms and rights, such as freedom of expression, press, media and television, freedom of conscience and religion, individual freedom, inviolability of habitat, freedom of privacy and correspondence are guaranteed by law. There are and will be complaints, or their defense through the judicial processes organised, but in our opinion, the individual rights and freedoms have been respected. Therefore, the violators of human rights and freedoms have been punished, in case the individuals whose rights have been violated have proven such violations.

However, with respect to freedom of press, media, and television, it should be admitted that such freedom has been exceeded in several instances. Various journalists have failed to take into consideration what is envisaged in No. 8517, dated 22.07.1999, “On Protecting Personal Data Confidentiality". Not infrequently have our Media provided detailed personal data, which violate the right of privacy according to the aforementioned law. This phenomenon is far more pronounces in cases of charges on criminal offences, even more in cases when the children (minors) have been accused and inflicted detriments or cases involving trafficking in women.

Law guarantees political freedoms and rights, such as the right of election, organisation and assembly; hence they are generally respected. As we have mentioned in the 2001 report, we have implemented and strongly relied on the principle of impartiality, so as not to compromise us in the natural unhappiness of politics, which is always associative of competitions to power. Therefore, the People's Advocate would like to state the view that he completely agrees with the respective evaluations. In addition, everyone involved should contribute towards implementing the ODIHR Recommendations, with a view to respecting the fundamental right of free vote for every citizen of the Republic of Albania.

It has been rightly observed that several other rights and freedoms have been violated or failed to be realised. Numerous young people have resulted to emigrate illegally so as to have a better future; children's labour is wide spread; demands for obligatory elementary (eight-year) schooling are not being taken into consideration; the number of children abandoning school is increasing. According to the surveys number of children have abandoned schools has been dramatically increased, because of economic reasons. Apart from that, in several instances, the children have been exploited “as slaves”, through begging or prostitution. Zyberi family from Kukes, a case well known throughout Albania, demonstrates the risk children encounter in poor families. There are a lot of families that live on the incomes of their children working abroad. According to the data published by “Save the Children”, Albania is one of the countries with a high rate of trafficking in human beings. In North Albania, numerous children, prone to blood feud, are in a really miserable situation.

The UN Conventions on Child's Rights has been ratified by Albania, and decreed by the President in 1992.  According to article 44 of the Convention,” States Parties undertake to submit to the Committee, through the Secretary-General of the United Nations, reports on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognized herein and on the progress made on the enjoyment of those rights:(a) Within two years of the entry into force of the Convention for the State Party concerned; (b) Thereafter every five years.”

 

In 1994, our Government, based on this Convention, was obliged to submit to the UN Committee on Children's Rights a report, concerning the children's right situation in Albania. No Official Report, subsequent to the implementation of this Convention has been submitted so far.

In our opinion, it is indispensable to draft a law on the children's rights, which would contribute to the protection of children's rights. In addition, in our view, the special minor's courts are not functioning. Failure to establish the Centre of Minors' Education (with special focus on establishing the separate minors' prison) is worth noting. Considering the Zyberi case, we think the time has come to establish a state authority which will take over the promoting and protecting of children’s rights, a role until now played mainly by non-profit organizations.

Women's rights violations are really serious and grave. The Media provide various figures on the number of the Albanian girls subjected to trafficking and prostitution all over Europe, especially in Italy and Greece. Women's trafficking for prostitution remains to be a serious problem, treated in terms of organised crime, be it even trans-national in character. However, it seems as if the burden of success or failure has been shifted to the law enforcement bodies, police, prosecutor's office, court of justice, etc. Even the regional initiatives in this respect have no chances to offer final solutions for the phenomenon concerned, since the reasons leading to it, are of political, social, cultural, economic nature, and so on.

     As we mentioned in our 2001 Report, it is important to strengthen legislation, adopt programmes and policies, even monitoring this process by the respective bodies assigned by the Governmental structures to carry out this tasks specifically. This problem should be viewed and handled even from the angle of respecting the civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights. It applies to all areas, such as education health service, social insurance, employment, poverty mitigation, through adhering to the philosophy of victims' direct or indirect non-discrimination, but taking into account their social status, in relation to the domestic rehabilitation centres.         
     Recently, there has more trafficking of foreign women using Albania as a transit place to western countries rather than trafficking of Albanian women. We might call it a success of the joint efforts of non-profit organizations and state authorities.  Submission of the first national periodic report, in the framework of requirements emerged from ratifying the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women” is an important step taken by the Albanian state to be in compliance with the international commitments.

Issues related to spouse maltreatment or violence against women have often been published in the Albanian press. The new Code of Family has not been endorsed, although it has been submitted to the Albanian Parliament more than a year ago. “The Committee for Equal Opportunities”, having the same number of staff and experts as the People’s Advocate, seems to be focused on doing studies and outlining policies.  We think its reorganization will help in being more concrete and effective in protecting and promoting women’s rights in Albania.

Treatment of prisoners and detainees remains very problematic even though there have been some successes over the years. Low health care is a significant problem for several handicapped persons. Treating the mentally sick persons in our mental hospitals is a great concern as well. The Albanian press has been often dealing with the problem of grave hygiene, food, heating, accommodation conditions, etc. The situation has been described and presented even in the 2000 and 2001 Reports. The CPT (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture) and Council of Europe inspections during 1998 and 2001 continuously have presented the situation as desperately grave. We deeply welcome publishing of the above reports from the Albanian Government and express our conviction, that Parliament and the Government will take measures to comply with the CPT recommendations.

It is understandable that not all the economic and social aspects can be fully guaranteed. However, the Government should take steps forward not backward in terms of accomplishing them. Although it might be difficult for everyone to be employed, the Government should make maximum efforts to offer employment opportunities, equal chances, and an adequate working environment. In this respect, concrete the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs should develop strategies, which should have accurate figures concerning the capable labour force, periodically inform the Government the real situation, thereby proposing concrete measure to overcome this situation.

Corruption is wide spread both in the administration and judiciary. The report focuses on several aspects and the special recommendations prepared. It should be pointed out that not infrequently there have been lodged complaints against the judiciary and the prosecutor's office, concerning the actions taken in contravention with human rights.  The fifth Conference on the Reform on Judiciary, organized by the Council of Europe in Saranda, emphasized focussing on such important and critical issues as: “the need to improve the legal framework, e.g. the legislative techniques in all levels; fighting the corruption inside the judiciary; the need for improvement in the activity of the Inspectorate of High Council of Justice; the approaching of the national legislation with the international standards and mechanisms, especially on issues like money laundering, corruption, terrorism and protection of witnesses; improvement of the relations between Public Prosecution’s Office, Police and Courts; fighting the organized crime and reorganization of the Advocates Chamber after adopting a new Law on Advocacy.”

Health Care, aid, and social assistance stay at poor levels for lack of financial resources as well as corruptive and abusive behaviours. We welcome the ratification from Albania of “The Revised European Chart”; thereby its implementation required concrete steps by authorities.

As a conclusion, it should be emphasised that the Parliament and the Government in Albania are responsible for the situation of the fundamental human rights and freedoms. In this framework, aware of his role, the People's Advocate has a clear vision of his responsibility and duties in protecting the fundamental human rights and freedoms of citizens.

 

6. The activity of People's Advocate and Public Relations

 

The collaboration with Media has been considered as the most efficient means of acquiring the necessary access to public, as well as creating the indispensable integrity in exercising the function, which both the Constitution and the Law "On People's Advocate" have envisaged.

Irrespective of the drawbacks present in any newly established institution, the practice so far has identified the problem-range made public in the media, as well as reflected in the activity and performance tables for our institution, appended to our Report.

Being in touch with the Media has helped us to become acquainted not only with the complaints of several individuals, but also the Albanian Government priorities. Hence, we have addressed our efforts towards attacking and creating precedents in those Government areas, which required the establishment and enhancement of public services standards, the implementation of the right to information, transparency, privacy of personal information, in the activity of police forces, and other areas, as reflected in the respective chapter for this report.

The media and press organs have been delivered the notification thereby requiring the accreditation of a journalist, who would maintain permanent contacts with the People's Advocate institution. In this respect, the commissioners prepare monthly statistics related to their respective sections. As advised by the People's Advocate, these data are made available to the Spokesperson, who will reflect them in the press, as the occasion arises. In our practice, the journalists could contact at least three staff members. The target has been better clarification of the problem to be dealt with in the press, as well as to transmit to the Media the idea we intend to convey to the readership, with a view to educating them with the correct legal practices.

The variety and diversity of problem-range employed in our commitment to press has been reflected, on a no comment basis, in the respective tables concerning media coverage. In a way, even proceeding from the headlines of information by us and about us, the activity performed is evident.

The information the press provides constitutes a significant aspect of our activity, as is the case with commissioning and setting in motion spontaneously, at our initiative foreseen by article 13 of Law “On People’s Advocate”. The entire spectrum of the Albanian daily and periodic press is especially screened every day in our office.

The information, which interesting in terms of our office scope of activity is distributed to the respective sections, according to their problem-range. Afterwards, depending on the circumstances, following the respective verification carried out, they either initiate investigation, or record them for research purposes.

As regards the media coverage strategy, we have taken into account the enhancement of public awareness, and the educational effect of information targeting both the citizens and the public administration. That has been possible through continuously covering in the press all the instances of understanding by the administration, thereby restoring the right the citizens had been violated. Apart from that, the press has assisted us even through its role as means of exerting pressure to us, to the administration or, the individuals vested with public authority, provided the latter have turned a deaf ear towards our recommendations.

The means employed have been envisaged in the strategy initially formulated for our informative and explanatory activity targeting various community groups. According to the 2002 statistics, we have appeared 243 times in the written media and 90 times in the electronic media, which represent a two times increase compared to 2001 year. This shows the quality of our work, which consists in geographical diversity and variety of themes as well.

The means employed have been envisaged in the strategy initially formulated for our informative and explanatory activity targeting various community groups. Last year, we managed to publish five new leaflets, a calendar reflecting topics from the area of human rights. In addition, an informative and promotional documentary film on the institution of People's Advocate was produced. A calendar reflecting the thematic of the National Conference on “The Right to Information, a Fundamental Right” has been distributed to local and central Governmental bodies as well as to deputies.          We have likewise republished a brochure in Albanian and English, as well as five institutional spots, with a view to informing our public concerning the services we offer and the ways of acquiring such services. These forms of activity will be further enriched in the future. Installing information technology has enabled us to work towards having our web-site page, wherein the individuals interested in our office and its activity are expected to find the entire range of information required.

It is understandable that media coverage is always in compliance with the problem-range and work intensity of our Institution. After this first stage is over, we already feel a second stage is starting combining both the institutional consolidation and its public authority strengthening. We intend that the People's Advocate recommendation should accomplish greater positive impact expected in relation to Public administration. In our opinion, without neglecting for a single moment the citizens' daily complaints, our Institution will manage to positively influence even the administrative instruments, which are equally lucky and responsible to cope with the challenges Albania is by all means required to encounter in our integrating processes, the Agreement of Stabilisation and Association with EU being a case in point.

It has always been the vision of the People's Advocate that public relations signify not only the communication with public through the Media, but also the transparency concerning the institutional relations between him and the Parliament, Government, Local Government, NGOs, i.e. everything our institution creates and performs within the scope of its jurisdiction, through employing the competencies recognised by law.

Alongside with periodically analyzing the activity of each section, we have been making efforts towards implementing the essential issues of our strategy in the area of public relations, especially through the Media. All in all, this Strategy of media coverage formulated in the year 2000, as an important part of Public Relations has consisted in the following:

Objective: Further recognition and promotion in the media of the role, tasks, and functioning of the People's Advocate Institution, with a view to enhancing public awareness, maintaining constant contacts with the public, familiarizing the administration with the citizens complaints, exerting pressure and stimulating the public administration in admitting the People's Advocate recommendations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essential topics:

a- The Institution of People's Advocate, his constitutional rights, and duties.

b- Proceeding with the citizens' requests and complaints submitted against the violations of the state administration in all levels.

c- Relations established between our Institution and the other state bodies.

d- Advantages of addressing the individuals' complaints to the People's Advocate Institution.

e- The relations between the civil society and rule of law, as well as the way the People's Advocate contributes in maintaining the cohesion of the institutions which constitute self-regulating alternatives within the democratic state.

f- The manner of depositing the complaints and requests to the People's Advocate. The deadlines of examining the right violated the degrees of commitment for this Institution in restoring this right. Which is the price the administration pays in case of failure to implement the People's Advocate recommendations concerning the violation of citizen's or employee's right

 

Target group: Public opinion, public administration, NGOs representatives, as well as the entire civil society.

 

Vision: Collaboration with the Media is the basis of public relations, and the most efficient means of enabling the necessary access to the public, as well as the creation of the indispensable integrity in exercising the function envisaged in the respective constitutional law. Transparency and media have been, are, and will be the proclaimed and safest allies of the People's Advocate.

 

Implementation means:

a- Electronic and written media.

b- Informative and explanatory meetings with various community target groups.

c- Opening a website page.

d- Publishing leaflets, posters, calendars, and brochures.

e- Producing television spots, and documentary films, as well as enabling their distribution, both through the electronic media, and in various institutions, such as offices, schools, etc., in various regions of Albania.

f- Producing various promotional materials, such as badges, miniature statues, etc., bearing the institution's logo.

g- Daily contacts with the press, likewise making press releases focusing on important issues which have a comprehensive impact on good governance.

A.   Media contact is accomplished through:

1. Interviews (programmed or non-programmed).

2. Talk-shows, live questions-answers.

3. Press releases.

4. Direct contacts with journalists serving to inform them about our cases, ranging from the expert, spokesperson, commissioner, to the People's Advocate.

5. Promotional campaigns (10-20 seconds video clips) in TV and Radio, through employing as a logo striking sentences, for instance “Your right - Our mission", “The People's Advocate - an open door to you” etc.

6. Series of television and radio broadcasts according to the problem-range of complaints submitted to the People's Advocate Office.

B. Meetings with public are important since they establish direct contacts with our office, hence making it more tangible. That is attained through:

1- Talks in schools and universities.

2- Talks in various towns and cities.

3- Talks with the administration according to the respective sectors.

4-Seminars with representatives from the administration, judiciary, legislative, and civil society (NGOs.)

C. Web-site page, as well as establishing links with various institutions, especially the other centers of human rights protection, in Albania and abroad.  We set up a web-site in 2002 which constitutes:

1- Extracts from the Constitution and the Law "On People's Advocate".

2- The Structure of People’s Advocate Office.

3- Professional CVs of the People's Advocate and the Commissioners.

4- Logo message from the People’s Advocate.

5-Report on the office activity (Extracts from the annual reports or specific reports.)

6- Master forms concerning the citizens' complaints.

7- Contact e-mail address for the People's Advocate.

8- Mailing and telephone address.

d- Leaflets on the People's Advocate activity; the ways his office functions, contacts, various cases or topic dealt with, according to the problem-range of the respective sections, through working in teams within the office, or by working with foreign partners.

E. The Spokesperson addresses the Media concerning the office problems, so as to declare various attitudes, statistics, or clarify public opinion on certain instances, etc.

The possible forms and ways of Radio and Television broadcasting coverage are:

a. Direct talks, with a maximum of one-hour duration in the studio.

b. Interviews recorded in various environments following a talk with the interviewing journalist; general information talks of 15-20 minutes to be followed by telephone calls by the TV viewers.

c. Questions and Answers prepared by the Commissioners themselves and the Spokesperson. Afterwards they are broadcast once a week in the series "Information of the People's Advocate Institution", prepared by Tirana Radio.

d. Live radio broadcast talks with the heads of sections, or experts concerning concrete and spontaneous issues, as requested by the audience.

 

Methodology

a. The intensity of commitment should be in gradual progression; i.e. maintaining the hierarchical arrangement, in the sense that interest on the topic should be increasing rather than decreasing. Initially, there could be published general, but nor direct articles, referring to or quoting the Spokesperson's statements. Later, the Commissioners will be directly committed in succession, finally culminating with the People's Advocate commitment. The Spokesperson could make statements on various issues, whenever the People's Advocate judges the need and manner of reaction concerning a certain issue, hence declaring the Institution's official attitude.

b. The various official and protocol meeting and visits, or even the activities organized by our Office, such as seminars, or press conferences could be made public knowledge, depending on the circumstances, by making written notifications addressed to ATSH (Albanian Telegraphic Agency), as well as the various press organs.

 

Means of implementation:

Functioning of Information Technology, and the respective software of the Internet and Intranet systems. Scanner, Dictaphone, photographic cameras, TV camera.

 

Development of skills:

Participation in various national and international activities to be updated with the problem-range and work styles, to be trained, as well as to exchange experience.

 

Financing resource:

The Institution's budget, or foreign donations (DANIDA Program or Council of Europe), based on the projects to be endorsed according to professional criteria, as well as the administrative and financial rules of the Albanian State. The funds will be allocated according to joint projects involving different production teams.

The above-mentioned elements and aspects will be subjected to changes and improvement, depending on the commitment of concrete individuals, the financial capacities available to our office, or the other unpredictable conditions and circumstances.

A more detailed version of the above strategy has been made familiar even to the representatives of the International Organizations working with Albania, who has expressed their willingness to financially support our activities in this respect, as has been the case so far.  We have presented our views and concerns on the issues mentioned above to foreign homologues paying visits to our institution and during the seminar organized in Sarajevo on January 25, 2003.

Irrespective of the time of their accomplishment, the informative and topic-based talks in the national and local Radios and Televisions, with which our Office has already established contacts have been and remain the essential activities organized.

These activities determined in the strategies agreed will be consistently carried out.

We have concluded that our public relations activity has influenced the increase of our workload and has been appreciated, both by the Albanian public and foreign partners as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.    Open Days, a new experience of the People’s Advocate

 

During the year 2002, we started to implement a new experience, so called “Open Days” as a way to a direct communication with the public. This form reflects a new vision we took to help citizen in need. Under the new circumstances emerged by the decentralization of local Government, People’s Advocate thinks that the problems should be given a solution at the place where they appeared. Every local representative, during his/her election and later on, promises to make the village, commune or city a better place to live, where the good governance will prevail.

“Open Days” was successfully experimented in 32 cities and it seems to be very efficient. We got to know every day people’s problems, most of them never find their way to a solution for many reasons. This form reduces considerably the bureaucratic procedures, financial costs as well as the abusive behaviors form certain officials and authorities, resulting in the citizens becoming more trustful of the state, institutions and the legislation. On the other hand, it intends to change the attitude of citizens toward the state: looking at it not like a stranger or in a hostile way, but a guarantee, standing up like a parent to his own child.

Practically, we processed as follows:

Initially, we notified citizens through local media the day before the event and the local authorities a few days in advance. When possible, we had a talk show at the local television station. The team was composed of 2-3 experts, who informed the public about the purpose of the visit, the competences and jurisdiction of the People’s Advocate. Meetings at the municipality followed the next day. We have been able to resolve a lot of complaints during the day through contacting the competent authorities. The rest of the complaint had been taken to our office, registered and subject to further investigations.

Concretely, by the end of October 2002, the teams had been in 32 cities, and registered 600 written complaints, which are being subject to further investigations (see the informative table enclosed).

We would like to make it clear that the number of people we have encountered, who’s requests were not grounded or were beyond our jurisdiction or had been given an answer, is much higher than the registered complaints.

The topics have been quite the same with those we face in Tirana, i.e. malfunctioning of the legal system, court’s decisions, non-execution of court’s decisions, arrogance and indifferentism shown by local officials in resolving daily crucial problems, such as lack of power, water, roads, sewerage, construction and unemployment.

It is our opinion that local authorities could have resolved a lot of problems if they had shown devotion and commitment to people.

In general, it seems that most of the people were satisfied with our services, which consisted of positive solutions to their concerns and problems, or giving legal advice about various legal issues, and telling them how to reach competent authorities. Among them, there are skeptics, largely because of the limited competences of the People’s Advocate, especially regarding our incompetence to make decisions or to initiate proceedings for annulment of erroneous court’s decisions.

It is our short-term goal to extend our services to 5 isolated far-away cities in the country. To this purpose, we have drafted a project and now we are looking for donors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table on “Open Days”, organized by the Institution of the

People’s Advocate in 32 Cities around the Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No.

 

Date

 

City

No. of registered complaints

Covered by local Media

1

08.04.2002

Kavajë

37

 

2

06.05.2002

Kukës

24

+

3

09.05.2002

Korçe

60

+

4

10.05.2002

Pogradec

60

+

5

13.05.2002

Vlore

50

+

6

14.05.2002

Fier

25

 

7

15.05.2002

Lushnjë

15

 

8

17 - 19.06.2002

Burrel

18

+

9

20.06.2002

Puke

9

+

10

20 - 21.06.2002

Rrëshen

10

 

11

24 - 25.06.2002

Tropoje

8

+

12

25.06.2002

Kruje

6

 

13

03.07.2002

Lezhe

24

+

14

04.07.2002

Laç

8

+

15

05.07.2002

Librazhd

28

 

16

08.07.2002

Gramsh

10

 

17

08.07.2002

Elbasan

48

+

18

08.07.2002

Tepelenë

5

 

19

09.07.2002

Delvinë

2

 

20

09.07.2002

Përmet

16

 

21

10.07.2002

Sarande

5

 

22

10.07.2002

Gjirokastër

28

+

23

11.07.2002

Himare

2

 

24

23.07.2002

Skrapar

3

 

25

24.07.2002

Kuçove

4

 

26

25.07.2002

Berat

25

 

27

23-27.09.2002

Bilisht

3

 

28

24.09.2002

Erseke

3

 

29

26.09.2002

Durrës

35

+

30

27.09.2002

Shijak

1

+

31

11.10.2002

Peqin

11

+

32

17.10.2002

Rrogozhinë

20

+

 

Total

32 Cities

603

 

 

 

 

8. International Relations

 

International relations, in terms of our activity during 2002 have increased substantially. These relations are extremely significant for our Institution in view of the fact that this is a very new institution, without any counterpart, or similar institution in Albania.

Being part of the big family of Ombudsmen, during the international activities organized in 2002, we have made public the achievements of the People’s Advocate in Albania and have exchanged reciprocal experiences with other Ombudsmen. These contacts and exchanges have been very productive in our work and have served to create a close collaboration with our homologues offices.

We all are aware of the importance of the internet as a fast way of transmitting information all around the world. Nevertheless, we think that direct contacts, which result in free exchanges of experiences and practices, are irreplaceable and we have put too much emphasis on it during 2002.       Therefore, we have participated in several international conferences, study visits and training, and it is obvious the increase of such events compared to 2001.

 

 

I. Activities organised by Council of Europe

 

a) The Forth Conference on the “Reform on Judiciary”, Strasburg, January 28-30, 2002

 

Council of Europe and the European Commission, in the framework of Second Plan of Action on the Functioning of the Reform on Judiciary in Albania, organized the Conference. The People’s Advocate presented a report on the performance of his institution.  He also made proposals regarding some changes in the Penal Procedure Code and Civil Procedure Code, as well as measures that should be taken to prevent the accusations of corruption among judges and how they can increase the quality of their job.

The participants pointed out that the People’s Advocate has established close relationships with state authorities. They greeted the constructive way People’s Advocate has operated in cases requiring actions from the state.

The Chairman of Presence of the OSCE in Albania, Mr. Gert Ahren, in his speech, among other things, mentioned that: “An effective international collaboration reflected in the creation and consolidation of the institute of People’s Advocate, it is an indicator that real democratic changes can occur and new democratic institutions can be established in Albania.”

 

b) Seminar on the “The Principle of Non-discrimination and the Protection of Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Rights of Minorities”, Trieste, Italy

 

In the framework of the Stability Pact for South-East Europe, the Venice Commission organized a seminar on the topics of non-discrimination and the protection of ethnic, religious and linguistic rights of minorities from January 28 to February 2, 2002.

The Venice Commission has played a very important role in adopting the new Constitution and other laws in accordance with European constitutional standards. The Venice Commission has given much valued technical assistance in drafting the new Albanian Constitution and other important laws.

One of the major topics of the seminar was the discussion of electoral laws, e.g. how they reflect the principle of equality and non-discrimination and how they comply with the international standards.

 

c) Meeting of Ombudsmen in Vilnius, Lithuania on the “Role of Ombudsman in Protection of Human Rights”

 

This meeting was held in Vilnius, Lithuania from 5 to 6 April, 2002,

with the initiative of the High Commissioner of Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Mr. Alvares Gil-Robles. The participants exchanged their views on the different issues.

The representative of our institution referred to several recommendations we have sent to the state authorities, regarding the obligation of each public official to be acquainted with the Code of Administrative Procedures and the Law on” The Right to Information”, as a guide in their daily work.

 

d) Second Round Table of International Human Rights Institutions, organized by Council of Europe in Belfast and Dublin

 

This meeting was held from 14 to 16 November 2002 and was intended to exchange views and experiences on the promotion and protection of human rights and other related issues. Topics discussed were as follows:

 

1. Role of National Institutions on Human Rights in preventing and resolving conflicts and tensions

 

The below recommendations were drawn from the round table:

a)     The Human Rights National Institutions should be aware of the dimensions of the conflicts and take appropriate measures to prevent them, as part of their commitment to better serve citizen’s needs.

b)    The Human Rights National Institutes should consider that their structures and capacities are adequate and should use the dimensions for the purpose of carrying out their obligations.

c)     Council of Europe is invited to organize a workshop in the future for exploring new ideas in regards to further strengthening the role of National Human Rights Institutes in the prevention, management and the resolution of conflicts.

d)    The National Human Rights Institutes are invited individually to think about their role and capacities in the resolution of conflicts as well as to what extent they might succeed, considering any mechanism or specifics on their mandates.

 

2. The cooperation among Human Rights National Institutes as well as Council of Europe and other International Organizations

 

The need of strengthening the cooperation among the Human Rights National Institutes as well as Council of Europe and other International Organizations was reaffirmed.

It was emphasized that the Council of Europe members should create and reinforce national independent institutions based on the Principles of Paris and the 1997 Recommendations of the Council of Europe.

Albanian Ombudsman, in his speech, saluted the Council of Europe for making the decision of coordinating all activities between Council of Europe and the Ombudsmen and National Mediators by the High Commissioner on Human Rights of Council of Europe in 2003 onwards. In addition, he suggested that the Council of Europe should take the initiative for establishing a network and bilateral agreements on the function of solving complaints of legal or illegal residents.

He proposed drafting of a law on defining the same regulation of the status, jurisdiction and competences of Ombudsman for Council of Europe Members and recommending its adoption from Governments. This will better serve to the protection of individual’s rights, the efficacy of network and exchanges of experiences too.

 

 

II. Activities organized by United Nations Organization (UNO)

 

The 58th Session of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations held in Geneva on April 18-20, 2002

 

The representatives of different Ombudsmen all over the world, participating as observers in the 58th Session, were enlightened with the activity of the Commission and its strategy for the strengthening of national institutions, the coordination of their tasks and the modalities of its institutional support over human rights national institutions. In their speeches, Ms. Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner of the United Nations and Mr. Alvaro Gil Robles, the High Commissioner of the Council of Europe, made special emphasis on the important role, played by national institutions on the protection of human rights of their citizens as well as the enormous efforts toward the awareness of their Governments in respecting the wide- ranging principles.

The Ombudsman’s representatives expressed their commitment in continuing the cooperation with international organizations and requested that the Ombudsman should be a permanent member of the Coordination Committee.  The official appropriate steps have been taken, with no positive solution from competent authorities yet.

 

 

III. Other International Conferences

 

a)    The 6th Conference of European Institute of Ombudsman, Krakow, Poland

 

The Commissioner of Poland and the European Institute of Ombudsman (EOI) from May 22-24, 2002 organized the 6th Conference of European Institute of Ombudsman.

The Conference was focused on the role of Ombudsman in the 21st century, especially in extreme and extraordinary circumstances. Mr. Marek A. Nowicki, Ombudsman of Kosovo, brought various examples of a country where ethnical conflicts are crucial. He pointed out the role of Ombudsman as a mediator not only between citizens and state, but different ethnicities as well.

The representative of the Commissioner for Human Rights of Council of Europe condemned some practices employed in some states, regarding the mal-treatment of foreigners entering EU without visa. She put the stress on the fact that the Ombudsman should be allowed to have access and inspect the check-points in airports and other customs’ place and the important role Ombudsman should play to ameliorate the laws on foreigners.

The conference underlined the importance of the independence of Ombudsman, the degree of its responsibility and access, as well as the importance of being proactive, not reactive. This means that Ombudsman should study thoroughly and treat with precaution each single case in function of prevention rather than denouncing and acting after a violation occurs.

The Conference elected Board of Directors of the European Ombudsman Institute (EOI). The Albanian People’s Advocate has been an EOI permanent member since 2000.

 

b)    The 18th Annual Conference of American Ombudsmen (TOA)

 

The 18th Conference of Ombudsmen of the USA was held in Arlington, Virginia from 20-23 May 2002. The topic of the conference was “Ombudsman Performance: Motivation, Civilization and Respect on Challenges”. It was the first time that the People’s Advocate participated in an activity organized by American Ombudsmen.  During the conference we learned about the American model of Ombudsman, which changes considerably from European Ombudsman. The experience acquired and the contacts established will help us in our work.

During his visit in the USA, People’s Advocate met with:

- Ombudsman of the City of New York, Ms. Betsy Gotbaum, who informed us about the structure, functions and the procedures applied in resolving the complaints made by citizens.

- Deputy General Secretary of the UN in charge of legal matters, Mr. Hans Corell. We informed him about our institution, legal framework and work done during 200-2001, emphasized the importance of the institution for the promotion and protection of human rights as well as the challenges we are facing. In addition, we underlined the close collaboration between Albanian Ombudsman and our homologues around the world, as well as the support we have from our Government and Parliament.

Mr. Corell, for his part, welcomed our work and underlined that what we have done is a step forward in the long-run mission for protecting human rights. He also mentioned the important role that Ombudsman should play in the process of adopting new laws and during the enforcement process too. He suggested following the Swedish model regarding the procedural actions of the judicial bodies.  Sweden is the origin of Ombudsman and of Mr. Corell too.

- The Director of the High Commissioner on Human Rights Office in New York, Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye.  We presented our activity and the relations with the Government and Parliament. Mr. Ndiaye esteemed the creation and the functioning of the People’s Advocate in Albania and pointed out that the recommendations addressed to public authorities should comply with the standards set by international instruments on human rights issues. He highlighted that a good functioning of our institution increases the credibility of public authorities as well.

Finally, Mr. Ndiaye saluted the delivery from Albania of the first report on “The International Convention on the Eliminations of All forms of Discrimination” to the United Nations.

In Washington, DC, the People’s Advocate paid visits to the State Department as follows:

- First Deputy Director for Central and South Europe, Mr. Jonathan Benton and the Head of Albania office, Ms. Michele Siders.

- Deputy Director for Democracy and Human Rights, Mr. Ralph Anske.

The American officials made it clear that they were well informed about the People’s Advocate Institution and the situation of Human Rights in Albania. They encouraged us in our work and suggested that we have to focus more on cases relating to private property, violence shown by police, all kinds of trafficking and corruption, which constitute our main concerns as well.

- We met also with the Director for Central and South Europe of ABA-CEELI, Mr. Scott Carlson and the representative of Human Rights Watch, Mr. Dorian Pavli.

After finishing the meetings with American officials, the People’s Advocate gave an interview to the “Voice of America”.

 

c) International Conference on Administrative Law

 

International Conference on Administrative Law was organized by the Council of the Administrative Courts of Canada (CCAT) in Ottawa, from 2-4 June 2002. The conference topic was “Legal Administrative System in Canada”. It’s the second time we participated in this event. Conference thematic embraced important issues related to the functioning of the administrative courts in Canada. We had an opportunity to extend the professional and institutional relations with Canadian administrative courts, as we have the same objective: solving citizens’ complaints.

During his visit to Canada, the People’s Advocate had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and was informed about Administrative and Legislative Structure of Human Rights Commission, politics, legal services and the procedure of analyzing, investigating and the mediation procedures.

People’s Advocate met in Ottawa the General Secretary of the Federal Commission on Human Rights, Mr. John Buck and the Director of International Politics of this Commission, Ms. Kerry Buck. In Toronto, he met with the Chairman of the Parliament of Ontario Province, Mr. Garry Carr and the Head Commissioner on Human Rights of Ontario, Mr. Keith Norton as well as several other officials.

He highlighted the importance of the visits, which will contribute to further cooperation with the Canadian homologues in the future. Also, he underlined that the People’s Advocate in Albania is a relatively new institution and appreciated very much the experience of Ombudsman of democratic countries like Canada. The Canadian officials expressed their interest in keeping and extending the relations with Albanian Ombudsman and promised to help with training of the staff.

 

 

d) International Conference on “European Standards and the Institute of Ombudsman in South-Eastern Europe”

 

The conference was organized by the Regional Office of the German Public Foundation “Friedrich Ebert” in Sofia from 6-8 June 2002.

Representatives from Ombudsmen’s Offices in Balkans expressed their concerns and difficulties encountered during exercising their functions on protecting human rights. One of the objectives of the conference was the drafting of supporting programs for Ombudsmen of South-Eastern Europe.

 

e) Annual Meeting of OSCE and ODIHR on the Enforcement of Human Dimension

 

The Annual Meeting of OSCE and ODIHR were held in Warsaw, Poland, from 9-19 September 2002. It constituted a unique forum for open discussions on human rights with the participation of non-Governmental organizations, Governmental delegations and representatives of human rights institutions.

The representative from our institute made a presentation on the achievements and objectives of the People’s Advocate during 2 and half years of his activity for improving the standards of good governance from the Albanian public administration.

 

f) Annual Meeting of Ombudsmen of European Region, Members of the International Institute of Ombudsmen (IOI)

 

Since 2000, the Albanian People’s Advocate has been a member of the International Institute of Ombudsmen, headquartered in Canada.

The meeting was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from 5-7 December 2002, initiated by Ombudsman of Slovenia, which is the Director for Europe of the International Institute of Ombudsmen, Mr. Matjah Hanzek. The meeting topic was: The independence of Ombudsman”.

Among other issues, the meeting focused on the enhancement of institutional and financial independence of Ombudsmen, as is related closely to the success of their work: “the institutional independence, before all, excludes the dependence from the other constitutional institutions and requires the non participation in the political games. Ombudsman itself should pay the same importance to a separate budget and the defining of the structure and the staff. Building and maintaining an efficient institution requires not only the political and institutional support, but willingness by supporting it financially, and providing the necessary infrastructure in order to complete its task.”

 

 

IV. Visits to Albania by Ombudsmen of other countries

 

The Ombudsman Institute, being unique in each country, pays great attention to contacts with its homologues.

We have established close relations with Ombudsmen all over the world; Europe, the Balkans, the United States, and Canada. These contacts have been mutual, meaning that not only have we paid visits to our homologues, but we have received representatives of Ombudsmen in Albania too. We have established contacts with 12 Ombudsman offices.

During their visits in our Institution, the foreign homologues had expressed their willingness for collaboration and congratulated us for the achievements of our institution. Most of them have met with the highest-ranking personalities of the state, such as the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Chairman of Constitutional Court, the Minister of Justice, the Chairman of High Court, the General Prosecutor, etc., and have exchanged reciprocal opinions on the performance of the People’s Advocate in Albania and respective countries.

1. Mr. Bernard Stasi, the Mediator of the French Republic and Head of the Ombudsmen and Mediators’ Association of Francophone countries, paid a visit to Albania from 21-24, 2002. Mr. Staci was acquainted with the activity of the People’s Advocate and participated in the seminar on “A Fair Legal Process”, organized by the Albanian Center for Human Rights and the High Court with the participation of the lawyers from Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. Mr. Staci gave a presentation on the role of the French Mediator on a fair process of administrative courts. He saluted the achievements of the People’s Advocate in Albania and assured us of further collaboration. Upon his return to France he invited the Albanian People’s Advocate to pay a visit in France and in November offered two one-month scholarships for training of two Albanian experts.

2. From 3-5 April 2002, the Chairman of Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden, Mr. Claes Eklundh participated in the seminar organized by the People’s Advocate of Albania on: “People’s Advocate and Judiciary”. He made a very interesting presentation due to his long experience as Ombudsman, on the relations of Ombudsman and the judicial system in Sweden. After his return to Sweden, 5 Albanian experts were invited for one-week training in his institution to closely become acquainted with Sweden Ombudsman activity.

3. From 26-29 June 2002, the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Denmark for 17 years, Mr. Hans Gammeltoft-Hansen, paid his third visit to Albania, invited by the People’s Advocate. He is our main supporter in the building and well functioning of our institution. He reaffirmed his institution support for the year 2002 and 2003.  He expressed his willingness to provide a technical and logistical support on opening new offices in some cities.  He met with the Chairmen of Parliamentary Commission on Laws, Human Rights and Finance. He highlighted the necessity of respecting the independence of the People’s Advocate and the importance of continuous financial support to guarantee the good functioning of the institution. He paid a visit to the local Government’s authorities in Gjirokaster and Saranda and learned about their considerations on the People’s Advocate work.

4. Mr. Nikolaus Schwarzler, Executive Board Member of the European Institute of Ombudsmen, headquartered in Innsbruck, visited Albania from 8-10 July, 2002. He saluted the achievements of the People’s Advocate in Albania during the last two years and assured us of further help and support, especially regarding professional training for our staff.

5. The Human Rights Ombudsman of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Ombudsman against the ethnic discrimination of the Kingdom of Sweden, Mr. Frank Orton, visited Albania from 17-22 July 2002. He brought his long experience with the judiciary and human rights in Sweden to the seminar organized by the People’s Advocate on: “Methods of receipt, verification and answering a complaint or request and the Recommendation, the main instrument of the People’s Advocate”.

Our staff welcomed his report; also we appreciated the positive evaluation he made on the Albanian People’s Advocate, underlining that the visit’s intentions and benefits were mutual.

6. Mr. Oleg Orestovich Mironov, the Commissioner on Human Rights of the Russian Federation visited Albania from 30 July to 3 August 2002.  He came after a meeting of the Board of Directors of the European Institute of Ombudsman, held in Innsbruck and informed us about the evaluation of Albanian People’s Advocate work from the Board.  He came up with the idea of setting up an association of Ombudsmen for former socialist countries, because of similarities during the transition period. He suggested that the Albanian People’s Advocate should take the initiative on the issues and assured us that we will be getting support from homologues of the former Soviet Union Republics.

The People’s Advocate, after considering the suggestion made, responded that our institution inspires to become part of euro Atlantic structures and according to him there is no need to create another structure, but be active in the existing organization: The European Institute and International Institute of Ombudsman and the Association of Ombudsmen and Mediators of francophone countries.

7. From 20-22 October 2002, the Commissioner of Human Rights of Council of Europe, Mr. Alvaro Gil-Robles visited Albania, invited by the People’s Advocate. During his meetings with the high authorities of the country, he was informed about measures taken on different issues and the situation of Human Rights in Albania. He was focused on two issues: a) trafficking of human beings and b) women’s rights, family abuse, social rights, etc.

Mr. Gil-Robles mentioned that until now he knew Albania only through written reports, and he actually is having an opportunity to meet and talk to different representatives of Government, minority parties and civil society.

After we informed him of the increase in work volume since 2000, he evaluated our devotion in carrying out our tasks and the eminent support we need from Government and other bodies.

The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ilir Meta, mentioned the good relations the Albanian Government has established with the People’s Advocate. He informed Mr. Gil-Robles about the publication and distribution of a brochure for the Albanian prisoners convicted in foreign countries, intended to inform them about human rights and the legal means for their protection.

Mr. Gil-Robles transmitted the Council of Europe opinion on the fact that the violation of human rights of minorities in Albania doesn’t constitute a big problem and has complied with obligations derived by “The Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.” He spoke of joint activities, such as a study on immigration and a meeting that will take place in Athens in March or April 2002, where it is expected that Albania will participate and contribute. Mr. Meta responded positively to the invitation and emphasized the need of raising the cooperation with the Council of Europe.

During the meeting with the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Ms. Valentina Leskaj, Mr. Gil-Robles took interest in the employment opportunities of women, increased participation of women in the police, family abuse, roma issues, mentally ill people and the elderly. He proposed organizing a joint seminar with the People’s Advocate, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the NGO’s on the sensibility of the public on family abuse issues, considered a Balkan phenomenon. Ms. Leskaj welcomed the proposal and the preparation of the seminar is under way.

Mr. Luan Rama, Minister of Public Order met with Mr. Gil-Robles.  Their meeting was focused on the cooperation of the institution he represents with the civil society, especially on the issue of blood feud and vengeance, demonstrating the work done by police to prevent these negative phenomena. In addition, he informed Mr. Gil-Robles of the relations with the People’s Advocate and how the Ministry of Public Order has welcomed the recommendations, e.g. taking necessary measures to ameliorate the conditions of the detention and custodian places. They agreed upon a proposal from Mr. Gil-Robles on arranging a regional activity and Mr. Rama expressed his willingness to be in charge of organizing the event with the High Commissioner of the Council of Europe.

Z. Spiro Peci, the Minister of Justice, during a meeting with Mr. Gil-Robles, was focused on the work done by his institution in increasing the quality of investigation procedures and judgments, as well as the strengthening of control over courts. Mr. Gil-Robles stressed the need of a strong judiciary, capable of fighting corruption, and the need for training of judges, police and prisons officers.

Mr. Gil-Robles met also with the Prime Minister, Mr. Fatos Nano.  He put emphasis on the acceptance of the People’s Advocate’s recommendations from the Government and not undermining the exercising of the competences within its jurisdiction vis a vis the courts and public prosecutor’s office.  In terms of efficacy, this should be helpful to them in their ambitions to fight corruption and all kinds of trafficking.

 

V. Visits of the People’s Advocate to the Ombudsman Offices across the world

 

In the framework of bilateral cooperation and the obligations emerged by The Stability Pact, the People’s Advocate paid visits to homologues offices of some countries.

1. From 10-23 April 2002, he was invited by the Ombudsman of the Greek Republic, Mr. Nikiforis Diamandouros. Agenda of his visit consisted of: a) getting acquainted with the structure and work methods of Ombudsman; b) how Greek Ombudsman helps Albanian immigrants with their complaints. In fact the number of complaints from Albanians was not high; it constituted 9.3% of complaints deposited by foreigners. Greek Ombudsman informed us about the proposal, for a supplement to the Law on Immigrants he submitted to the Greek Parliament to accelerate the procedures for legalization of immigrants’ status, accomplished by the Greek Government in April 2002.

He expressed his concern and put emphasis on further cooperation, e.g. sending the complaints to each other’s offices and exchanging staff visits.

During our visit to Athens we met with the Minster of Public Administration and Decentralization, as well as the General Secretary of the Ministry of Public Order. We presented to them the concerns of the Albanian immigrants in Greece, demanding the respect of human rights from the Greek authorities following the example of other European Union states. While there, we met with the representatives of the Albanian community, who informed us of the situation of Albanian immigrants and the problems they face in every day life.

2. Invited by Mr. Marek Antoni Nowicki, Ombudsman of Kosovo, appointed in this office by the UN Secretary General, a delegation headed by the People’s Advocate, visited Pristine from 2-5 May 2002. Mr. Marek welcomed our delegation and expressed his gratitude for the help we have provided, as the most important they have ever received form the Ombudsman offices in the Region, as well as in Europe.

Together with the Kosovo Ombudsman, we determined the aspects of collaboration between both our Offices, e.g. seminars, joint publications, trainings, etc.  He thanked us for the opportunity we gave to his staff to visit the Ombudsman’s office of Albania. We expressed our readiness to welcome the other part of his staff, belonging to the Serbian minority. Those visits have already taken place.

The benefits of the visits were and are mutual. We followed the example of the Kosovo Ombudsman and set up “Open Days” to reach people living in far and isolated areas.

The relations between our Office and that of Kosovo in the future will continuously be multidimensional and prioritized.

During our visit to Kosovo, the People’s Advocate met with the Prime Minister, Mr. Bajram Rexhepi.  He informed him on the activity of the Albanian Ombudsman office and expressed his consideration on the work of Mr. Nowicki, who on several occasions has challenged the UNMIK (United Nation Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) authority on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Kosovo people. During the meeting with the Member of Presidency of the Kosovo Parliament, Mr. Fatmir Sejdiu, he considered our visit as a new expression of the collaboration between Albanian and Kosovo institutions, as well as emphasized further cooperation.

The People’s Advocate had other meetings with several Kosovo officials, such as the Chairman of the Supreme Court, Dean of the Law Faculty and the Head of the Council for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The latter made an expose of 13 years activity of the organization, which might be considered a live archive for the violation of human rights of the Kosovo people from Serbia, the reason for NATO intervention against Serbia. He met also with the representatives from local Government, such as the Chairmen of Pristine, Gjakove and Peje Communes. There was readiness for cooperation between the Albanian local powers and those of Kosovo, as well as the construction of the road Durres-Pristine. We passed along the message to the Chairman of the Association of the Albanian Mayors, Mr. Edi Rama, as well as to other mayors when the opportunity arose. On May 5th, the Martyrs Day, we paid a visit to the Memorial Complex in tribute to the martyr Adem Jashari in Perkaz, Drenice.

The Kosovo Media and Television covered the Albanian People’s Advocate’s entire visit, considering it as a success and a step forward within the framework of the bilateral cooperation.

3. From 11-15 July 2002, invited by the Mediator of the French Republic, Mr. Bernard Stasi, the People’s Advocate, lead a delegation to visit the French Mediator’s Office.  The Council of Europe, supposedly to happen in 2000, when our institution was established, funded the activity. While visiting the French Mediator office, we became acquainted with the intermediary techniques applied by the French Mediator during the exercising of his competences toward the public administration. We learned about the new practice of Mediator office working with contact persons at the respective ministries and institutions, in order to accelerate the collaboration with state authorities. We have implemented this experience in the Albanian context.  We clarified the status of the French Mediator in receiving complaints from citizens through the deputies of the French Parliament, not addressing them directly to him. The Mediator Office publishes a quarterly bulletin to be distributed to all French deputies. We are currently studying these experiences, in order to apply them in our context when the time comes.

4. From 20-24 July 2002, invited by Mr. Werner Palla, the Albanian People’s Advocate paid a visit to Ombudsman of Autonomous Province of Bolzano, Italy. Mr. Palla, currently the Bolzano Ombudsman, was elected the Chairman of the European Institute of Ombudsman in May 2002. The visit was intended to exchange experiences and to strengthen the cooperation of our institutions. Mr. Palla, from his side, visited Albanian Ombudsman in December 2001.

The People’s Advocate met with the Albanian community in the Province of Balzano as well as with the chairman of the Council of the Province.

5. From 24-30 September 2002, invited by Mr. Hans Gammeltoft-Hansen, a delegation headed by the People’s Advocate paid a visit to his Danish homologue. Our visit intended to benefit from the experience of the Danish Ombudsman, in particular from the management of the office.

During the inspection of the state prison of Juddered, we became aware of the respect, trust and powers of the Ombudsman over the prison authorities and the prisoners themselves.

During the meeting with the Prefect of Arhus, Mr. Peter Christensen, our delegation was given an opportunity to learn about the structure and the functioning of the local Government, as well as to understand the way the Ombudsman and the local authorities work together to solve citizens’ complaints

 

VI. Visits of experience exchange and staff training arranged for the People’s Advocate staff to the counterpart offices.

 

1. According to a schedule approved in 2001, following the professional training a year before at the Parliamentary Ombudsman Office of Denmark, the fourth group of the administrative staff of our institute, visited Copenhagen in March 2002, and became acquainted with the administrative work of the office.

2. From April 22 to May 3, 2002 our librarian paid a training visit to Geneva and Strasbourg to learn about the administration and maintaining of our library. The Council of Europe funded this training.

3. From May 27 to June 14, 2002 and from 7-25 October 2002, two assistant commissioners of our office participated in the training organized by the Sweden Agency for Development and International Cooperation (SIDA) in Stockholm.

4. From 7-14 September 2002, five assistant commissioners of our office paid a training visit to the Parliamentary Ombudsman Office of Sweden.

5. From 4-29 November 2002, two assistant commissioners of our office participated in the training organized by the French Mediator in Paris.

 

 

VII. Training and exchange experience visits from foreign experts to the People’s Advocate Office

 

1. In January 2002, two groups of Albanian experts from the Kosovo Ombudsman Office paid a training visit to our office.

2. From September 30 to October 5, 2002, a group of Serbian experts from the Kosovo Ombudsman Office paid a professional visit to our institution.

3. From 18-22 September, three experts from the Greek Ombudsman Office paid an exchange experience visit to our office.

4. From 12-14 December, two experts from Kosovo Ombudsman Office paid a training visit to our office to learn about our software program, called Doculive, set up in the office in 2001 within the framework of Danida project.

 

 

VIII. Foreign Experts’ Visits to the People’s Advocate Office

 

1. In January 2002, the Danish Chief expert, Mr. Jens Olsen, and the Information Technology expert, Mr. Christian Moller visited our office.

2. In February and November 2002, two representatives from the registration office of Parliamentary Ombudsman of Denmark came to our office to teach our staff how to proceed in registering complaints through the software mentioned above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Collaboration with Amnesty International

 

During 2002, our institution established very good collaboration relationships with Amnesty International as we mentioned in the last year report. The numbers of cases we have cooperated with Amnesty International on have increased each year. We have close relations with Amnesty International groups not only in England, but also in Austria, Norway and Italy. During 2002 we received 21 letters from Amnesty International. In 14 cases they have requested our immediate intervention and the rest were notifications.  In most of the cases, Amnesty International called for People’s Advocate actions against the maltreatment of people from the police as the case below:

Developments in the case of a minor brutally tortured by the Saranda police in June 2000 were illustrative of official indifference. In 2000, protests by human rights groups caused the Minister of Interior to fire the main suspect, police officer Rrapo Xhavara, and the public prosecutor started a criminal investigation into the case. Within months, however, Saranda prosecutors dropped the charges for "lack of evidence." In 2001, new protests by rights groups and high-level interventions by the Albanian ombudsman forced then-Prosecutor General Rakipi to reluctantly order the re-opening of the case. When Xhavara was finally tried under reduced charges in July 2002, he received an eighteen-month sentence that was immediately converted to parole. The conviction did not affect his June 2002 appointment as commander of Saranda's municipal police.

The Amnesty International Group requested a detailed report on the case of Azgan Haklaj, his home was bombed and he claimed mistreatment for him and his family from the police. An investigation into the allegations had not been completed by the end of the year 2001.

We recommended to the General Prosecutor to complete the case and take disciplinary action against the prosecutor of the case.

According to Amnesty International letters, Albania's executive and judicial authorities continued to fail to combat police violence. Torture and physical abuse of detainees were widespread and unpunished. Developments in the case of a minor from Albania's executive and judicial authorities continued to fail to combat police violence.

In all cases we have acted accordingly in compliance with the Law “On People's Advocate”, always responding to the demands made by Amnesty International correctly. Even in the future we will have close collaboration with this organization.

 

 

 

10.                       National Conference on the “Right to Information, a Fundamental Human Right”

 

One of the main tasks of the Albanian state toward protection of the rights of individuals in their relations with the administration is drafting of a new administrative system. This is part of the long-run process Albania has to accomplish in order to be a part of the European family.

According to article 23 of the Constitution: “1.The right to information is guaranteed. 2. Everyone has the right, in compliance with law, to get information about the activity of state organs, as well as of persons who exercise state functions. 3. Everybody is given the possibility to follow the meetings of collectively elected organs.

In conformity with this article, several laws have been adopted, such as Law No. 8503, dated 30.06.1999 “On the Right to Information over the Official Documents” and Law No. 8485, dated 12.05.1999 on the “Code of Administrative Procedures”, which have been adopted taking into consideration the standards, set by the European Union. Unfortunately, even three years after their adoption, it is our belief that ordinary people and the public administration do not know them, while their enforcement encounters a lot of difficulties and obstacles.

According to article 30 of Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People’s Advocate”, we are required by the law to organize, at least once a year, national conferences on the state of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in collaboration with NGO’s working on the issues.

In conformity of the above obligation, the National Conference on the “Right to Information, a Fundamental Human Right” took place on December 12, 2002, under the auspices of the President of the Republic. The organizing parties of the conference were our institution, the Minister of Sate close to Prime Minister and the Institute of Public and Legal Studies (OJF).

The preparatory work was spread throughout the year 2002 and included observations made on the administration, studying the cases relating to the right of information and surveys conducted by the teaching staff and students of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The goal of the conference was to raise the awareness of the public administration, both central and local ones on their rights and obligations foreseen by laws and the responsibility of the heavy task of being responsive and punctual on resolving the citizens’ problems.

 

 

Conclusions of the conference were as follows:

 

1. Considering the fact that Albania is facing the challenge of meeting the requirements for signing the “On Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union, it is part of the process that the activity of the People’s Advocate and the Public Administration should focus on the building, enforcement and respecting of the European standards of good administration and good ruling from the state authorities.

Those standards are based on the principles of democracy, liberty, and the rule of law and the protection of human rights. An integral part of these rights is the right to information and access of official documents.

2. The idea of organizing the conference came at the right time and in the right moment, not only to lecture the rights of a good administration and the right of information, but mostly to sensitize all concerned parties; i.e. institutions, individuals, media and civil society.

3. There is a close link between democracy and human rights including the right to information.  That is why both the Constitution and the law on information are envisaging them in their regulation. They define rules, regarding the good administration and the transparence of the public administration in its relations with the public, media and civil society.  Compared to the state of laws, which seems to be conforming to the European standards, the enforcement of the laws is being problematic and difficult. The complaints received from individuals, groups of individuals and media, regarding the violation of administrative procedures and the lack of transparence from the public authorities is an indicator of what we tried to say above.

4. Albanian state has the obligation of receiving, answering and responding to citizens’ complaints. We regret to say that a lot of institutions haven’t made progress; instead of creating relevant offices, they have preferred to increase the number of their spokesmen rather than experts who will be involved directly in the process.  Even in the case of existing offices, they take a superficial view of the problem, without defining concrete measures and steps to be taken to resolve the problems.

5. Among several reasons that lead to these attitudes, we may list some as below:

a) The responsible officials seem not to have the necessary training to handle their tasks. There is no clause or requirement, in the job description of their responsibility to provide the information required by the proper laws.

b) Their personal behavior sometimes doesn’t fulfill the law’s requirements. Instead of keeping secret the personal data, they publicize a lot of the information, violating the Law on Information. This attitude applies to the media and individuals as well.

6. Even though the Government has included in its program the necessity of transparence of public administration, this directive hasn’t been put into practice adequately, thus resulting in a lot of legal acts not being published, and as a result not being known by ordinary people. The enforcement of the above laws, which guarantees the transparence, hasn’t been made part of the work method by local authorities yet.

7. The People’s Advocate, since the very start, has constantly paid attention to the enforcement of the Law on Information.  He has sent a recommendation to all public administration offices to issue appropriate regulations, according to the requirements set up by the law. He publicly, in several occasions, has stressed the need of the Law on Information and the administrative procedures becoming like a “bible” for the public officials in their daily work.  An anti-corruption system can be established only through acting in conformity with these laws.

8. The transparence issue and the aforementioned laws have been the focus of several surveys, seminars and other events of the civil society.  We salute their commitment to protect human rights and encourage them to continue in this way.

 

The conference draws these recommendations:

1. The process of approaching Albania to the European Union should be accompanied with a practical engagement of the Albanian public administration to comply with the European Union Standards. This implies the enforcement by the Parliament, public administration and the judicial system of the obligations emerged from the international conventions and agreements adopted by the Council of Europe and the European Union. The lack of transparency from each of three powers, legislative, executive and judiciary shows that the efficacy of their mechanisms is not at the required level. The drafting of new laws and other legal acts, should be deemed the opinion of civil society and the appropriate communities, such as the business community, which seems to have complaints about the arbitrary of the customs and tax bodies.

2. The central and local authorities should become acquainted with the Law “On the Right to Information over the Official Documents” and the “Code of Administrative Procedures” and act in compliance with the requirements of the above laws. These laws provide the citizen with a better understanding of their rights vis a vis public administration and establish standards for public authorities to consider while exercising their powers. The Public Administration Department of the Government as well as local authorities should comply with the requirements of these laws during the hiring process.

3. All the local and central bodies, such as commune, municipality, and ministry, should publish the services they offer for the public. The current regulations and manuals should be changed, reflecting the experience gained during the completing of the functions by the public officials.

4. The civil officials should be careful in providing information regarding individuals, bear in mind to not violate the individuals’ rights and reveal the information considered state secret from the appropriate laws.

5. The public authorities should contribute to raising the awareness of the citizen for their role in the decision-making process. This gives the citizens an opportunity to control the administration and the efficiency in completing their tasks.

6. “The Government and law-makers should consider the reformation of the so-called “Offices for Receiving the Complaints”, Mr. Alfred Moisiu, the President of the Republic suggested during the conference, by changing the current laws or adopting new ones.

7. The judiciary and public services, such as public notary are not excluded from the transparency; therefore changes should be made to the laws and regulations on different issues, such as the fees for their services.

8. The projects and programs funded by the international community should be doing more publicity and should be managing in a transparent and efficient way from the institutions or public authorities.

9. The education and awareness of the public on the right to information and administrative procedures should be paid more attention by the public administration. The role of NGOs is very crucial and irreplaceable.

10. The People’s Advocate mission in this process can be summarized as the exercising of his authority over the public administration in order for them to be transparent to the public.  Meanwhile, his role should not be limited only to protecting the individuals from the abusive actions of the public officials. It should be read also as an appreciative teacher to the public administration and very helpful to them in accomplishing the priorities of the state as a whole.

To this purpose, we should improve the governing culture too. This includes a good governance, transparence, sincerity and periodic reporting. The People’s Advocate through his recommendations intends to educate the administration and make it understand their role vis a vis citizens. The People’s Advocate should do an inquiry on the fees of the services for providing information in the public administration, for not allowing them to apply fees that pass the service’s value, as the law requires. 

The role of the People’s Advocate as a guarantee for transparent public services should be strengthened through recommendations for legal responsibility of the officials that violate the laws in question.

 

 

*   *   *

 

The organizing of the conference under the auspices of the President of the Republic, as well as the participation of deputies, high-ranking officials from different ministries, judiciary and local Government through their interventions, was a huge contribution to the success of the event.

According to a majority of the participants, the conference achieved its objectives and intentions. It became a tribune of exchanging views, sensitizing the public authorities and their commitment to complying with the requirements of the Laws on the Information and Administrative Procedures.

The conclusions and recommendations that emerged during the conference have been sent to the President of the Republic, the Presidency of the Parliament, Deputies, Prime Minister, Ministries, Municipalities, Communes and Prefectures, accompanied by a calendar of the year 2003, which contains an article of the law on information on each page.

We are optimistic that the above recommendations should be given great importance by the public administration in accomplishing the task of better serving the people’s needs.

 

 

11. Other activities of the People’s Advocate Institution during 2002

 

The People’s Advocate or representatives from his office have participated in different events, organized by governmental bodies or civil society across the world. It constitutes a professional and civic commitment of our institution. Because the scale of these events can be the subject of a separate publication, we are listing only the thematic of them.

 

1.     Seminar on “People’s Advocate and the Relations with Judiciary”, organized by the People’s Advocate with the participation of the Ombudsman of Sweden, Mr. Claes Eklundh, April 2002.

2.     Seminar on “Examining the cases and the politics of the People’s Advocate Office” organized by the People’s Advocate with the participation of the Ombudsman of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Frank Orton, July 2002.

3.     Seminar on “Human Safety and the Control of Arms in Albania” organized by the Program of Development of the United Nations and the Albanian Association of Atlantic, January 2002.

4.     Seminar on “Corruption in Albania” organized by the Association of Women Lawyers, March 2002.

5.     Seminar on “Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” organized by the Albanian Center of Human Rights, April 2002.

6.     Seminar on “Informative Service” organized by the Center of Human Rights, April 2002.

7.     Seminar on the “Recognition and Respect of Human Rights, according to the Universal Declaration and European Convention” organized by the Albanian Helsinki Committee, May 2002.

8.     Seminar on “Child Labor. Stop exploiting children in Albania” organized by the Albanian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights, May 2002.

9.     Seminar on the “Revised European Charter” organized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, June 2002.

10.  Seminar on “The implementation of The Code of Administrative Procedures” organized by the Department of the Public Administration at the Government and ABA-CEELI, October 2002.

11.  Seminar on “Bailiff’s Office and the execution of the court decisions” organized by the Ministry of Justice and Council of Europe, October 2002.

12.  Seminar on “Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights for a Fair Trail” organized by the Albanian Center of Human Rights and the Constitutional Court, October 2002.

13.  Round Table on “The Cooperation between the Parliament and the Civil Society during the legislative process” October 2002.

14.  Seminar on “The Project-Law on the Statement of Assets”, organized by the Parliamentary Commission on Laws, October 2002.

15.  Joint seminar on “Framework Convention for the Protection
of National Minorities
and the Albanian Legislation” organized by the People’s Advocate Institute and the Albanian Center of Human Rights, September, October 2002.

16.  Joint seminar on “The European Convention on Human Rights and the Albanian Legislation”, organized by the People’s Advocate Institute and The Albanian Center on Human Rights, October, November 2002.

17.  Seminar on “The Detainee’s Rights”, organized by the Albanian Helsinki Committee and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, October 2002.

18.  Seminar on “The Functioning of the European Court of Human Rights”, organized by the People’s Advocate, Ministry of Justice and the European Center of Human Rights, November 2002.

19.  Seminar on “The Right to Information”, organized by the Albanian Group of Human Rights and the Association “Article 19”, November 2002.

20.  Seminar on “The population and the development of the Family”, organized by Women Association, November 2002.

21. Seminar on “The Rights of Disabled Workers”, organized by the Association of Disabled Workers, November 2002.

22.  Seminar on “Accounting Expert”, organized by I.E.K.A., November 2002.

23.  Seminar on the 10th Anniversary of the Constitutional Court, November 2002.

24.  International Conference and Inter Activist. Promotion of “Acta Albaniae I-II”, organized by the Headquarter Directory of Archives, November 2002.

25.  Round Table on “Albanian Police and its Vision for the Future”, organized by the Ministry of Public Order and the Albanian Center of Human Rights, November 2002

26.  Seminar on “The Alternatives of Imprisonment Sentences”, organized by Council of Europe, December 2002.

27.  Military Convention, Ministry of Defense, December 2002.

28.  The National Conference of the Judiciary, December 2002.

29.  The Albanian Helsinki Committee: “ The Evaluation of the Human Rights Situation in some Districts of the Country”, December 2002,

30.  Seminar of the Association of the Albanian Constructors”, December 2002.

31.  Four joint seminars on “The Education of the Police on Human Rights and the Cases of the Violations discovered by the People’s Advocate”, organized by the Albanian Center of Human Rights, The Police Department of Diber Region and the Police Department of Peshkopi, Bulqize and Burrel, November, December 2002.

 

Through these events, the People’s Advocate was given an opportunity to promote the role, competences and the jurisdiction of the institution he represents, as well as the cooperation with public administration and the civil society.  The vast problematic discussed on those events, have been very helpful to us to define our attitude toward different authorities. Being very active in the public and social life is a priority of the office for the future too. We evaluate this inter- collaboration with the administrative authorities of the three powers and the civil society, as a necessity to remain a national body in safeguard to the protection of human rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

Concrete activity of the People’s Advocate Office on the complaints, requests and notifications (cases), classified according to Governmental institutions.

 

 

1. Council of Ministers (Government)

 

During 2002, a total of 198 complaints and requests were filed against the Council of Ministers apparatus and administrative institutions under its supervision, the Supervisory Group of Financial Fraud Schemes, the Office of Tangible Assets Registration, and the Commission for the Return and Compensation of Property to the Former Owners.

Whilst performing its job to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individuals in Albania, the People’s Advocate has informed and made recommendations and proposals to the Prime Minister and other ministers on all the main issues arisen during its work. Despite the form in which the opinions of the People’s Advocate have been expressed, we believe that, in one way or the other, these opinions have influenced in the increase of the standards for better governance. 

Concretely, during 2001, we presented the former Primer Minister, Ilir Meta with the following recommendations, requests and notifications:

1. On the need to allocate funds to provide shelter to Gjin Marku family in March 2001. The case was finally resolved in 2002.

2. Information on the impediments caused by the National Agency of Privatization for the registration of tangible assets sold to citizens on 14.05.2001. The problem was solved as the Government approved a decision, authorizing the National Agency of Privatization to pay the registration taxes for the tangible assets, the latter had sold to third parties.

3. Reference on 25.05.2001 and a Reminder, dated 01.10.2001 to assign the responsible ministry in resolving some complains for Bovilla reservoir. In February 2002, former Prime Minister Pandeli Majko created a working group, comprised of the Minister of Environment, the Minister of Public Work and the Minister of Health. The issue of cleaning the water was settled, however unsolved problems remain the fencing of the reservoir and the removal of some 40 families residing in the surrounds. These families represent a continuous danger. 

4. 168 families of Bicaj Commune in Kukes submitted a complaint on 27.05.2001. The Government did not take it into consideration for lack of funds.

5. Proposal submitted on 12.10.2001 for some changes in the Law No. 7665, dated 21.03.1993 on “The Development of Priority Tourism Areas”. The proposal is pending and depends on the issuance of the law for the return and compensation of property.

6. Information on problems concerning Lazarat village in the Gjirokastra district on 12.10.2001. The actual situation in this village is stable and quiet.

7. Recommendations submitted on 18.10.2001 related to issuing some normative acts pursuant to implementing Law No. 8606, dated 27.04.2000 "On the Status of the Motherland's Martyr".

8. Recommendation for the preparation of the law on indemnification of inflicted citizens, in accordance with article 44 of the Constitution submitted on 24.12.2001. The Ministry of Justice has incorporated in its action plan for 2003 the preparation of such draft law.

9. Conclusions and recommendations of the National Conference on the right to life on 26.12.2001. These have been resent to former Prime Minister Majko in 2002, as well as actual Prime Minister Nano, as a reminder. The only minister that responded positively was the Minister of Public Order, Mr. Rama, whereas the Government and other institutions have not informed us on any concrete measures or actions to implement these recommendations.

10. Proposal submitted on 26.12.2001 for taking legislative initiative in the improvement of amendments of legal acts and normative acts for the conclusion of the process of re-evaluation and redistribution of property of former agricultural cooperatives, as well as the changes in Law No. 8435, date 28.12.1998 on “The Taxation System in the Republic of Albania”. We have not received any official response.

During 2002, the Government, headed by Mr. Majko up to July 2002 and later by the Prime Minister, Mr. Fatos Nano, has received from us the following recommendations, opinions, proposals and/or notifications:

1. Recommendation to amend the Law on Weapons. Explanations included in the issues brought before the People’s Assembly, dated 16.04.2002.

2. Information on social insurance complaints for state-owned companies such as Albanian Electricity Corporation, Telecom Communication and Aqueduct Company on 30.04.2002.

3. Recommendation to supplement Law No. 8328, dated 16.04.1998 “On the Rights for Treatment of Convicted People”, submitted on 13.05.2002. The Ministry of Justice is working on the preparation of the relevant draft law.

4. Recommendation to supplement Law No. 8092, dated 03.02.1996 “On Mental Health”, and prepare regulations “On security measurement for the persons that the court has issued the medical order of obligatory medication” submitted on 13.05.2002. We have not received any notification.

5. Recommendation to supplement the Law “On the Protection from Ionizing Radiation” submitted on 13.05.2002. The MoE and MoH notified that they are working on the preparation of the relevant draft law.

6. Proposals in relation to Law No. 8306, dated 14.03.1998 “On the Strategy of Privatization of Special Strategic Sectors” and to increase the control and participation of the Albanian Assembly in the process of the privatization of state-owned property, submitted on 14.05.2002. Actually, we have received no official response for the above proposals.

7.  Request for collaboration in the National Conference on the Right to Information, submitted on 23.09.2002. The Prime Minister assigned the State Minister, Mr. Blendi Klosi to collaborate. The conference took place on 12.12.2002.

8. Proposal on measurements to be taken to implement articles 41 and 181 of the Constitution submitted 19.09.2002. The Assembly passed a Resolution suspending all actions on tangible property till a new law is passed.

9. Recommendation for taking measurement on prevention of maltreatment cases from the state police forces dated 24.09.2002. We have not received any response.

10. Recommendation, dated 15.10.2002 for planning necessary funds in the 2003 Government budget to conclude in 2005 the execution of all court decisions, where the state is the debtor, according to the commitment made in the Government program of July 2002. The Ministry of Finance notified us that an amount of 150 million Lek has been included in the 2003 budget for this purpose.

11. Increase the control on companies involved in the production and marketing of potable water submitted in October 2002. The Prime Minister created a working group, involving particularly the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Health to increase the control, according to our proposals.

12. Recommendation submitted on 06.12.2002 to change and supplement Decision of the Council of Ministers, No. 552, dated 27.11.1999 “On the Economic and Financial Treatment of Families of State Police Employees that Loose their Lives or Get Wounded on the Job”. The Prime Minister has assigned the Ministry of Public Order to investigate on this issue.

The Prime Minister has been informed case by case and accordingly on the most relevant issues addressed towards the Government. We have discussed these issues also with our counterparts during meetings in Albania or while traveling abroad.

 

a. Supervisory Group on Financial Freud Schemes, under the Council of Ministers

 

During 2002, there were 15 complaints, versus 17 during 2001, brought to our attention and against the Supervisory Group on Financial Freud Schemes, under the Council of Ministers.  We were able to complete 13 cases, while only two are still under our consideration.

The set of problematic issues and concerns, through the incoming complaints during 2002, has close similarity to that of the previous year. But at the same time it has its own specifics, expressed more concretely in the non-execution of courts’ final verdicts and obligatory payments of certain monetary amounts from the Supervisory Group to the specified commercial entities.

The main problems, submitted in the reviewed complaints, were as follows:

1. Objection on actions taken by the Supervisory Group or the administrators appointed to administer the pyramid financial schemes, in relation to the property of certain individuals such as the sequestration, suspension of property or obligations to be paid for certain monetary amounts.

2. Nonpayment of social insurance contributions by the financial pyramid schemes for their employees, or by the existing administrators assigned to administer these schemes, for the employees that have been contracted to work under them.

3. The manner in which the administration of the pyramid schemes has been performed by the independent administrators and the progress of the transparency process.

4. Delays in the process of back payments to the creditors of the pyramid schemes by the Supervisory Group.

5. Non-execution of court decisions by the Supervisory Group. These decisions have obliged monetary payments to various commercial entities.

The specifics during this year is that, on a number of certain issues, the complainants have brought their concerns first to our institution without prior addressing them to the Supervisory Group for clarification, thus not undergoing through the necessary procedures, which would have enabled the consideration from our side in an appropriate manner.  Subsequently these complaints were passed to the Supervisory Group for close examination. At the same time this fact highlights the lack of true transparency in the activity of this institution, which has also been observed in our annual report of 2001.

Even during the National Conference on “The Right to Information, a Fundamental Right” held on 12.12.2002, various speakers and participants distinguished the activity of the Supervisory Group as a model of hermetic sealing of a governmental institution. On the institutional level, the communication between the Supervisory Group and our institution has been more collaborative than the previous year.

A very acute issue, as part of the activity of this institution of the public administration, is non-completion of the transparency process in its entirety and a lack of concrete deadlines to conclude the payments to creditors of the pyramid schemes. Being aware of the required timeframe to complete the administrative and judicial procedures and take the final decisions, we believe that this institution should have been more transparent and open to the public in clarification of these facts.

In many cases, it is observed that judicial processes are intertwined with the transparency process. Judicial processes are opened against the Supervisory Group and/or the administrators appointed to administer the pyramid schemes. The main problem springs from the non-execution of some judicial decisions when a final verdict was given, thus obliging the Supervisory Group to pay financial obligations. Even after the recommendations coming from our side, still there is either no real action taken, or partial unjustified actions, which violate the constitutional principle for the execution of the judicial decisions by the administrative bodies. Related to this fact, we are presenting the most typical cases:

In his complaint addressed to our institution, citizen E.A., representative of the commercial entity “A”, expresses his concern in relation to the non-execution from the Supervisory Group of the Decision taken by the Tirana District Court No. 2557, dated 16.07.1999. This decision has become an executive title and obliges the above-mentioned institution to pay the complainant the respective amount of 25.052.222 Lek. As the complainant states, the Supervisory Group (the respective administrators) while acknowledging the decision, has made two partial payments, but has not completed the total payment of the financial obligation, as stated in the decision. The remaining payment is delayed with no reasons, and this has brought financial difficulties to the complainant. The status of this case is described as to the moment the complainant submitted his complaint to our institution.

After taking into inquiry this complaint and getting explanations from the Supervisory Group (administrators of the company “M. Leka”), we were informed of the Decision No. 68, dated 21.03.2002, taken by the appointed administrator of this pyramid scheme. This decision states that, based on Decision of the Civil Court No. 2340, dated 21.03.2002, “M. Leka” company shall pay in favor of company “A” the amount of 25.611.664 Lek. (After correction of a mistake, the amount remains 25.052.222 Lek.) 

After partial payment to company “A” by the administrators of company “M. Leka”, the Bailiff's Office orders the administrators to pay the remaining amount of 17.575.062 Lek. However, and besides these judicial decisions, the respective administrator decided that the payment shall be made for only 34%, or expressed in value in the amount of 5.975.520 Lek.

Referring once again to the respective judicial decisions, we have evaluated the recognition of partial financial obligation to company “A”, in only 34% of the amount, as illegal and absolutely invalid. The executive title defines that the financial obligation of the appointed administrators of company “M. Leka” is in the amount of 25.052.222 Lek. If the previous partial payments from the same administrators are subtracted, the amount is reduced to 17.575.062 Lek. The payment of the above obligation shall not necessarily abide by the Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 610, dated 21.12.1999, because a final verdict exists for the mentioned civil case.

Bringing once more to the attention of the Supervisory Group the basic principle of distribution of powers, sanctioned in article 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, and based on paragraph 3, article 142 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, which explicitly says: “The state institutions are obliged to execute the judicial decisions”, we have recommended to the Supervisory Group under the Council of Ministers to pay 100 % the financial obligation to company “A”. 

Actually the recommendation has been accepted, however the Supervisory Group conditions the full payment with the completion of total sales of the assets of the company “M. Leka”, under administration, as well as a judicial process under way. According to the actual amounts deposited in the corresponding accounts of the company at the Savings Bank of Albania, the administrators have monetary liquidity to make the payment, despite the argumentation provided by them.

Thus, we are continuing our work to identify the possibilities for direct payment, based on actual monetary amounts in the accounts of company “M. Leka”, under administration.

Another complaint, of the same nature, comes from the citizen P.V. from Tirana.

Recently we have approached the Prime Minister, Mr. Fatos Nano, as the Head of the Special Commission for Property Distribution of Pyramid Schemes, to order the execution of these judicial decisions by the Head of the Supervisory Group, Mr. Farudin Arapi.

 

 

b. Complaints against the Tangible Assets Registration Office

 

During 2002, the institution of People’s Advocate received 88 complaints against the Offices of Registration of Tangible Assets, versus 31 from the previous year. Sixty-six cases have been resolved, seven of which in favor of the complainants. Fifty-one complaints were considered out of our jurisdiction or resulted without a basis for consideration.

The majority of the complaints, classified as out of our jurisdiction, dealt with the non-registration of property from the Registration Offices because of double claim. This resulted from the interpretation of the same piece of plot, simple or arable land, from two different versions provided by the Land Commissions and the Commissions for the Compensation of Property. The latter took decisions without prior consulting with the respective maps, verifying the old and new borders, and without finding out if these pieces of land were free or claimed. In these cases we suggested to the citizens to appeal the court and solve judicially their concerns, as they face an ownership conflict. We contended with the difficult problem of having the citizens accept this. Most of them, for various reasons, do not accept and are not convinced that their cases can be solved in a legal manner. We believe this originates from the lack of a minimal judicial cultural background for the existence of legal ways to protect violated property and, in the concrete case, of claims of the same property by different parties. These complainants insist often that officers of these Commissions act in opposition and incompliant to executing their responsibilities.

On the other side, we have evaluated as quite appropriate and valid the complaints for unjustified delays from the Office for Return of Tangible Assets on the majority of the activities performed in relation to the public service and that this services leaves much to be desired. The personnel of this office lack evidently the civil culture, and particularly information desks to provide answers to the enormous flux of citizens. This situation makes the citizens raise suspicions for corruptive activity.

Against the citizens’ readiness to pay unhesitatingly all fiscal obligations for various applications, there are officers that, in many cases, lack the basic responsibilities to perform on the job. However, this note is not intended to accuse them of creating grounds for corruptive affairs.

Meanwhile we have a continuous, fruitful and productive collaboration with the Office for Return of Tangible Assets. In all the cases, when we suggested for taking concrete actions in registering or issuing property certificates, that we found the complainants right in their claims, they have responded positively.

Due to the complexity of the cases, we would like to highlight the positive settlement of the complaints of S.B., from Tirana, V.G. from Berat, A.B. from Korca, from the respective district Offices for the Return of Tangible Assets.

 

 

c. Complaints against the Commission for Restoring and   Compensating Properties to Former Owners (CRCPFO)

 

During 2002, we received 59 complaints against the CRCPFO at all its levels. We resolved 49, whereas 10 were passed for further consideration during 2003. Two cases were solved in favor of the complainants. Due to our involvement, these complainants were able to receive the decisions for the recognition and compensation of property from the CRCPFO from the Prefecture of Durres and Tirana, after waiting for several years from the time they submitted the requests and the supportive documentations.

Among the received complaints, a set of them dealt with the objection of decisions of these commissions, in cases when the land has not been returned physically, being given the argument that it was already occupied with unmovable buildings. As the complaints of this group are out of our jurisdiction, we suggested to the complainants to object the decisions of the CRCPFO by appealing the District Courts where the property exists. They can file their cases based on article 27/a of Law No. 7698, dated 15.04.1993 “On the Restoring and Compensation of Properties to Former Owners”.

 We considered the other set of complaints, which is the largest, as groundless and unjustified for the fact that the supportive documentations at the offices of CRCPFO have been incomplete. We advised the complainants of this group to approach the offices of CRCPFO and discuss and provide further required documents for their claims, in accordance to the laws and normative acts into effect. However, in such cases we would like to bring to attention the lack of transparency, as the CRCPFO does not notify or give explanations on the reasons for denial of decisions, thus violating the Code of Administrative Procedures.

From the review of all the complaints related to the restore and compensation of properties and the complexity of this issue, we have ascertained that many of the problems raised in our Annual Report of 2001, still continue to exist.

It is acknowledged by all parties that the Law No. 7698, dated 15.04.1993 “On the Restoring and Compensation of Properties to Former Owners” and the derived normative acts for its implementation, has many deficiencies and is incomplete.  There is a great necessity to make the required amendments with the highest seriousness to the matter, including the supplement of the law with the European standards of property treatment, as a preliminary condition for the integration of our country to the European Union. Although article 181 of the Constitution has set defined deadlines for these amendments, they are already passed. The delays in the final treatment of the property issues are reflected in the slowness of the CRCPFO activity. There are numerous filed cases, with these offices that are not considered for years, or there are hesitations to make negative decisions in the cases when the claimed property is given in ownership to other people. These phenomena are present in all offices at all levels.

A specific issue becomes the fact that many public authorities of the local governance in City Halls, Communes, and various institutions, particularly in the Directorates of Forestry Services in the districts, due to lack of information on the existing law, keep a disregarding position towards the decisions of the CRCPFO, by not executing these decisions, when they are required to deliver the land or pasture surfaces to the declared owners.

The People’s Advocate has followed closely and with proper attention all the problems raised by the citizens and the association of former owners, related to the cardinal right of guaranteeing and protecting the private property, as a fundamental right of the individual. The People’s Advocate has kept the same stand while addressing issues with regard to protection of the public property in all the cases when there have been evidenced violations or abuse with it from individuals.

We have also supported in the development of the activity of the CRCPFO offices. To illustrate this, we are presenting the commendation letter that the Head of the CRCPFO of Tirana District, Mr. Robert Kreçi, gave to us:

“With Your official memorandums, addressed to the highest Governmental bodies, you, the People’s Advocate, have been able to influence the creation of better working conditions for the employees of the CRCPFO of Tirana District. Thus I am informing that the Prime Minister gave to our disposal four computers, and later probably a photocopy. With this first letter, typed in these new computers, we, the Commission of Tirana District, are very grateful to you and the institutions that you head. Hoping in future closer collaboration for the solving of the common problems, as the Head of the CRCPFO of Tirana, I commend you personally by wishing you success in your work and your mission.”

Besides the recommendations and the suggestions made to the CRCPFO, our institution has presented the Commissions of the People’s Assembly with various opinions for necessary changes in the legal acts and normative acts concerning the property issues. We believe that these argumentative opinions influenced the issuance of a Resolution by the Assembly for the temporary suspension of property distribution by the state, particularly coastal land.

We also encourage every recently taken initiative that not only require the execution of decisions, based on article 181 of the Constitution, but also attempt to restore all the injustices done to the owners of tangible assets.

We hope that all parties, with obligations in this sensitive matter, will soon find a consensus to end the process of property restoration and begin the process of compensation. Our institution has expressed, and finds it relevant to make once more public, the dedication to contribute its professional assistance in the protection of human rights and in solving, in the most acceptable manner to the Albanian reality, this major problem.

 

d. Institute for the Integration of the Persecuted (IIP)

 

          A total of eight complaints were filed against IIP, out of which, two are settled in favor of the complainants, three are groundless and out of our jurisdiction, and three are under review. During 2002, we received only two groundless complaints.

The scope of the complaints consists of non-granting the status of the persecuted, renunciation of the compensation for the years suffered under dictatorship regime, and lack of housing for the homeless persecuted people.

The complaint of citizen K.L. states that, although jailed for 15 years with the motivation for propaganda and agitation, he still is not granted the political persecuted status and given the respective compensation. The complainant was registered as an ordinary convict and not as a political one. After verifying the documents at the Archive of the Ministry of Public Order, it was possible to take a certificate proving political conviction of the complainant, hence enabling him to start the process for receiving the status of politically persecuted.

In relation to gaining the status of politically persecuted, we observe that the legal procedures are in place, but practically, the 3-Parties Governmental Commission for the designation of the Status, which has the exclusive right to grant the Status, has not had a meeting in five years.  Consequently, a considerable number of legitimate requests, for this purpose, have not yet found a solution.   The IIP recognizes the need for the development of legal regulations and by-laws to enable the meeting of the 3-Parties Governmental Commission. Our office will intercede in speeding this process.

Another issue, under this category and for which many complaints have reached in our office, is the housing of homeless persecuted individuals and their families. A legal framework exists for a specific category of homeless political persecuted, who benefit free housing (Decision of Council of Ministers No. 476, dated 10.10.1994 “On the Housing Procedures for Former Politically Convicted and Persecuted People by the Communist System”.)

The complaint of Gjin Marku family, results now as resolved in his favor. After our recommendation, based on Law No. 748 dated 29.07.1993 “On the Status of Former Politically Convicted and Persecuted People by the Communist System”, the Council of Ministers issued the Decision No.335, dated 11.07.2002 “On the purchase of an apartment by the National Housing Entity to shelter the family of Mrs. Natalia Marku”. This family benefited free housing.

We have been informed by the institute that, although there are a great number of requests by the persecuted to benefit free housing from the Government and the fact that IIP has continually requested for annual housing funds for this category of people, still it has not been able to meet the requests for lack of funds.

 

 

e. National Privatization Agency (NPA)

 

          This Agency is actually under the supervision of the Council of Ministers, although the scope of problems and issues it deals with is related to the Ministry of Economy.

          During 2002, 28 complaints were filed against this Agency in our office, versus 20 from the previous year. Four were concluded in favor of the complainants, 16 were found groundless or out of our jurisdiction, and eight are still under review. 

          We emphasize that, for the 16 requests found groundless or out of our jurisdiction, we have clarified with the complainants the respective legal dispositions, particularly the claim of former landowners in connection to the violation of the right to preliminary purchase the objects. We have explained to the former landowners that the NPA does not make a special notification for the date and place of the auctions selling the objects build in the land owned by them. It is their responsibility to get informed on the status of the auctions and when the property will be sold, through the notifications that NPA places in the print and electronic media, or advertises at its district offices.

          To create a clearer idea on the cases solved in favor of the complainants, we are providing two examples:

          1. Representative of Human Rights Watch, D.P., complained that NPA did not inform (based on two requests made by him) on the documentation for the procedures on the bids made by NPA during October 2001, and on the publication in the daily journals. In both official responses given by the NPA to the complainant, without giving copies of the respective documentation, the NPA has considered his requests illegitimate. NPA based its refusal on paragraph 14 of the Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 335, dated 23.06.2000 “On the Regulation of Public Procurement”, which defines the responsibilities of the NPA, as a procurement entity that protects and discloses bid documentations to controlled authorities.

          With a broader scope in view of this problem, we concluded that the right of information is guaranteed by article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and article 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, paragraph 2, which explicitly states that: “Everyone has the right, in compliance with the law, to receive information on the activity of Governmental institutions, and the individuals holding Governmental functions, without being obliged to explain the motives. The public authority is obliged to provide information in connection to official documents, except when the law states otherwise.”  Article 4 of the above-cited law, defines the case when the right to provide information is limited. It says: “If the requested information for an official document is restricted by law, the public authority issues a written declaration to the requestor, in which it explains the reasons for not giving the information and the regulations that enable him to request it. If the limitation is only for a part of the information on official documents, the other part is not refused to the requestor.”

Based on the predictions of the specific legislation for this case (article 10 and article 33/1 of Law No. 7971, dated 26.07.1995 “On Public Procurement”), we concluded that the requested information, referring to the definition made by the complainant in his second request, should not be considered as restricted, on the right to be informed for it. Paragraph 14 of the Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 355, dated 23.06.2000 does not restrict the right to be informed to the complainant, and it makes another functional adjustment for the respective organ, a function related to the archiving or the access of control that the respective control organs have on these documents. The documentation requested by the requestor, is not classified as restricted information to the public. 

We also emphasized the fact that NPA, based on the request of the interested person, which initially has not been concise in the formulation for the classification of the required documentation, has not responded according to the manner defined by Law (article 4 of Law No. 8503, dated 30.06.1999.)

In this case the requestor of the documentation should have been shown the regulations based on which he should have requested the information, or more precisely, should have been explained for which part of the documentation he could have access. Although this was already exhausted by the requestor, with a precise definition of the kind of information he was requesting in his second request, NPA kept a refusing position.

We reached the conclusion that this has been a violation of the right of the individual to be informed for the respective official documents requested by him, and we recommended to the NPA of Tirana to inform and give the requested documentation to the complainant D.P.

The recommendation was accepted by the NPA and the complainant received all the information and requested documentation, which he is also using for the report of Human Rights Watch, published in July 2002 on the right of information in Albania.

2. In the complaint of citizens K.G. and M.G., they describe briefly the privatization process of bar restaurant “1 Maji” in Pogradec and claim that this privatization was handled in an irregular manner. After preliminary verification of this complaint from our office, it resulted that:

In 1993, the NPA publishes, in the list of auctions, the privatization of this object. In this publication, the surface of the functional land under the object is 467m2. The winner of the auction, A.B., in the contract drafted by NTAN of Pogradec and NPA, Pogradec branch, is declared as the owner of this object.  Later the object was sold to the two new owners and the NPA branch of Pogradec authorizes the sale of the land, which is surprisingly registered with a surface of 1967 m2, thus 4 times bigger.

In 1994, through the Decision No. 55, dated 07.02.1994 of KKKP Pogradec, the above- mentioned complainants are recognized as the owners of a land surface of 462 m2 for the surrounding sides of the object bar restaurant “1 Maji”, while not violating the functional space of this object. In the reasoning part of this decision it is made clear that the land surface of 462 m2 is not declared in the auction and as a result it is free. This decision, in its reasoning aspects, explains also the leasing contractual relationship between the owners of the land surface of 462 m2 and the owner of the object, who has made use also of this surface for his business activity. In paragraph 2 of this decision of the KKKP Pogradec, it is sanctioned this part of the reasoning, thus paving the way to a contradictive leasing relationship among the parties.  

The complainants have been recognized by court the right for preliminary purchase of the object for the part of the land.

While viewing that this judicial decisions could not be executed, as the privatization took place in 1993 and the contract for selling the land was made in 1994, the complainants appealed a new case to the court with the charge subject of partial invalidity of land sales contract. This request was accepted through a decision of District Court of Pogradec and is in power by the Appeal Court of Tirana and the High Court. In these conditions, the decisions of the previous courts remain valid and should have been executed from the signing parties of the land sales contract.

The Ministry of Economy (where this issue was brought for review by the NPA) concluded that it couldn’t proceed with the assessment of the land anticipated in the contract, as its respective directorates assess only the surfaces of the objects under privatization. In order to solve this problem, we recommended that the NPA should accelerate the administrative procedures to execute the judicial decisions and undertake all legal actions, as the superior organ of the NPA Pogradec branch, for restoring the parties in the previous conditions, so that all the rights on ownership, denied to the complainants, are granted. 

The NPA accepted our recommendation, thus the complaint was solved in favor of the complainants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.      Ministry of Justice

 

During 2002 we reviewed a total of 358 requests related to authorities under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, and concretely with the General Directorate of Prisons and the General Directorate of Bailiff’s Offices. 

From the very beginning, we would like to highlight that the collaboration with this ministry has been more qualitative and effective, in comparison to previous years. This is dedicated also to the appropriate attitude and vision of the existing Minister of Justice, Mr. Spiro Peçi and his activity in acknowledging the issues of the human rights and the role of the People’s Advocate institution.

 

a. Complaints against the prisons and the penitentiary administration

 

          By the end of 2002, there were 1,780 prisoners in the Albanian prisons, 272 convicts kept in the isolation cells of the police stations. Approximately there were also 1,220 detainees, as their investigation or disposition to the court had not completed. That brings a total of 3,000 individuals deprived of liberty versus 2,650 from the previous year. We have received many complaints in relation to the prisons and the penitentiary administration. The prisons are closed institutions and the freedom of speech is limited, consequently it is easier to abuse with the rights of the prisoners.  Therefore, we have paid and will continuous pay closer attention to the complaints coming from this category of individuals.

          During 2002, the personnel of the People’s Advocate has visited almost all the prisons in service and the isolation rooms of the police stations in the districts, where convicts with a court decision finally disposed and detainees waiting to appear to the court, are kept.

During the visits in these institutions, we met personally with 125 prisoners and/or detainees. In 220 cases, the complaints of the convicts were in a written form. A total of 345 persons complained, including prisoners, their family members or prisons’ administrative personnel who have brought to our attention their cases relating to the judicial administration, prosecutors’ office and the prisons administration. 107 more individuals complained this year, compared to the figures of the previous year.

As a characteristic for the prisons during 2002, we can highlight the considerable increase in the number of complaints reported in our office, the organization of several inspections from our personnel in the prisons and isolation rooms, and a new means given to the prisoners to present their complaints. In 12 cases (included in the total amount), the prisoners reported in their complaints via telephone lines, placed at their disposal. This indicates a great openness of the Albanian prisons and is a high achievement of the People’s Advocate institution.

168 prisoners presented their complaints in a written form. Classified according to the prisons, the statistics are as the following:

 

  1. Prison 313 Tirana                         19 complaints

  2. Prison 302 Tirana                         21 complaints

  3 Prison 325 Tirane                          07 complaints

  4. Lushnja Prison                              26 complaints

  5. Tepelena Prison                            11 complaints

  6. Burrel Prison                                28 complaints

  7. Vaqarr Prison                               14 complaints

  8. Penitentiary Prison                        21 complaints

  9. Rrogozhina Prison                       07 complaints

10. Kruja Prison                                 01 complaints

11. Detention Cells                    13 complaints

 

          The family members of the prisoners reported in a total of 44 complaints, and the directorate of prisons or the police stations in districts brought in 8 complaints. According to gender division, 194 complaints came from men and 19 from women.

In relation to the status of completion, the complaints are described as below:

From 220 received complaints, 209 complaints are resolved, while 11 are under investigation. 21 pending complaints from 2001 in the first months of 2002 are all completed.      

          In the resolved cases, 81 of them or 34% of the total are in favor of the complainants, 96 of them or 45 % of the total are forwarded to the competent organs, and 33 complaints or 17% of the total are considered as groundless or refused as invalid.

          According to their nature, the complaints are classified as the following:        

1. Many of the prisoners complained that are unjustly kept in the isolation rooms of the police stations, when the court decisions have been pronounced as final verdict long ago.

They claim to have been violated the right recognised by article 462 of the Code of Penal Procedure ordering immediate execution of the judicial verdict, when pronounced as a final verdict.

The number of complaints of this nature has considerably increased during this reporting year. For this reason, the People’s Advocate institution undertook an inspection and it resulted that a significant number of convicts is being kept and continues to be kept unjustly in the isolation rooms of the police stations in the districts. 

For the concrete cases of convicts with presented complaints, we have recommended that they were immediately sent to prisons.

In response to our recommendations, in the memorandum dated 26.12.2002, the General Directorate of Prisons, although faced with an over population of the prisons, but acknowledging the legal obligation to administer the number of convicts with a final verdict, has taken measures for removal of these convicts from the isolation rooms.

As previously highlighted, one of the main directions of our work has been and will remain the settlement of the issue of prisoners kept unjustly in the isolation rooms. As known, in April 2001, the Institution of the People’s Advocate undertook an investigation to assess the situation and identify the reasons for keeping the convicts in the isolation rooms and not settling them in prisons. In conclusion, we recommended to the Ministry of Justice to take measures to stop the violation of the law.

 In response to our recommendation, the Ministry of Justice informed that with the completion of the prisons in Rrogozhina and Lezha, this problem would be solved finally. With the construction of the Rrogozhina prison and adopting of Law No. 8895, dated 16.05.2002 “On Granting Amnesty” the number of convicts kept in isolation rooms is reduced only by 160 prisoners. Actually the number of convicts kept in isolation rooms is quite high. (On 07.01.2003 it was 272.)

 In special cases, particularly for the juveniles, or those kept for long periods in pre-detention, we mutually agree with the General Directorate of Prisons to remove them to prisons.

In the ongoing meetings with the highest officials of the Ministry of Public Order and Ministry of Justice, we have requested that measures are taken to gradually pass the isolation rooms under jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. In the April 2002 meeting, they stated that this process will initiate shortly for the isolation rooms in Durres and Vlora, nonetheless these promises are not yet a reality. Recently we were informed of the order given by the Prime Minister to pass, within the first quarter of 2003, all the isolation rooms of police stations in districts, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice.  

Our institution will continue requesting that the commitments made to open new prisons in Peqin and Lezha, are kept. Nevertheless we believe that simply building new prisons will not solve the problem of over population in prisons. Above all, more priority should be first given to the preventive efforts that our society and the Albanian Government contribute and secondly, the offices of the state’s attorney and the courts should follow fairer policies in execution of security measurements. They should apply measurements such as fines or home arrests, and give other forms of convictions, and not only imprisonment. 

The deprivation of freedom is an extreme measurement and should be given and used only if other alternative measures do not apply due to the high threat of the penal wrongdoing of its author.

2. Mentally ill prisoners kept unjustly in the prison’s hospital.

During 2002, the Institution of the People’s Advocate inspected the Hospital of the Prisons to investigate the status of mentally ill for which the court has taken medical measurement of obligatory medication, and are kept unjustly in imprisonment conditions. From the inspection, it resulted that these persons, although not convicted, are still kept with a prisoner’s status. Another hindrance, for finally resolving this matter, comes from the non-fulfillment with necessary acts and by-laws to protect these individuals. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice should issue these acts and by-laws.

The inspection identified these people as being kept in prisons without a conviction. Our investigation uncovered that the main hindrance for final resolve of this issue is the failure from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Justice to supplement legal acts and by-laws for the protection of this category of people. For this purpose, we made the recommendation, dated 13.05.2002 for the augmentation of the requests in Law No. 8092, dated 03.02.1996 “On Mental Health” to issue regulations “On security measures of persons that the court has not taken obligatory medical treatment measures”. Our recommendation is addressed to the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health and the former Prime Minister, Pandeli Majko, with the following content:

The People’s Advocate Office has received complaints from the family members of these persons, which have committed a penal dead and are treated as convicts. They request the placement of these people in mental institution, as stated by article 45 in Law No. 8331, dated 21.04.1998 “On the Execution of Judicial Decisions for Obligatory Medication”. This law states: “The medical measurement of obligatory medication is implemented by a specialized institution as defined by the Ministry of Health based on the request of the Prosecutor”.

          Article 42 of Law No. 8092, dated 03.02.1996 “On Mental Health” states: “Security measures for the above mentioned persons in article 41 are taken by the respective organs to protect them, according the regulations approved by the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Health”.

          Based on this provision, the law defines the responsibilities of the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health to approve the regulations for the obligatory security of people, which have committed a penal dead and are given a verdict from the court and who should suffer their punishment in a psychiatric institution.  Although six years have passed since the time the Law “On Mental Health” has been approved, this set of regulations is not yet issued. Actually all the convicts with obligatory medical treatment, in complete violation with the law, are still living the Prisons Hospital or in some cases in the police stations. This status speaks for failure to execute article 28 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania which states that each individual has the right to human treatment and respect of dignity, and has left open avenues for abuse with the legal obligations towards the rights of freedom of these people, while aggravating their mental health.

          People’s Advocate has evaluated that the lack of issuance of such set of regulations, based on article 42 of the above-mentioned law, causes the premises for the violation of the prisoners’ rights. Thus it has recommended that the regulations “For security measures of persons that the court has not taken obligatory medical treatment measures”, be issued immediately. We have received no response to such matter.

          In reality, former Kruja hospital, planned to become a hospital for mentally ill, operates as a prison and not as a mental institution. As the law forbids the placement of these persons in normal prisons, it becomes impossible to have them removed to this prison.

          This issue will continue to be our concern and priority during 2003.

          3. Use of force or other violations from the prison police.

          Based on the complaints coming from the prisoners of Burrel prison, the People’s Advocate has started an investigation. At first, we have organized meetings with the prisoners and then performed medical-legal examination for use of physical beating. In conclusion, the prisoners claimed that these mistreatments have taken place long time ago and there can be no evidence of bruises. With the purpose to take measures for the prevention of such violations in the future, we made a recommendation to the General Directorate of Prisons.

          In their response, the General Directorate of Prisons acknowledges as correct our observation that prisoner F.N. in Burrel prison had created a gang of convicts and exercised violence on other prisoners, and that our recommendation to take appropriate measures was right. Thus these measures have been taken by transferring this prisoner from the Burrel prison to another one.

          N.T., named Nikoleta, has complained that she was mistreated while the police accompanied her to the court. From our investigation we found that the police offended her as hermaphrodite. Thus we brought this concern with the director of Prison 313 and later the offence was halted.

          Prisoners A.P., Gj.K. F.B. and others have complained that they lack water during 24 hours that telephone calls are made in the presence of policemen that the medical service leaves much to be desired, that they cannot exercise religious rites due to lack of conditions, and other issues. As per their statement, we requested explanation from the General Directorate of Prisons. Based on this, it created a working group to verify the situation and take respective measures in accordance with the law.

          4. Seven complaints came from prisoners with heavy illness, with no hope for cure, paralysed and unable to perform basic human activity. They have requested to be released to die at home than in jail, as it happened with two prisoners.

          The People’s Advocate, himself, visited them in the prison hospital, saw their situation and heard the hospital doctors and personnel, who confirmed that this people had no hope to live. For these complaints the People’s Advocate sent a recommendation on the need to release the prisoners suffering from heavy illness. We addressed the Ministry of Justice by stating that: “…. based on their actual situation, which is worsening day by day and being on the brink of death, as it happened with prisoners Xh.S. and S.Gj., which were in bad condition, we think that their release does not represent any threat to the society. Their release from prison will be welcomed also on the human level. Although they have committed serious crimes, they are treated as human beings. Besides, the public budget clears out this financial obligation. Therefore, in perspective of amicus curiae (friend of the court) and based on article 478 of the Code of Penal Procedure, we suggest taking initiatives and requesting from the districts courts their release. This request was welcomed and the pertinent procedures for the release of such prisoners have started. 

          5. Some complainants claim that their rights, recognized by law on amnesty during 1997 and in 2002, have been violated. 10 complaints were reported in and in all these cases we had meetings either with the prisoners or their family members. We clarified with them the criteria for the implementation of the law, and showed the legal ways they need to follow to claim their aspired right. In the presented cases, there was no mistake on amnesty implementation. 

          6. Prisoners’ complaints against courts’ decisions.

          There are 64 cases when the convicts have undergone through all the courts degrees and pretend that the courts have treated wrongly their evidences and the circumstances of the penal deed for which they have been convicted. They request legal assistance for presenting their requests for the review of judicial decisions. Simultaneously, they have evidenced their financial inability to pay private defense attorneys. In these cases we have made it clear to these prisoners that the revoking of judicial decisions is not under the jurisdiction of People’s Advocate.  We passed their requests for free legal assistance to nonprofit foundations created for this purpose and we have also notified the complainants for such action.       

7. Famine strikes

In four cases that the prisons administration informed us on the prisoners’ famine strikes, we intervened as intermediates between the parties. In some cases the prisoners ceased the strike, as the requests for which they were right, were fulfilled. Whereas, in cases when the strike was used as a means of pressure to change court’s decision, we clarified that their complaint was not under our jurisdiction and that this case can not be solved with a famine strike, but by appealing to the highest instances of judicial system.

8. Complaints for inexistence of prisoners’ personal files.

Five prisoners complained that the personal documentation files, kept by the prisons’ administration do not have acts certifying that the data for their sentencing are different from those reflected in their files.

Our office has requested detailed explanations for each case and we intervened quickly to restore the rights of these prisoners.

9. Complaints for unreasonable transfers from one prison to the other.

In 9 cases, prisoners have complained for unreasonable transfers or have requested for transfers in different prisons. From our verification it was found that there were no cases of illegal transfer from one prison to the other. In special cases, for enmity reasons, we have intervened that the General Directorate of Prisons makes the necessary and required transfers.

10. There were two complaints from prisoners claiming that they were denied the right to visit their families for special events. In both cases these complaints were groundless.

11. Complaints of prisoners extradited from Greece and suffering their sentencing in Albanian prisons.

By request of the Directorate of Rrogozhina prison, to hold a meeting with 16 prisoners claiming that they were violated the rights by the decisions of Greek courts, a delegated group from the People’s Advocate held individual meetings with each prisoner and heard carefully their complaints. They pretended that they were conviction was undeserved. 

We explained patiently and persistently that these decisions are not under our jurisdiction, and at the same time explained the ways they should follow to solve their problems. We have recommended to them that they can object these decisions also by appealing to the Strasburg Human Rights Court, and we gave written clarifications on the procedures to take such actions.

12. There are four complaints coming from family members of Albanian citizens suffering prison time in other countries.

They claim that the prisons in Italy and Greece have exercised physical force to their family members and also that they do not know the reasons they are kept in prisons.

As these requests are not under our jurisdiction to review and solve, we have sent them to the Consul Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania, which through the consul offices in these countries can provide assistance based on Law No. 8372, dated 09.07.1998 “On the Exercise of Consul Functions from the Diplomatic or Consul Entities”. 

To aid these Albanian convicts outside the country, our institution has expressed its involvement by implementing the project of sending a brochure in Albanian language, titled “Legal acts in assistance to prisoners outside Albania” to the foreign prisons libraries. This brochure is printed and we are waiting for the permission to be granted by Ministries of Justice of other Countries to the Albanian Ministry of Justice, to allow this brochure to be part of the prisons libraries.

From the analysis of complaints and requests of the prisoners inside the prisons and isolation rooms of the police stations, during 2003, the People’s Advocate Office should aim to accomplish the following main recommendations:

1. Follow with priority the conclusion of the process of transferring the detention rooms from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Order to that of Ministry of Justice, as the Prime Minister has ordered in meeting the deadline of March 2003.

 2. Put in a mental institute, as the law requires, the people for which the court has ordered obligatory medication.

3. Fulfill the requests of Law No. 8328, dated 16.04.1998 “On the Rights and Treatment of Prisoners”, by drafting a Council of Ministers decision and sending to the Government for approval, on the criteria of salary payment to the prisoners. For this recommendation, dated 04.09.2002, the Minister of Justice, Mr. Spiro Peçi gave this answer:

“We find your recommendation as correct and in conformity with the requirements of the International Convent for the people sentenced in prison.

In appreciation of your initiative we inform you that, in the review of the working plan of the Minister of Justice according to the Government program, during 2003, we will draft and send for approval the Decision of the Council of Ministers “On the Compensation of Prisoners’ Work”.

4. Recommend the creation of necessary conditions for the function of the Supervisory Commission executing the decisions for imprisonment, according to the third chapter of Law No. 8331, dated 21.04.1998 “On the Execution of Penal Decisions”.

This commission will operate under the Minister of Justice and will cover the whole country. It is responsible to recommend the proceeds of immediate measures in restoring the law and the violated rights, based on the presented complaints and notifications of the prisoners. According to article 60 of the above law, the commission, is comprised of 9 members, appointed by: (1) the President of the Republic, the Chairman of the People’s Assembly and the Prime Minister, who each elect an individual that does not hold public office; (2) The respective Ministers of health, food, construction and culture, elect as member one of their staff, with the condition that he/she is a specialist of a relevant field; and (3) the National Chamber of Lawyers elects one member. The chairman and vice chairman of this Commission are elected in the first meeting held by the members.  

As we closely inquired into this matter, we found that:

The creation of this commission is still in tentative efforts. The appointed members of this Commission held the first meeting in 1999 and elected the chairman and the vice chairman. After that, it has performed no activity.

We recommended the creation of the necessary environment for this Supervisory Commission to start its activity in the execution of the decisions for imprisonment, as well as the proceeds for drafting and approval by Government of a decision for the compensation of the members of this Commission. They have received no response.

During 2002, in connection to the presented cases, such as the supplement of Law “On the Prisoners’ Rights” by Government decision for the compensation of their work and the issuance of sets of regulations for each involved institution, the recommendations of the People’s Advocate have become a reality.

         

b. Complaints against the Bailiff's Offices

 

During 2002, 138 complaints were submitted to our Institution against the Bailiff's Offices; 39 are pending for review during 2003, while 99 are reviewed and settled. Eighteen complaints, or about 18 % of the complaints lodged, have been resolved in favor of the complainants. During 2001, 104 complaints were submitted to our Institution against these offices.

              The main scope of complaints relates to non-execution of final judicial verdicts by the state-budget enterprises that are on the debtors’ side. The problem of non-execution of judicial decisions from the losers of the cases, the state-owned enterprises, is ongoing and yet without a solution. The debit, from new judicial decisions and existing ones charging gained interest or lost profit, is increasing.        

          During 2001, People’s Advocate made a recommendation to the Minister of Finance and Minister of Justice, to take measures for issuing instructions as stated in Decision of Council of Ministers No. 335, dated 02.06.1998 “On the Procedures of Executing Judicial Decisions for Obligations Affecting the State Budget”. The recommendation was made due to the fact that the above mentioned Decision of the Council of Ministers states that the procedures for disbursement of financial amounts are established through a common set of instructions, by the Minister of Finance and Minister of Justice.

          Unfortunately this Guide is not yet issued, becoming a serious hindrance for the execution of judicial final verdicts and violating the rights and legitimate interests of citizens. It is important to highlight that the constitutional obligations, underlined in paragraph 3 of article 142 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, are not yet fully understood and executed. The above-mentioned paragraph states: “The Governmental authorities are obliged to execute judicial decisions”. In relation to this problem, we have received complaints and requests for our intervention from officials of various public institutions, claiming that they have been fined from the Bailiff’s Office with considerate amounts, in execution of article 606 of the Penal Procedure Code.

However, in several cases, we have combined our insisting intervention with that of the Bailiff’s Office towards collecting debt from the state-budget enterprises, thus enabling the execution of the obligation. Worth mentioning are the cases of complainants G.P. and A.Gj. from Tirana, and N.C. from Burrel. Local and central administration organs paid the monetary obligations owed to the above complainants. 

          Typical is also the delay of judicial decision execution in favor of complainants N.M. from Fier, for release of house. The obstacle in this case was an order of the former Prefect advising the District Police Station not to assist the Bailiff’s Office to execute the obligatory judicial decision.

Intervention to execute the procedural law made it possible the release for use of the house, which should have taken place a long time ago.

Complainant LL.R. from Korca pressed charges against the Korca Appeal Court Decision, which revoked the Decision of the Korca District Court and the trial of the case, which is contrary to legal procedures. The complainant has presented his complaint with the High Court, which decided to rescind the execution of the Korca Appeal Court Decision, however the Bailiff’s Office did not take respective measures as the law required. Based on our recommendation it was made possible that the Korca Bailiff’s Office decide to put the construction work on hold, till further consideration and until the High Court issues its Decision on this matter.

          In some cases, we have evidenced that the actions of specific bailiff’s officials have been based on civil procedural dispositions. There are several indefinite delays of deadlines for the voluntary execution of obligations, or non-execution of obligations even they involve minimal amounts, such as in the case of food obligations.

During the process of verifying bailiff’s official files for the complainants’ cases, the most flagrant fact is the decision to terminate executions due to lack of payment means or not find debtors’ assets, without prior verifying or receiving official confirmation from the Taxation Offices, second-tier banks, from which data can be obtained for tangible and intangible assets of the debtors.

We have informed the Bailiff’s General Directorate at the Ministry of Justice, with which we have satisfactory collaboration, on these deficiencies on a case-by-case basis.

We highlight another positive fact that numerous Bailiff’s offices, which follow continuously the procedures for the execution of executive titles and follow our suggestions. Such are the cases with the Bailiff’s Offices in Kukes, Mat, Gjirokastra and Berat.

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. People’s Advocate and its relations with courts and judicial power

 

          1. Legal Background

 

The People's Advocate Institution is a rather new institution for the Albanian society and culture, however, along with the courts, it is one of the two most important institutions that protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens.

It is common knowledge that the judges are independent in pronouncing their verdicts, but they are not independent from the laws applicable. Their independence benefits public interests. Their verdicts cannot and should not by any means be subject to examination or evaluation beyond the judicial procedures, on the part of the courts of higher instances. Any attempt made by the other powers, the legislative, or the executive, with respect to evaluating justice or injustice given by the judicial verdicts, is dangerous for the rule of law and democracy. They are especially dangerous for the fundamental human rights and freedoms. In this respect, the judiciary has been and will be supported even by the People's Advocate.

          On the other hand they should not abuse with this independence, by not executing the Constitution and its respective laws, and above all by violating the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens. It is known that in Albania the court should raise its efficiency and gain the trust of the public. The assistance given by the People’s Advocate’s office, which is apart from the judicial system as an institution, shall play an important role in this matter.

With reference to our information acquired through the literature consulted, as well as through exchanging the legislation and experiences with our colleagues from various countries, the Ombudsman's power in relation to the judicial bodies varies from one country to the other. The Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman, where this institution has originated and officially functions since 1809, has maximum authority.

The Constitution and the Law “On People's Advocate” have resolved our relationships correctly. Our jurisdiction, in relation to the judiciary system, is established in such a way that it does not affect, or threatens the judges' independence in pronouncing the judicial verdicts.

The Constitution of the Republic of Albania, endorsed in 1998, in its article 60 defines that: “The People's Advocate protects the individual's legitimate rights, freedoms, and interests against the illegitimate and incorrect actions or omissions of the public administration bodies”.

Paragraph 3 and 4 of article 63, of the Constitution, states that: “The People's Advocate shall be entitled to make recommendations and proposals on respective measures, in cases when violations of human rights and freedoms by the public administration have been noticed. The public bodies and senior officials are obliged to submit to the People's Advocate the entire range of the documents and information required.” 

Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People's Advocate”, in article 25 emphasizes that: “In addition to other issues, even the judiciary verdicts are beyond the People's Advocate jurisdiction. Without violating paragraph c pertinent to this law, the People's Advocate admits complaints, requests, or notifications concerning human rights violations, deriving from the activity of the judicial power administration, and the judicial procedures. The investigation conducted by the People's Advocate does not affect the judiciary independence in pronouncing the judicial verdicts”.

Furthermore, according to paragraph b, article 18 of the Law “On People's Advocate”, after the complaint, request, or notification is received for further examination, the People's Advocate “…enjoys the right to demand explanations from the administration bodies, as well as the prosecution, in cases of arrests and pre-detentions”.

Paragraph b, article 19, states that the People's Advocate is entitled to require explanations from any central or local Government body, as well as have access to any files or material associated with the investigation underway”.

Whereas paragraph dh, article 21 pertinent to this law, states that “After the completion of the respective investigation, the People's Advocate takes the following steps:  The People's Advocate notifies the competent body about the violation of rights by the judicial power bodies, without interfering into the procedures the latter apply”. 

Hence, it is evident that the Constitution and the respective law, gives to our institution access to the judicial bodies. Our almost three-year activity speaks for a common understanding with the Judiciary concerning these issues and we believe that this relationship will continue in the future, since our mutual concern to be punctual in carrying out into effect the fundamental human rights. The judges, except of those who deliberately violate laws, should not fear the verifications of the respective judicial files made by the People's Advocate with respect to the complaints lodged. Furthermore, these files are open to every individual (involved in the judicial case, or their defense attorneys), naturally the examination carried out by the People's Advocate has not affected and will not affect in any way the independence of the judicial verdicts and their authority.

Our country, as a former communist country, is undergoing a period of transition and still has several shortcomings and drawbacks in the activity related to giving justice by the courts. These phenomena result from reasons varying from the judges' incapacity to their corruption.

Therefore, the access of the People's Advocate is considerate. It is not simply the People’s Advocate opinion, but also of many prestigious institutions operating in the field of human rights, that this is a good legal solution, given the Albanian conditions. There are also several advanced opinions, coming through numerous complainants requesting our participation in the judgment of their cases, that we should revoke the decisions considered unfair. 

The People's Advocate assists the courts in their work when it notifies the Ministry of Justice or the High Council of Justice on procedural violations or administrative violations of the courts. The People’s Advocate assists also by asking the administration to implement by all means all the judicial verdicts. It is in this way that the judiciary authority is enhanced in relation to that branch of the executive, whose attitudes have manifested and are still manifesting disregard for the authority of the judicial verdicts, bringing about incalculable (non-economic) detriments to the rule of law.

 

2. Complaints against Courts

 

During 2000, in six months operation of our institution, we have processed 177 complaints comprising 22% of total complaints lodged. There were 392 complaints or 17% of total complaints, reviewed during 2001.

During 2002, we receive numerous complaints against court decisions and judicial procedures.  There were 405 complaints, or 13% of all total complaints addressed for review to our institution.

The majority of them, 269 complaints, were against judicial decisions, thus being out of our jurisdiction. We refused these complaints. Besides them, 136 complaints came with the subject of delays of judgment for either penal or civil cases. Also these complaints were for:

- Violation of judicial procedures mainly when they have not been allowed to participate as a party in the court case when they had the legal rights to do so;

- Arbitrary actions of judicial administration;

- Requests for the People’s Advocate participation and representation on their behalf in the judgment of the cases;

- Clear judicial decisions are not given;

- Delays in passing the files from the District Courts to Appeal Courts and vice versa;

- Rejection for review of court decisions;

- Lack of financial means to defend themselves through a private defense attorney, as they are under difficult economic conditions;

- Accusation toward the “corrupted judges” that pronounce unjust decisions; and others.

During 2002 we settled 37 complaints in favor of the complainants for violation of judicial procedures and other violations made by the judicial administration.

 

a) Complaints against District Courts

 

Out of the total of 308 complaints against district courts, 110 are for cases under trial.

After analyzing the requests and complaints against the district courts, it results that the main subject is the delays in the trial of the cases by the judges, which they accuse that the main purpose of the delays are to show favors for the other party.

After verification of these complaints, it is generally observed that the documented reasons for these delays came from the parties not showing up in court, the witnesses or experts not showing up, difficulties in notifying people, the free movement of people, incorrect addresses and other reasons. Thus formally the complainants have no grounds in their claims. However it is worth highlighting that in essence they may not be right, but the accused judges have “cautiously” taken care that legally there is no proof of any violation.

Out of the group of complaints addressed for delays of sentencing, we can mention some cases, which speak for organizational subjugation or deficiencies for a swift judgment from specific judges.

1. Citizen E.K. from Korca complains that Judge M. Kuqo, in a civil case in the Korca District Court, has delayed her judgment without any legal cause. After verification, it resulted that this judge has suspended the case in order to make verification at the Korca Saving Bank, to which he has sent a written request. The Bank has not responded yet. While noticing that six months had passed since this action, we observed a negligent stand and unjustified delay in judgment of this case. Thus we recommended to the Ministry of Justice to take a disciplinary action against the judge of this case. The Minister of Justice, from his side, responded that the encroachment, found in our recommendation, is correct, but it is not found reasonable to take judicial measures against this judge. 

2. Citizen S.M. from Shkodra, complained that his daughter A.M. was arrested on 01.05.2001 by the Tirana Persecutor Office on charges of theft and destruction of property and that the Tirana District Court has delayed this case without any legal causes.

After verifying this complaint, it resulted that the cause for the delay was the non-appearance of witnesses in court, because they changed the addresses they had given during preliminary investigation. We held a meeting with the convict in Tirana 313 Prison and it was clear that she was under mental depression during the pre-detention and it was difficult to communicate with her.

Under these circumstances, we recommended to the Tirana Court that the convict should undergo a legal and neuro-psychiatric examination to assess her mental state and if she is able and responsible to face the court for the penal acts she is accused of.

Meanwhile, her private defense attorney repeated his request at the People’s Court to change the security measurement from imprisonment, to house arrest, thus for her to be judged as free. The court accepted this request, by noticing the heavy mental and neuro-psychiatric situation of the convict.

3. Citizen S.L. From Korca complained that the judge B. Shehu, of Korca District Court, had suspended the judgment of the civil case during 1998 with the reasoning that both parties under judgment had another case open with the Tirana District Court.

          After verifying this complaint, it resulted that during 1998 the parties had another civil case open with the Tirana District Court. The plaintiff had requested that the judge of the case be excluded and the file has been sent for judgment to the Tirana Appeal Court. This court, after judging the case, decided not to accept the request.

          The file was sent again for further judgment to the Tirana People’s Court. It resulted that two other files related to this case existed and during the transfer from one court to the other, these files were lost.             

          Tirana District Court issued a certificate confirming that the case is under trial and that judge B. Shehu had suspended the case based on this. Thus these cases were kept under suspension from 1998 till the end of 2002. Even the judge A. Broci, in the Tirana People’s Court, with no ground for suspension, still suspended the judgment of the case by reasoning that the original files were still at the Appeal Court and he had not received them.

          In conclusion, two civil files are lost. Thus we recommended to the Tirana Persecutor’s Office that the penal procedures should start for the two judicial secretaries of the Tirana Appeal Court. Whereas for the unjustified delay of the two civil cases, we recommended to the Minister of Justice to take disciplinary actions towards the two judges, based on Law No. 8811, dated 17.05.2002 “On the Organization and Functioning of the High Council of Justice”

          4. Citizen M.P. from Fier, complained against judge I. Maneku of Fier District Court, stating that the judge intentionally has taken out of the file some property documentations. After verifying the complaint, it resulted that the loss of documentation came from the negligence of the judge I.Maneku. Thus we recommended to the Minister of Justice to take disciplinary actions against this judge. The case is being followed.

5. Citizen A.S. and M.S. from Korca, complained against the Korca District Court for delay in judgment of a civil case, with the subject of property. After verifying this complaint, it resulted that the Korca District Court had suspended the judgment of this case in absence of the plaintiffs. The District Court sent a copy of the decision. We informed the complainants and advised them to appear before the District Court so that they can receive the decision according to the law and later they can appeal to the Korca Appeal Court. The complainants followed our instructions and the Korca Appeal Court revoked the Decision of the District Court and returned the case for re-judgment. During re-judgment, the request of the complainants was accepted.

6. Citizen S.S. from Fier complained against the decision of the Vlora Appeal Court, which had revoked the decision of the Fier People’s Court and suspended the case. After verifying and analyzing the content of the decision of the Vlora Appeal Court, it resulted that the court had suspended the case because the complainant had wrongly raised his claim. In this decision, he was advised to file a new case with a different subject. Based on this, we also instructed the complainant and he drafted a new charge and the judgment of the case continued normally, thus settling the complaint.

7. Citizen R.Xh. presented a complaint by accusing a magistrate of the Lezha District Court for corruption in the judgment of the civil case with the subject of divorce. For this action, the complainant confirmed that he had given initially an amount of money to the judge, who took that and still did help him in the case. It resulted that the complainant had not denounced the actions of this magistrate to the prosecutor’s office. Later, through another request addressed to People’s Advocate Office, he requested for this case not to be pursued. Thus, based on article 13 of the Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1000 “On People’s Advocate” we decided to archive the complaint, as the complainant did not approve for us to pursue this case.

We have received complaints for delays in trials also from citizen K.A. from Elbasan, S.M. from Saranda, S.Gj from Lezha, A.Sh. from Tirana, H.M. from Shkodra and L.J. from Kruja.

In some cases the complaints dealt with occurred trials, claiming for bias positions and lack of objectivity. They requested the assistance of the People’s Advocate to represent them in the trial of their cases either at the Appeal Court or High Court.

In his notification, citizen K.M., a private lawyer from Saranda, informed us on some misdemeanors of magistrates of the Saranda District Court. According to him, the arbitrary actions and behaviors of these magistrates have made citizens loose trust, by arguing that these magistrates have the tendency to avoid defense attorneys from the defense of cases and want to perform this role themselves. We sent his information to the Inspection Office of the High Council of Justice.   

While not being able to hire a private defense attorney, some complainants have requested our assistance. We clarified with them that they should approach the legal foundations that provide their services for free.

In his complaints, citizen S.C. from Mat, states that, although he has objected the judicial decisions of the Tirana District Court and Tirana Appeal Court and filed his complaint, signed by the secretary of the People’s Court, the Tirana District Court did not sent for trial his case to the High Court for more than a year. After verification of this case, it resulted that the cause for the delay was the prolongation in communication of all parties in the process. Due to our intervention, the file was sent immediately for review to the High Court.

Several complaints came against the judicial administration of some districts, which do not give the judicial decisions already revised and argued. For the identified cases, we intervened that the complainants receive these decisions and actually they have receive them.

In some cases, the complainants, due to tiredness and sadness from delays and prolongations of judicial processes from one court to the other, are not convinced with our response that judicial decisions are out of our jurisdiction. They insist that our institution should be able to evaluate the judicial decisions that are unfairly issued or given by corruptive judges. Several complainants have presented to us written documents or convincing facts that they are right. They claim that the court does not accept these documents as evidence. These complaints speak for the fact that in several occasions the complainants have lost trust in the courts and they also accuse them directly as corrupted institutions.

In relation to the delays of penal trials, it is important to highlight the need for some changes in the dispositions of the Code of Penal Procedure for the timeframes of investigation and judgment.

We believe that these prolonged deadlines create the grounds for abuse from specific employees of the prosecutor’s offices and the judicial organs. We think that this problem should be analyzed and some new reasonable deadlines should be proposed. The unjustified delays in the trials violate directly the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individuals.

In relation to the delays and prolongations of the civil trials, by referring to the dispositions of the Code of Civil Procedure, it results that these dispositions do not envision deadlines in the degrees of trial. In review and analysis of the number of complaints we receive for civil trials, it is advisable to explore the opportunities for making assumptions on deadlines for specific civil cases.

Another cause for the delay of civil and penal trial in the courts of first degree is that a trial body of three judges judges many cases. 

 

b) Complaints against Appeal Courts

 

During 2002, 43 complaints were reported in against the Appeal Court, 10 of which are under review. They mainly dealt with the speeding of trials, revoking or changing of decisions of the first degree courts, issue of copies of judicial decisions, delays in sending required files when the cases are dissolved and are sent for re-trial, and other reasons. Most of the complaints resulted as groundless.

Complainant Ll.D. from Fier complained for delays in the trial of his case from the Vlora Appeal Court. After verification, it resulted that the cause for such delay was the appointment of another judge, as a member of the judgment body, by the High Council of Justice. This is often the cause for the delays in Appeal Courts.

 

c) Complaints against High Court

 

Obviously the High Court is independent of the Ministry of Justice, however we classified it under this section due to the fact that the concerns raised by citizens for this court are very similar to those raised for lower courts.

During 2002, 44 complaints were reported in against the High Court, 38 of which came from 2001. 16 complaints are under review.

While analyzing these complaints, it results that they stand for delays in case trials, requests for the People’s Advocate participation in trials, non-issuance of copies of judicial decisions, decisions are not taken on time, and other reasons.

Citizen T.Rr. complains that the civil executive council took one civil case under trial and, although a long time had passed, it had not yet pronounced its decision.

After verifying this case, it resulted that the parties had another open trial with the civil executive council. Thus far, this council had suspended the trial of one case till the other was settled. However the complainant had not been clarified on this fact.

In relation to the complaints against the basis of decisions taken by the High Court, we have clarified with the complainants that this is out of our jurisdiction. In the cases, when the complainants raise claims for an irregular legal trial, based on article 42 and 134, paragraph g of the Constitution, we have advised them to approach by request the Constitutional Court.

In some situations the complaints claim that unfair trial is given to their cases and they were violated the fundamental rights and freedoms from the Albanian public administration and the judicial organs of all levels. We heard their complaints attentively and advised them, based on article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, to approach the Strasburg Court of Human Rights, keeping in mind that these requests should be submitted within six months, after all legal means of complaints, according to the Albanian legislation, have been consumed.

 

3. Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court)

 

This function is not recognized by our legislation.

Amicus curiae, literally means, Friend of the Court, who is an individual having a strong interest or point of view concerning the case under trial, but is not a party in the trial process. He could ask the court's permission to introduce a file, seemingly on behalf of a party concerned, but in fact suggests a fundamental reason in compliance with his views. The files of the Friend of the Court are usually introduced at the Court of Appeal sessions to defend issues of wider public interest, for instance the issues concerning the rights of women, children, and other. Institutions, private individuals, or the Government could present these files. During the appeal sessions at the American Courts of Appeal, these files could be presented only provided they are associated with a written approval by all the parties involved, or the court's permission.

In Albania, with reference to our practice of examining the citizens' complaints, we notice that this role could be adequately played with regard to the cases under trial. In fact, we have been playing this role in isolated cases, such as the case for the tearing down of the building of Hawaii Company when we requested the execution of one-month deadline for this trial and no more delays. Sometimes the judges misunderstand this role, interpreting it as interference in their activity. Actually, this role should be played in connection to the judicial procedures, and major issues, such as the need to implement the fundamental conventions of human rights.

Thus we think that we shall continue to play this role without being influenced by possible misinterpretations.

         

4. Complaints against the Prosecutor’s Office

 

          According to our Constitution, the Prosecution Office is not under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, however for ease of analysis, we have included it under this section.

During 2002, 220 various citizens have reported in 196 complaints or requests against the Prosecution body.  31 complaints were submitted during 2000 and 100 during 2001. Thus we have an increase of 100% in complaints arriving in during 2002, in comparison to 2001.

Out of 196 incoming complaints during 2002, we concluded 175, whereas 21 are under review. 64 cases or 31% of them were settled in favor of the complainants, 87 were out of our jurisdiction and 24 were groundless.

Even during 2002, we reviewed the complaints and concerns of the citizens with high priority. For the complaints under our jurisdiction, the People’s Advocate has reviewed them and has ordered the start of the investigation process by taking the necessary actions such as receiving the required declarations, reviewing existing documentation, performing legal-medical examinations and scientific technical analysis for respective fields of interest, or studying of investigative cases, which the Prosecution office has suspended.

          In many of the cases we visited the houses of the complainants and the requestors, or took requisite actions, by collecting indispensable clarifications from the Prosecution offices, for which the complainant has raised the claim.

The People’s Advocate Office has pursued with high priority the complaints of citizens or associations representing minority communities. As such, we can mention the start of an investigation from our side and with our initiative, after we were informed of a declaration of the Helsinki Albanian Committee in May 2002 for the maltreatment of two Roma people from the police in Ballsh. For two days in a row our experts investigated the case by visiting the police stations and prosecutor’s offices of Ballsh, Fier, Berat Kucove, Lushnje, and the respective hospitals of these towns. It resulted that the incident had not happened and that the declaration was written hastily.

          We can also mention the complaint of the Albanian Roma Union for the death of one of their members in the maternity hospital of Fier. For this purpose, we recommended to the Fier Prosecutor’s Office to start the investigation for the penal crime of “careless medication”. Another case comes from “Drushto Prespa” association, which complained that the Prosecutor’s Office had started a penal case against Mr. S.N., who is one of their members. In fact, the complaint of the president of this association was found groundless and to our opinion, was written with negative intentions “to create the image of discrimination of Macedonian community in Albania”.

          During the review of the complaints against the Prosecutor’s Office, we have found violations of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens, as declared in the article 28 and 31 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania (individual rights and freedoms during a penal process), article 42 (fair and public process within a reasonable timeframe), article 142/3 (Governmental bodies are obliged to execute judicial decisions), and article 5 and 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights (the right of freedom and security and the right for a fair trial.)

          While reviewing the complaints coming during 2002, we observe that the scope of problems has close similarity to that of the previous year. We have classified these complaints as the following”

          1. For delays in investigation of the penal cases.

          For this category, we can mention the complaints of citizens S.M. and P.B. from Tirana, A.S. from Kolonja, F.R. from Kavaja, D.D. from Korca, R.H. from Puka, J.A. from Lushnja, and others.

          2. For non-completion of overall and objective investigations, such as the case of the complaints of citizens M.K. from Tirana, H.L. from Elbasan, P.M. from Korca, and others.

          3. For not taking actions, or not finding as valuable the denunciation of citizens, such as the complaints coming from citizens B.B. from Gurra e Madhe Commune of Mat, A.H. from Burrel, Xh.K. from Lushnja, A.A. from Tirana, and others.

          4. For not notifying or delays in notification for the manner in which the denunciations have been settled or the conclusion of a case been made. Some examples come from citizens S.N. from Tirana, Z.D. from Vlora, H.L. from Elbasan and others.

          5. For unfair and groundless arrests, such as the complaints of citizens A.H. from Skrapar, D.P. from Lezha, Sh.T. from Kavaja, and others.

          Throughout the review of some complaints, we observed that Prosecutor’s office, in many cases has acted hastily and unsubstantiated in concluding the investigations, by offering as a solution the cease or suspense of the investigation. The termination did not come as a result of objective and overall investigation, subsequently we recommended to the General Prosecutor or Head of Prosecutor in district offices to abrogate the decisions. There are several cases under this category during 2002, and we can mention the Penal Case No. 322 of year 2001 of the Elbasan Prosecutor’s Office “for the violation of road traffic regulations”, from the complainant H.L. from Elbasan; the penal case of Tirana Military Prosecutor’s Office for the “violation of guard service regulations, resulting in the death of citizen R.M.”, from the complaint of citizen P.M. from Korca; the case of disappearance of Kosovo citizen R.H., and other.

          A. From the review of the complaints considered valid for the observed violations, the People’s Advocate has presented the General Prosecutor or the Head of Prosecutor in district offices, with 17 recommendations, out of which 11 are accepted and 6 are refused. In general, as stated, the recommendations of the People’s Advocate are accepted. However, and despite our insistence, the General Prosecutor or the district prosecutors took the corresponding actions with a delay of several months. The worst case scenario, they do not give a response at all on the ways the cases have been closed. A great concern of our institution comes from the six cases when we requested for disciplinary measures to be taken for the committed violations from prosecutors or officers of the judicial police. The General Prosecutor responded negatively, by saying that “he does not see as appropriate to take disciplinary actions against them”. We think that this response is incorrect, because it does not clarify if our recommendation was valid or not, and it does not provide arguments why it is considered inappropriate to take disciplinary measures. Here are the following cases:

          1. Recommendation addressed to the General Prosecutor to start the investigation for the penal act of “Abuse with authority” and the suspense from the office of the Prosecutor of Kolonja district Mr. A. Prifti. This prosecutor did not take the required measurements for the execution of the penal decision to remove from the isolation room the citizen R. C. and sent him in a mental institution. As a result, he was kept there, in pre-detention, unfairly for nearly one year.

          2. Recommendation addressed to the General Prosecutor to start the investigation against the District Prosecutor of Lezha, Mr. B. Çiçi for the penal act of “not taking measures for interruption of illegal status”, as stated in article 251 of the Penal Code. The prosecutor of this case should have authorized the immediate release of detainees D.P. and Gj.P. After sending the case in trial from the prosecutor’s office, the Lezha District Court declared as innocent the three Pegjini brothers, for the accusation of “objection to public order police”. This decision remained in power also from the Shkodra Appeal Court.

          3. Recommendation addressed to the General Prosecutor to take disciplinary actions against the former military head prosecutor Mr. A. Goga. In his Penal Case No. 233 of 1998 for the penal act of “crimes against human kind”, the defendant S.M. and his friends, not only were not taken in question, but also were not notified on the decision to extend the deadline of the investigation. Also the decision for the suspension of the case was communicated with seven months delay, thus denying to them the right to appeal in time to the court and leaving them unfairly under the anxiety of investigation.  

          4. Recommendation addressed to the General Prosecutor to take disciplinary actions against the District Prosecutor of Gjirokstra Mr. A. Xholi for the penal case against citizens Sh.T., D.T. and Q.B. accused for the penal act of “production and trading of narcotics”. The prosecutor should have implemented article 257 of the Code of Penal Procedure, and ordered immediate release of citizen Sh.T. kept by police for two days in isolation without the required documents. Later the prosecutor unfairly requested for the same person “arrest in prison with no limit” as a security measurement. The District Court released him from the arrest to obligatory presence upon notification, a decision, which remained in power also from the Gjirokstra Appeal Court. This prosecutor continues to keep the complainant under the fear of being investigated, even after our recommendation.

          5. Recommendation to the General Prosecutor to take disciplinary actions against the prosecutor of Tropoja Prosecution Office Mr. M. Laska, for discernible delays in the investigation of the Penal Case No. 12, dated 21.01.2001 for the penal act of performance of criminal actions” against citizen A.H. since June 21, 2002.The penal procedure is in the investigation phase and is not finished yet.

          6. Recommendation addressed to the Prosecutor of Kukes district to take disciplinary actions against Mr. I. Muçmataj, an officer of Judicial Police, since June 12, 2002. This officer, during the penal procedure process of the convict E.I. from Kukes, accused of the penal act of “deceit”, contravened the procedures by not informing the convict of the results of the investigation. There were two written acts on the case. One had the signature of the convict and the other did not. Thus, this fact says that there is a falsification of the official acts.

B. During the investigation of the cases standing for maltreatments or arbitrary actions of the police organs against citizens, we state that according to the facts, there is a tendency of the prosecutor’s offices “to close”, suspend or annul the cases, when it is obvious that police people have performed penal acts. This happened in some of the cases that the People’s Advocate recommended the start of the investigation for “taking arbitrary actions” or “misuse of power” and others, or when we asked for the re-opening of investigations.

It is worth highlighting the following cases:

          1. A classical case is the maltreatment of the juvenile Ergest Shele in the Saranda police station in 2000, for which the Prosecutor’s Office of Saranda terminated the investigation. It was re-opened after seven months from the former General Prosecutor Arben Rakipi, not out of his will or belief, but that the People’s Advocate raised this case to the attention of the President of the Republic. In the end the case of the former officer Rrapo Xhavarra was sent to trial and judged by the Saranda Court and he was given a conditional sentencing, however the police torturing the juvenile were never found by the Prosecutor’s Office of Saranda.

          2. A similar case of maltreatment comes from the Police Station No. 2 in Tirana against the citizen B.K., for which, with the advice of the General Prosecutor, we delivered our recommendation for this case, by hand, to the prosecutor of Tirana office, Mr. Vexhi Muçmata. The prosecutor started the penal procedure, but only some superficial and delayed investigative actions were taken. In the end, the prosecutor, in an unfair manner, became a “partner” with the police, and decided the suspension of the investigation by reasoning that “the authors of this penal act are unknown”. Later the suspended file was sent to the criminal police of Police Station No.2 to find the authors of the case, in the same police station that these actions took place. (It is quite absurd that the criminal police of this station take the suspended file to investigate and find the authors of the maltreatment, who are the co-workers of the same unit.) By February 2003, the General Prosecutor abrogated the decision to suspend the investigation, however avoiding the analysis of this file case from the aides of the People’s Advocate.

          3. Citizen A.Sh. from Shenmeria of Kukes brought in a complaint for the maltreatment of his brother B.SH. from the policemen of the Police Station of Puka. The battered B.Sh. was hospitalized in the emergency room of Puka hospital, where he remained for one week and later for six weeks in the Prison hospital of Tirana, where he was treated for uremia in kidneys. Although the Military Prosecutor of Shkodra initiated a Penal Action No. 72, dated 25.04.2002, against a number of policemen of police stations in Kukes and Puka, in the end he decided to terminate the penal act procedure, without condemning any policemen, even though in this case the life of this person was saved only as a result of the qualified emergent help from the doctors.

          4. Similar to these cases, are also the complaints of citizen D.P. from Lezha for maltreatment from the policemen of Lezha police station, and of the officer Ervin Hado from Tirana. These cases are explained in details under the section for the police. The General Prosecutor, in his response for the Lezha case, states that “the materials against the policemen are kept aside and the investigation proved that violence has been exercised, even though the identification of the authors was not possible. On the other hand, the status of the presented acts is not sufficient enough to start the penal procedure against the officers of the prosecutor’s office, according to your recommendations, but we welcome them in the scope of collaboration to fight crime.”

We reached in the conclusion, that there is a lack of will and there are delays in taking swift and objective investigations form the prosecution office, in cases when policemen are accused. This conclusion is also supported by the case of the death of citizen G. Tahirllari from the police physical violence. This case is now well known for the public, the governmental institutions and international organizations.

 C. In relation to the Prosecutor Offices, in our three-year activity, we have evidenced the tendency for illegal practices from its behalf, thus not implementing the Constitution and the respective laws in its collaboration with the People’s Advocate. The Prosecutor is among the few offices, which has shown and continues to show “resistance” to the access and activity of our institution. This attitude of the former General Prosecutor, Mr. Arben Rakipi has been intermittent and evident on several cases. Recently, the existing General Prosecutor, Mr. Thedhori Sollaku has expressed the same attitude.

The People’s Advocate held several meetings with the General Prosecutor, Mr. Sollaku to express our concern for these attitudes, which in essence we consider as signs of undermine of the human rights from the organ he heads. However the district prosecutors continue to be incorrect to our recommendations, by not giving detailed explanations for the complaints we have raised. The most negative attitude is that they do not accept to give us some file cases, for which the investigation has terminated, but we have received complaints from various citizens. They justify this actions by saying that “they have been advised by the General Prosecutor” to refuse the collaboration with us. The refusal of the prosecutors to give the required explanations and the documentations, requested by the People’s Advocate is based through the claim that such rights are not envisioned in the Code of Penal Procedure, while it is well known that this Code was drafted in 1995. The prosecutors do not execute article 63, paragraph 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, approved in 1998, which states, “The organs and high public officials are obliged to present the People’s Advocate with all the documentation and information requested by him”. They also do not execute articles 19 and 20 of Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People’s Advocate” which explicitly and authoritatively give the right to the People’s Advocate, while studying a case, to request and receive any documentation, including those classified as a state secret, without prior approval of the organ that possesses these documents.  

In the review of the citizens’ complaints against Prosecutor’s Office, The People’s Advocate institution has based its activity in the correct and objective interpretation of the Constitution, which is foundation of our work, and the execution of the law on penal procedure. We observe that, while evidencing the real infringements of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individuals, who are under penal procedure, we intend to improve the activity of this organ and help increase its standards.  As we analyzed the position of the General Prosecutor, who evaluates that there should not be taken disciplinary actions against the prosecutors abusing with the human rights; who does not mention at all the infringements of the human rights in his analysis report dated February 7, 2003; or who refuses openly and in a written form for the prosecutors to send the requested files to the People’s Advocate, we believe that there is a wrong concept towards the need to respect primarily the human rights and also the rights of the People’s Advocate, thus refusing to collaborate with us.

As relevant to this section, we would like to mention also the speech of the President of the Republic, Mr. Alfred Moisiu, participating in the analysis of the activity of the General Prosecutor’s Office dated February 7, 2003, who, among other things, advised: “It is in the same level of importance the fight against crime or putting convicts to justice, with the protection of human rights and freedoms during the penal procedure or during detention of convicts. There are infringements evidenced in this aspect, thus beside your work, you should collaborate with the People’s Advocate in a more concrete manner, and create all the facilities for this institution to receive information, explanations or files. You should evaluate as very important and with priority all the recommendations of the People’s Advocate, while he exercises his constitutional activity”.

In conclusion we hope that the General Prosecutor will respond positively in the implementation of the Constitution, the laws, and the above-cited advice of the President of the Republic.

 

 

5. Ministry of Public Order

 

The acceptance and the review with priority and rigorousness of the complaints and requests against the Ministry of Public Order and the Police Forces is and will continue to be one of our main activities. This not only for the fact that this organ of the public administration comprises one of the strongest power exercising function of the Government, but also for the specifics of the Albanian Police, which beside the positive results it has achieved, continues to have in its ranks ill-mannered elements, unprofessional, not trained with the basic concepts of the rule of law and respecting the human rights, or corrupted people and other factors.

Our institution received during 2002, a total of 283 complaints, notifications or requests, addressed against the police forces. 107 of these complaints were reported in from citizens of Tirana, and 176 from citizens of other districts. 197 have concluded as the following: 62 or 32% were settled in favor of the complainants, 29 were considered as out of our jurisdiction, and 106 were groundless. 86 complaints are carried over into 2003 for review.

At the same time, during 2002 we have worked to follow up 42 complaints which were pending from 2001. 40 of them are settled, and two are carried over for review during 2003. Four are out of our jurisdiction and eighteen are invalid.

The reviewed complaints, according to the concerns raised, are classified as the following:

 

I. Complaints for the maltreatment of the citizens

 

These complaints become more important, because in cases when they are true, they represents heavy infringements of article 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, which states that “No one shall surrender to torture, scolding or inhuman, humiliating, and criminal treatment.” Meanwhile, they also represent severe infringements of article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights. A great concern remains the fact that a growing number is noticed during this year in comparison to last year. While observing this increasing tendency, since September 2002, we organized a study of this type of incoming complaints and officially raised our concerns to the Minister of Public Order and the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, on January 3, 2003, a grave event took place. The Korca policemen bit to death the citizen G.Tahirllari. This story is very well known to the public and will be dwelt in details in our 2003 Annual Report.

      We received 70 complaints against the governmental police force, out of which 50 were settled as the following: 15 were evaluated as valid, 11 were out of our jurisdiction, 24 were invalid, and 20 are for review.

In the cases when we were able to find truth in the complaints of the complainants for maltreatments from the police forces, we have made the appropriate recommendations to the relevant instances. Only for the maltreatment cases, we made 21 recommendations during this year. Ten of them were addressed to Police instances and 11 to Prosecutor’s Offices. We need to highlights that all our recommendations were accepted and based on them, disciplinary actions were taken against a total of 12 police forces, consisting of eight officers and four policemen. At the same time the Prosecutor’s Office has started the investigation for 24 members of the police forces, respectively eight officers and 16 policemen.

The following are brought as example cases for this section:

          1. Complaint of citizens Xh.Ç., S.Ç. and E.S against the officer of criminal police of Police Station No.2 in Tirana, Mr. Ervin Hodo, who in his unlawful actions, has violated the constitutional rights of the individual and his house.  According to the complainant Xh.Ç. Mr. Hodo had performed an inspection of the house on 24.12.2001 without a judicial warrant and legal reasons. Whereas complaints S.C. and E.S. claimed that they have been unjustly accompanied to the police station and maltreated by Mr. Hodo during 24.11.2001 and 30.11.2001.

          After we verified this complaint, it was proven that the officer of the Criminal Police Forces Mr. Ervin Hodo, with his unlawful actions, had violated the legal and constitutional rights of the complainants and more concretely:

(a)   Immunity of the house holding, granted by article 37 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, and article 202 of the Code of Penal Procedure.

(b)  Prevention to use torture, scold or treat inhumanly, humiliatingly and with cruelty, which is guaranteed by article 25 of the Constitution.

(c)  Also detaining the complainants in the police station beyond the legal deadline, which states up to ten hours, constitute a violation of article 45 of Law No. 8553, dated 25.11.1999 “On the State Police”.

For these unlawful actions, we recommended to the Tirana Prosecutor’s Office the initiation of penal procedure against the officer of Criminal Police Forces, Mr. Ervin Hodo, for the penal act of commission of arbitrary actions, envisioned in article 250 of the Code of Penal Procedure. At the same time, we recommended to the General Director of the Police Forces to give another disciplinary measure, “the suspension from the office”. The above-mentioned instances accepted both our recommendations. Later the Prosecutor’s Office responded that the investigation on this case was terminated, as the complainants had withdrawn their claims. However, we emphasize that terminating a case for the stated reasons is not supported by any law, because, according to the Code of Penal Procedure, the investigation for a penal act of commission of arbitrary actions does not initiate and terminate, based on the request of the sufferer.   

2. Complaint of citizen Xh.S. who claimed that on date 22.01.2002, during 06:45, four policemen of Librazhd Police Station, headed by the police inspector in charge of the area, Mr. Astrit Koja, went to his house in Gurre village. With no legal reasoning, he was hand cuffed, on the order of the inspector, and was accompanied to the police unit of Qukes.  As soon as he entered this unit, he was put in a room, again handcuffed, with one cuff on his hand, and one on the bar of the window, which was in a height of two meters. In such difficult conditions, the complainant asked for the help of policeman Gezim Skenderaj, who offered a piece of concrete stand, in order to ease the pains of the sufferer from the situation created by the standing with one hand hanging. According to the complainant, he was taken into one office and was beaten by Astrit, with a plastic stick, kicks and fists. The complainant also claimed that the police officer Astrit Koja asked him to bring the next day an amount of 25.000 Lek, but he did not give this amount to him. After he left the police station, the complainant took some pictures, which clearly show the bruises of violence, which he got from the police officer, Mr. Astrit Koja.

          From our verification of this complaint, it was proven that the above mentioned policemen went to the house of the complainant and asked him to go with them to the police station and interrogate him on a conflict he had with another citizen, during which three windows of a car were broken. Although the complainant did not disobey their order, he was chained in cuffs and was accompanied to the Police Unit of Qukes, based on orders of police officer Astrit Koja. There, he was kept in a detention room, which was locked and he was interrogated about the above-cited conflict.

          These actions, such as the hand cuffing and locking the door for four hours, represent open and flagrant violations of the fundamental constitutional rights of the citizen Xh.S., which are guaranteed by article 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania. Simultaneously these actions have taken place in contradiction to the article 46 of Law No. 8553, dated 25.11.1999 “On the State Police”, which envisions the cases of the police officer using the force.

          In conclusion of this investigation, we believe that the actions of the police officer Astrit Koja are unlawful and contain elements of a penal arbitrary act. On this basis we recommended to the Prosecutor’s Office of Librazhd to initiate the penal procedure. Our recommendation was accepted and the penal procedure started. We also recommended to the Police Directorate of Elbasan District to give the disciplinary order of “suspension from the office”, which was given immediately.  In the conclusion of the investigation the penal case was passed to the court and is actually under trial.

          3. The complaint of citizens A.C., K.C. and L.C., who claim that their rights were violated by the unlawful actions of the police officers of the Police Station of Shkodra and more concretely:

          The complainants K.C. and A.C. claim that on February 20, 2002, around about 18:00–18:30, while they were traveling in the same vehicle with the citizens R.Sh. and F.D. were stopped near their house from some police officers, who were led by the Chief of the Uniformed Police Section Mr. Valentin Florini and the Chief of the Traffic Police Mr. Fatmir Lleshi. After they were stopped, they were ordered to get out of the car and were given a physical personal check. The police officers checked also the car. They did not find anything unlawful. After this checking, they were maltreated, by being beaten with fists, kicks and plastic sticks and gunstocks, from Mr. Fatmir Lleshi and other police officers. Later, by order of Mr. Valentin Florini, they were accompanied and kept in the Police Station till 11:00 o’clock of the following day. They claim that they were also maltreated while being accompanied to the police station.

          The investigation performed from our side, concluded that the claims for maltreatment from the police officers and being in custody in the police station beyond the legal deadline envisioned in article 45 of Law No. 8553, dated 25.11.199 “On the State Police” were true.

          Besides the above stated facts, the complainant L.C. claimed that on March 23, 2002, around about 19:00, while traveling with two of his friends A.M. and Sh.M. were stopped by some police officers, led by Mr. Valentin Florini and Fatmir Lleshi. They were ordered to step out of the car and a physical personal checking was performed on them and their car. During the checking, the injured L.C. was hit with fists from Fatmir Lleshi and was kicked by another police officer. As a result he got two fractured bones in his left leg. After complaining from the pain in the leg, he was accompanied to the regional hospital of the district by the police officers and was given medical help. After taken the x-rays, the specialized doctor put his leg in a plaster cast.

          These claims were proven from the interrogation of the witnesses and the orthopedic doctor.

          As the investigation found out that the police officers Fatmir Lleshi and Valentin Florini had committed unlawful actions and given arbitrary orders, while consuming the elements of penal deed, envisioned in article 250 of the Code of Penal Procedure, we recommended to the Prosecutor’s Office of Shkodra District the start of penal procedure against them. We also recommended to the General Directorate of the State Police to take the disciplinary measure of “suspension from the office” for these officers. Our recommendations were accepted and the Prosecutor’s Office initiated a penal procedure, whereas the General Directorate of State Police gave the disciplinary notice of “Reprimand”. Some months later the Military Prosecutor of Shkodra district notified us that the investigation for this case was ceased, as the complainant did not appear in the interrogation process, although they were notified several times from the Prosecutor’s Office. In fact the termination of the interrogation, as per the above-cited argument, is not based on the dispositions of the Code of Penal Procedure.

          4.  In his complaint, citizen E.M. claimed that on August 9, 2002 around about 19:30, he was escorted unjustly to the Police Station of Berat and was released on August 10, 2002 at 11:00. He also claims that during custody in the Police Station, he was cruelly maltreated from some police officers, slapping, kicking and hitting him with plastic and wooden sticks in different parts of the body. From these violent actions, the complainant had several body injuries and a wound in his right shinbone. These injuries were evidenced also in the legal-medical examination performed by the medical doctor and proven in the injury investigation Act No. 108, dated 12.08.2002. According to the complainant, due to the harsh beating, for one moment he fainted. After recovery and to avoid the abuse of the police officers, he tried to jump from the window of the second floor, but that was prevented from these police officers. After this act, from the created concern, he hit the table with his head, by opening a wound and was bleeding. As his medical status was aggravating, he was accompanied to the hospital for medical treatment.

          After verifying in place this complaint, it resulted that the complainant E.M. was escorted to the police station from the criminal police officer Ilia Gogo and police officers Hamdi Nezha and Vasillaq Bano, based on the order given by the criminal police officer Mr. Fatmir Varfi, as he was a suspicious person on the case of a house theft, that happened on the same day in Berat. In fact the police officers had no proof to confirm their doubts for the theft of this house. The complainant was questioned from the above-cited police officers in the police station with the subject of theft, but they could not prove that he was the author of this deed. From the interrogation of the police officers, it resulted that they had not noticed any violent bruises, while they accompanied the complainant in custody. They did not accept that they had exercised any violence, and justified the bruises with the self-hitting of the complainant, while they were interrogating him. They said that the complainant was hitting with his head the table, the chairs and was lying down on the floor.

These explanations were not convincing, as there were discordances among them. They were not convincing also because of the injuries caused in the body parts, their form and size. Even if we would take for granted the fact the he self-injured himself, then, the police officers have legal obligation, as they should have not allowed the complainant to injure himself while in custody in the police station and in their presence.   

The escorting of the complainant in the police stations was made in contrary to article 45 of Law No. 8553, dated 25.11.1999 “On the State Police” and article 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, which states that “the freedom of an individual can not be limited... when reasonable doubts exist that he has performed a penal act...” As we saw the custody notice book and during the interrogation process, it was proven that the complainant was kept beyond the legal limit, envisioned in article 45 of Law No. 8553, dated 25.11.1999 “On the State Police”. Simultaneously the exercise of violence was proven through the legal and medical examination, the review of photos, taken after release, which the complainant brought along with his complaint.

          As it resulted during the investigation, the above-cited police officers of this police station had performed unlawful acts, and had consumed elements of the penal deed of taking arbitrary actions, envisioned in article 250 of the Code of Penal Procedure. Thus, we recommended to the Prosecutor’s Office of Berat district to start the penal procedure against police officers Ilia Gogo and Fatmir Varfi, as well as against the police officers Hamdi Nezha and Vasillaq Bano. Our recommendation was accepted and actually this case is under investigation from the Military Prosecutor’s Office of Vlora District.

          5. Another complaint came from citizens Z.I. and I.I. who claimed that on October 1, 2002, in the afternoon, they were driving their minivan on the beltway, and near “Mondial” Hotel were hit by another vehicle, Mercedes Benz, with License Plate No. TR 2856 E. After the crash, the driver of the other car got out of his vehicle and without introducing himself, started offending them and asked for their driving papers. As they did not recognize who this person was, they did not show to him any papers. The driver of the other vehicle notified with his radio the police station, which came in the scene after some short minutes. The complainants asked from the police officers that the Traffic Police experts should be notified to come and verify the scene. The Benz driver, named Ervis Elezaj, and a criminal police inspector with Police Station No.2 of Tirana, ordered to accompany the suspects to the police station, along with their minivan. They claimed that, in the scene where the accident took place, they were offended and hit from the police officer Ervin Elezaj. They also claimed that, while in custody, this officer slapped and kicked them in various parts of the body. According to them, he ordered other police officers to hit them. Only two of them hit Zenel.    

          From the verification of this complaint, it resulted that their claim for maltreatment was proven true also from the testimonies of ocular witnesses.

As the investigation of this case resulted in unlawful actions of police officer Ervis Elezaj, by consuming the elements of penal act of arbitrary actions, envisioned in article 250 of the Code of Penal Procedure, we recommended to the Prosecutor’s Office of Tirana District to start the penal procedure against him. Our recommendation was accepted and the case is under investigation.

6. In his complaint, citizen A.P. claims that on April 18, 2002 he was kicked and slapped by the officer of Republic Guard, Mr. Besim Hasana.

From our investigation, it resulted that on April 18, 2002, around about 10:30–11:00, the complainant, in the company of other fellow citizens, representatives of the Para-epilepsy Association went to clarify a problem with the Ministry of Work and Social Affairs. Initially they contacted with the service officer at the front door, who accompanied them to the front desk clerk. They informed the clerk of their problem. She told them to wait outside, in the garden of the Ministry and one person would come to clarify their problem. After some minutes, the officer of the Republic Guard, Mr. Besim Hasani got outside. He approached them by threatening and offending on their family honor. With no legal reasons, he slapped and kicked the complainant A.P.

In the conclusions of the investigation, it resulted that Mr. Besim Hasani, with his actions had consumed the elements of a penal act for arbitrary actions, envisioned in article 250 of the Code of Penal Procedure, thus we recommended to the Prosecutor’s Office of Tirana District to start the investigation on him. Our recommendation was accepted and later the case was passed for trial to the Tirana District Court.

          7. Another complaint came from citizen M.K., inhabitant of Tirana, who claimed that on September 3, 2002 at 20:30, some police officers came and inspected her house. Later they took her husband in custody at the Police Station No. 2 of Tirana, under the accusation for theft of cars. After the police took her husband, she went next morning to the police station and met him. She saw him in a grave health situation as a result of maltreatment.

          While evaluating this case for its degree of seriousness, on September 5, 2002 we met and interrogated the convict. He explained to us that:

          Since the moment he was taken inside the police station, he was beaten in the corridor and in one of the offices from five police officers with police uniforms. They were relatively young. One of them was around 50 years old and had moustache, while another was around 35 years old, and his friends called him “Grape”. During all the time that these police officers abused with him, they did not use their real names. The injured B.K. asked them not to beat him, and told them that he remembered their faces very well.

          These police officers have beaten him in various parts of his body. They not only slapped and kicked him, but they used strong objects such as wooden sticks or leg chairs. During the night, he was kept in the corridor of the first floor next to the door of the detention room. He had to stand on his foot all the time with one hand cuffed and the other cuffed at the bars of the window.  

Citizen B.K. complained also that the police officers indicted him for theft and after they formulated the relevant proceedings, they asked him to sign it. He told them that he needed to read it first and then sign it, but he was threatened and hit by fists. Under these conditions of psychological pressure and physical abuse, he signed the official records.

He also claimed that the warrant for house inspection and other relevant documents for car thefts were formulated and written in the Police Station office.

          As we took the declarations form the arrested B.K., he showed to us the body injuries, by taking off the clothes. Black bruises, due to the physical violence, were clear on the back of his body, on his shoulders, on the front part of his legs and calves and on the heels and palms of his feet.

          As we analyzed in entirety the administered information, we concluded that the police officers had infringed the procedurial regulations and more concretely:

          The envisioned requests of article 202 and 206 of the Code of Penal Procedure, which clearly state the conditions and the timing for  house checking. The use of physical and phycological abuse is an infringement of article 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania and consumes the elements of penal act of arbitrary actions.

          For these reasons, we recommended to the Prosecutor’s Office of Tirana District to start the investigation on the criminal police officers of Police Station No. 2 of Tirana, for the penal act of taking arbitrary actions, in collaboration, envisioned in article 250 of the Code of Penal Procedure. Our recommendation was accepted, but unfairly the Prosecutor suspended the investigation under the reasoning that “the authors are not recognized” and sent the file for revealing the authors to the employees of criminal police of Police Station No.2 of Tirana. This action was immediately denounced by the People’s Advocate, and the Prosecutor restarted the investigation. However there is little hope that the authors of this actions, will be ever brought to justice.

          8. The complaint of four citizens, B.G. and others, convicted persons, who claim that on April 22, 2002, during their transportation from the Durres Police Station to the Prison 302 in Tirana were maltreated from the escorting police officers.

          From the verification, it resulted that:

On April 18, 2002, the General Directorate of Prisons issued an order to trasfer the four prisoners from the Tepelena Prison to Prison 302 in Tirana, for better security measures. In Prison 302 in Tirana, the convicts stayed for two days and later, through an order of the General Prosecutor’s Investigation Directorate, were transported to the pre-detention rooms in the Police Station of Durres District, for investigation purposes.

          The four convicts stayed in this police station for one night and the next day were transported to Prison 302 in Tirana. The transportation of the four convicts, from the Tepelena Prison to Prison 302 in Tirana, and from the Durres Police Station to Prison 302 in Tirana, was made by the vehicles and police forces of the General Prisons Directorate. Whereas the transportation from the Durres Police Station to Prison 302 in Tirana, was made by the vehicles and police forces of the State Police, the “RENEA” division.

          In their declarations, the four convicts clarified that, during their transportation, they were treated correctly by the police forces of Directorate of Police Prisons.

Their concern and complaint stood agaist the police officers of the Police State, during their transportation from the Durres Police Stations towards the Prison 302 of Tirana, on April 22, 2002. On this date, these police forces, loaded the convicts in two minivans and accordingly E.Y and T.B. in one and G.B. and V.Y in another. In each vehicle, there were six policemen who were masked and as a result could not be identified by the injured. They also had their eyes masked with cloth.

          According to the explanations of the convicts, the police officers had exercised physical and phycological violence since the moment they entered the cars. They put to each convict a helmet and dark shirts to close their eyes and later they used abusive words by dishonoring their families. They had beaten these convicts in various parts of their bodies with strong instruments such as wooden sticks and metalic objects. This violence continued during the whole trip. In certain moments, the police officers stopped the cars and asked the convicts to flee, with the back thoughts of taking eliminating actions and be justified under “tentative to flee” excuse.

          The convicts showed to us, during their explanatory sessions, the signs of violence in various parts of their bodies. Under these circumstances, we requested that a medical and legal examiniation is performed from specialized experts of the Legal Medication Unit of Tirana.

          In conclusion of the medical and legal examination, it was proven the use of violence towards the complainants.

In conclusion of the investigation, it resulted that the police officers, accompaning the convicts from the Durres Police Station to the Prison 302 in Tirana, had exercised physical and phycological violence during their job, thus infringing the rights of the citizens. Their actions formulated the elements of penal acts and arbitrary behavior in collaboration, as envisioned in article 250 and 25 of the Code of Penal Procedure. On this basis, we recommended to the Prosecutor’s Office of Tirana Disctrict to start the investigation for the police officers that accompanied the convicts. The recommendation was accepted, however the investigation was suspended with the logic that, based on article 4 of Law No. 8292, dated 25.02.1998 “On Special Forces and the Intervening Forces”, each member of these special police forces is guaranteed with the right of personal identity confidentiallity, while performin their job. Thus from our side we recommended to the parlamentary commission of human rights to take the legislative intiative to improve this disposition, and not prevent the prosecutor’s office to undertake investigation and put before justice any policemen that violates the law and the human rights.

          9. Another complaint came form citizen D.P., inhabitant of Lezha, who claimed that the police forces of the Lezha police station have maltreated him. Also for this case we notified from our side Mr. Pjeter Arbnoru, the Secretary of the Parlamentary Commision for Human Rights. From the verification in place from our side, it resulted that:

          On April 5, 2002, around about 22:00, the police forces of Lezha police station had stopped citizen Z.P. for carryng a gun without permission from the competent state instances. The police found a small pistol, TT model, in the moment that he was having a coffee in one bar. After an hour, the police had stopped also his two brothers, D.P. and G.P.

          After we contacted and questioned the detained Z.P. and D.P, former withheld person Gj.P., the officer of judicial police; reviewed the register of isolation rooms and that of the visits of the doctor of isolation rooms; and the studied available documents from the investigative file, we concluded that the police had exercised violence on the above cited brothers.  Until April, 2002, the medical-legal doctor or any other doctors did not examine them, although they had requested for this action.

          The service ledger of April 5, 2002 is signed by five police officers, which also served to stop the citizen D.P. When used later as material evidence in court, to justify the warranty for “arrest in prison” it did not prove the truth. In this report it was highlighted that: “D.P. was accompanied to the police station, in his disagreement and by threatening police forces”. Actually the detainee, who later became a convict, D.P. was not caught in flagrance, in consuming any penal deed, or immediately after committing a crime. He had gone by himself to the police station to find out on the reasons for the arrest of his brother.  This voluntary visit is exploited by the police, which not only kept him in the station, but also maltreated him and later detained him.

We found out that in this case a heavy infringement of fundamental human rights and freedoms, guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Albania and international legal acts, had taken place.  On this basis, we made two recommendations to the General Prosecutor’s Office, thus suggesting that it should cease the violation of law against D. and Gj.P. by favoring them legally and have them win the lost freedom, as the accusation against them with the charge that they had disobeyed police forces without collaboration, was groundless and with no legal basis. As per the police officers, who had exercised violence and drafted the proceedings in the service ledger unrealistically, on April 5, 2002, we recommended to initiate a penal procedure, for taking arbitrary actions and false denunciation, as envisioned in the crime section in articles 250 and 305 of the Code of Penal Procedure. 

          At the same time we recommended for the start of penal procedure against the police officer of the judicial police, Mr. Martin Dona for the penal act of “not taking measures to end an unlawful status”, foreseen as a crime in article 251 of the Code of Penal Procedure, because he was fully aware that citizen D.P. came voluntarily at the police station and was not caught in act of crime. The same penalization was requested for the prosecutor of the case Mr. Bujar Cici, who was informed and saw the signs of physical violence in the bodies of the three detainees. These signs were shown to him since the moment he interrogated them as detainees and later during the judicial session to assign the security measures in the court. The prosecutor and the judge have not kept a legal stand on this case to cease the end the illegal status, in conformity with article 257 of the Code of Penal Procedure, to release the above cited detainees.

          The recommendation to start the penal procedure against the police officers was accepted, while the one to start the penal procedure against the prosecutor was refused unjustly.

          We would like to emphasize that a court decision with a final verdict, from the Appeal Court of Shkodra, declared the arrested people as innocent on the charge of physical disobedience in collaboration against the police forces. 

 

II. Complaints against other unlawful actions of the police forces

         

There were 87 complaints for arbitrary actions of the police officers such as house inspections bar or restaurant, physical checking, and the sequestration of objects from the police, arrests, stopping and unlawful accompany, as well as other cases. As proof of these complaints, we can mention the following:

          1. Complaint of citizens P.T. and R.Gj. who claimed that their children, named E.T. and N.Gj. were taken unjustly by the police forces on January 7, 2002, and after being beaten by the police officers of Vlora police station, Vladimir Zani and Muço Aliaj, were arrested.

          After verifying these complaints, we were not able to prove their claims as true for the maltreatment of their children. However after the review of the service ledger in the police station, it resulted that:

          On page 67 of this ledger, in numerical order 7, dated 07.01.2002, around 21:50, the citizen N.Gj. resulted as registered, whom police on 08.01.2002 stopped, at 18:55. On the same page of this ledger, in numerical order 8, date 07.01.2002, citizen E.T. results as registered, while actually he was stopped by the police on 08.01.2002, at 18:55. The book states that police officer Vladimir Zani and inspector officer Muço Aliaj have interrogated the suspects. The ledger proves that the theft suspets are kept in police station beyond the legal limit, as forseen in article 45 of Law No. 8553, dated 25.11.1999 “On the State Police”.          

For this legal violation of the police officers Vladimir Zani and Muço Aliaj as a damage to citizens E.T. and N.Gj., we recommended to the Police Director of Vlora District to take the disciplinary action of “preliminary notice” against them and the notfication on this action in front of their police unit, with the intend to prevent future infringements. Our recommendation was accepted.

2. The complaint of juvenile citizen, J.S., 13 years old, who claimed that on March 8, 2002, was caught stealing some key cars in the territory of the pedagogical high school and later was sent to the Police Station No.2 of Tirana. He reached the station around 11:30 with a group of police officers, who were led by the inspector of criminal police Mr. Ergys Lala. The complainant claimed that, after accommodated in the police station, he was taken for questioning by Ergys Lala. During interrogation the inspector offended him, beat him and kept him in a locked room with other adult people. After his parents arrived at the police station, in their presence, the police officers formulated the proceedings and around 20:00 released the suspect.

    After verifying this complaint, it resulted that the juvenile citizen J.S., born in March 23, 1989, was caught around 11:00 on March 8, 2002 while stealing with three other children some car tools in a car in the territory of the pedagogical school. After the guard caught him, the director of the dormitory of this school questioned him and later she notified the police.

    On call police officers came to take him, and along with them came personally the inspector of criminal police covering the area, Mr. Ergys Lala, who took under possession the material evidence and accompanied the juvenile to the police station. As soon as they arrive there, the inspector took the suspect to his office and started taking the required information verbally and asked on his version of the story. After taking the home address, he started to find out about his parents, thus calling them and visiting at home. A the inspector could not reach the parents, he left as an errand with the neighbors that as soon as the juvenile’s parents came home, to notify that their son was in the police station and they should come to Police Station No. 1. When the juvenile’s parents came to their house in the afternoon, they were notified by the neighbors and went immediately to the police station. They met with the inspector at the station and in their presence were written the proceedings for the interrogation of their son. Later, around 19:00 he was released and given to the parents.

In conclusion of the investigation of this complaint, we found out that the actions of the police inspector were unlawful as:

          a) The arrest, the questioning and custody by the police of the complainant from 11:00 to 19:00 is unlawful, as he is a juvenile and cannot be kept that long in a police station.

          b) His questioning, initially, without the presence of one of his family members or a specialist in child education, is an infringement of paragraph 5 of article 361 of the Code of Penal Procedure, which foresees that the questioning of juvenile witnesses should be made in the presence of a family member or a specialist in child education.

          c) At the same time, keeping the juvenile locked in the same room with two adults, although for a period of 20 minutes, is a grave legal infringement and more concretely of paragraph 1 and 3 of article 54 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, which states that “Children, juvenile… have the right of special defense from the state. Each child has the right to be protected from violence, maltreatment…” and paragraph 2 of article 27 of Law No. 8553 “On the State Police”, which states that “During the performance of their jobs, the police officers are not allowed to take unlawful actions, punishments, inhuman and degenerate treatment or any kind of torture against individuals”.

On this basis, we recommended to the Director of the Police for Tirana District, to take disciplinary actions against Ergys Lala and those measures should be notified in the presence of the police officers unit. Our recommendation was accepted.

3. The complaint of citizen A.D, claiming that he was kept unjustly for four days in the Police Station of Durres from April 17 to 21, 2002.

          From the verification of this case from our side, it resulted that he was accompanied to the police station by the order of the Chief of Grave Crimes Office at the Police Directorate of Durres district, Mr. Dajlan Canaj, as a suspect in collaboration for the killing of one citizen on April 6, 2002 in Sukth of Durres district. After clarification of his position, he was questioned as a witness and on April 21, 2002 his testimony was secured as evidence in the Durres District Court. However, we were not able to prove the claim of the complainant for being kept for four days in the police station. We found out that, during the interrogation, the officer Dajlan Canaj had violated paragraph 4 of article 45 of Law No. 8553 “On the State Police” and paragraph 5 of the Ministry of Public Order Directive No. 168, dated 20.10.1993 “For the regulations for escorting citizens in police station, police offices and units or other offices” as the complainant was not registered in the escorting ledger of the police station.

          While noticing the positive evaluation for good work for Mr. Dajlan Canaj, for this legal infringement, we recommended to the Police Directorate of Durres district to take a disciplinary action and notify it in front of the police officers unit. Our recommendation was accepted.

4. Another complaint comes from citizen P.O., inhabitant of Belorta village in Korca district. He claimed that by the end of 1999 or beginning of 2000, the police order inspector of Korca Police Station, Mr. Njazi Xite, accompanied his juvenile son, named S.O., in the police station. The reason for this action was that his son had quarreled with another juvenile. The complainant, to find out about his son, went to the house of the police officer Rajmond Duro, with whom he had some “acquaintance” and both of them went to meet with inspector Njazi Xite. Rajmond and Njazi went inside the police station and later they came out and Rajmond approached the parent saying that for this case to be closed, he needed to pay 1,200,000 (one million and two hundred thousand) Dhrahmas. The complainant told to him that his was a big amount and he could find it. After this, Rajmond told him that for you, we would close this case for 150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand) Dhrahmas. Rajmond asked him if he had any money with him, but the complainant told that he had not brought any money. The Rajmond told him to go home and borrow from Rajmond’s mother 200.000 (two hundred thousand) old Albanian Lek, as they would need to pay the legal doctor. The complainant went to Rajmond’s house and borrowed from Rajmond’s mother the exact amount, in 1 x 5,000 and 30 x 500 cuts. He, along with the two other police officers, Rajmond and Njazi, went to the legal doctor. During the way, Raymond told him to give the amount of 100.000 (one hundred thousand) old Lek to Njazi, and the latter said that 50.000 (fifty thousand) Lek would do. The complainant and Njazi entered both to the legal doctor’s office, but they learnt that the doctor had not received any document or complaint for his son. At that moment, Njazi gave a sign by winking his eye and nodding his head for the complainant to leave the room. So he left the room and went to the car where Rajmond was waiting. Later Njazi came, and told them that he had to throw the money in one of the drawers for the doctor to take. In the evening, Njazi went to the complainant’s house and brought the detained son with him, whom he had accompanied one day before to the police station. As they entered the house, Njazi asked if there were other people in the house. As he learnt that some other people were present in the living room, he asked for them to go in another room and not to tell anyone that he was there. As they entered in the other room, the wife of the complainant came with some drinks and cookies, but he refused to take a drink saying that Rajmond was waiting for him at Belorta bridge and told them that the investigator had asked for 80,000 (eighteen thousand) Dhrahmas, to close this case, whereas for him, the complainant could give as much as he wished. The complainant asked if the case will be completely closed, and Njazi reassured him that this would become unquestionable. The complainant and his wife agreed to pay 80,000 (eighty thousand) Dhrahmas for the investigator and 50.000 (fifty thousand) Lek for Njazi and they gave this money to Njazi. After Njazi took the money, he let go of the son of the complainant. Next day, the complainant went to the house of Rajmond and gave to his mother the borrowed money and 50.000 old Lek as a bonus for the “honor” he did. Later the complainant worked in Rajmond’s house for two weeks for free, thinking that he had paid back the honor to Rajmond for releasing his son and closing of the case.

After several months, Njazi met with the complainant and told him that the prosecutor’s office is looking and investigating in his son’s case. P.O. was irritated and answered that “I gave you 500.000–600.000 Lek and you still did not close this case”. After this conversation, the complainant went to the prosecutor and was told the case of his son was not closed. Then he went to the Police Directorate of Korca District and complained to the Chief of Order Mr. Refat Shkembi. Mr. Refat confronted the police officers with the complainant, the latter told all the above claims, but they did not accept them. After two or three months the complainant was asked to go to the office of Refat, who returned to him 80,000 Dhrahmas, while he was told that the 150.000 old Lek, he will receive later. In fact the complainant never received that money. As the complainant did not receive this amount, he made a complaint to the former Police Director of the district, Mr. Pellumb Molla.

After the complaint reached the Police Directorate, a shallow analysis was made of it. Although it was reached to the conclusion that the indicted police officers had lowered the figure of the police forces by their actions, in the end it was decided to reduce their grade to simple police officers. After this action, the two police officers continued to disturb the complainant to the degree that, as the complainant stated in his letter addressed to the People’s Advocate, “he would either kill the police officers, or kill himself”. A maximal priority was given to this complaint for review and investigation and after verifying in place this case and questioning the relevant persons, it resulted that:

          The police officer Njazi Xite does not accept that he went to the house of the complainant for the above cited case, that he has taken money to close this problem, or that he has given money to the Chief of Order to return to the complainant.

          The police officer Rajmond Duro accepts the fact that he had acquired on this case at the police station  togather with the complainant for the above cited problem. According to him, after two hours the complainant had met with Rajmond and told that he needed 200.000 old Lek to help release his sone, but he did not have that money with him. Rajmond told to the complainant that the latter could go to his house and borrow money form his mother. The complainant went to Rajmond’s house and took the money. Also he explained that, as the complainant had approached with his complaint the police station, this brought the lowering in Rajmond’s position. Thus he has forwarded a pretence against the complainant for false accusations while performing his job. In the conclusion of the trial, the court declared as guilty citizen P.O. and fined him in the amount of 50.000 Lek”.

          Former Police Order Chief, actually the Chief of Uniformed Police in the Police Directorate of Korca, Mr. Rifat Shkembi explained that he knew this case and for this purpose he had asked the former police inspector Nazi Xite in his office. Njazi had accepted that he had taken the dhrahma amount, not as a bribe, but as a borrowing from the complainant and that he had not paid them back, as he did not have yet that amount. After some days Njazi gave the 80,000 Dhrahmas to Rifat, who later gave them back to the complainant. For this case, in the lowering of the police figure, the Police Directorate decided the dismissal of Njazi Xite from his position, and keeping him among police forces as a simple policeman.

          The fact that Njazi Xite had gone to the house of the complainant and had taken money, either dhrahma or lek, for kidnapping was also proven by the proceedings in the questioning of citizens D.O. and S.L.

          As Rajmond Dura had indicted the complainant for false allegations and the court had found him guilty, still he is not excepted from the disciplinary and penal responsibility. This, due to the fact that for the explanations given by Rajmond, it is fully proven that in violation with his job, he has pushed and helped the complainant to give bribes to close the problem of the son.  

          As from the investigation of this complaint, it resulted that the police officers Njazi Pite and Rajmond Duro had performed ilegal deeds, by consuming elements of penal act of taking bribes, forseen in article 260 of the Code of Penal Procedure, we recommended to the Prosecutor’s Office of Korca to start the penal procedure against Mr. Njazi Xite, which was accepted. By the end of the investigation the case was sent to the court for trial. At the same time, we recommended to the Police Directorate of Korca district to suspend from its ranks these officers as members of the state police, for bridging their oath, by perfoming ilegal deed, contrary to article 26, paragraph 1 of Law No. 8553, dated 25.11.1999 “On the State Police” and regulation 6, paragraph 4 of the Guide for Disciplinary Actions for the State Police. This recommendation was accepted partially, only by suspending Mr. Njazi Xite from his job. After this answer, we recommended to the General Director of Police to take appropriate measures.

5. In his complaint, citizen Sh.T., president of company “Klajda” with a B.S. degree and construction engineer by profession, claimed that on February 26, 2002, nearly 30 police forces inspected his house and because of this was kept in custody until March 3, 2002 in an unlawful way in the Prefecture Directorate of Tirana and in the police station of Gjirokastra. At the same time, with no legal basis he was questioned as a suspect from the Prosecutor’s Office of Gjirokastra, under the accusation for production and traffic of narcotics. The cause for this was the sojourn of a truck with license plate Kj 3548 A, in which narcotic drugs were found. According to him, he had sold this truck a year ago and had no connection with it, thus having no responsibility over its use. Since a year ago he had officially requested to the Police Station of Kavaja and Kakavija Customs to restrain this truck as it traveled with illegal documents showing unreal ownership. The last request to restrain this truck, he had repeated and submitted to the competent state instances on May 22, 2001, when he was informed that this truck was in an accident in Greece, on April 9, 2001. On the ownership of this vehicle, he was requested explanation by the INSIG Kavaja Branch Office and the traffic license office in Tirana, and he explained that this vehicle did not belong to citizen Sh.T. but was sold to citizen A.A., inhabitant of Gjirokastra. 

From the analysis of the materials in the investigation file and the accumulated documents, it was clearly evident and well documented that the complainant Sh.T. had no connection either with the possessed vehicle carrying narcotic drugs, or the driver. He had sold this vehicle, a year ago. He had made official request, a year ago, to the state instances, which was deposited in the Police Stations of Kavaja and Gjirokastra. In this request, he asked the instances to restrain this vehicle from circulation, as the buyer had avoided intentionally the preparation and signing of the documents for the sale of this vehicle. It was found that the complainant had not performed a penal act, but his name was unfairly involved, as the buyer had not changed the ownership and the license plate of the vehicle. Every of these actions were clarified and documented.

Under these circumstances, when everything was clear, the Prosecutor of Gjirokastra district Mr. Adnan Xholi, should have abided by article 257 of the Code of Penal Procedure and ordered the immediate release of the complainant, and above all for the fact that he was kept for two days without any identifying documents. The prosecutor did not take this action, but at worst ordered the official arrest on February 28, 2002, for the penal act of production and trading of narcotics in collaboration, which is considered a crime according to the article 283 and 25 of the Code of Penal Procedure. On March 2, 2002, he sent the request to the Gjirkostra District Court, for the decision of security measure, thus asking for unlimited arrest.

The District Court of Gjirokastra, in its Decision No.17, dated 03.03.2002, had decided on the security measure “Obligatory presence in the Judicial Police offices every Monday at 10:00” by reasoning that “In all the materials gathered from the Prosecutor’s Office, all the claims of the complainant are proven completely, thus declaring this person with no connection to the accusations for the penal act, as the prosecutor pretended. Therefore, there are no legal doubts that can be cast upon this suspect that can prove or can be considered as proof according to the definitions in the Code of Penal Procedure, or can be taken as evidence in the envisioned cases in this Code”.

To deny this decision, the district prosecutor wrote a complaining request to the Appeal Court of Gjirokastra, seeking a change of decision of the District Court and taking of the security measures against the suspect Sh.T. under “unlimited prison arrest”.

On September 10, 2002, the Appeal Court took the above case under review and during the hearing, the Appeal prosecutor withdraws his complaining request of the District Prosecutor, and as a result the decision of the District Court remained in power.

It is important to emphasize that in the Prosecutor file, even after three months of investigation, in July 2002, there was not found any documented request from the prosecutor’s office, against the Kavaja and Gjirokastra Police Station, to verify if the allegations of Sh.T. declared on February 26, 2002, were true.

He had requested form these instances, a year ago, the restrain of this vehicle, and he had in his possession copies of the requests, which he had shown to the officials in the Kavaja Police Station, to the vice director of the Police Directorate of Tirana district, Mr. Sokol Bizhga, and to the officials of the Prosecutor’s Office in Gjirokastra, before they detained him.  At the same time it could not be found in the investigation file the Request sent from the Kavaja Police Station to the Gjirokastra Police Station, No. 834, dated 23.05.2001, which documented the above. After our verification, it resulted that this document was at the Gjirokastra Police Station and it had the following content: “Company “Klajda” represented by its president Sh.T., owned the vehicle, gas tank type, Fiat Iveko brand, with license plate KJ 3548 A. This vehicle was sold to citizen A.A. from Gjirokastra and in good faith the seller asked A.A. to prepare the sales contract and change of the license plates, but it did not happen. For this purpose, the company “Klajda” on February 8, 2002 made a request to the border point unit of Kakavija to restrain the vehicle till the ownership and license plates are changed, but till now it did not receive a response. For this reason, we are asking for the restrain of the vehicle, till the appropriate actions are taken”.

The lack of such document in the investigation file, which was very decisive for the penal case and for the position to be taken towards Sh.T., before being detained and later kept as a convict, although several months had passed since the penal procedure had started, shows that the police and the Prosecutor of Gjirokastra did not keep an objective legal position, but showed intentional attitude to keep this person and others under pressure, which was evident also in the complaining request to the Appeal Court that under any circumstance the citizen Sh.T. should be given a restraining order for unlimited prison arrest. This was reinforced also by the fact that, beside the complainant, the police had kept in custody as a convict under the same charges also his brother, who went by himself to the Police Directorate of Tirana District, to bring some food for his brother, as well as the restrain and confinement of citizen Q.B., a former employed driver of “Klajda” company and who had left the job two years ago. This fact was made clear and was documented, even before the driver was arrested. 

Simultaneously we would like to highlight that the high officials of the Police Stations of Kavaja and Gjirokastra and those of the Police Directorate of Tirana District, were very clear and it was well documented that Sh.T. had no connection to the restrained vehicle from the Greek customs. It was their negligence that they did not contain this vehicle a year ago, before this could happen, although they possessed an official request for such an action. This illegal restrain, the police forces sold as a big success of the police action, and on newspaper “Korrieri” of February 28, 2002 it was written in capital letters “Four real owners of drugs are cuffed and caught by the Greek Customs of Kakavija. The brothers D.T. and Sh.T. and Q.B. and A.M. are caught after a perfect operation of an investigative group of Gjirokastra Police”. 

As discussed above, in the cases of restraining citizens Sh.T. and D.T. and Q.B., there were no circumstances to order personal security measure, as foreseen by article 228 of the Code of Penal Procedure, and as a result their restrain is illegal and contrary to the conditions set by article 253 of the Code of Penal Procedure.

It is also illegal that a penal procedure was started against them and that they are kept as convicts even today, thus committing a grave violation of the fundamental rights and freedoms, sanctioned by the Constitution of the Republic of Albania and international laws and acts.

As per the above, we recommended to the General Prosecutor to take disciplinary measures against the prosecutor of this case, Mr. Adnan Xholi, as he had not kept a legal position and terminate the unlawful status and release immediately the suspects when there was no evidence, against citizen Sh.T., D.T. and Q.B., in conformity with article 257 of the Code of Penal Procedure and the illegal start of penal procedure against these citizens. A per the above convicts, it was suggested that through the execution of his legal competences, to make possible the termination of the legal violation on them, by ending the allegations, based on article 328, paragraph dh of the Code of Penal Procedure.

Adjacent to our interest in this case, we received a response in February 2003 from the General Prosecutor, stating that he did not see as fit and reasonable to take disciplinary actions against the prosecutor Adnan Xholi.

6. The complaint of citizen Gj.B., inhabitant of Durres, who complained in relation to the compensation of material damage from the Police Station of Burrel. According to him, on September 30, 1999, while he was traveling with his vehicle for work towards Burrel, around 22:30 he was taken by force from police officers and was at their disposal to catch a criminal band. After he drove for 15 kilometers, along with a number of policemen and one civil person, they were shot with a hail of fire from the band. Two policemen and the civil person remained wounded. As the result of the gunfire, several damages were made to the car, including the break of the front window, which cost 180.000 Lek to repair. The vehicle is out of use. To receive the reparation on the damage cause as a result of putting the vehicle under the service of the police, the complainant requested several times from the Police Station of Burrel and other central state instances, but he has not been able to resolve this problem.

According to the responses given to the complainant on February 21 and 28, 2002, the police confirms the fact that it has used the driver and the vehicle for its needs and recognized the reparation, but also said that it would be given when the authors of this damage are caught or either wise he can approach justice institutions. Whereas, according to the response of May 16, 2000, given by the Chief of the Traffic Police at the Ministry of Public Order, Mr. Gezim Licaj, it was said that the Police Station of Mat should sent the completed file of the operation performed by them to the Ministry of Public Order so that the latter can approve a special fund for this reparation.

We judged the response of the Chief of the Police Station of Burrel that “we will compensate when the authors are caught or either wise you can appeal to justice institution”, as incorrect and unlawful because: first, the complainant was damaged while in service of the police forces; secondly, the reparation is given by the police and not third parties, based on paragraph 2 article 42 of Law No. 8553 “On the State Police”; thirdly the compensation includes not only the damage of the vehicle, but also the work and the expenses made, while in service to the police forces; and fourthly, it is not in the dignity of the police to “play” with the citizens that contribute to it with their services.

          To bring to justice the rights of the complainant, we recommended to the Police Station of Burrel and the Police Directorate of Diber District to implement swiftly the required regulations related to this issue, and sent the file to the Ministry of Public Order, making also the request for the allocation of a fund for the reparation of the complainant. Our recommendation was accepted and the problem is underway to be resolved.

          7. The complaint of citizen I.D. claiming that on November 21, 2002, the Police Directorate of Tirana District sequestrated the vehicle that he was using, Audi A 6 type, with the License Plate No. M-W 1770. According to him a German company owns this vehicle and he is hired as a driver. The documentation of the vehicle is all in appropriate order. Also he claimed that he has not violated any of the dispositions of the Code of Penal Procedure or Traffic Code, which foresee such measures. Along with his complaint, he brought also photocopies of the vehicle sequestration notice.

          From the sequestration notice, it resulted that the vehicle was taken away from the judicial police officer Mr. Edmond Shqau, an employee of the Police Directorate of Tirana District, with a Decision, dated 21.11.2002. The cause for the sequestration is that the vehicle is suspected as stolen.

          From the interrogation of the judicial police officer, Mr. Edmond Shqau, on November 22, 2002, and the verification in place, it resulted that the sequestration of the vehicle was not based on the dispositions of the Code of Penal Procedure and concretely on article 208, as the sequestrated vehicle is not related to active penal action.   

          As it resulted from the investigation of this complaint that the above cited vehicle sequestration, is done contrary to the dispositions of the Code of Penal Procedure, we recommended to the Police Directorate of Tirana District to revoke the decision for the sequestration of vehicle Audi A6, with license plate M-W 1770, and release of the vehicle to the complainant. Our recommendation was accepted immediately.

This vehicle was sequestrated in the process of the implementation of police operation, coded “The Lake”, for the capturing of stolen luxurious vehicles, which circulates with regular documents in Albania. For this reason, we organized an urgent meeting with the General Director of the State Police, Mr. Bajram Ibraj and after that, he gave instantaneous directives that during the operation the police forces should carry out the laws and not go beyond their competences. On the same day, the Minister of Public Order, Mr. Luan Rama made a public apology on the public national television station to all the citizens, which were abused by the police through the capturing of their vehicles.

8. In his complaint, the citizen Y.D., inhabitant of Durres, wrote that he is in a property conflict with his neighbors, H.B. and I.B. To solve this conflict, the complainant has registered his complaints with the corresponding state instances. He claims that several times he was threatened by the police officer, Isuf Balla, a nephew and first cousin of the persons he is in conflict with. The purpose of this threat is for the complainant to withdraw from his claims. The recent cases of the threats were on June 11, 2002 in the territory of the Police Unit in Durres, when he had gone to denounce the neighbor Ilmi Balla for the wound this neighbor had caused to him, and on July 6, 2002, when the complainant was in his home garden.

To verify the allegations of the complainant, we took an investigation, by interrogating the present witnesses. In conclusion it resulted that the allegations were true and that the police officer Isuf Balla had acted contrary to article 26, paragraph 1 of Law No. 8553 “On the State Police”, the Ethics Code of the Police and the Guide of Regulations for the Discipline of State Police, under rule 6, paragraphs 1 and 2.

 On this basis, we recommended to the Chief of the Police Station of Durres, to take disciplinary action against the police officer Isuf Balla, for taking actions that degrade the dignity of members of the state police. Also we recommended that the given measure should be communicated to him in front of the police unit, of which he is a member of, in order to prevent the happening of such cases in the future. Our recommendation was accepted.    

          9. The complaint of citizen B and L.G., inhabitant of Fier city, who complained that the police was not allowing for the official marriage of their daughter A.G. to citizen A.M., as this person was convicted with 13.5 years of imprisonment for the penal act of “kidnapping of a person”. The convict was in the pre-detention rooms of the Police Station of Fier.

          The complainant, amongst other, clarified with us that: during 2001, their daughter A.G., not to the knowledge of her parents, had a relationship with the citizen A.M. from Fier, and September of the same year, they both took refuge and went and stayed with a cousin of the boy in Vlora, thus actually consuming a factual marriage. According to them, they were not allowed to perform the official marriage either when the convict was being investigated or when the court ordered the decision for his sentencing with imprisonment.

          To facilitate the resolving of this problem we requested the necessary explanations from the Police Station of Fier.

          In the response of this station, it was clarified that the regulations of the pre-detention rooms do not foresee such a case, thus they could not allow for such an action to take place.

          However we reached to the conclusion that it was evident the desire of the daughter of the complainant to marry officially the citizen A.M., despite the conditions as an arrested and convicted person. Although the regulations for the pre-detention rooms do not foresee such a case, we found out that it also does not prevent this act to happen. We considered the marriage under such conditions as right and fair, because the right of individuals to marry and create a family is a constitutional right, foreseen in article 53 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania. According to article 11 of Law No. 5840, dated 20.02.1979 “On Civil Status Offices”, the marriage should be performed by a celebrant, who is an employee of the Civil Status Office in the City Hall of Fier and all the necessary conditions, should be created for the marriage to take place, by the Police Station. Based on paragraph 3, article 63 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania and article 21, paragraph c of Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People’s Advocate”, we recommended to the Police Station of Fier to take the required measures to make possible the marriage between citizen A.G. and convict A.M. Our recommendation was welcomed by the Police Station, but out of coincidence, the convict was granted freedom and was released from the pre-detention rooms, on the same day arranged for the marriage.

          10. Many complaints come from Albanian citizens, residing abroad, who claim that the Albanian diplomatic missions and consular offices abroad, do not accept their requests and applications to receive passports. According to them, the non-granting of passports brought serious concerns for the renovation of resident documents and employment authorizations in the countries they are living.

          From the verification of these complaints and based on the nominative acts in power, it resulted that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Public Order had issues a common Guide “On the procedures for granting passports to Albanian citizens, residing abroad”, but this Guide was not implemented.

          To give a solution to this problem, we requested explanations from the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Order and we organized several meetings with them. The result of this collaboration was the issuance of a Common Guide from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, No. 7677, dated 03.12.2002, the Minister of Public Order, No. 4478, dated 02.12.2002, and the Minister of Finance, No. 8249, dated 09.12.2002, “On the Procedures for Issuing Passports to Albanian Citizens Residing Abroad”. This Guide, which came as a result of a close and transparent collaboration, particularly of the passport section in the Ministry of Public Order, with our institution, provides the possibility to all Albanian citizens residing abroad to get passports, by applying to the Albanian diplomatic missions and consular offices in the countries they reside, or to the respective offices that cover with consular services the countries they reside. 

          Based on this Guide, the citizens can apply also in the Police Stations all over Albania, under the jurisdiction of which are the civil status offices, where they are registered. It is important to highlight that now it is possible for citizens to apply and get their passports through powers of attorney, in case they are not present. We were also notified from the respective ministries, it has started the implementation of this Guide.

                  

 

III. Complaints for dismissal from work, school, or diminution in grades in the State Police instances.

Thirty-three officers and policemen have acquainted our institution, with cases of unfair dismissals from work, diminutions in positions without any legal ground. In some cases the motivations or the legal reasons for the diminutions or dismissals have not been communication at all. As examples of the positive resolve in favor of the complainant, we are mentioning the following cases:

1. The complaint of citizen K.A., former student of the Police Academy “Arben Zylyftari”, who claimed that by Decision No. 731/9, dated 04.12.2001, she was dismissed unfairly from this Academy. According to her, she was acquainted to a boy, with whom she was married, and as she got pregnant, she requested to the Director of the Academy to interrupt her studies for one scholastic year 2001-2002, for health reasons. The Directorate of the Academy did not take into consideration this request and decided the dismissal of this student, based on article 87 of the Internal Guide of the Academy.

To facilitate the solution of this complaint, we requested for explanation from the Directorate of the Academy. In its Notice No. 84, dated 06.02.2002, it informed us that the student K.A., had approached the Director of this Academy on November 27, 2001 with the request to suspend her studies for one year as she was pregnant and could not hold all the pressure that the studying and the training had. According to the Directorate, for the very own specifics and status that the Police Academy has as a school, where the deferral of studies is prohibited under any circumstance, the Nominating Council of this Academy proposed to the Directorate, based on article 87, paragraph 8 of the Internal Guide to dismiss the student from the school.

From the information sent by the Police Academy and in review of the practice, we found out that:

1. The dismissal from school of the student K.A. was done contrary to her request, who applied for the suspension for one scholastic year of her studies and not to terminate the studies, as was factually done.

2.  The dismissal was done, even contrary to the Internal Regulation, on which was based the order of dismissal, because paragraph 8 of article 87, envisioned the cases of dismissals from school by personal request, which is not the case of the complainant. From the other side, it is important to substantiate the fact that the request to not attend the school for one year should not be interpreted as a request to terminate studies, although the regulations do not foresee this case. In this respect, we should be based on the general principal of the right that “something with is not prohibited by a normative act, is this allowed”.

3. By dismissing from school, the former student K.A. is violated the constitutional right, guaranteed by article 53, paragraph 1 and 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, which states that “Everyone has the right to get married and create a family”, article 54, paragraph 1, which states that “The children, the juveniles, pregnant women and young mothers have the right for special protection from the state”, as well as article 57 “Everyone has the right of education”.

4. Her dismissal was done contrary to article 6, paragraph 2, letter “a” of the “Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women”, proclaimed by the General Assembly of United Nations, dated 07.11.1967, which states that “Women shall have the same right as men to free choice of a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent;” and article 9: “All appropriate measures shall be taken to ensure to girls and women, married or unmarried, equal rights with men in education at all levels, and in particular: Equal conditions of access to, and study in, educational institutions of all types, including universities and vocational, technical and professional schools”. 

To facilitate the rehabilitation of the denied right of the complainant K.A., we recommended to the Directorate of the Police Academy to make changes to the Internal Guide of the Academy, which should incorporate also the right of the students to request leave from school for one year when objective and major serious reasons are given. We based our recommendation on the following laws and acts:

1. To guarantee the constitutional rights, foreseen in article 53, 54 and 57, paragraph 3, article 63 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania.

2. Article 2, letter “f” of the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, approved by the General Assembly in its Resolution No. 34/180, dated 18.12.1979, which states that “States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women and, to this end, undertake: To take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women”.

3. Letter “b”, Law No. 8454, dated 04.02.1999 “On People’s Advocate”.

We also recommended that the Directorate should revoke Order No. 731/9, dated 04.12.2001, and re-accept the complainant as a student in the Police Academy.

Our recommendations were accepted.

2. The complaint of citizen M.P. former police officer in the Police Station of Fier, who complained for unjust dismissal from the job with the motivation “Grave disobedience of the service regulations, by not executing the order of the superior to realize persons from the 10 our detainment”. At the same time, the complainant pretended that the dismissal motivation was groundless. According to him, he had obeyed correctly the orders of his superiors related to two persons detained in the Police Station on June 12, 2002. The criminal police officer Sh.B. had interrogated the suspects and after he finished that, he asked the complainant to give to them their personal belonging and meanwhile signed the detention ledger for their release. To be more precise on the orders of his superiors, the complainant asked officer Sh.B. if he had communicated with his superiors for this release. The respond given to him was that the officer had communicated.

Besides these facts, the complainant also wrote that during the 25 years that he has worked as a police office, he has never received and disciplinary measure and what happened to him in this case was in violation to the Law “On the State Police” and the Discipline Guide.

To facilitate the resolving of this case, we requested for explanations from the Police Directorate of Fier District on the causes and motivations for the dismissal of the complainant.

From the response given in the official document No. 834, sent to us on August 14, 2002, it resulted that deputy service officer M.P. was ordered from his superior that the criminal police, the vice director and chief of grave crimes in person, would work with the detainees E.Rr., and associates. But he violated the procedures of escorting for these individuals, and precisely with the orders given by criminal inspector Sh.B. has released them, without the confirmation of his superiors. Faced with this legal infringement, based on Law “On the State Police” they suspended him from their jobs the criminal officer Sh.B. and police officer M.P. Later they released from the police forces, the officer M.P. and due to the fact that this person was confronted with the commission of penal act, he was escorted to the police station. Meanwhile they requested from the Fier Prosecutor’s Office his arrest.  The Prosecutor decided that his case will be tried with him free and the penal procedure against him is continuing. Also they informed us that they have taken the same actions for officer Sh.B., by taking him under penal responsibility and passing his file to the Fier District Prosecutor.

From our verification in relation to this complain at the Fier District Prosecutor, it resulted that this office has started the Penal Case No. 332 of 2002, charging citizen Sh.B. for the penal act of misuse of duties, foreseen in article 248 of the Code of Penal Procedure. In the charges, he is alleged for several law infringements in various periods, between which stands the case of release from the escort rooms of the citizen E.R. and others. In conclusion of the investigation, the Prosecutor dismissed charges by Decision, dated 10.07.2002 of the Penal Case No. 332, based on paragraph 1, letter “a” of article 328 of the Code of Penal Procedure (which clarifies that the fact does not exist.)

From the investigation of this case from the Prosecutor’s Office, it also resulted that the Police Director told deputy officer M.P. that the criminal police will be working with the suspects and that if they do not represent any problem, they will be released, but without concretely specifying the name of the criminal police officer that would investigate them. Sh.B. worked with the escorted persons, who after interrogation, found out that they were not involved, thus he ordered their release, by signing the escort ledger.

          Further more, the Fier Prosecutor sent to us the document No. 1689, dated 12.09.2002, in which it results that this organ had not deposited any charges against the police officer M.P. and subsequently it had not started any penal procedure against him. Thus, certifying the contrary to the answer of the Police Directorate of Fier District.

          From the investigation of the case of dismissal of complainant M.P. from the State Police orders did not result that he is facing the commission of a penal act. This was the case not only with the complainant, as we explained that there were not charges pressed, but also for the police officer who in the concrete case has a bigger responsibility and still continues to be in his job.

In the findings of our investigation, we concluded that the dismissal from the police forces of the complainant M.P. was made in a hasty mode, without an objective analysis for the concrete violations. They could have taken other disciplinary measures, in a more gradual way, as foreseen in article 29 of the Law “On the State Police” and not dismissal, which is an extreme disciplinary measure. Furthermore it was not considered the 25 years of experience of this police officer and the fact that no prior disciplinary actions were taken against him.

          To put to justice the violated right of the complainant M.P., we recommended to the Police Directorate of Fier District to revoke the order for dismissal from the State Police Orders and return him in his work place.

          3. The complaint of the police officer K.N., in the position of Chief Financial Officer of the Budget and Finance Department of the Police Directorate of  Shkodra District. She claimed that she was holding the position of the Head of Budget and Finance Office in this directorate and during her maternity leave she was transferred unjustly from this position and appointed as the Chief Financial Officer in this department. She considers this transfer as illegal and for this injustice she complained through administrative ways, but her complained was not taken under consideration from the appropirate administrative structures.

          To facilitate the clarification and the solution of this complaint, we requested explanations from the Police Directorate of Shkodra District, which in return, through Document No. 640, dated 13.04.2002 informed us that the complainant K.N. was transferred from the position of the Head of Budget and Finance Office, with the motivation ”For changes in the organizational structure” and was appointed the Chief Financial Officer in the Budget and Finance Department of the Police Directorate of  Shkodra District by Decision No. 1793/1, dated 12.12.2001. The transfer was made by the proposal of the Nominating Council and approval of the Police Director of  Shkodra District, with the explanation that the functional office of the Head of Budget and Finance Office in Police Directorate of Districts, in the new organizational structure is one and irreplaceble. In the process of structural organization changes, and due to voluminous work floe, it was assessed that, as the complainant was on maternity leave and also had taken extended leave, to make the change in this position, because the function of the Chief Financial Officer is covered by the Head of this department, which is actually happening.  

          From the study of this case materials, we concluded that the transfer in the work title and position of the complainant K.N. is not legal because:

          1. The motivation “For changes in the organizational structure” is not true, because the position of the Head of Budget and Finance Office in the Police Directorate of Shkodra Distrcit still exists, thus it has not been reduced in the new organizational structure.

          2. To handle the voluminous work flow during the period that the complainant was on maternity leave, her position could be covered by an acting Head or another person could be hired on a short-term basis.

          3. This transfer is made in contradiction to paragraph 1 of article 107 of the Labor Code which states that “It is invalid the breaching of an employment contract from the employer during the period in which a woman is benefiting her income from the Social Insurance, in the cases of birth or adoption”. 

The transfer of the complainant from her previous postition is in violation also to the international acts and memberships, in which our country adheres, such as:

a) “The Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women”, proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, on November 7, 1967, and more concretely on paragraph 2, article 10, which states that: “In order to prevent discrimination against women on account of marriage or maternity and to ensure their effective right to work, measures shall be taken to prevent their dismissal in the event of marriage or maternity and to provide paid maternity leave, with the guarantee of returning to former employment, and to provide the necessary social services, including child-care facilities”.

b) “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations through the resolution 34/180, December 18, 1979 and concretely article 11, paragraph 2/b, which states that: “In order to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of marriage or maternity and to ensure their effective right to work, States Parties shall take appropriate measures: To introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former employment, seniority or social allowances”.

To ensure the justice for the violated right of the citizen K.N., we recommended to the General Director of State Police to revoke Order No. 1793/1, dated 12.12.2001 and return the complainant in her previous position, as the Head of the Budget and Finance Department at the Police Directorate of Shkodra District. Our recommendation was accepted, and we have requested the swift review of this case and will insist that it is resolved in the favor of the complainant, so that she can gain her rights.

 

IV. Complaints for non beneficence of financial or economic status of the police forces killed or wounded in action.

         

The complaints coming under this subject were in the center of our attention. There are a total of eight complaints, which came from individuals or groups of individuals. Mainly they came from the family members (parents or spouses) of the police officers killed or from the wounded police officers themselves during the period 1991-1998, who had not gained financial or economic benefits.

          They complain for not benefiting from the Decision of Council of Ministers No. 552, dated 27.11.1999 “On Financial and Economic Treatment of the Families of Police Officers, Who Loose their Lives or are Wounded in Active Duty”.

          In their complaints, among others, they raise a touching questions: “maybe our life and blood is less worthy than that of our colleagues killed or wounded after us for the same Government and they will profit and us not”.

          From the study of this decision and the verification of the complaints of various citizens in this aspect, it resulted that it is in effect since January 1, 1999, thus not granting the right of treatment to the family members of police officers killed or wounded prior to this date, from 1991 to 1998.

          From the studying of the international laws on human rights, we found out that this above cited decision is not issued in accordance with them and more concretely:

1. Article 1, of “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, approved and proclaimed from the General Assembly of United Nations, in its resolution 217 A of December 10, 1948, which defines that: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

2. Meanwhile, this decision is contrary to article 7, letter “a” of  “The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”, approved by the General Assembly of United Nations, in its resolution 2200 A of December 16 1966, which defines that: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work which ensure, in particular: Remuneration, which provides all workers, as a minimum, with: (i) Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work; (ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant”.

At the same time, this decision is contrary to article 18 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, which states that: “All are equal before the law”, and article 59, letter “g”, which states that: “The state, within its constitutional powers and the means at its disposal, aims to supplement private initiative and responsibility with: care and help for the aged, orphans and persons with disabilities”.

To better clarify this problem, we researched the information available at the Ministry of Public Order and found out from their documentations, that during 1991-1998 135 police officers were killed on active duty. They have left behind 475 family members that co-lived with them. For their compensation, according to the above decision, are needed 142.500.000 Lek.

Wounded on active duty, during 1991-1998 are 140 police officers, who co-live with 469 persons. According to estimates, an amount of 70.350.000 Lek is required for their compensation. 

The total amount for the compensation of the families of killed or wounded police officers on active duty, during 1991-1998, who filed with appropriate documentation, is 212.85.000 Lek.

From the study that the Ministry of Public Order did for this purpose, it results that during 1991-1998 there are 32 more killed police officers and 104 wounded who did not bring their documents to benefit the compensation. For this category it is estimated a required amount of 80.000.000 Lek.

The total amount for the treatment of the category of deceased or wounded police officers during 1991-1998 is 292.850.000 Lek.

We reached to the conclusion that the Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 552, dated 27.11.1999, has become an obstacle and cause for the violation of rights of individuals to be treated equally. To put in place this right, we proposed to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania the change and improve of the Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 552, dated 27.11.1999 “On the financial and economic treatment of the families of police officers, who loose their lives or are wounded in active duty” to expand its effect since January 1, 1991. Simultaneously we recommended to the Minister of Public Order to propose to the Council of Ministers the change and improvement of this decision, and we have informed the Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission of Order and SHISH. Recently we were informed that our proposal and recommendation are under review and work is under way to solve this problem.