Press release - 166(2010)
Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Albania
Strasbourg, 02.03.2010 – The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published a new report on Albania, examining racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance in this country. ECRI’s Chair, Nils Muiznieks, said that, while there had been improvements in certain areas, some issues gave rise to concern, such as the low awareness of discrimination, the social and economic difficulties faced by Roma and Egyptians and the lack of an independent system for the investigation of allegations of ill treatment by the police.
As regards positive developments, Albania’s Criminal Code now provides that the racist motivation of a crime is an aggravating circumstance and prohibits racist or xenophobic statements on the web. Members of the judiciary and police officers, including those responsible for migration and the borders, receive regular human rights training. The Ombudsman and his office have consolidated their role in the protection of human rights and taken steps that may help them take a more systematic approach to possible cases of racial discrimination.
A number of measures have been adopted to improve the situation of the Roma, including steps to address their housing and education conditions and to improve their access to health care. In 2008, the law was changed to facilitate the registration of all children, including those for whom the relevant deadline had passed.
At the same time, awareness of discrimination remains, on the whole, low. Many consider that this phenomenon does not exist in Albanian society because the law provides that all citizens are equal. Progress towards the adoption of comprehensive antidiscrimination legislation covering fields such as housing, health care and access to public services has been slow. There is no body in Albania that has express responsibility for combating racial discrimination. In addition, a coherent system for collecting data on the situation of minority groups remains to be established.
Roma and Egyptians continue to face serious social and economic difficulties, with higher unemployment rates than the rest of the population and extremely precarious living conditions. There is a disproportionately high drop-out rate among school children of these communities, which increases their vulnerability to trafficking. Evictions of Roma families from their homes, without their having been offered adequate alternative housing, continue to be reported. In addition, the indifference of some politicians to these issues – especially at local level – exacerbates the marginalisation of these communities and hinders the resolution of their everyday problems.
Although the State Committee for Minorities has gained experience, there are still issues with its effectiveness and the fact that not all minority groups are represented on it. Asylum procedures need to be put in place and there is still no independent system for the investigation of allegations of ill treatment by the police.
In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations, among which the following three will be revisited in two years time:
· Introduce comprehensive civil and administrative legislation against direct and indirect discrimination;
· Set clear targets and evaluate the progress made in ensuring Roma access to decent accommodation;
· Provide Roma children with Albanian-language support before they enter primary school.
The report, including government observations, is available
ECRI is an independent human rights body of the Council of Europe which monitors problems of racism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member states.
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