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TITLE:  ALBANIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995



                            ALBANIA


Albania continued to struggle in its efforts to establish a 
democratic society.  A new draft constitution was defeated in a 
referendum in November with little hope that another version 
could be approved before year's end.  Pending a new 
constitution, the Law on Major Constitutional Provisions 
supplemented by the Law on Fundamental Freedoms and Human 
Rights serves in its place.  President Sali Berisha, elected by 
Parliament in 1992, continued his 5-year term presiding over a 
coalition government dominated by the Democratic Party.  
Parliament adopted a new civil procedures code and began 
consideration of draft penal and penal procedures codes.  The 
Court of Cassation in June overturned the Minister of Justice's 
refusal to register the Democratic Party of the Right, thus 
providing for registration of a newly formed party of sharply 
differing views.

Local police detachments reporting to the Ministry of Interior 
(the Ministry of Public Order prior to December 1994) are 
responsible for internal security.  Police effectiveness in 
combatting violent crime increased, but instances of police 
abuse continued.  The National Intelligence Service (SHIK) has 
both domestic and external intelligence gathering and 
counterintelligence functions.  There are rumors, but no 
evidence, that SHIK exceeded its mandate.

Albania is a poor country with a largely agricultural economy.  
Remittances from Albanians working abroad are the principal 
source of foreign exchange.  The economy, in transition from a 
centrally planned to a market-oriented system, continued to 
improve as gross domestic product grew by over 8 percent.  
Privatization of small and medium enterprises continued at a 
slower pace than in 1993, but privatization of large 
enterprises continued to be hampered by a shortage of 
interested investors.  Inflation dropped to an annual rate of 
around 18 percent, and unemployment remained at around 25 
percent.

Significant human rights abuses remain.  Police continue to 
beat detainees, sometimes causing deaths.  Five police officers 
arrested for a fatal beating in 1993 were found guilty and 
sentenced to imprisonment (see Section 1.a.), but in several 
instances alleged abuses occurred without the perpetrators 
being punished.  Ethnic tensions were exacerbated by the arrest 
of five members of the ethnic Greek political organization 
Omonia on charges of treason and illegal weapons possession and 
their sentencing to 6- to 8-year terms, which were subsequently reduced on appeal.  Substantial procedural shortcomings marred 
their arrest, the search of their homes and offices, their 
detention, and their trial.  The Government restricted freedom 
of the press by trying Albanian journalists for defaming public 
officials and for revealing alleged state secrets.  The 
President later pardoned those journalists.  Some restrictions 
remain on freedom of assembly and association.  The ethnic 
Greek community continued to complain of discrimination, 
particularly in education and religious matters.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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

     a.  Political or Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political killings.  In January Irfan 
Nano of Saranda died after police reportedly beat him while in 
custody.  The Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC) protested his 
death.  Arrest warrants were issued for two police officers 
believed responsible, and the investigation was continuing at 
year's end.  On November 23, Enrik Islami of Vlora died in 
police custody.  Islami had reportedly been in prison for 17 
months pending trial for murder.  The Vlora prosecution opened 
an investigation into Islami's death, but no arrests have been 
made.  Five police officers, accused of fatally beating David 
Leka while in custody in August 1993, were found guilty and 
sentenced to from 1 to 11 years in prison.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reported disappearances.

     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.  During September, the AHC 
investigated complaints of mistreatment while in custody of 
Jani Stefan Magllara in Saranda and Osman Curciali in Tirana.  
The Minister of Public Order claimed that, in both cases, the 
police sought to detain them in connection with specific 
crimes.  When they forcibly resisted detention, police used 
force against them.  Curciali filed a complaint of police 
brutality, and the prosecutor opened an investigation, which 
was continuing at the end of the year.  Amnesty International, 
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, and others protested the October 
14 and 15 beatings of three members of the Gay Albania 
Society.  The three were detained for allegedly engaging in 
homosexual acts, a practice which is punishable by up to 10 
years in prison under the Penal Code.  One of the three 
detainees was beaten severely enough to require 
hospitalization.  The Interior Ministry stated that no 
complaints of mistreatment were filed in this case and 
therefore it initiated no investigation.  On October 20, the 
AHC protested the mistreatment of six members of the Keci 
family, three of them women, in police custody in the town of 
Fushe-Kruja on October 17.  One of the men was reportedly 
beaten severely enough to require hospitalization.  The 
Interior Ministry reported that no complaints of mistreatment 
were received and it undertook no investigation.

Four of the five ethnic Greek members of Omonia stated that, 
during their detention before their trial for treason, 
authorities subjected them to physical and psychological 
pressure, including beatings, sleep deprivation, hate speech, 
and threats of torture.  The Government rejected their claims 
(see Section 1.e.).

Albanian prison conditions do not meet internationally accepted 
standards.  Of particular concern is the incarceration of minor 
suspects and convicts (under the age of 18) with older inmates 
and resulting 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.  The AHC, which monitors prison conditions and 
reports on them to its parent organization, also noted that 
hygienic conditions in the prisons are extremely poor and 
prisoners often experience difficulties receiving visitors, 
mail, and newspapers.  The AHC deemed none of these problems 
life-threatening.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

According to the Penal Code, a prosecutor or police officer may 
order a suspect into "custody."  Those in custody may leave 
their residences only with the approval of the prosecutor.  All 
accused persons must be informed of the charges against them at 
the time of detention and have the right to legal counsel, 
which will be provided 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, he may order an 
arrest.  Many suspects remain in jail until their trial date, 
which, due to the backlog of cases and shortage of attorneys, 
is often longer than 3 months.

Within 24 hours of 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 
whether 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 court's decision in 
this matter.

In practice, the above procedures are often not followed.  
Detainees in criminal cases are often denied contact with their 
families during the investigative phase, which, due to a heavy 
caseload and the lack of trained investigators, may last 
several months.  The five ethnic Greeks arrested and tried for 
treason all complained of lack of access to their families for 
the first 3 months of the 4-month investigation.  The serious 
procedural effects noticed in the Omonia case may well reflect 
a pattern of judicial weakness which also affects ethnic 
Albanians.  The AHC also investigated complaints that some 
prisoners continued to be held virtually incommunicado even 
after they were convicted in court and that the courts often 
failed to respect the right of those arrested to appeal their 
arrest and receive a hearing within 7 days of the arrest.

The Albanian system of justice does not employ exile as a form 
of punishment or political control.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The lack of a new penal code and constitution resulted in 
continued reliance on a patchwork of changes to Communist-era 
laws, in uneven application of the laws, and, together with 
procedural irregularities, sometimes in denial of fair 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.  The Court of 
Cassation (also known as the High Court or Supreme Court) hears 
appeals from the Court of Appeals, while the Constitutional 
Court reviews those cases requiring interpretation of 
constitutional legislation.

Parliament has the authority to appoint or dismiss judges of 
the Constitutional Court (nine members) and the Court of 
Cassation (seven members).  The Supreme Judicial Council, which 
is headed by the President of the Republic, appoints and 
dismisses all other judges.  Judges have lifetime appointments 
and may be relieved of their duties only upon conviction for a 
serious crime.

Prosecutors also serve at the pleasure of the Supreme Judicial 
Council.  Many judges and prosecutors who held ranking 
positions during the previous regime have been removed.

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions provides that a 
trial must be held in public, unless it might divulge national 
security information, disrupt public order, or prejudice the 
"best interests of minors, private parties, and justice."  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 verdict.  The law does not 
specify any time period within which the Court of Appeals or 
the Court of Cassation must hear appeals.

The arrest, investigation, and trial of the five ethnic Greek 
members of Omonia did not conform to internationally accepted 
standards.  It is not clear that Ministry of Public Order 
officials had proper warrants authorizing the searches of the 
homes and offices of the Omonia members incident to their 
detention on April 18.  None of the arrestees had access to 
legal counsel during their initial detention.  Once arrested, 
only one of the arrestees had immediate access to a lawyer 
during the subsequent investigative phase.  The Government 
claims to have written waivers of the right to counsel from the 
other arrestees.  In fact, the four other arrestees were not 
represented by counsel during the major part of the 
investigation, and one was not represented until immediately 
before the trial.

During the trial, defendants and their lawyers were required to 
testify before any other witnesses were called.  Although this 
is permissible under Albanian law, it may have prejudiced the 
defendants' right to a presumption of innocence and avoidance 
of self-incrimination.  The court admitted the written 
testimony of several witnesses who, despite the requests of 
defense lawyers, did not appear in court, thus denying the 
defendants the opportunity to confront them.  The Government 
denied assertions made by several of the defendants at their 
trial that their statements during the investigation had been 
coerced by torture or the threat of torture.  To discredit 
defense claims of coercion, the prosecution introduced 
videotapes of the defendants secretly made during the 
investigation.  The judges, defendants, defense attorneys, 
prosecutors, and selected Albanian journalists were the only 
ones permitted to view them.  Neither the Government nor the 
prosecution made any further attempt to investigate allegations 
of mistreatment.  At the end of 1994, the AHC published a 
declaration critical of procedural irregularities in the 
trial.  Despite charges of ethnic discrimination in the case of 
the ethnic Greek Omonia members, the legal system does not 
discriminate systematically against minorities or women.  The 
serious procedural defects noticed in the Omonia case amy well 
reflect a pattern of judicial weakness which affects ethnic 
Albanians as well.  The AHC also noted procedural 
irregularities in the trial of former Prime Minister Fatos Nano.

The AHC does not claim that the Government holds any political 
prisoners.  Some members of the former Communist regime, 
convicted on charges of enriching themselves at public expense, 
corruption in the performance of their duties, or ordering 
border forces to kill Albanians attempting to flee the country, 
are serving prison sentences.  The opposition Socialist Party 
claims that former Prime Minister Fatos Nano, convicted of 
corruption in handling humanitarian assistance from Italy, is a 
political prisoner.  They base this claim on procedural 
irregularities which occurred during the investigation and 
trial.

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

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions states that Albania 
guarantees "the human rights and fundamental freedoms as 
accepted in international documents."  The Law on Fundamental 
Freedoms and Human Rights addresses protections associated with 
privacy, family, home, and correspondence.

Although Article 16 provides for protection of the home from 
arbitrary entry or search, the Penal Code permits warrantless 
searches for weapons.  Article 17 calls for privacy of 
correspondence except "for a judgment in the interest of 
criminal proceedings or by the approval of a competent 
government body, assigned by law, in cases where it 
(encroachment) is considered indispensable for reasons of 
national security."

The Government is considering plans to open and examine the 
files of the Sigurimi (the former secret police of the 
Communist regime), but no legislation has been passed, and the 
files remain under the control of the SHIK.  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 AHC is concerned that information from the files 
may have been used for political purposes and protested the 
lack of legislation on their disposition.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The 1993 Law on Fundamental Freedoms and Human Rights provides 
for freedom of speech and press, but laws on slander, insult, 
and protection of state secrets were used to prosecute persons 
for criticism of the Government.  In practice, freedom of 
speech, including freedom to criticize the Government and 
government officials, was sometimes restricted.

A 1993 press law sets out large fines for publishing material 
that the Government considers secret or sensitive, permits 
confiscation of printed matter or property by judicial order, 
and allows for criminal punishment under certain circumstances 
yet to be defined by the Penal Code.  The media and the AHC 
continue to denounce this law.  While several Albanian 
journalists were arrested and tried under slander and libel 
laws, none was prosecuted under the 1993 press law.  No law 
governs electronic media.

The Government took legal action against four journalists in 
1994.  Martin Leka and Aleksander Frangaj, reporter and editor 
respectively of the opposition newspaper Koha Jone, were 
arrested in January after Koha Jone published a classified 
order prohibiting military officers from carrying their 
sidearms while off-duty.  Leka and Frangaj were prosecuted 
under the penal code article concerning protection of state 
secrets.  The court sentenced Leka to 18 months in prison, 
while Frangaj was found not guilty; the prosecution appealed, 
and Frangaj was subsequently sentenced to 5 months in prison.  
In addition, two other journalists from opposition papers, 
Illyrian Zhupa from Populli Po and Shyqyri Meka from Aleanca, 
were arrested for libel.  President Berisha pardoned all four 
on May 3.  An appeals court later declared Frangaj and Leka not 
guilty.

Opposition parties, independent trade unions, and various 
societies and groups publish their own newspapers.  Some 250 
newspapers and magazines appear on a regular basis.  Three 
newspapers in the Greek language are published in southern 
Albania.

Foreign journalists encountered difficulties in Albania in 
1994.  Several Greek and Cypriot journalists covering the trial 
of the five members of Omonia in August were expelled from 
Albania for "improper documentation," having entered Albania as 
tourists, not journalists.  Plainclothes police subjected other 
Greek journalists to petty harassment, and Greek television 
journalists were not permitted to film the Omonia trial 
sessions, while Albanian television taped the entire trial.

Only state-run radio and television provide domestic 
programming, but many municipalities offer locally fed 
international programs via satellite.

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 continued to allege that television 
serves the interest of the ruling Democratic Party.  State 
television's portrayal of the events outside the courthouse 
during the Omonia trial, including police use of force against 
Greek journalists and lawyers, was misleading since it created 
the false impression that the police were violently provoked.  
Opposition parties claimed that some controversial interviews 
and programs, including rebroadcast segments of the Voice of 
America, were not aired, reportedly at the request of political 
and governmental leaders.  Local radio in southern Albania 
broadcasts some Greek-language programming, with its content 
translated directly from Albanian-language reporting.  The AHC 
continued to express concern over the lack of legislation 
covering electronic media ownership and broadcasting.

The Government did not infringe academic freedom.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

While the Government generally respected the rights of freedom 
of peaceful assembly and association, in some instances local 
officials denied these rights, particularly to members of the 
ethnic Greek minority.  Police sometimes used excessive force 
in breaking up protests.

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.  The authorities generally grant requests for 
meetings, although police sometimes require a change of date or 
venue.  There were no reports of arrests of persons attending 
authorized meetings in 1994, but several ex-members of the 
security services were detained and fined for an unauthorized 
demonstration outside the Court of Cassation.

The Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church requested permission 
to hold a religious procession near the center of Tirana on the 
feast of Good Friday during Orthodox Easter.  The Ministry of 
Public Order initially denied the request, claiming that it 
could not ensure security for such a procession and that the 
procession's proposed route would disrupt a major traffic 
artery.  Following protests by the Orthodox Church and the 
Government of Greece, the Ministry approved a later procession 
for Easter Sunday.  A request by ethnic Greeks in the southern 
Albanian town of Gjirokaster to assemble to celebrate the Greek 
national day holiday on March 25 was refused by local public 
order officials.  The Ministry later replaced the chief of 
police for Gjirokaster, reportedly in part for his refusal to 
permit the meeting.

In two incidents, police reportedly used force to control or 
detain demonstrators.  In August police forcibly removed 
several members of the Association of Former Political 
Prisoners and Formerly Persecuted Persons from the premises of 
commercial establishments in Durres where they were conducting 
a hunger strike, causing several injuries.  The AHC protested 
the use of excessive force to remove the hunger strikers but 
did not contest the court order that declared the hunger strike 
illegal.  On August 15, police broke up a demonstration by a 
group of about 100 Greek lawyers, journalists, and ethnic Greek 
citizens of Albania outside the courthouse in which five ethnic 
Greeks were being tried on treason charges and detained 20 
lawyers and journalists.  During this action, independent human 
rights observers witnessed police severely beating at least one 
person who was offering no resistance.

Any organization, including a political party, must apply to 
the Ministry of Justice for official certification; it must 
declare an aim or purpose that is not anticonstitutional or 
contrary to law; and it must describe its organizational 
structure and account for all public and private funds it 
receives.  The Ministry of Justice denied certification to the 
Democratic Party of the Right and the Social Justice Party in 
1994, claiming that their positions on the complete return of 
property to former landowners was anticonstitutional.  In both 
cases, the Constitutional Court reversed the Justice Ministry's 
decision and permitted certification of those parties.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion has been established both in theory and 
practice.

The majority of Albanians are secular in orientation, after 40 
years of rigidly enforced atheism.  The largest religious group 
are Muslims, who follow a moderate form of Sunni Islam.  The 
Roman Catholic and Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Churches are 
the other large denominations.  The Albanian Orthodox split 
from the Greek Orthodox earlier in the century.  Priests from 
Greece augment the indigenous clergy of the Albanian Orthodox 
Church to serve Greek-speaking congregations, primarily in 
southern Albania.  A seminary training priests for the Albanian 
Orthodox Church graduated 30 new priests in 1994.  Foreign 
clergy, including Muslim clerics and Christian missionaries, 
freely carry out religious activities.

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.  
Most religious buildings and many religious objects have been 
restored to the religious communities which formerly owned 
them.  In some instances, however, the full restitution of real 
property would displace thousands of residents from their 
present-day homes located on lands formerly belonging to 
religious organizations.  Pending legislation on religious 
property, the Government treats all religious communities the 
same as other former owners of large properties, who, according 
to the 1991 law on property, are not guaranteed full 
restitution of lands.  In addition, a number of religious 
objects and icons have not been returned to religious 
communities, especially the Albanian Orthodox Church, and 
remain in state hands.  The Government indicated its 
willingness to return these objects once the religious 
communities can assure their security as cultural objects of 
value to the entire nation.  The Albanian Orthodox Church 
claimed that it already had the means to protect these objects 
better than the Government and continued to demand their return.

     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.  Albanian-born citizens of all foreign 
countries are eligible to apply for dual citizenship.

Since the downfall of the Communist regime, hundreds of 
thousands of economic migrants have left Albania.  Albanians 
who fled the country during the Communist dictatorship have 
been welcomed back, and their citizenship has been restored.

There was no significant influx of refugees in 1994.  A small 
number of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, Serbia, fled to Albania 
to avoid the draft.

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

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions states that citizens 
have 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 next elections are not required before 1996.  
Independent observers of local elections in June in several 
towns noted some irregularities in the composition of election 
committees and the registration of voters.  They also cited 
several examples of improper behavior at polling places by 
ruling and opposition party members but did not call the 
election results into question.

The 1992 Law on Political Parties bars the formation of parties 
on an ethnic or religious basis.  The Unity for Human Rights 
Party, founded by ethnic Greeks, won a majority of elected 
positions in parts of three southern Albanian districts 
(Saranda, Gjirokaster, and Delvina).  There are six ethnic 
Greek members of Parliament, two of whom represent the Unity 
for Human Rights Party.

There are no legal impediments to the participation of women in 
politics or government, although to date few women have 
competed for elective office, and only eight women serve in 
Parliament, reflecting the traditional male-dominated society.  
In the Government, 2 Deputy Ministers and 7 of the 140 members 
of Parliament are women.

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

The Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC), the major human rights 
watchdog organization, took an active role in defending human 
rights in certain areas, particularly the rehabilitation of 
former political prisoners, support for freedom of the press, 
and protests against police abuses.  It was criticized, 
however, by the International Helsinki Federation and 
individual Helsinki representatives from other countries for a 
lack of aggressiveness and perceived close association with the 
ruling Democratic Party.  In October the AHC replaced key 
officers in scheduled elections.  In response to a specific 
criticism, it began investigating the human rights situation of 
the ethnic Greek minority in Albania.  In 1994, it also 
addressed the issues of former Sigurimi (secret police) files, 
judicial protection for citizens, and prison conditions.  The 
AHC's work was impeded by a lack of basic equipment, including 
computers, copiers, and especially, usable vehicles.  An 
independent Albanian group, Society for Democratic Culture, 
monitored local elections and the constitutional referendum and 
continued its efforts in civic education and women's issues.

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 
1994, during which they conferred with political officials and 
representatives of the ethnic Greek minority and visited 
prisons, hospitals, and other state facilities.  The High 
Commissioner was permitted unmonitored access to five ethnic 
Greek members of Omonia in prison prior to their trial on 
treason and weapons charges.  Observers from several human 
rights organizations were permitted to monitor that trial in 
August and September.  The Government did not penalize or 
repress human rights observers or their contacts for their work 
in Albania.

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

     Women

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions does not address 
women's rights.  Women are not restricted, either by law or 
practice, from any occupations but do not typically rise to the 
top of their fields.  While no data are available on whether 
women receive equal pay for equal work, public sector wage 
scales are based on rank and duties, not sex.  Women's groups 
did not complain of wage discrimination in the large public 
sector.  According to government statistics, 21 percent of 
judges and 22 percent of medical personnel in Albania are 
women.  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.  Women's organizations believe that domestic violence 
against women is common, particularly in poor, rural families 
and in poorly educated urban families.  Police are seldom 
called to intervene in cases of family abuse, and women almost 
never bring charges against spouses.  The major political 
parties have women's organizations.  Two independent women's 
rights organizations operate freely and are dedicated to 
educating Albanian women about their rights, providing 
counseling services, and monitoring draft legislation.

     Children

The Government's commitment to children's rights and welfare is 
based on domestic law and international agreements.  
Governmental and nongovernmental organizations have not 
identified child abuse as a problem.

     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.  The size of the ethnic Greek minority is in 
dispute; some estimate that there around 80,000 ethnic Greeks 
residing in Albania, out of a total population of about 3.4 
million.  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.  The number of Roma in Albania is estimated at 
around 100,000.

The CSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities visited 
Albania four times in 1994, traveling to the areas of greatest 
ethnic Greek minority concentration three times.  In response 
to his 1993 recommendation, the Government in January created a 
special Office for Minority Affairs in the Office of the Prime 
Minister.  The Special Advisor for Minority Affairs coordinated 
legislation affecting minorities, including a new directive on 
education published in August.

Greek-language education remained the single most important 
concern of the ethnic Greek minority.  In the summer of 1994, 
the Government published a new directive that mother-tongue 
education be integrated in bilingual schools in areas where a 
significant percentage of the population belongs to a 
minority.  It also calls for supplementary instruction in the 
mother tongue in other areas where a smaller number of minority 
students are found.  Parents may request establishment of new 
classes taught in the mother tongue, but the Ministry of 
Education must give its approval.

Forty-six primary schools and the same number of 8-year schools 
in the districts of Gjirokaster, Delvina, and Saranda provide 
bilingual education to approximately 4,500 ethnic Greek 
students.  In addition, bilingual education is provided to 
approximately 500 students in ethnic Macedonian villages.  A 
Greek-language high school operates in Gjirokaster, and the 
Eqerem Cabej University of Gjirokaster has had a department of 
Greek studies since 1993, with a total of 30 available places 
in 1994.  The curriculum in Greek-language classes is the 
Albanian state program translated into Greek, taught by ethnic 
Greek instructors, and using Albanian textbooks translated into 
Greek and published in Greece.

Roma were subject to particularly harsh official persecution 
during the Communist dictatorship.  Their leaders state that 
the situation of the community greatly improved with the advent 
of democratic government.  They had no complaints of either 
official or societal discrimination.  The community publishes a 
monthly newspaper in both the Albanian and Roma languages.  No 
specific violence is known to have been directed against them 
in 1994.

(###)
     People with Disabilities

Widespread poverty and the poor quality of medical care account 
for a high number of disabled persons.  Disabled persons are 
eligible for various forms of public assistance, but budgetary 
constraints limit the amount of assistance.  The public care 
section of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, 
established in 1993, has set up a network of social service 
administrators throughout the country with a goal to improve 
the quality of services to disabled persons and promote social 
integration rather than institutionalization.  There is no law 
mandating accessibility to public buildings.

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) acts as the umbrella organization for a number 
of smaller unions.  A separate, rival federation continued to 
operate in close cooperation with the Socialist Party.  There 
are also some independent unions not affiliated with either 
federation.  The private sector employs more than 650,000 
Albanians, mostly in agriculture, small shops, enterprises, and 
restaurants, but very few have formed unions to represent 
themselves.

According to the Law on Major Constitutional Provisions, all 
workers, with the exception of uniformed military, police, and 
some court employees, have the right to strike.  The law 
forbids strikes that are openly declared to be political, or so 
judged by the courts.  Several local strikes took place in 
1994.  All were deemed legal, and none resulted in violence or 
police action.

Labor federations are free to maintain ties with international 
organizations.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Citizens in all fields of employment, except uniformed members 
of the armed forces, police officers, and some court employees, 
have the right to organize and bargain collectively.  In 
practice, unions negotiate directly with the Government, since 
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 
trade.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions prohibits forced 
labor, and there were no cases of forced labor reported.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Law on Major Constitutional Provisions sets the minimum age 
for employment at 14 years, and persons between the ages of 14 
and 16 may work only 5 hours per day.  Working conditions for 
those over 16 are not currently legislated but are covered in 
the draft labor code.  The Ministry of Labor, Social Welfare, 
and Formerly Persecuted Persons enforces the minimum age 
requirement through the courts.  In rural areas, children 
continue to be called on to assist families with farm work.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum wage for all workers over age 16 is approximately 
$27 (2,400 lek) per month, which is not sufficient to sustain a 
family with one or more children.  Most workers must find 
second part-time jobs to supplement their incomes.  Current law 
guarantees social assistance (income support) and unemployment 
compensation.  The average monthly wage for Albanian workers in 
the public sector is about $50 (4,500 lek).  No data are 
available for private sector wages, but the average wage is 
thought to be higher in the private sector than in the public 
sector.

The workweek in state-owned enterprises is 40 hours.  Other 
workers are limited by law to a 40- to 48-hour workweek, and 
the Council of Ministers must approve exceptions.  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 industries.
In those enterprises which are functioning, health and safety 
conditions are generally very poor.



[end of document]

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