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Title:  Albania Human Rights Practices, 1993
Date:  January 31, 1994
Author:  U.S. Department of State


Albania continued to make progress toward establishing a 
multiparty democracy with legal guarantees of human rights.  It 
installed its first non-Communist Government in free and fair 
elections in 1992 after 47 years of Communist rule.  Parliament 
in 1992 elected Sali Berisha as President for a 5-year term, 
and Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi heads a coalition 
Government dominated by members of the Democratic Party.  
Pending the adoption of a new constitution, the Law on Major 
Constitutional Provisions continued to serve as a substitute.

Local police detachments are under the direction of the 
Ministry of Public Order.  Instances of police abuse occurred, 
including the deaths of four persons while in police custody.  
The Rapid Deployment Force (RDF), created in 1992 and also 
under the Ministry of Public Order, has the authority to use 
force against public disorder, terrorist activities, and 
vandalism, to search homes, businesses, and vehicles, and to 
arrest suspects under certain circumstances.  The National 
Intelligence Service (ShIK) is the successor to the Sigurimi 
secret police.

The Government made substantial progress in moving from a 
centrally planned economy to a market-oriented system.  With 97 
percent of the land restored to private ownership, crop yields 
increased by more than 20 percent.  The privatization of 
services and trade expanded greatly, and a liberal investment 
law was passed to encourage foreign investment.  Inflation was 
reduced from 200 percent in 1992 to about 40 percent in 1993.  
Although 100,000 new jobs were created, unemployment still 
ranged near 35 percent.  Industrial production, declining at 
the beginning of the year, began to increase by year's end.

Parliament in March passed a human rights law which 
incorporates the basic provisions of the first articles of the 
draft constitution, providing for the freedom of speech, press, 
assembly, association, and religion.  Nonetheless, significant 
human rights problems remained.  Incidents of police violence 
occurred, involving use of excessive force (including shootings 
and beatings) against peaceful protestors and detainees, and 
resulting in four deaths.  The Government appears not to have 
prosecuted those responsible in all cases.  The Government 
restricted freedom of speech and press, trying Albanian 
journalists for defaming public officials and harassing foreign 
journalists for allegedly criticizing Albanian authorities.  
Freedom of assembly and association remained significantly 
restricted.  Ethnic tensions increased when Albanian 
authorities expelled a Greek Orthodox priest accused of 
publicly endorsing the union of southern Albania with Greece, 
and Greek authorities retaliated by expelling over 25,000 
Albanians working legally and illegally in Greece.  The ethnic 
Greek community has complained of discrimination in education 
and religious matters in particular.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of targeted political killings in 1993, 
but in several instances police used excessive force, causing 
death.  On May 15, police in Korca shot Romeo Gace while he was 
attempting to evade arrest for suspected theft.  He later 
died.  The responsible police officer was arrested, charged 
with willful murder, convicted, and sentenced to 8 years in 

On June 21, police in Fier beat to death a suspect attempting 
to elude arrest.  Local and national police authorities 
released no details of the death and made no explanations.  On 
August 15, police in Lushnje reportedly shot and killed a 
suspect while in the process of apprehending him.  Authorities 
have not indicated whether investigations or prosecutions of 
those responsible have been initiated in these cases.

On August 14, 31-year-old David Leka died in Lac after police 
arrested him and beat him fatally for allegedly having injured 
a police officer with a knife by first cutting his nose and 
then stabbing him in the back.  Three police officers were 
arrested in connection with his death, although two have since 
been released.  The investigation was continuing at year's 
end.  The Albanian Helsinki Committee protested these examples 
of the use of excessive force by police and criticized the 
Government for perpetrating an atmosphere that condones the 
abuse of force.  President Berisha vowed that police who exceed 
their authority or violate citizens' rights would be held 
responsible before the law.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reported disappearances in 1993.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Penal Code prohibits the use of physical or psychological 
force during criminal proceedings and provides penalties for 
those found guilty of abuse.  Nonetheless, there were several 
credible reports that police beat suspects while in official 
custody.  In a series of incidents, police used excessive force 
in controlling or detaining demonstrators.  On June 12, police 
in Tirana and Shkoder entered buildings where members of the 
Society of Former Owners were engaging in a hunger strike.  
When the strikers refused to leave or accept medical attention, 
police reportedly beat many of them, including elderly persons, 
while evicting them.  The Helsinki Committee protested this use 
of force.

On July 30, the Socialist Party held a rally in Tirana which 
turned into a march (not authorized by the original permit) to 
the main square where they were met by regular police units, 
riot police, and plainclothes officers.  While the regular 
police in general acted professionally, some riot police and 
plainclothes officers allegedly mistreated demonstrators after 
taking them into custody.  The Minister of Public Order vowed 
to investigate these charges and take action against those 

Serious concerns remain about Albanian prisons which became 
more crowded in 1993.  Of particular concern was the 
incarceration of minor suspects and convicts (under the age of 
18) with older inmates and allegations of sexual abuse of 
minors by older prisoners.  There are no statutes which define 
the rights or obligations of prisoners or the rules governing 
prisoners' behavior.  Prisoners have the right to appeal 
disciplinary decisions made by the guards to the prison 
director.  The Helsinki Committee, which monitors prison 
conditions and reports on them to its parent organization, 
believes these conditions were not life threatening.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

During the July 30 demonstration in Tirana (see Section 1.c.), 
police made a number of arrests, allegedly singling out those 
shouting antigovernment slogans and not arresting the (equally 
unauthorized) progovernment counterdemonstrators.

According to the Penal Code, a prosecutor or police officer may 
order a suspect into "custody."  Those "in custody" may only 
leave their residences with the approval of the prosecutor.  
The accused must be informed of the charges against them at the 
time of detention and have the right to legal counsel, which 
will be appointed free of charge if they are unable to afford a 
private attorney.

Bail, in the form of money or property, may be required if it 
is believed the accused may not appear for the court hearing.  
If the prosecutor fears that the accused may leave Albania 
prior to trial or is a danger to society, an arrest is 
ordered.  Many suspects remain in jail until their trial date, 
which, due to the backlog of cases and shortage of attorneys, 
may be up to 3 months.

Within 24 hours of the arrest, the police must send a report to 
the prosecutor on the evidence linking the suspect to the 
crime.  The prosecuting attorney has 48 hours within which to 
decide to go to trial or to order the person's release.

Either the defendant or counsel has the right to appeal the 
arrest ordered by the prosecutor in the court of first 
instance.  The hearing must be held within 7 days of the arrest 
in the presence of the prosecutor, the defendant, and the 
defense counsel.  There is no appeal of the decision of the 
court on this matter.  The court system attempts to follow 
these procedures as closely as possible, but a severe shortage 
of trained, experienced legal professionals slows down the 
process considerably.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial system comprises the courts of first instance 
(also known as district courts), the court of appeals, and the 
Court of Cassation.  Each of these courts is divided into three 
jurisdictions:  criminal, civil and military.  A separate 
Constitutional Court (also known as the High Court or Supreme 
Court) can take jurisdiction of any case giving rise to a 
question of constitutional interpretation.  The Court of 
Cassation hears appeals from the court of appeals, while the 
Constitutional Court reviews only those cases which require 
interpretation of the Constitution.

Parliament has the authority to appoint and dismiss judges on 
the Constitutional Court (nine members) and the Court of 
Cassation (seven members).  The Supreme Judicial Council 
appoints and dismisses all other judges.  Judges have a 
lifetime appointment and may only be relieved of their duties 
by Parliament (in the case of the Constitutional Court and the 
Court of Cassation) or the Supreme Judicial Council (in the 
case of other courts) on conviction for a serious crime.

In 1993 the Supreme Judicial Council continued the process 
begun in 1992 of removing Communist-era judges from the bench.  
For example, in the Tirana court system, only 2 of 26 sitting 
justices remain from the former Communist regime.  Nationwide, 
some 70 percent of judges have been replaced since 1991.  

Prosecutors also serve at the pleasure of the Supreme Judicial 
Council.  Many who held ranking positions under the previous 
regime were removed during 1993.  Because of the rapid turnover 
of prosecutors and judges and their insufficient experience and 
training, the rule of law and the principle of an independent 
judiciary are not yet firmly established.

Examinations have been instituted for admission to the faculty 
of law which previously had been based on political influence.  
However, a legal training course for the children of former 
political prisoners has aroused the concern of the Helsinki 
Committee, which argued that the program would not adequately 
prepare persons to work in the judicial system.

In January a Fier judge was reportedly reprimanded because 
President Berisha disagreed with the judge's decision to 
dismiss charges of labor agitation against two Socialist Party 
activists.  In June Parliament passed a law that would have 
disbarred 92 lawyers who practiced under the Communist regime.  
The Constitutional Court declared it unconstitutional, and the 
lawyers were reinstated.

In September the General Prosecutor's office replaced 14 
attorneys.  Some reports claimed they had been fired for 
political reasons, but most appear to have resigned to make 
more money in lucrative private practice.

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions provides that a 
trial must be held in public, unless it might divulge national 
security information.  If convicted, the accused has the right 
to appeal the decision within 5 days to the court of appeals, 
and again to the Court of Cassation which renders the final 

The Association of Former Political Prisoners, formed in 1991, 
seeks redress from the Government in the form of assistance 
with housing and schooling for prisoners' children or 
grandchildren.  In January the Parliament pardoned all former 
political prisoners who were not covered under the October 1991 
parliamentary decrees overturning the convictions of most 
political prisoners.  In June Parliament approved measures 
designed to move former political prisoners and their families 
to the top of waiting lists for housing and admission to 
institutions of higher education in Albania.  Former political 
prisoners will also be eligible for pensions to compensate them 
for the time they spent in prison.  According the Helsinki 
Committee, those convicted and still serving sentences under 
pre-March 1992 penal procedures still do not yet have the right 
to appeal their convictions, even though they were convicted 
without the right to a defense lawyer or the right of 
subsequent appeal.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions does not address 
these issues, although it states that Albania guarantees "the 
human rights and fundamental freedoms as accepted in 
international documents."  The draft constitution states that 
searches may only be conducted with court-ordered warrants, and 
that correspondence may not be interfered with, except on 
grounds of national security.  However, a law allowing police 
to enter homes without a warrant in search of illegal weapons 
remains in effect, which the Helsinki Committee has protested.  
There is no evidence of abuse of this law.

The Communist-dominated parliament, in office prior to March 
1992, approved the establishment of the Rapid Deployment Force 
(RDF), which is authorized to use force against a breakdown in 
order, terrorist activities, vandalism, and arson.  Attached to 
the Ministry of Public Order and also at the disposition of the 
Council of Ministers, the RDF in times of emergency comes under 
the command of the local chief of police and the local 
executive committee chairman (mayor).  It has the right, among 
other things, to search residences and businesses, to set up 
roadblocks, and to search vehicles.  It is not known to have 
abused its authority in 1993.

Plans to open and examine the files of the Sigurimi (the former 
secret police of the Communist regime) were still being 
considered at year's end.  In the meantime, these documents 
remain under the control of the National Intelligence Service 
(ShIK).  However, senior government officials have indicated 
that not all files are intact and some may have been tampered 
with in the final days of the Communist regime.  The draft 
constitution states that "no information may be collected on 
citizens without their knowledge except on grounds of national 
security.  All citizens have the right to examine government 
files pertaining to them and their activities."

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The law on basic human rights, approved by a two-thirds 
majority of Parliament in March, provides for the freedom of 
speech and press, although other laws are used to restrict 
criticism of the Government.  The draft constitution prohibits 
any restrictions on the freedom of speech and press.

In October Parliament passed a press law which, in its attempt 
to legislate greater press responsibility, could severely 
restrict press freedom.  The law sets out large fines for 
publishing material considered secret or sensitive by the 
Government, permits confiscation of printed matter or property 
by judicial order, and allows for criminal punishment under 
certain circumstances.  These circumstances will be defined in 
future modifications of the Penal Code.  The media and the 
Albanian Helsinki Committee denounced the law.  Electronic 
media are to be dealt with in a separate law.

Opposition parties (with the exception of the Communist party 
which is banned and prohibited from publishing), independent 
trade unions, and various societies and groups publish their 
own newspapers.  Approximately 250 newspapers and magazines 
appear on a regular basis.  Liko Vima and Zeri i Omonias, two 
newspapers in the Greek language, are published in southern 

In practice, freedom of speech, including freedom to criticize 
the Government and government officials, was sometimes 
restricted.  The Government took legal action against three 
Albanian journalists in 1993.  Nikola Lesi, editor of the 
opposition newspaper Koha Jone, was tried on charges that he 
libeled the Chairman of the State Control Commission, was found 
guilty, and fined.  Aleksander Frangaj, also at the time with 
Koha Jone, was charged with endangering national security for 
his report on alleged military maneuvers.  After a court 
battle, the Government withdrew its allegations.  Koha Jone 
frequently criticized the Government and claimed that as a 
result it was a target of official persecution.

Idajet Beqiri, Chairman of the National Unity Party and editor 
of its newspaper Kombi, was charged under a 1990 law with 
"defamation of the office of the President" for having authored 
an article calling President Berisha "the killer of Albania."  
On July 12, Beqiri was found guilty and sentenced to 6 months 
in prison but is appealing.  Journalists were also allegedly 
arrested in the course of covering demonstrations and charged 
with participating in illegal demonstrations.  At least one 
journalist was reportedly beaten while in custody.  The 
Government has also reportedly increased the number of 
financial inspections of opposition newspapers.

Foreign journalists also encountered difficulties in Albania in 
1993.  Police detained an Italian journalist with the newspaper 
Corriere de la Serra in August, without filing charges.  He had 
written articles for his newspaper critical of President 
Berisha.  Only after agreeing to leave the country was he 
released.  The Italian Government protested this as improper 
interference with journalistic freedom.  A reporter for Agence 
France Presse and a Greek journalist and film maker were also 
reportedly harassed by police for "anti-Albanian" or 
"antigovernment" activities.

Radio and television remained state monopolies.  Albania has 
one television station, while each major city has its own radio 
station.  Since November 1991, Parliament has exercised direct 
control over television, delegating some oversight duties to an 
Executive Committee of Radio and Television, which it 
appoints.  The Executive Committee, comprised of 11 members 
from outside Parliament, meets occasionally to review 
programming and the content of news broadcasts.  Opposition 
critics of the Government alleged that television serves the 
interests of the ruling Democratic Party.  Some controversial 
interviews and programs were said not to have been aired, 
reportedly at the request of political and governmental 
leaders.  Local radio in southern Albania broadcasts 
Greek-language programming.

The Ministry of Education sets a standard course outline for 
all levels of education.  Professors may substitute texts and 
teach their courses in whatever manner they see fit, within the 
general guidelines set in Tirana.  A Greek studies program at 
the University of Gjirokaster, long a demand of the ethnic 
Greek cultural organization Omonia, began functioning for the 
1993-94 academic year.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

There are significant restrictions on the freedom of peaceful 
assembly and association.  Both the Law on Major Constitutional 
Provisions and the draft constitution state that political 
parties must be fully independent from state institutions, 
including military and security forces, but they may not be 
formed on an ethnic or religious basis.  Parties with 
representatives in Parliament are eligible for modest 
government funding.

In order to hold a public rally, an organization must apply for 
a permit from local authorities and provide copies of all 
speeches to be delivered and slogans to be used in the course 
of the meeting.  Requests for meetings were usually granted, 
although police sometimes required a change of date or venue.  
When such meetings expanded into marches to other 
(unauthorized) locations, however, they were then deemed 
illegal.  Some public meetings of the opposition Socialist 
Party were not permitted for the sites or times requested.  At 
least 14 men were imprisoned on charges of having taken part in 
unauthorized demonstrations in July and August.

In July 1992, Parliament passed a law banning all "Fascist, 
racist, antinational, Marxist-Leninist, Enverist (followers of 
former dictator Enver Hoxha), and Stalinist" parties, including 
the Communist party.  The Constitutional Court upheld the 
prohibition of the Communist party, and the draft constitution 
continues this ban.

An organization, including a political party, must apply to the 
Ministry of Justice to be officially certified.  It must 
declare an aim or purpose that is not anticonstitutional or 
contrary to law.  It must describe its organizational structure 
and account for all public and private funds it receives.  The 
Constitutional Court has upheld prohibitions on organizations 
which failed to get the necessary government authorization.  An 
anti-Communist group called Vendetta was denied registration, 
allegedly because it favors a violent approach towards 
retribution against former Communists who are now Socialists.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion has been established both in theory and 
practice.  The Government legalized the private and public 
practice of religion in 1990.  The Law on Major Constitutional 
Provisions declares Albania to be "a secular state" which 
"respects the freedom of religious faith and creates conditions 
to exercise it."  The human rights law passed by Parliament in 
March also guarantees full religious freedom.

Controversy over a proposed law on religion erupted in early 
1993.  The law, which went through several revisions before 
being dropped entirely, would have required the leaders of the 
four main religious communities--Muslim, Bektashi, Roman 
Catholic, and Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox--to be Albanian 
citizens from birth, thus necessitating the removal of, inter 
alia, the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Archbishop, Anastas 
Janullatos, a Greek citizen.

Foreign clergy, including Muslim clerics and Christian 
missionaries, freely carry out religious activities.  Albanian 
Muslim clerics are being training in Egypt.  A seminary 
training priests for the Albanian Autocephalous Church will 
graduate its first class in 1994.  Orthodox priests from Greece 
serve Greek-speaking congregations, primarily in southern 

In June a Greek priest, Archimandrite Chrystostomos, who had 
been working in ethnic Greek areas of southern Albania for 
almost a year, was expelled from Albania for allegedly engaging 
in anti-Albanian activities, including publicly calling for the 
union of parts of southern Albania with Greece.  In 
retaliation, the Greek Government expelled over 25,000 
documented and undocumented Albanian workers.

A secretariat of religions within the Ministry of Culture 
oversees the activities of the religious communities.  Some 
questions concerning property confiscated by the Communist 
regime from religious organizations have yet to be resolved.  
In some instances, the restitution of property would displace 
thousands of residents from their present-day homes located on 
the religious communities' lands.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

There are no longer any restrictions on freedom of movement 
within the country, and regulations on foreign travel and 
emigration have been revised.  Passports are available to all 
citizens, and the practice of limiting them to specific 
countries of destination was abandoned in 1991.  Albanian-born 
citizens of all foreign countries are eligible to apply for 
dual citizenship.

As in 1992, thousands of economic emigrants fled Albania, 
principally overland to Greece but also by sea to Italy.  The 
Tirana office of the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for 
Migration (IOM) jointly run a program to inform the public of 
opportunities for legal migration to other countries.  
Responsibility for emigration was assigned in 1993 to a 
committee which works with foreign governments to establish 
agreements for the legal employment of Albanians abroad.

Although until now there has been no significant influx of 
refugees into Albania, some government officials are concerned 
about the potential flood of ethnic Albanian refugees from 
Kosovo in Serbia if widespread violence were to break out 
there.  Some ethnic Albanians, most of whom fled Kosovo to 
avoid the draft, came to Albania, though exact numbers are not 
known.  Albania also agreed to shelter up to 5,000 Bosnian 
Muslims who are in Croatian refugee camps.  Some Bosnians did 
come in 1993 but then relocated to Turkey.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions and the draft 
constitution provide citizens with the right to change their 
government "by free, general, equal, direct, and secret 
ballot."  International observers judged the national elections 
in March 1992 to have been free and fair.  The Democratic Party 
holds 86 of 140 parliamentary seats to 38 for the Socialist 
(former Communist) Party, 7 for the Social Democratic Party, 6 
for the Democratic Alliance Party, 2 for the Unity for Human 
Rights (ethnic Greek) Party, and 1 for the Republican Party.  
The next elections are not required before 1996.  Opposition 
parties had good access to radio and television and were 
unhindered in publishing their newspapers.

The law on political parties, passed in early 1992, and the 
draft constitution bar the formation of parties on an ethnic 
basis.  During the campaign for parliamentary elections in 
1991, Omonia, the national political and cultural organization 
of the ethnic Greek minority, constituting approximately 3 
percent of the population, was permitted to field candidates.  
Since that time Omonia leaders have founded the Unity for Human 
Rights Party, which has run candidates in both national and 
local elections.  Ethnic Greek candidates in southern Albania 
won a majority of elected positions in parts of three districts 
(Gjirokaster, Delvine, and Saranda) and manage many ethnic 
Greek communities.  There are six ethnic Greek Members of 
Parliament, two of whom represent the Unity for Human Rights 

There are no legal impediments to the participation of women in 
politics or government, although to date few women have 
competed for elected office, and only eight women serve in 
Parliament, a reflection of the male-dominated society.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Albanian Helsinki Committee, the major human rights 
watchdog organization, took a very active and public role in 
defending human rights and remained independent of the 
Democratic Party-led Government.  During 1993 it initiated and 
carried out investigations and issued statements and reports 
which were critical of the Government.  The main areas of its 
focus are the rehabilitation of former political prisoners and 
the independence of the judiciary and the mass media.  The 
independent Albanian group, the Society for Free Elections and 
Democratic Culture, founded in 1992, shifted its interest from 
elections to democratic institution-building and civic 

Delegations from the International Helsinki Commission, the 
Council of Europe, and the Office of the High Commissioner for 
National Minorities of the Conference on Security and 
Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) made several visits to Albania in 
1993, during which they conferred with political officials and 
representatives of the ethnic Greek minority and visited 
prisons, hospitals, and other state facilities.  Albanian 
government cooperation with the U.N. Human Rights Center 
continued during 1993.  There were no allegations that the 
Government penalized or repressed any human rights observers or 
their contacts for their work in Albania.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions does not address 
women's rights.  The draft constitution, however, prohibits any 
discrimination on the basis of sex.  Women are not restricted, 
either in law or in practice, from any occupations, although 
they do not typically rise to the top of their professions.  No 
data are available on whether women receive equal pay for equal 
work.  Although women have equal access to higher education, 
they are not accorded full, equal opportunity and treatment 
with men in their careers, due to the persistence of 
traditional (male-dominated) values.  Domestic violence 
undoubtedly exists, but no statistics are kept.  Police are 
seldom called to intervene in cases of family abuse, and women 
almost never bring charges against spouses.  "Refleksione," 
Albania's first nonpolitical women's group founded in 1993, 
worked to raise funds and planned for Albania's first shelter 
and counseling service for abused and battered women.  It is 
also dedicated to the strengthening of women's participation in 
society and to the expansion of their legal rights.  


The Government's commitment to children's rights and welfare is 
based on domestic law and international agreement.  The 
Government makes education mandatory through age 14.  
Employment of children under this age is legally prohibited, 
although it is clear that, in many rural areas, children under 
14 are actively involved in agriculture.  Special programs of 
the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare are planned but not 
yet implemented for disabled children.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

While no recent official statistics exist regarding the size of 
various ethnic communities in Albania, ethnic Greeks are the 
most organized and receive the most attention and assistance 
from abroad.  Albania has a population of approximately 3.3 
million.  Ethnic Greek leaders believe there are about 
70,000-80,000 ethnic Greeks in Albania.  Vlach (Romanian 
speaking) leaders claim their community numbers close to 
300,000, although this is unlikely.  Small ethnic Macedonian 
villages exist in the northeast part of the country.

Two distinct groups of Roma (Gypsies), the Jevg and the Arrixhi 
(Gabel), reside in Albania.  The Jevg are more likely to be 
settled in urban areas and are more integrated into the 
Albanian economy than the Arrixhi.  The two groups seldom 
intermarry or have any significant contact.  Both groups 
encounter societal discrimination, but no specific violence is 
known to have been directed against them during 1993.

CSCE High Commissioner for Minorities Max Van der Stoel visited 
Albania twice in 1993 to investigate the situation of the 
ethnic Greek minority.  In his trip report Van der Stoel called 
Albania's commitment to provide full CSCE rights to ethnic 
Greeks "real" and stated that the minority does in reality 
enjoy those rights.  However, he recommended the creation in 
the Government of a special office for minority questions.

Greek-language education was the single most important concern 
of the ethnic Greek community in southern Albania.  In 1993 the 
Government met the community's longstanding demands for 
state-funded, Greek-language education.  Seventy-three 
elementary schools (grades one through eight) are open in the 
areas where most ethnic Greeks reside (three southern districts 
of Gjirokaster, Delvine, and Saranda) which now serve more than 
4,500 students.  A Greek-language high school was opened in 
Gjirokaster, and the "Eqerem Cabej" University of Gjirokaster 
now has a department of Greek studies which opened for the 
1993-94 academic year.  The curriculum in these schools is the 
Albanian state program translated into Greek and taught by 
ethnic Greek Albanian instructors.  Ethnic Greeks complained, 
however, that there is no legislation permitting the 
establishment of private schools.

Although they have no legal basis, the Government continued to 
use the term "minority zones" to describe the three southern 
districts in which villages have majorities of ethnic Greeks.  
It has had practical application in the area of education.  
Given the Government's severe budgetary problems and the 
overcrowded and poor conditions of most Albanian schools, the 
State has funded Greek-language education only in "minority 

After Albania expelled a Greek priest in June for alleged 
anti-Albanian activities and the Greek Government retaliated by 
deporting over 25,000 documented and undocumented Albanian 
workers, tensions between ethnic Greeks and Albanians rose in 
southern Albania.  The Government ordered the deployment of 
extra RDF police in ethnic Greek areas to prevent any 
anti-Greek violence.  Occasional reports of beatings of illegal 
Albanian workers by Greek military personnel also fueled 
emotions from time to time throughout 1993.  In one incident, 
an ethnic Greek policeman was wounded by other policemen.  Some 
ethnic Greeks alleged that ethnic Greek army officers were 
forced to resign under pressure of transfers to the northern 
part of the country, but there was no evidence to support 
allegations of discriminatory transfers.

Vlachs continued to demand government-funded education in their 
language, although they were less vocal about their demands 
than in 1992.  They also continued to seek funds to restore 
several early 18th-century churches and monasteries that have 
deteriorated over the years.  In accordance with an agreement 
signed in 1992, the Macedonian Government funds Macedonian-
language education in several villages on the Albanian side of 
the Albanian/Macedonian border.

     People with Disabilities

In 1993 Parliament approved a law to assist disabled World War 
II veterans.  Due to the paucity and poor quality of medical 
care under the Communist regime, there is a disproportionately 
high number of disabled persons in Albania.  Disabled persons 
are eligible for various forms of public assistance, but the 
level of that assistance is meager.  The public care section of 
the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare is to establish local 
offices for the treatment and rehabilitation of the disabled.  
The Government has not yet legislated or otherwise mandated 
accessibility for the disabled due to the relative poverty of 
the State and the population in general.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Workers obtained the right to create independent trade unions 
in 1991.  The Independent Confederation of Trade Unions of 
Albania (BSPSH) was formed as the umbrella organization for a 
number of smaller unions.  A separate, rival federation 
continued to operate in close cooperation with the Socialist 
Party.  The latter federation--the Confederation of Unions--is 
a continuation of the "official" federation of the Communist 
period.  In 1993 municipal employees and workers in such fields 
as communications and bakeries founded their own independent 

More than 100,000 Albanians are now employed in the private 
sector, mostly in small shops, enterprises, and restaurants, 
but they have formed no unions to represent them.  Some unions 
have organized to represent workers in Greek- and Italian-owned 
shoe and textile factories.

According to the Law on Major Constitutional Provisions, all 
workers, with the exception of employees of military 
enterprises, have the right to strike.  The draft constitution 
also fully guarantees the right to strike for economic, safety, 
or health reasons.  Strikes that are either openly declared to 
be political or so judged by the courts are forbidden.

In the depressed economic climate of 1993, labor disputes 
flared.  Early in January, chromium miners in Bulqize ended a 
bitter strike demanding that their wages be raised to the level 
of West European miners.  After the strike ended, the 
Government reportedly did not allow 27 miners, including 
8 members of the strike committee, to return to work.  The 
Albanian Helsinki Committee protested this decision.

On May 20, the BSPSH staged a 1-hour general strike, which was 
observed, though not uniformly, throughout the country.  In 
response, the Government agreed to increase unemployment 
compensation and wages for some workers.  A court declared a 
strike planned by oil workers for August 3 illegal because they 
failed to adhere to the legally required 2-week "cooling off 
period" between calling their strike and subsequently walking 
out.  Teachers, who are at the bottom of the "wage pyramid" and 
earn approximately $1 per day, staged a 1-day strike on 
September 15, the first day of the new school year.  In 
response, the Government agreed to an immediate increase of 10 
percent in their wages.

The BSPSH has observers with the International Confederation of 
Free Trade Unions in Brussels and working ties with the 
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial 
Organizations.  Its closest ties at present are with the 
Italian labor unions.  Individual Albanian trade unions have 
ties with their corresponding trade secretariats in Brussels 
and elsewhere.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

All citizens in all fields of employment have the right to 
organize and bargain collectively, except members of the armed 
forces, civilian personnel employed by the armed forces, and 
employees of certain state administrative organs.  In practice 
unions negotiate directly with the Government, since very 
little privatization has occurred outside of the retail and 
agricultural sectors.

Wages for all state employees are defined by the wage pyramid, 
legislated in 1992, which comprises 22 wage levels organized by 

Most large enterprises remain state owned.  BSPSH leaders were 
disappointed with the 1993 law on collective agreements and 
bargaining.  They had hoped that it would declare their union 
the lead union at enterprises where more than one union is 
active.  President Berisha has called for some revisions to the 
law to effect "improvements pursuant to international acts."

Export processing zones do not exist in Albania.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions prohibits forced 
labor, as does the draft constitution.  There were no cases of 
forced labor reported in 1993.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions sets the minimum age 
for employment at 14 years.  Persons between the ages of 14 and 
16 may work only 5 hours per day.  Working conditions for those 
over 16 are not legislated.  Although the law mandates 
education through the eighth grade and prohibits work by those 
younger that 14, there are no enforcement mechanisms to curb 
either truancy or child labor.  In rural areas, children are 
often called on to assist families with farm work.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no minimum wage in the private sector.  Current law 
and the draft constitution guarantee social assistance (income 
support) and unemployment compensation.  The average monthly 
wage for all Albanian workers is approximately $30.

In June Parliament approved shortening the workweek in 
state-owned enterprises to 40 hours.  The workweek includes a 
24-hour rest period, usually Sunday.  The Ministry of Labor 
enforces this law.

The Government sets occupational health and safety standards 
but has no funds to make improvements in state-owned industry.  
In a February report, the Albanian Helsinki Committee 
criticized working conditions in the chromium mines at 
Bulqize.  The Government called the Bulqize miners' strike 
"politically motivated" but acknowledged the need to improve 
their poor health conditions.  In those enterprises which are 
functioning, health and safety conditions are generally very 
poor. (###)

[end of document]


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