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CHALLENGES TO 
DEMOCRACY IN ALBANIA 



Y 4. SE 2: 104-2-11 

Cfcallenges to Denocracy in Albania/ 



HEARING 

BEFORE THE 

COMMISSION ON SECURITY AND 
COOPERATION IN EUROPE 

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS 

SECOND SESSION 



MARCH 14, 1996 



Printed for the use of the 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe 

[CSCE 104-2-11] 










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U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 
24-133CC WASHINGTON : 1996 

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office. Washington, DC 20402 
ISBN 0-16-053563-8 




CHALLENGES TO 
DEMOCRACY IN ALBANIA 



Y 4.SE 2:104-2-11 

Clallenges to Denocracy in Albania/... 

HEARING 

BEFORE THE 

COMMISSION ON SECURITY AND 
COOPERATION IN EUROPE 

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS 
SECOND SESSION 



MARCH 14, 1996 



Printed for the use of the 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe 

[CSCE 104-2-11] 



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.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 








WASHINGTON 


1996 









For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 
Superintendent of Document.s, Congressional Sales Office. Washington, DC 20402 
ISBN 0-16-053563-8 



COMMISSION ON SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE 



Legislative Branch Commissioners 



HOUSE 



CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, 

Chairman 
JOHN EDWARD PORTER, Illinois 
FRANK R. WOLF, Virginia 
DAVID FUNDERBURK, North Carolina 
MATT SALMON, Arizona 
STENY H. HOYER, Maryland 
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts 
BILL RICHARDSON, New Mexico 
BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Maryland 



SENATE 
ALFONSE M. D'AMATO, New York, 

Co-Chairman 
BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL, Colorado 
DIRK KEMPTHORNE, Idaho 
RICK SANTORUM, Pennsylvania 
SPENCER ABRAHAM, Michigan 
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey 
HARRY REID, Nevada 
BOB GRAHAM, Florida 
RUSSELL P. FEINGOLD, Wisconsin 



Executive Branch Commissioners 

John ShattuCK, Department of State 

ASHTON Carter, Department of Defense 

(VACANT), Department of Commerce 

Commission Staff 

Dorothy Douglas Taft, Chief of Staff 

Mike Hathaway, Deputy Chief of Staff 

Samuel G. Wise, Director for International Policy 

Richard P. Livingston. Senior Advisor 

Mike AMITAY, Staff Advisor 

Maria V. Coll, OfTice Manager 

Orest Deychakiwsky, Staff Advisor 

John Finerty, Staff Advisor 

CHADWICK R. Gore, Communications Director 

Robert Hand, Staff Advisor 

Janice HelWIG, Staff Advisor 

MarLENE Kaufmann, Counsel for International Trade 

Sandy List, GPO Liaison 

Karen S. Lord, Counsel for Freedom of Religion, Congressional Fellow 

Ronald McNamara, Staff Advisor 

Michael Ochs, Staff Advisor 

Peter SantighIAN, Staff Assistant / Computer Systems Administrator 

ERIKA Schlager, Counsel for International Law 



(II) 



CONTENTS 



WITNESSES 



Page 

Opening Statement of Chairman Christopher H. Smith 1 

Statement of Elez Biberaj, Albanian Service, The Voice of America 2 

Statement of Kathleen Imholz, Attorney 8 

Statement of Fred Abrahams, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki 13 



APPENDIX 



Written Statement of Chairman Christopher H. Smith 24 

Written Statement of Hon. Steny H. Hoyer 26 

Written Statement of Elez Biberaj 27 

Written Statement of Kathleen Imholz 38 

Written Statement of Fred Abrahams 48 

Zef Brozi, "The Independence of Judges in Albania During the Period of 
Transition: An Ideal and A Bitter Reality,' East European Constitutionalism 

Review, December 1995, Submitted for the Record by Kathleen Imholz 55 

Law # 8001, September 22, 1995, on Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity 
Committed in Albania During Communist Rule for Political , Ideological 

and Religious Motives, Submitted for the Record by Kathleen Imholz 98 

Law on the Verification of the Moral Character of OfTicials and Other Persons 
Connected with the Defense of the State, Submitted for the Record by 

Kathleen Imholz ; 100 

Law # 8045, December 7, 1995, on the Interruption of Pregnancy, Submitted 

for the Record by Kathleen Imholz 107 

Excerpted Introduction from Human Rights in Post-Communist Albania, 
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki; March 1996, submitted for the Record by 

Fred Abrahams 113 

Interview with the Very Reverend Arthur E. Liolin, Chancellor of the Alba- 
nian Archdiocese in Boston, by Kestrina Budina, January 1995, Cultural 
Survival Quarterly, Summer, 1995 116 

(III) 



HEARING ON "CHALLENGES TO DEMOCRACY 

IN ALBANIA" 



THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 1996 

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe 

Washington, D.C. 

The Commission met, pursuant to adjournment, at 12:14 p.m., in 
room 311, Cannon House Office Building, The Honorable Chris- 
topher Smith [Commission Chairman] presiding. 

Commissioners present: Chairman Christopher H. Smith; Hon. 
John Edward Porter. 

Witnesses present: Elez Biberaj, chief of the Albanian Service at 
the Voice of America; Kathleen Imholz, attorn ey-at-law who has 
traveled frequently to Albania observing developments relating to 
the legal system; and Fred Abrahams, consultant for Human 
Rights Watch/Helsinki. 

Mr. Smith. The Commission will come to order. Let me say at 
the outset I deeply apologize for being late in starting this hearing. 
I also serve as chairman of the International Operations and 
Human Rights Committee, and a markup scheduled for today that 
was supposed to take 15 minutes ended up taking over an hour. 

And then, regrettably, the immigration bill is up next week. I 
have two amendments, of which I am the prime sponsor and two 
that I am the co-sponsor dealing with refugees and asylum, and I 
had to testify before the Rules Committee on those amendments. 
There were a number of questions about the intricacies of those 
amendments. So I apologize to our witnesses first for being late 
and to all of you for the tardiness. 

Today's hearing focuses on the challenges to democracy in Alba- 
nia. This hearing is unlike most that we have had in the past year, 
which have focused mainly on the incredible human rights trage- 
dies associated with conflicts like those in Chechnya or Bosnia and 
what we should do about them. Given the urgency of those situa- 
tions, countries still in the phases of democratic transition, like Al- 
bania, do not always receive the attention that they deserve. 

While this hearing has not been scheduled in response to any 
specific event, it is timely nonetheless. First and foremost, Albania 
is preparing for parliamentary elections in May or June, the results 
of which will have important ramifications for the future course of 
the country. 

Second, tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of U.S. -Albanian 
bilateral relations, and the development of close ties between the 
two countries requires a better understanding of what is actually 
happening in Albania. 

(1) 



Third, reports of backsliding or resistance to democratization in 
Albania and human rights violations are increasingly coming to the 
attention of the Helsinki Commission. While these reports vary and 
even contradict each other at times, we are concerned that respect 
for human rights in Albania may not be improving. 

Finally, for all the faults that can be found with the details of 
the Dayton Agreement for Bosnia, it has potentially opened the 
door for achieving progress in meeting the challenges to democracy 
in all the countries of the region, for the sake of peace, stability, 
and the well being of the people who live there. 

Our witnesses today will look at the challenges to democracy in 
Albania from different perspectives. 

Our first witness is Dr. Elez Biberaj, chief of the Albanian Serv- 
ice of the Voice of America. VOA broadcasts, I understand, played 
a critical role in bringing an end to Albania's self-imposed isolation 
and one-party rule a few years ago. Dr. Biberaj has written many 
books and articles on Albania and the Balkans and will give a gen- 
eral overview of political developments in Albania and a flavor for 
what the election period may be like. 

Next we have Kathleen Imholz, an attorney from New York who 
is a specialist on the Albanian legal system. She traveled to Alba- 
nia on many occasions since first being able to do so in 1991, and 
was there just a few weeks ago. Ms. Imholz will focus a bit more 
narrowly on the legal reforms in Albania and the degree to which 
the judiciary is, or is not, independent from government control or 
influence. 

Then we will hear the testimony of Fred Abrahams, a consultant 
for Human Rights Watch/Helsinki in New York. He is the principal 
author of a comprehensive report on human rights in Albania that 
will be released next week. Mr. Abrahams will take our examina- 
tion of the challenges to democracy down to the grass-roots level, 
focusing primarily on the rights or national minorities in Albania, 
especially the large Greek community there, religious liberty, and 
free media. 

We look forward to hearing the views of this panel, and the Com- 
mission has taken an interest in Albania even before that country 
decided to open its borders and permit political pluralism. We con- 
sider Albania a friend, and today we hope not only to learn more 
about what is happening in that country at this hearing, but also 
to encourage and perhaps even urge Albania to move forward in its 
democratization and, of course, respect for human rights. 

Doctor, if you could begin the testimony. 

STATEMENT OF ELEZ BIBERAJ 

Mr. Biberaj. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate 
your kind invitation to appear before this distinguished panel. The 
Helsinki Commission has played a significant role in inducing Al- 
bania's last communist leader, Ramiz Alia, to permit the establish- 
ment of opposition parties back in 1990 and in facilitating a peace- 
ful regime change. 

In particular, I would like to pay tribute to the former Chairman 
of the Helsinki Commission, Senator Dennis DeConcini. In 1990, at 
a time when few people here in Washington or in other Western 
capitals devoted any attention to Albania, or even knew that it ex- 



isted on the international map, the Helsinki Commission embarked 
on a policy of constructive engagement with Albania's communist 
leadership, welcoming Tirana's efforts to end its self-imposed isola- 
tion yet bluntly laying out the conditions that Albania had to meet 
if it wanted to join the community of nations. 

While there is no question that domestic developments were the 
primary factor that led to the disintegration of the communist re- 
gime there, pressures exerted by the Commission on the Albanian 
Government especially during the later part of 1990 and during 
1991 reinforced domestic democratic tendencies in that country. 
The situation in Albania has changed dramatically, I would say, 
since the early 1990's. Nevertheless, the Commission's continued 
observance of developments in Albania will have a profound impact 
on that country's further democratization. 

Mr. Chairman, I would like to say at the outset that I am ap- 
pearing here today in a purely personal capacity, and my views and 
opinions should not be attributed to the Voice of America or the 
U.S. Government. 

I approach the subject of today's hearings with several basic as- 
sumptions. First, I strongly believe that the full consolidation of de- 
mocracy in Albania will probably take several elections. Albania's 
political tradition has not been conducive to a democratic order. 

Second, Albania had the misfortune of being ruled by one of the 
most repressive communist regimes in the world and for a period 
longer than any other Eastern European state. De-Stalinization in 
the 1950's and subsequent reformist trends in the 1970's and the 
1980's, which changed the face of communism in the Soviet bloc, 
bypassed Tirana. In fact, Stalin's statue in Tirana was removed 
only in December 1990. 

Third, of all former East European communist countries, Albania 
appeared least prepared for the transition because of the very unfa- 
vorable initial conditions. In early 1992, the government had, in 
fact, lost the capacity to carry out its basic functions. Anarchy pre- 
vailed in many parts of the country, and the economy was on the 
brink of collapse. Between 1989 and 1992, GDP had fallen by more 
than 50 percent. At this period, in early 1992, Albania had become 
totally dependent on foreign assistance to feed its three million 
population. 

And fourth, Albanian leaders have found themselves guiding the 
transition to democracy with the ever present threat of being en- 
gulfed in the Yugoslav wars of succession, as Serbia continues to 
gursue a highly repressive policy toward the two million ethnic Al- 
anians in Kosova. In fact, Albania, one could say, is in the eye of 
the Balkan storm. 

Post-communist Albania has undergone rapid and significant po- 
litical, economic, and social transformations. Today it has a vibrant 
opposition and an outspoken press. The legal framework for a mar- 
ket economy has been put into place. Within 4 years, Albania has 
moved from the ruins of a totally state-controlled economy to a 
market economy, with the private sector now accounting for more 
than 65 percent of the GDP and about 70 percent of the national 
wealth in private hands. Albania has achieved one of the highest 
growth rates in Eastern Europe. Last year, in 1995, the economy 
grew by 6 percent according to the European Bank in London. The 



World Bank here says the figure was 8.6, while the Albanian Grov- 
ernment says about 11 percent. Nevertheless, it is still very im- 
pressive. A new middle class is emerging which has benefited from 
and supports market-oriented reforms. 

Albania has witnessed profound legislative transformations. The 
communist-era constitution has been thoroughly revised, and a new 
institutional architecture is largely in place. The relationship be- 
tween the state and the citizen has undergone fundamental 
change, and civil liberties mostly are now respected. While lack of 
consensus between the country's main political forces has pre- 
vented the adoption of a new constitution and Albanian voters re- 
jected a draft submitted by the ruling party back in November 
1994, the provisional constitution approved in 1991 has been 
amended several times, and one could say that Albania has created 
a new constitutional system. 

The parliament has come to play a significant role, and today it 
is the most important forum for deliberations about the country's 
politics. Political struggles between the executive and the legisla- 
ture have been less pronounced than in other countries of the re- 
gion. Nevertheless, here I would like to emphasize that this is due 
more to the Democratic Party's ability to preserve its comfortable 
majority in the parliament rather than to the practice of accommo- 
dation and compromise between the ruling party and the opposi- 
tion. 

President Sali Berisha, in my opinion, is an effective president, 
shaping the nation's agenda during a period of momentous politi- 
cal, economic, and social changes. He has been the moving force be- 
hind the government's efforts at reform. He has displayed extraor- 
dinary persistence in the face of daunting challenges and a willing- 
ness to make unpopular and politically risky decisions to further 
the country's political and economic revival. 

As you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, Albania is today a staunch 
U.S. ally and has come to play an important role in the American 
strategy of preventing the expansion of the Yugoslav conflict. It has 
forged close bilateral military ties with the United States and has 
placed at NATO's disposal its air and port facilities. Albania has 
also emerged as a responsible regional player; American, West Eu- 
ropean, and NATO leaders have expressed respect for its construc- 
tive role. While relations with rump Yugoslavia remain tense be- 
cause of the Kosova issue, relations between Albania and its two 
other neighbors — Macedonia and Greece — have expanded signifi- 
cantly. 

While Albania had made impressive progress since 1992, it still 
faces immense difficulties. The optimism and hope that greeted the 
1992 democratic victory have mostly faded away. The implementa- 
tion of radical economic reforms has led to great social dislocations. 
Albania has yet to achieve full economic recovery. Real GDP 
growth in 1995 remained at 25 percent below the 1989 level. 

There is widespread recognition, Mr. Chairman, that the Alba- 
nian Government has made tremendous strides in respecting the 
human rights of its citizens. However, there are still significant 
abuses of human rights and a judiciary that remains weak and not 
wholly independent. 



The press has gained authority and power to influence change 
and has managed to exercise practically unlimited freedom in both 
reporting and editorial comment. Nevertheless, the necessary re- 
sponsibility and accountability have not accompanied the media's 
new authority and power. The communist legacy is evident in the 
low level of professionalism and party influence. The country's 
leading journalists were trained under communism, are highly ide- 
ological, and display poor professional judgment. They see their 
role more as advocates of a particular point of view than as simple 
reporters. Almost without exception, the ostensibly independent pa- 
pers are closely affiliated with, or financed by, different political 
parties and groups. 

The relationship between the government and the media has 
been adversarial. The press law, approved by parliament in Octo- 
ber 1993, was seen by both domestic and foreign observers as too 
restrictive. Officials failed to realize that the law is not likely to de- 
termine media behavior, and that professionalism is not something 
that can be ensured through government restrictions. Often, the 
authorities have shown striking ineptitude in their treatment of op- 
position journalists. The arrest and sentencing of journalists had a 
damaging impact on Albania's image abroad. 

While the institutional features of a democratic government are 
largely in place, civil society as a political force, unfortunately has 
yet to emerge. The delay in adopting a new constitution has con- 
tributed to some confusion over personal and institutional roles and 
responsibilities. Moreover, current constitutional laws lack the le- 
gitimacy that a new single charter, even without significant modi- 
fications from current documents, would have if it were adopted by 
the parliament, an assembly, or through a popular referendum. 
Therefore, the speedy adoption of a new constitution has become 
indispensable. Albania's long-term interests dictate that the coun- 
try's major political forces put aside their narrow political consider- 
ations and engage in serious bargaining and compromise aimed at 
giving the emerging order a solid constitutional underpinning. 

The concentration of power in the presidency has had both posi- 
tive and negative impact. Berisha continues to be viewed as an in- 
dispensable guarantor of Albania's transition to democracy and a 
market economy. However, his domination of the executive branch 
has complicated the decisionmaking process, at times undermining 
good and effective administration, causing unnecessary delays in 
making decisions on major issues. 

The extent to which the new governing elite has been able to pro- 
vide transparent and accountable governance remains debatable. 
The government often failed, in my opinion, to draw the par- 
liament, the opposition, and the Albanian population into a full and 
frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of major decisions 
before announcing them. Accountability remains largely an alien 
concept. Corruption, nepotism, and the use of official position for 
private gain are said to be widespread. 

Albania has yet to see the emergence of viable political parties 
that articulate competing interests and preferences of individuals. 
Probably several rounds of elections will be necessary before a sta- 
ble system of relatively disciplined and responsible parties can 
emerge. Many parties overlap ideologically and in their social ap- 



peal, which makes it difficult to describe their stand in terms of the 
Western traditional left/right continuum. Moreover, Albania has 
witnessed a tendency toward increasing fragmentation of the larg- 
est parties. 

Parliamentary elections will be held at the end of May or the be- 
ginning of June. More than a dozen parties are expected to appear 
on the ballot. Although according to two recent polls sponsored by 
the U.S. International Republican Institute and European Commis- 
sion's Eurobarometer, the ruling Democratic Party is likely to win 
the largest bloc of seats, I think the situation in the country is fluid 
and unpredictable; it is impossible, at least for me from this end, 
to gauge the relative strength of the parties that will be competing. 
I think the economy will very likely be the dominant issue, but re- 
lations with the United States are also likely to have a great sa- 
liency. While it is important not to take sides — after all, it is up 
to the Albanian people to elect whom they choose to — I think the 
United States should not remain indifferent. We have a stake in 
the outcome of these elections. Washington should not hesitate to 
assert its preference for a result that will advance democracy, a 
free market economy, and regional cooperation. 

Despite the significant institutional and political changes and 
splits within the ruling party, the Albanian political scene contin- 
ues to be dominated bv two main actors: the ruling party, the 
Democratic Party; and the opposition Socialist — former Com- 
munist — Party. Tne Democratic Party remains the only party with 
a clear political and economic program. It has retained a wide base 
of support that cuts across all segments of the society. 

The perils and pitfalls of governing the country during a crisis 
period, however, have taken a significant toll, and the Democratic 
Party faces an uphill battle. Nevertheless, even if it were to win 
the largest block of seats in the parliament, I think the Democratic 
Party must do lots of adjusting. It is not likely to get the simple 
majority that they had, like 60 percent or something like that, but 
even if it wins the largest block of seats, the Democratic Party will 
no longer have its accustomed parliamentary majority and will 
need to learn to consult with the opposition and to reach political 
consensus on critical issues, such as drafting and approving a new 
constitution. 

The Socialist Party is the most cohesive and powerful opposition 
force in the country. It rejects Berisha's policy of shock therapy and 
massive privatization. The Socialists are also critical of Albania's 
growing military relationship with the United States and with 
NATO. The party leadership continues to be heavily dominated by 
the conservative communists. Since its humiliating defeat in 1992, 
the Socialist Party has displayed little commitment to democratic 
values and practices and has attempted to block the process of 
transition every step of the way. 

In recent months, in a bid to prove that they are a moderate 
force, the Socialists have toned down their anti-Western, and par- 
ticularly anti-American rhetoric. But there should be no doubt that 
an election victory by the former communists will pose a significant 
threat to Albania's democratic future. The Socialists are very re- 
sentful of changes since 1992 and the imprisonment of their chair- 
man, Fatos Nano, and if they return to power, I think the tempta- 



tion to seek revenge against the Democratic Party will be great. 
Cohabitation between a democratic president who was elected for 
a 5-year term — and his term expires in 1997 — and a socialist-con- 
trolled parliament would be very difficult. While there is no chance 
of going back — and I strongly believe this — to Hoxha's dictatorship 
and centralized economy, I think the Socialists' mere attempt to 
roll back or retard such moves as mass privatization and repeal a 
large degree of legislation enacted since 1992 would be fraught 
with great instability. 

There are two other significant actors: the Social Democratic 
Party and the Democratic Alliance. The Social Democratic Party is 
currently the third-largest bloc in parliament. It has its roots in the 
reformist wing of the Albanian Party of Labor, or the Communist 
Party. Some of its leaders have a distinctly communist background; 
they were quick-change artists who had faithfully served Alia's re- 
gime. [Party Chairman Skender Gjinushi, a former member of the 
Central Committee, served as minister of education in the last 
communist government.] But what is more significant is that he 
represented the communist government in negotiations with dem- 
onstrating students in December 1990 and hunger strikers in Feb- 
ruary 1991. Other party leaders, including historian Paskal Milo, 
had close links with the communist government. This party made 
no contribution to the democratic process in the beginning of the 
democratic process in Albania in early 1991. 

Although originally allied with the Democratic Party after the 
elections in 1992, the Social Democratic Party has shifted consider- 
ably to the left, and the ideological distinction between the Social 
Democrats and Socialists is fading. 

The Democratic Alliance I think is a much more serious political 
party. It was formed in late 1992 by what its critics call the "com- 
munist" wing of the Democratic Party. It stands out as the fourth 
most important force in parliament, with six deputies. The party 
leadership is composed of former senior Democratic Party officials, 
with nationwide name recognition. Self-described as a center-left 
party, the Democratic Alliance claims to represent the urban, mid- 
dle-class, and intellectual strata and lacks a mass base of support. 
This party has been plagued by internal fissures over relations 
with the Socialists. 

While the majority in the leadership continues to work for a coa- 
lition with the Socialists against the ruling party, some see any co- 
operation with former communists as a compromise of principles. 
Others in the leadership have taken up the middle ^ound between 
the two positions, choosing to emphasize the permissible forms of 
contact and cooperation with the Socialist Party, but generally em- 
bracing the idea of a coalition with the Social Democratic Party. 
Right now there are discussions underway between the Social 
Democrats and the Democratic Alliance and the Party for Human 
Rights to form a center pole coalition before the elections. 

On the right, we have the Right League, which is composed of 
a group of loosely defined parties vying to outbid each other in 
their anti-communist positions. They are very unhappy with 
Berisha, but in the end they may decide to form an electoral alli- 
ance with the Democratic Party; but the latter, the Democrats, will 
have to compromise on this. 



8 

Although the date for parhamentaTy elections has not yet been 
set, Albanian political parties have already begun to campaign. I 
am a bit concerned because militaristic rhetoric and political ma- 
nipulation have overtaken the spirit of tolerance and reconciliation 
on both sides. As elections approach, political tensions are likely to 
rise, and incidents of sporadic violence or terrorist acts cannot be 
ruled out. But there is reason to believe that the elections will, in 
fact, be sufficiently free and fair for the will of the people to be re- 
flected in the results. With the successful conclusion of free and 
fair elections, Albania will have passed an important test of matu- 
rity, strengthening its democratic orientation and paving the way 
for further stability and prosperity. 

Mr. Chairman, the Democratic Party took the helm at the most 
turbulent period in Albania's modem history. There is no question 
that there have been problems and mistakes, but the successes of 
President Sali Berisha and his government far outweigh their fail- 
ures. In 4 years, Albania has attained relative economic and politi- 
cal stability. Pluralistic democracy and a market economy are be- 
ginning to take root. The symbols of a new Albania are everywhere. 

But the tasks that confront Albania in fully consolidating its de- 
mocracy are very ambitious. The road ahead is fraught with the 
risk of reversion, and the most difficult task in building a genuine 
democracy will be to inculcate civic values that will make demo- 
cratic ideals part of the Albanian moral fiber. Further gains, of 
course, will depend primarily on the choices the governing elites 
make and the strategies that they pursue. But continued moral, po- 
litical, and material support from outside, particularly from the 
United States, will also remain crucial. 

Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you 
today. 

Mr. Smith. Dr. Biberai, thank you very much for your testimony. 

Ms.Imholz, if you would present your views now. 

STATEMENT OF KATHLEEN IMHOLZ 

Ms. Imholz. Chairman Smith, staff, ladies, and gentlemen, 
thank you for the opportunity to say a few words today about the 
state of democratization and the rule of law in Albania. 

If I am critical, and I have to be critical, my criticisms should be 
taken in a constructive spirit. Albania has had a hard history, not 
just 45 years of Stalinist communism after World War II but 450 
years of Ottoman occupation and other invaders too numerous to 
mention. 

The United States and Albania have a special relationship going 
back many years. At the Paris Peace Conference after World War 
I, Albania was about to be dismembered when Woodrow Wilson 
stepped in and, supporting his principle of self-determination, de- 
manded that Albania's integrity be maintained. He is a hero to this 
day in the country, and many people there bear the name "Vilson." 

It is often saia that when you save someone's life, you are re- 
sponsible for them thereafter. I believe the United States and Alba- 
nia have and should continue to have a special relationship. This 
is not just because we saved Albania as a country in 1920, but be- 
cause of the importance to us of peace and stability in the Balkans 
today, which true democracy and legality promote. 



Few outsiders expected that democracy and compliance with the 
rule of law would develop overnight, especially in a country with 
Albania's past. My criticisms do not stem from unrealistic expecta- 
tions. When I first went there, the private practice of law had just 
been reestablished, after not existing for more than 20 years. Nev- 
ertheless, I found a legal tradition that surprised and impressed 
me, going back well before communism. 

Albanian has spent 5 years reforming its legal system, and it has 
been an enormous and complicated process. Five years into the 
process, most of the framework is now there. There have been some 
bright spots; but large problems exist, especially in the implemen- 
tation of the laws. The judicial branch is under intense pressure 
from the other parts of government. The widespread lack of popu- 
lar faith in the judicial system needs to be addressed promptly and 
firmly by whatever government leads Albania after these upcoming 
parliamentary elections. 

Let me add that I have not been in Albania since the terrible and 
unprecedented terrorist bombing of February 26. I am not address- 
ing it in these remarks, except to condemn it and to express the 
hope that the truth behind it will be determined quickly. 

A little over a year ago, two events occurred that gave reason for 
optimism about democratic development in Albania. On November 
6, 1994, a referendum on a new constitution was defeated by the 
Albanian people. A few months later, an attempt to remove the 
chief judge of Albania's highest court on a pretext was defeated 
when parliament broke party lines. I say that these events were a 
reason for optimism regardless of the merits of either of them, be- 
cause they showed a developing pluralism and the peaceful use of 
democratic methods — that is, voting — to resolve hotly contested 
questions. But these events have turned out to be exceptions. 

Albania underwent many changes after the March 1992 par- 
liamentary elections that brought the Democratic Party to power, 
including dramatic economic growth and an acceleration of the 
process of legislative revision. The communist constitution of 1976 
had been repealed in 1991, replaced by a constitutional law called 
the Major Constitutional Provisions. As first enacted, it was rather 
sketchy; but several amending chapters were added, including the 
restructuring of the judiciary and establishing a constitutional 
court for the first time in Albania. Under that law, judges of the 
highest court, as well as the attorney general, cannot be removed 
from office except on a reasoned decision of parliament that it has 
been proven that they committed a "serious crime specifically pro- 
vided by law." 

This provision has been flouted twice, once in 1992, when the 
first attorney general of the Democratic Party was removed. Those 
of us who follow legal developments in Albania with concern hoped 
that it was only an aberrancy explainable as an occurrence of the 
transition. 

Unfortunately, the same constitutional provision was used in 
September 1995, when the chief judge of the highest court, who 
had withstood an attack earlier in the year, as I mentioned, was 
removed from office. The details of his case are spelled out in an 
account he has written for the East European Constitutional Re- 



10 

view which I have submitted with my written testimony. It is a dis- 
turbing story. 

It is particularly dramatic when the highest member of the judi- 
cial branch is involved, but there have been many other cases in 
the past 4 years in which Albanian lower court judges have been 
removed summarily. 

There are many contributing causes to the lack of faith in the ju- 
dicial system that I noted above. The Albanian Government has 
quite properly identified widespread corruption as one of them. 
They have all my support for meaningful efforts to combat that; it 
is an intractable problem. Nevertheless, it is also important that 
judges be perceived to be independent and not subject to removal 
for the way they decide a case. For example, within a day or two 
of the 1994 acquittal of the editor of the newspaper Koha Jone, 
which regularly criticizes the government, the judge who acquitted 
him was removed from office and accused of corruption. I have ab- 
solutely no idea whether that charge was grounded, but the cir- 
cumstances and the timing made it seem like a pretext. Not with- 
out reason did the Council of Europe's Commission for Democracy 
Through Law recently conclude after a careful study that it could 
not satisfy itself "that judges in Albania feel free to arrive at their 
decisions without fear of negative consequences for their profes- 
sional life." 

I could give many other examples of challenges to Albania's 
democratic legal development, but in the limited time available, I 
will mention only the constitution, the press law, and the so-called 
"genocide" and "verification" laws passed last September and No- 
vember. 

Contrary to what is often said, Albania has a constitution. It is 
the law on the major constitutional provisions. Its human rights 
chapter, enacted in 1993, is one bright spot in Albanian law; but 
unfortunately it has rarely been implemented. The interim con- 
stitution was intended from the beginning to be replaced by a com- 
plete new constitution, and Albanian jurists and others have been 
working on that since 1991. I have seen most of their drafts and 
translated many of them. In my opinion, several have been excel- 
lent. 

The draft that went to referendum in 1994 was not one of the 
best, but it would have sufficed. It was, in fact, not too different 
from the existing constitutional laws of Albania. In my view, the 
worst thing about it was that it further weakened a judiciary that 
is already too weak. 

It has Deen reported that the president is now calling for Albania 
to adopt an already existing constitution of a Council of Europe 
member. I hope this suggestion is not pursued, for, I think, it 
would be one of the worst ways to solve Albania's constitutional 
problem. Law is organic. A foreign law translated word for word 
and grafted onto another culture makes limited sense and can do 
much harm. The Albanian constitutional drafting groups have 
shown their ability. The new constitution that comes out the proc- 
ess should fit Albania. 

An example of just taking what has been done somewhere else 
is Albania's press law, enacted in the fall of 1993 over vociferous 
local and international protests. It is basically a translation of the 



11 

press law of a Grerman province, although there are some dif- 
ferences. The Albanian law exists largely in a vacuum, however, 
since Albania lacks the judicial infrastructure of Germany, its con- 
stitutional history, and other elements that underlie the implemen- 
tation of the German law. 

Ironically, because the press law attracted so much criticism, and 
perhaps also because of the absence of the legal infrastructure, Al- 
bania has not used it much. In the last few years, many opposition 
journalists have been arrested, but in most cases they have been 
charged with violations under the regular criminal code. Perhaps 
other speakers today will say a little more about some of these 
cases. 

Finally, I will mention two laws passed recently which are on the 
verge of being implemented as the elections approach. English 
translations of both are attached to my testimony and have been 
handed out today. These laws have been described simplistically as 
barring former senior communists from holding office until 2002, 
but the reality is much more complicated than that. 

The first law was passed last September. Its full title is "On 
genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Albania dur- 
ing communist rule for political, ideological, and religious motives." 
The second was passed at the end of November and is called "On 
the verification of the moral character of officials and other persons 
connected with the defense of the democratic state." A constitu- 
tional court decision issued at the end of January upheld both 
laws, making a few changes in the verification law. 

I want to make it clear that criticizing these two laws is not in 
any way intended to downplay crimes committed during the com- 
munist regime. I was not there then; as an American lawyer, I was 
not permitted even to enter the country. Drawing conclusions about 
what the people of Albania went through in those years would be 
presumptuous. But if we are really committed to the "rule of law," 
it is proper that we analyze individual laws, especially these, which 
have serious defects on tneir face. 

The genocide law is so called because it starts by directing the 
office of the prosecutor to investigate communist crimes "with pri- 
ority." The heart of the law, however, declares that persons in a 
number of categories, whether or not convicted of these crimes, 
may not be elected to various state positions until 2002. 

The verification law contains an extensive list of positions in gov- 
ernment that may not be held by people in the prohibited cat- 
egories. Originally, one such position was journalist for a news- 
paper with a circulation of more than 3,000. But the constitutional 
court decision struck this clause down on the correct ground that 
such a position is not a state job. 

The verification law expands on and adds to the prohibited cat- 
egories of the genocide law. It is important to note that, even as 
expanded, it does not cover all senior communist positions, many 
of them equal in rank to ones that are listed. On the other hand, 
such categories as inclusion in the Sigurimi files cover many people 
who were not members of the Party of Labor at all, much less high- 
ranking ones. It has been estimated many times that in the tight 
police state that Albania was for 45 years, as much as one-third or 
one-fourth of the entire population was registered in one way or 



12 

another by state security, or Sigurimi. In theory, all these people 
are covered by these laws. 

That's why I stress the inaccuracy of saying that they only re- 
move senior communists from government. The verification law 
sets up a seven-member commission, all of whose members are ap- 
pointees of the ruling party and can be removed at any time and 
for any reason by the person or organ that appointed them. They 
meet in closed sessions and say "yes" or "no" to people who would 
be candidates for parliament or any of the other positions listed in 
the law. There is one appeal to the Court of Causation. 

The time periods are tight. It is not yet clear how they will fit 
with the upcoming parliamentary elections. Opposition parties will 
need time to replace rejected candidates, and the replacements will 
have to go through the same procedure. The timing is wholly with- 
in the control of the party in power. 

The commission will have access to "all archival material," but 
after it completes its work, disclosing any documentation is prohib- 
ited until 2025. This is intended to end the question of what to do 
with the communist era files. Time will tell whether this law will 
truly end that debate. 

Albanian critics quickly noted that genocide, murder, and similar 
crimes had been against the law at all times. Most important sen- 
ior communists, such as former president Ramiz Alia and the 
widow of dictator Enver Hoxha, had been prosecuted and convicted, 
generally, of lesser crimes such as misappropriation of funds. Alia, 
indeed, had served his sentence and was released last July, al- 
though he has recently been re-arrested. That the genocide and 
verification laws were enacted, not in 1992 when the Democratic 
Party first took power, but on the eve of the 1996 elections, has un- 
derstandably led many to a cynical conclusion. 

The laws conflict openly with Albania's admirable charter of 
human rights, which has constitutional status. The constitutional 
court got around this issue by saying that parliament has the 
power to override some people's constitutionally guaranteed rights 
if they believe that this guarantees the implementation of all 
human rights. 

I do not want to end this discussion on a negative note, but right 
now in Albania the challenges to the legal order are great. Respect 
for what we think of as the rule of law is not general. The United 
States should try to understand the situation there as best it can 
and give appropriate support. 

"Avash avash," the Albanians say — "slowly, slowly." Democratic 
legal development is always slow. If enough people are persistent, 
however, I am convinced that it will come to Albania. 

Thank you. 

Mr. Porter. Ms. Imholz, thank you very much for your testi- 
mony. I, by the way, am Congressman John Porter of Illinois, a 
member of the commission. We will now proceed to Fred Abra- 
hams. 

Mr. Abrahams, thank you for coming here to testify. Please pro- 
ceed. 



13 

STATEMENT OF FRED ABRAHAMS 

Mr. Abrahams. Well, first of all, thank you for inviting me here 
to speak. As always. Human Rights Watch is grateful for the op- 
portunity to participate in these discussions. 

My name is Fred Abrahams, and I monitor the human rights sit- 
uation in Albania for the Helsinki Division of Human Rights 
Watch. I spent 1 year working in Albania as a journalist and at 
a media training center in Tirana during 1993-1994 and have vis- 
ited the country three times since then. 

Based on this experience, I can testify that Albania has taken 
some important steps to establish a democratic state with respect 
for human rights. According to law, Albanian citizens are now free 
to travel, practice their religions, open businesses, and express crit- 
icism of the government. All these rights signify a dramatic break 
from the not-so-distant past. 

However, the experience of the last 5 years also reveals how dif- 
ficult it is for Albania to shake its Stalinist past. Although Alba- 
nian law recognizes the basic civil and political rights outlined in 
the Helsinki Accords, in practice, Albanian citizens are still not 
adequately free to enjoy these rights. 

In part, we may attribute these restrictions to Albania's lack of 
experience with democracy, but in many cases human rights viola- 
tions in Albania are the direct result of specific actions taken by 
the new government. 

Of particular concern is the state's continued interference in the 
judiciary. Despite many improvements, the court system is still 
used as an instrument of the state, especially against the political 
opposition. The leader of the largest opposition party is currently 
in prison after a trial fraught with due process violations. 

Since 1992, many other critics of the government have been har- 
assed, tried, imprisoned, or in a few cases physically attacked by 
unknown assailants, usually without any response from the gov- 
ernment. Judges that make independent decisions on sensitive 
cases are sometimes reassigned to lesser posts or fired. More than 
400 persons were selected mostly by the ruling Democratic Party 
to participate in a special 6-month law course. Upon completion of 
the course, they were enrolled as last-year part-time students in 
the law faculty at Tirana University. Today, most are working as 
judges and prosecutors throughout the country. 

Last September, the chief justice of the Supreme Court was un- 
constitutionally sacked by parliament, prompting a protest from 
the U.S. Department of State. According to constitutional law, a 
Supreme Court judge may only be dismissed by parliament when 
proven that he has committed a serious crime or is mentally in- 
capable to perform his duties, neither of which the government 
could prove. Despite this, parliament voted 73 to zero to remove 
the chief justice from his post. However, Human Rights Watch ob- 
tained the official voting record from parliament proving that vote 
had been falsified in order to obtain the necessary quorum of 71. 

The government has undertaken an ambitious effort to prosecute 
former communist officials who committed crimes during the pre- 
vious regime. However, the process has been selective and, at 
times, in violation of international law. Some former communist of- 
ficials were denied the right to a fair trial, while others have avoid- 



14 

ed prosecution altogether because of their ties to the current gov- 
ernment. 

Freedom of the press is also circumscribed. Despite numerous 
promises from President Sali Berisha, no legislation exists to allow 
for the transmission of private radio or television, leaving the state- 
run programs that favor the government as the main provider of 
news for the majority of the population. Attempts to open private 
local radio stations have been thwarted by the police. 

While there are many private newspapers throughout the coun- 
try, they are restricted by a repressive press law and obstacles to 
their distribution. Since 1992, a large number of journalists, includ- 
ing foreign correspondents, have been harassed, arrested, or beaten 
by unknown assailants after writing articles that were critical of 
the government. 

In recent months, the largest daily in the country, Koha Jone, 
has experienced repeated harassment and intimidation at the 
hands of authorities. In January, the paper was publicly accused 
of collaborating with the Serbian secret police, although no concrete 
proof has been made public yet. On February 26, police detained 
the entire staff of the paper, including the publisher, editors, jour- 
nalists, computer operators, drivers, and a cleaner, to question 
them about a bomb that had exploded that morning in Tirana. 

The rights of minorities have improved since the fall of com- 
munism. Nevertheless, problems do exist, particularly with the siz- 
able Greek minority in the south of the country. In September 
1994, five members of the ethnic Greek organization Omonia were 
tried and convicted on charges of espionage and the illegal posses- 
sion of weapons in a case that violated both Albanian and inter- 
national law. The five defendants were later released, but not be- 
fore 70,000 Albanian guest workers had been forcibly expelled from 
Greece as retribution by the Greek Government. 

The issue of Greek language schooling and the return of property 
owned by Orthodox Church are also areas of concern. In general, 
however, I believe that the problems of the Greek minority are re- 
lated to the questions of democracy in the country as a whole. 
Many minority-specific complaints, such as discrimination in state 
employment and harassment by the secret police, are the same 
complaints made by the political opposition. In other words, all Al- 
banian citizens with different views from the central authority, ei- 
ther on an ethnic or political basis, suffer repercussions. 

Religious freedom has largely been restored in what was Eu- 
rope's only officially atheist country. New mosques and churches 
are being constructed at a rapid pace to rival the military bunkers 
that dot the landscape. As mentioned, the government could expe- 
dite the return of former church property. There have also been 
two failed legislative attempts by the government to control who 
may head a religious community. In general, however, Albania has 
not succumbed to the religious hatreds that have ripped apart the 
former Yugoslavia. As the noted Albanian poet Pashko Vasa has 
said, "the religion of Albanians is Albanianism." 

Parliamentary elections are due in the spring of 1996, but as of 
today, no fixed date has been set. Based on the Albanian Govern- 
ment's human rights record during the last 4 years, I must express 
my deep concern that these elections will be neither free, nor fair. 



15 

First, a new law requires all potential candidates to be screened by 
a special commission composed solely of government representa- 
tives. Any person found to have held top positions in a communist 
era government or to have been a collaborator with the former se- 
cret police will be prohibited from running in the elections. Individ- 
uals may appeal to the Supreme Court, but the timing of the cam- 
paign as outlined in a newly passed electoral law makes this ap- 
peal procedure virtually unavailable. 

The same electoral law also revised the composition of the elec- 
toral commissions to the advantage of the government. Electoral 
zones will be devised by the president, and the Democratic Party 
will receive a disproportionate amount of media air time. 

The biggest problem, however, is the government's bipolar per- 
spective on politics. From President Berisha down, Albanian offi- 
cials have repeatedly demonstrated an "us versus them" mentality. 
"If you are not for us, you are against us; if you're not a Democrat, 
you're a communist." Criticism is viewed as treason, dissent as a 
crime. 

In closing, I would like to say that the United States can play 
an important role in fostering Albanian democracy. However, in my 
opinion, it is crucial to encourage the process rather than the 
party. Albania has a long history of strong leaders from Enver 
Hoxha to King Zog, and I believe it is a mistake to encourage the 
historical trend toward centralization by supporting one specific po- 
litical force. Rather, the United States can assist in the construc- 
tion of democratic institutions and the evolution of democratic cul- 
ture. One way to do this is to maintain and, if possible, increase 
the amount of foreign aid given to the country. 

Finally, I would mention that today Human Rights Watch re- 
leased a full report on human rights in post-communist Albania 
that documents many abuses I have mentioned today. I am making 
it available to the commission. Journalists and others present 
today may see me after the hearing if they wish to obtain a copy. 
Thank you very much. 

Mr. Porter. Thank you very much, Mr. Abrahams. I did not 
have the benefit of being able to listen to your two fellow witnesses 
earlier, and I apologize for that. We are all having very full days. 
I wondered if the three of you could comment on the direction, the 
basic overall direction of human rights during the last 3 or 4 years. 
In other words, is Albania a country that is moving in the direction 
we would like to see her go regarding human rights, democracy, 
the rule of law, and the like? Or has there been substantial slip- 
page or no progress at all? Can you give me your overall estimate? 

Mr. BiBERAJ. I think in analyzing developments in Albania, we 
need to keep in perspective where Albania was and where Albania 
is today. There is no question that significant progress has been 
made. At the same time 

Mr. Porter. No, but I don't want to know where they were and 
where they are today. I want to know where they were 3 or 4 years 
ago and where they are today. 

Mr. BiBERAJ. I think they've made substantial progress, and they 
are making substantial progress. There were some problems last 
year concerning the Supreme Court, the role of the judiciary, which 
has come under pressure by the executive and by the parliament. 



16 

So there has been some slippage there. But in general, I think Al- 
bania is moving in the right direction. Compared with other coun- 
tries in the region, I think Albania is a success story, but there are 
still many problems. I agree with what Fred said. There is a great 
need for United States presence in Albania, and to help the proc- 
ess, the democratic institution-building. 

Mr. Porter. Yes. 

Ms. IMHOLZ. Yes. I think that in 1991 and 1992, there was a 
greater openness in the country, and on March 31, 1993, the adop- 
tion of that bill of rights that I mentioned was a high point; the 
very day that it became effective, the editor of Koha Jone was ac- 
quitted. He had been arrested for revealing a military secret or, I 
guess, it was saying something that was not true. A whole lot of 
witnesses came and said that they supported him, and so he was 
acquitted. I remember saying to him that day that this is the be- 
ginning of a lot of new things in Albania, but this man is on trial 
again. I believe it is his third or fourth trial. In the last few years, 
things have stalled, mostly in 1994 and 1995. I hope it continues. 

I agree with what both my fellow speakers have said about how 
difficult it is. 

Mr. Abrahams. Well, I remember very well when I first arrived 
in Tirana. It was the summer of 1993 and in my first week I spent 
time meeting with as many individuals as I could to get a picture 
of the situation. I remember meeting with one journalist, and he 
was trying to explain to me the state of fi*eedom of the press in the 
country. He said, "Well, you know, freedom of the press, it's like 
this giant pyramid, and there's a curtain in front of this pyramid. 
In 1992 and in the end of 1991, this curtain was lifted, and we 
could see the base of this pyramid." And he was talking about 

Kress freedom, but I think we could make the analogy perhaps to 
uman rights in general. Albanians could see the base of this pyra- 
mid, but already when I was meeting him — this is the end of 
1993 — that curtain was slowly being lowered once again, and in my 
humble opinion, I think that curtain has continued to fall since 
that time. 

Mr. Porter. So the three of you don't quite see eye to eye on 
this. The reason I asked the question was that my wife, Kathryn, 
and I met Sali Berisha prior to his becoming president; we were 
very impressed with him, had dinner with him. He is a medical 
doctor, and we thought that this showed very good promise. He was 
elected, I believe, in 1992, if I'm not mistaken; he was here last 
year to meet with us. This is after the trial of the Omonia Five. 
Kathryn had gone to Tirana to try to intercede on behalf of the 
Omonia Five and made some substantial progress, but was 
rebuffed in her attempt to see the president at that time. He then 
came to the United States and met with a group of maybe 10 or 

II or 12 members of Congress, members of the House, last year; 
all of us raised the issue of the Omonia Five and the discrimination 
and oppression of the Greek minority. 

The president lost it, very frankly. He was calling an American 
citizen who had attempted to intercede in their behalf a terrorist 
and was saying things that were just unbelievable in the context 
in which we were raising the questions. I felt at the time that the 
commitment to the kinds of values or principles that we had seen 



17 

in him in 1991 prior to his becoming president seemed to have 
been lost in this, and I'm not sure exactly what had led to this. 

But I was very concerned if that is the kind of leadership that 
is in power in Albania, whether there is any real hope of making 
progress on these values or principles. I wonder if you can give me 
some insight or comment on that or if you have any at all. 

Mr. Abrahams. Well, I mean, I can say something generally 
about the Omonia trial. 

Mr. Porter. Why don't you? 

Mr. Abrahams. I mean, clearly this was the low point of Greek- 
Albanian relations. There is no question about that. However, I 
would like to say, during my time in Albania, I monitored a num- 
ber of trials and the abuses. Violations occurred in the Omonia 
trial, such as poor access to an attorney and poor access to the in- 
vestigator's file. They also complained of psychological and physical 
abuse, which is something that I cannot confirm. 

But these violations were also seen in other trials that I mon- 
itored during the year, for example, the trials of journalists, and 
unfortunately, there were many; also the trial of Fatos Nano, the 
head of the Socialist Party. So I think this is a good example be- 
cause it demonstrates that the issue is one of democracy as a 
whole. 

And there are other cases as well. For example, the Greek minor- 
ity complains about discrimination in state employment, but so, 
too, does the political opposition. The Greek minority complains 
about poor access to the state media, and so, too, does the political 
opposition. 

Mr. Porter. Well, I'm not sure that's an excuse in either case, 
however. 

Mr. Abrahams. Yes. No, I think clearly when you have a group 
of citizens that compose one ethnic body, then it takes on a particu- 
lar meaning, especially when there is another country directly to 
itself. However, I just want to emphasize that I believe that these 
are problems of democracy in general. 

Ms. Imholz. Chairman Smith mentioned that tomorrow is the 
anniversary of the day in 1991 when the United States and Alba- 
nia re-established diplomatic relations after so many years. I think 
there's no doubt that Albania, for a long, long time, was very hos- 
tile to outsiders; some of that, I think, what is often called old men- 
tality remains, and that's why you sometimes find that kind of re- 
action to outsiders who are just trying to be helpful. It is upsetting 
when it occurs, but I think it would have been impossible for Sali 
Berisha to satisfy all the hopes that were placed in him. 

Mr. BiBERAJ. Just other than address specifically your question, 
but getting back to relations between Albania and Greece, what 
we've seen after the release of the Omonia Five is a very rapid in- 
crease in cooperation between the two countries, and I think this 
is the most positive development in the southern Balkans right 
now. The Greek minister of defense will be attending a ministerial 
meeting in Tirana later this month, and in about a week or so the 
president of Greece will be visiting Tirana. So I think we've seen 
some very encouraging signs as far as relations between the two 
countries go. 



18 

Mr. Porter. Have these translated into a lessening of the op- 
pression of the Greek minority in Albania, or are these just top- 
level contacts that have occurred? 

Mr. BiBERAJ. No, I believe they have. However, it continues, es- 
pecially as far as education goes. But I think the greatest "threat 
to Hellenism" in Albania comes from Greece in the sense that 
Greece is very attractive to the ethnic Greeks in Albania. Every- 
body would like to leave the country in search of a better life in 
Greece. You have between 300,000 and 400,000 Albanians who are 
currently in Greece, and perhaps the best approach for Greece in 
this respect would be to funnel in money in these areas inhabited 
by the ethnic Greeks and encourage them to make it in Albania 
rather than emigrate. 

Mr. Porter. Isn't it true that, if you looked at the areas around 
Albania, including Kosova and Greece and others, that there are 
probably as many Albanians outside of Albania as inside Albania? 

Mr. BiBERAJ. That is correct, yes. There are probably between 6 
million to 7 million Albanians in the Balkans right now, 3.3 million 
or 3.4 million in Albania, about 2 million in Kosovo, and depending 
on whose figures you accept, in Macedonia between 400,000 to 
500,000 to 600,000 to 700,000 Albanians. 

Mr. Porter. Mr. Abrahams, you had talked briefly about the 
church. Can you expand on the difference between the Greek Or- 
thodox and the Albanian Orthodox church, what their relationship 
is, and what meaning this might have in this oppression of the 
Greek minority? 

Mr. Abrahams. Well, I'm certainly not an expert on church af- 
fairs. I can try to give you some answer. There is a separate 
Autocephalous Albanian Orthodox Church, which is essentially an 
independent Albanian church. It has among its members both eth- 
nic Greeks and ethnic Albanians. As far as I can tell, the two com- 
munities get along peacefullv. I should say, in general, on the out- 
side of the church, I found always that both ethnic Greeks and eth- 
nic Albanians were committed to peaceful coexistence, and often 
they expressed a concern that this conflict — I wouldn't call it that 
now — at times, a conflict, these tensions were between Tirana and 
Athens and that normal citizens were being caught in between. 

With regard to the church, I think this also holds true. Perhaps 
someone else can say more, but my experience is that they get 
along very well. There is, I should say, one issue that makes the 
situation complicated was the enforced atheism of the Hoxha re- 
gime. As you know, it was the first officially atheist state, and the 
persecution against the religions was severe and brutal; that meant 
that today there are very few individuals qualified to lead the 
church. That is whv a Greek citizen had to be appointed as the 
archbishop of the Albanian Orthodox Church, because allegedly no 
Albanian citizen was qualified to hold that position. Naturally, this 
evoked a response from Albanians who fear, who have a historical 
fear of Greek involvement in their internal affairs. So the relation- 
ship is very complicated. 

Mr. Porter. Anyone else want to comment on that? No. Fatos 
Nano has been in prison for corruption when he was prime min- 
ister in 1991. Apparently there are allegations that his incarcer- 
ation was based on his leading the opposition to the party now in 



19 

power. Do you agree with these allegations, and should he now be 
set free? 

Mr. BiBERAJ. Mr. Nano's imprisonment was part of a highly pub- 
licized anti-corruption drive. I do not share the view that Mr. Nano 
is in prison because of his opposition to the Democratic Party. At 
the time of his arrest, President Berisha and his Democratic Party 
were at the peak of their popularity and, therefore, had no reason 
really to fear him. Moreover, the Socialist leader was not a terribly 
impressive politician, nor was he considered a genuinely reformed 
communist. However, while the government has claimed that the 
struggle against corruption is at the top of its priority list, anti-cor- 
ruption efforts have been half-hearted at best. 

Going back to the coalition government in 1991, when the Demo- 
cratic Party cooperated with the Socialists, there were allegations 
of corruption against Democratic Party ministers. These allegations 
have continued after the Democratic Party came to power. You 
have today officials, politicians from both the Democratic and the 
Socialist Parties who, it is alleged, have fallen victim of the greed 
and the mania for quick profit and are very involved in corruption. 
This was perhaps most dramatically illustrated by the massive 
smuggling of oil and other strategic items in violation of U.N. sanc- 
tions against Yugoslavia during 1992-1995. Now, while the govern- 
ment denies involvement, it is clear that, without the involvement 
of some very highly placed officials, sanctions-busting on such a 
massive scale could not have proceeded for such a long period. 

The fact that the government has failed to address seriously the 
issues of high-level corruption or to launch a clean government 
campaign has, indeed, seriously undermined the case against Mr. 
Nano. Moreover, the Socialists have been able to skillfully exploit 
the case. Perhaps politically, it would make a lot of sense for 
Berisha to pardon Nano, and he has a very good chance of doing 
that on the fourth anniversary of the Democratic victory which 
would be March 22nd. I strongly believe that Nano is more of a 
threat to the Democrats in prison than if he were to be released 
today. 

Mr. Smith. Dr. Biberaj, as we all know, the communist dictator- 
ship in Albania ranked among the most cruel in this century in Eu- 
rope and possibly the world. To what extent has the Socialist Party 
been genuinely reformed, and can you tell us why there is support 
for the party despite its Stalinist legacy? 

Mr. Biberaj. There is no question that it is a different party 
than it used to be. I mean, the country has changed; therefore, the 
party had to change as well. But despite its liabilities as the suc- 
cessor to the Communist Party, the Socialist Party has benefited 
from the fact that there are still significant segments of the popu- 
lation that support the old regime and who, in fact, blame the rul- 
ing party for ending their communist social benefits. 

This party has also largely preserved the communists' strong in- 
ternal structure and has a major nationwide network and organiza- 
tional resources, and, in fact, remains the best organized party in 
Albania today. Moreover, it has another advantage because the ma- 
jority of the newspapers in Albania are controlled or under the in- 
fluence of the Socialist Party. I would also include a newspaper 
mentioned earlier, Koha Jone, which ostensibly is independent. It 



20 

is under Socialist influence. But what is perhaps as important is 
the fact that for many Albanians the memory of communist repres- 
sion and atrocities committed during the Hoxha regime have been 
overshadowed by the disruptions caused by the radical reforms im- 
plemented by the Democratic Party. So the Socialist Party right 
now is wagering that the electorate will favorably compare this sta- 
bility of the communist period to the dislocations of shock therapy. 

Mr. Porter. I have another meeting that I have to attend, but 
I wanted to ask a final question. Albania, for 50 years or so, 
seemed to be off everyone's screen. It shut itself in and shut every- 
one else out, and only recently are people in our country even 
aware of Albania. It is a relatively small country in a corner of the 
world that doesn't get much attention from the American press and 
the like. We are attempting to help Albania in a number of ways, 
but I wonder if you could tell us what you think of what American 
efforts have been? Have they been too little? Have they been mis- 
directed? What should we do now to advance the democratization, 
the human rights and rule of law in this country, and as well, its 
economy? Are we doing the right things? Are we doing enough? Are 
we doing the wrong things? Give me your thoughts. 

Mr. ABRAHAMS. An open question? 

Ms. Imholz. Start with you. 

Mr. Abrahams. OK. Well, as I mentioned in my testimony, I be- 
lieve there is a very large role, an important role, for the United 
States to play. Specifically, I think the country is in dire need of 
aid in the field of education, health care, and infrastructure. Sec- 
ond, I think the U.S. Grovernment can help to encourage the Alba- 
nian Government to respect human rights and fundamental free- 
doms as it is obliged to do by the international documents that it 
has signed and ratified. Third, I think that it is very important for 
there to be an effective international monitoring force for the up- 
coming elections. 

Ms. Imholz. I agree with Fred that it is very important to have 
an adequate monitoring force for these elections because I think 
many questions have been raised, not answered, and having a lot 
of knowledgeable people there will really help. I also think we all 
recognize that we cannot give the necessary aid to Albania, with 
all the needs in the world, and we have to marshal our resources. 
I think it is very important that the United States try to cooperate 
with Europe, with the Council of Europe, for example, much more 
than they have done in the past. I have seen them going off at 
cross-purposes. I travel to the country, I go back and forth, and I 
have seen a lot. But I think that is beginning to happen. The cur- 
rent people who are there for the American Bar Association's 
CEELI Project have established ties with the local groups from 
other European countries, and I think that will really help. 

But I think hearings like this are very helpful because as we col- 
lect more information and listen to people who disagree, it will be- 
come a little bit more apparent, and sometimes, in Albania, as in 
all these countries, people want to use the United States, and you 
can't listen to the first person that you hear. You have to get as 
much information as you can. 

Mr. BiBERAJ. I agree. I fully agree with what my two colleagues 
here said, especially on the issue of sending observers for the elec- 



21 

tions. I think that's critical. Also, the assistance provided to the ju- 
dicial branch. Let's not forget that until 1990, Albania did not even 
have a ministry of justice because it was a system where you did 
not need a ministry because there wasn't any problem of justice. 

In addition to economic assistance and assistance in democratic 
institution-building, I think it is very important to devote a little 
more attention to the force of Albanian nationalism into the prob- 
lem of Kosova, the problem of the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia. 
I happen to believe that, after Bosnia, this is the most difficult 
problem to be solved in the Balkans; stability in the region will, to 
a large degree, depend on how this growing Albanian question is 
handled. 

Mr. Porter. Let me thank all three of our witnesses. Thank you, 
Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, Mr. Porter. Could each of you 
comment on the performance of the Albanian police? How well 
trained are they? How are they regarded in society at large? When 
they are responsible for harassing citizens, are they acting on their 
own or are they acting on orders from above? Have they engaged 
in discrimination based on ethnicity or political affiliation? Mr. 
Abrahams? 

Mr. Abrahams. Yes. Well, in the report that we have released, 
there is a whole chapter on police abuse; clearly it is a very serious 
problem. Amnesty International has also released two separate re- 
ports on the problem of police abuse. I think one main concern is 
simply that police are not properly educated in international 
human rights standards. This is understandable; however, it does 
not excuse their actions. I do not have the precise numbers, but we 
have documented a number of cases where there have been deaths 
in custody. Certainly there is a serious concern for physical and 
psychological abuse during pre-trial detention. I must say, the Al- 
banian Government has taken steps, has actually prosecuted some 
policemen who were found guilty of using excessive violence. How- 
ever, for the most part, I would say that police violence occurs with 
impunity. 

Ms. Imholz. I believe that the United States Embassy has been 
promoting a program of police training, and I had heard that it had 
been approved. Most of what I know about the police situation is 
from the human rights report. I do not have close familiarity with 
the underlying facts, but I do think that it is a wonderful idea if 
the United States does assist with the police training program. 

Mr. Smith. There was a paragraph in the human rights report 
of the State Department that said there is a small but growing 
Protestant evangelical community which desires offiicial govern- 
ment recognition and representation in the religious affairs section 
of the Council of Ministers. A Protestant umbrella organization, the 
Albanian Evangelical Alliance, has complained that Protestant 
groups have encountered administrative obstacles to building 
churches and obtaining access to national media, which it believes 
are the result of religious prejudice. Mr. Abrahams, do you want 
to comment on that? 

Mr. Abrahams. Yes. I read the State Department's most recent 
report, and I have to admit that is the first time I came across this 
allegation, and I haven't had time to verify it. 



22 

Mr. Smith. OK. Would either of you 

Mr. BiBERAJ. I'm just not familiar with the 

Ms. Imholz. Yes. It is true that there is not yet a law on religion, 
not that there really needs to be by our American way of thinking 
about it. I don't know very much about that particular situation 
myself, but I can say that because of the failure to have a specific 
legal form in which Protestant evangelical churches can organize 
themselves, some of them like the Church of Latter Day Saints, 
have organized as regular foundations. As far as I know, they've 
been permitted to do so, but I do not really pretend to be an expert 
on that issue either. 

Mr. BiBERAJ. I am not familiar with this case, nor have I heard 
of any problems. 

Mr. Smith. Ms. Imholz, one of the conclusions that I think could 
be drawn from your testimony is that the problem with justice in 
Albania is less with the courts — you talked about this briefly in 
your oral comments as well — and the performance of the judges 
than with the attempts to ignore or to coerce the courts as they try 
to do their work. What can we be doing? You mentioned the Bar 
Association having its deployment of people working to train 
judges. 

Ms. Imholz. It always amuses me that we seem to think — by we, 
I mean myself and lots of other foreigners — that by telling the 
judges to be independent it'll help. Well, they all know 

Mr. Smith. They want to be. 

Ms. Imholz. [continuing], that's not where the problem is, and it 
isn't even a matter of drafting new legislation either. In the ref- 
erendum constitution, the judiciary section started out, "the judici- 
ary is independent." Well, saying so doesn't really help. Again, I 
think we should be working with the Council of Europe, which has 
been working on this issue and issued a very good report, which 
I quoted briefly. There are some legislative changes that can be 
made. I think that plus a change in the climate will do more than 
haranguing the government to let the judges be independent or to 
harangue the judges to be independent, because I think they want 
to. 

Mr. Smith. As a member of Congresss over the last 16 years, it 
has been my experience with emerging democracies that observing 
an independent judiciary has always seemed to be the last piece of 
the puzzle to fit. Many within the executive branches of these coun- 
tries do everything they can to prevent the establishment of an 
independent judiciary. Anything we can do along those lines, I 
think, we should be doing. 

Ms. Imholz. I think Albania has a particular problem, too, be- 
cause it was the most Stalinist of the countries of the region and 
remained so up to the end, and the Stalinist way of looking at law 
was law was really instrumental and that meant "telephone jus- 
tice," and it is just hard to break those habits. 

Mr. Abrahams. May I add a comment on this? 

Mr. Smith. Yes. 

Mr. Abrahams. I agree that the legacy of Enver Hoxha weighs 
very heavily on the country today, but I think there are many cases 
when the executive branch has violated the principle of separation 



23 

of powers and most of these cases cannot be attributed to bad prac- 
tices of yesterday. 

Mr. Smith. Let me make one final comment. In looking over the 
human rights in post-Communist Albania, Mr. Abrahams, I noticed 
there was one notation that abortion was made legal in 1990, and 
then the authors of the report make reference to the issue of access 
to abortion. 

Many of us in Congress — and there's a deep division in the Con- 
gress, and certainly among the American public, on the issue of the 
right-to-life — happen to believe that the most fundamental of all 
human rights is the right to life. Even the Declaration on the 
Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the 
Child — about which I was privileged to give the U.S. speech on its 
behalf in New York when I served as a congressional delegate to 
the U.N. on behalf of the Bush administration — noted that the 
child, all children, by reason of his or her developmental immatu- 
rity, are deserving of safeguards before, as well as after, birth, and 
that birth is really just an event that happens to a child. 

Birth can happen at various stages of gestation, but hopefully it 
occurs after 9 months. An unborn child ought to be afforded at 
least a basic right to life. Yes, there are some hard exceptions that 
even if we were, in this country, to re-assert a pre-Roe versus Wade 
policy, probably some very hard cases would be recognized. But 
abortion for birth control reasons and other reasons, and particu- 
larly in late stages of pregnancy, are seen, in my view, as cruelty 
toward children. 

Your organization does not take a view that abortion is a right, 
do you? 

Mr. Abrahams. No. That is not a position we're taking in this re- 
port, simply stating that abortion has been re-legalized, and the 
comment here is, I believe, that women's activists said there was 
a need to improve access to health care facilities, including counsel- 
ing and services and family planning. But we're not taking a posi- 
tion on whether abortion should or should not be legal. 

Mr. Smith. I appreciate it. 

Ms. Imholz. Yes. Albania did, in fact, adopt a new law last fall 
regulating abortion. I will be glad to send a copy of it because I 
have translated it. They made late-term abortions illegal and have 
certain restrictions about early abortions. I think the women's 
groups in Albania were generally satisfied with it. 

Mr. Smith. Ms. Imholz, I would appreciate that. I would 

Ms. Imholz. I will be glad to do that. 

Mr. Smith [continuing]. — Ask without objection that it be made 
a part of the record as well. Is there anything else that our three 
witnesses would like to add at this point, anything we may not 
have touched on? 

I'd say for the record, and I say this with some pride and satis- 
faction, the country director for Albania for the International Re- 
publican Institute happens to be a former staff member, Peter 
Dickinson, who served for years on my staff. We are very proud of 
the work that he's doing. 

If there are no further comments, this commission hearing is ad- 
journed. Thank you very much to our witnesses. 

[Whereupon at 1:32 p.m., the Commission adjourned.] 



24 



Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe 

Hearing on the Challenges to Democracy in Albania 

March 14, 1996 



Statement of 
Representative Christopher H. Smith, Chairman 



Today's hearing focuses on the challenges to democracy in Albania This hearing is unlike 
most that we have had in the past year, which have focused mainly on the incredible human tragedies 
associated with conflicts like those in Chechnya or Bosnia, and what we should do about them. 
Given the urgency of those situations, countries still in the phases of democratic transition, like 
Albania, do not always receive the attention they deserve This hearing intends to correct this, at least 
to some degree 

While this hearing has not been scheduled in response to any specific event, it is timely 
nonetheless First and foremost, Albania is preparing for parliamentary elections in May or June, the 
results of which will have important ramifications for the future course of the country 

Second, tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of U S- Albanian bilateral relations, and the 
development of close ties between the two countries necessitates a better understanding of what is 
happening in Albania 

Third, reports of backsliding or resistance to democratization in Albania, as well as human 
rights violations, are increasingly coming to the Commission's attention While these reports vary 
and even contradict each other, we are concerned that respect for human rights in Albania may not 
be improving. 

Finally, for all the faults that can be found with the details of the Dayton Agreement for 
Bosnia, it has potentially opened the door for achieving progress in meeting the challenges to 
democracy in all the countries of the region, for the sake of peace, stability and the well being of the 
people who live there 

Our witnesses today will look at the challenges to democracy in Albania from different 
perspectives Our first witness is Dr Elez Biberaj, Chief of the Albanian Service of Voice of 
America VOA broadcasts, 1 understand, played a critical role in bringing an end to Albania's self- 
imposed isolation and one-party rule a few years ago Dr Biberaj, who has authored many books 
and articles on Albania and the Balkans, will give a general overview of political developments in 
Albania, and a flavor for what the election period may be like 



OVER 



25 



Next we have Kathleen Iinholz, an attorney from New York who has become a specialist on 
the Albanian legal system She traveled to Albania on many occasions since first being able to do so 
in 1991, and was there just a few weeks ago Ms Imholz will focus a bit more narrowly on the legal 
refomis in Albania, and the degree to which the judiciary is, or is not, independent from government 
control or influence 

Then we will hear the testimony of Fred Abrahams, a consultant for Human Rights 
VVatcli/Helsinki in New York He is the principal author of a comprehensive report on human rights 
in Albania that will be released next week Mr Abrahams will take our examination of the challenges 
to democracy down to the grassroots level, focusing primarily on the rights of national minorities in 
Albania, especially the large Greek community there, religious liberty and free media 

We look forward to hearing the views of this panel The Commission has taken an interest 
in Albania even before that country decided to open its borders and permit political pluralism We 
consider Albania a friend, and today we hope not only to learn more about what is happening in that 
country' at this hearing, but also to encourage and perhaps even urge Albania to move forward in its 
democratization and respect for human rights. 



26 



Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe 

Hearing on the Challenges to Democracy in Albania 

March 14, 1996 



Statement of 
Representative Steny H. Hoyer 



For four and one-half decades, Albania was almost completely cut off from the world, about 
as cruel a communist state as one could imagine, and, in its propaganda, incredibly anti-American 
A little more than five years ago, that all changed, quickly and completely Although I have never 
been to Albania, 1 have followed developments there with great interest as a member, and former 
chairman, of this Commission Having similarly followed the horrible events which have taken place 
just next door, with Yugoslavia's violent disintegration, and other places where transition went 
astray, Albania's democratic development has, in many ways, been a welcome contrast 

This does not mean it has been easy for Albania, or that it has fijlly developed as a democracy 
The testimony of the panel of witnesses we have before us, in fact, points to the contrary Regional 
instability and tensions, as well as a legacy of Stalinist rule, pull almost like gravity on the country's 
movement toward democracy And many problems persist, especially in the respect shown for the 
rule of law, the rights of members of the Greek community as equal citizens of the country, and the 
expression of independent points of view 

We must understand the challenges to democracy in Albania, but we must not excuse these 
problems nor accept their continuation Instead, we must encourage and assist Albania in moving 
forward As a friend of Albania, 1 want to see things change for the better Today's hearing gives 
the members of the Helsinki Commission, and other Members of Congress, the opportunity to learn 
where change is needed and to call for those changes to take place 1 trust that the Albanian 
government will understand our good intentions, listen to our concerns and respond accordingly. 



27 



Albania's Democratization: Successes, Problems 
and Prospects 

By 

Dr Elez Biberaj 

Chief, Albanian Service 

Voice of America 

Testimony to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe 
14 March 1996 

Mr. Chairman, Mr Co-Chairman, Members of the Commission: 

I am honored to appear before this distinguished Commission to share my thoughts on the 
transition process and the consolidation of democracy in Albania. The Helsinki Commission has 
played a significant role in inducing Albania's last communist leader Ramiz Alia to permit the 
establishment of opposition parties in 1990 and in facilitating a peaceful regime change. In particular, 
I would like to pay tribute to the former Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, Senator Dennis 
DeConcini In 1990, at a time when few people here in Washington or in other Western capitals 
devoted any attention to Albania, the Helsinki Commission embarked on a policy of constructive 
engagement with Albania's communist leadership, welcoming Tirane's efforts to end its self-imposed 
isolation yet bluntly laying out the conditions that Albania had to meet if it wanted to join the 
community of nations While domestic developments were the primary factor that led to the 
disintegration of the communists' support base, pressures exerted by the Commission on the Albanian 
government during 1990-1991 reinforced domestic democratic tendencies, making the communists' 
position untenable. The situation in Albania has changed dramatically since the early 1990s. 
Nevertheless, the Commission's continued observance of developments in Albania will have a 
profound impact on that country's further democratization. 

On 22 March 1992, Albania held its first fi^ee and fair parliamentary election in more than 
seventy years The election, a referendum on ending communist rule, resulted in an overwhelming 
majority for the Democratic Party-led coalition The transfer of power from Ramiz Alia to Sali 
Berisha, Albania's first post-communist president, was remarkably peaceful and smooth. Indeed, this 
was the first time in Albania's history that the change from one type of a regime to another was 
accomplished without violence With this momentous event, Albania embarked on the difficult road 
of transition fi^om a totalitarian, one party hegemonic system to a pluralistic democracy. Since 1992, 
events in this tiny Balkan country have developed at a breathtaking pace. The transition process has 
been remarkable for both the pace and scope of change. Despite their late entry into the 
transformation process, the Albanians have not lagged far behind their East European neighbors and 
have proven incorrect most pessimistic predictions about their country. Berisha's govenunent has 
made significant progress in ensuring respect for human rights, building democratic institutions, 
establishing the rule of law, and laying the foundations of a free market economy. To be sure, 
Albania faces formidable challenges and approaches the beginning of the 21st century with great 



28 



uncertainty. 

I approach the subject of today's hearings with several basic assumptions First, the 

consolidation of democracy in Albania will be exceptionally difBcult and will probably take several 
elections. Albania's political tradition has not been conducive to a democratic order. While the 
majority of its neighbors established at one time or another a parliamentary system, Albania never 
developed a genuine democracy; its experiment with a multi-party system in the early 1920s was 
short-lived. Second, Albania had the misfortune of being ruled by one of the most repressive 
communist regimes in the world and for a period longer than any other Eastern European state 
Enver Hoxha's regime engaged in gross violations of human and political rights, causing great trauma 
and incalculable psychological damage to the population. De-Stalinization in the 1950s and 
subsequent reformist trends in the 1970s and the 1980s, which changed the face of communism in the 
Soviet bloc, by-passed Tirane. Albania's Stalinist political system and its entrenched state-run 
command economy remained essentially unchanged Stalin's statue in Tirane was removed in 
December 1990. Third, of all former East European communist countries, Albania appeared least 
prepared for the transition because of the inauspicious initial conditions. At the time the Democratic 
Party assumed power, there was a serious breakdown in law and order, the government had lost the 
capacity to carry out its basic functions, and the economy was on the brink of collapse Albania had 
experienced by far the sharpest drop in production of any former communist country. Between 1989 
and 1992, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had fallen by more than 50 percent. Industrial and 
agricultural production had declined by as much as 60 percent and 30 percent respectively. Inflation 
had toped 237 percent annually, while unemployment had reached alarming proportions as virtually 
all factories, enterprises and cooperatives had shut down Albania had become totally dependent on 
humanitarian assistance to keep its three million people alive at a subsistence level. Fourth, Albania 
is in the eye of the Balkan storm and remains vulnerable to dangerous currents of instability 
originating outside its borders. Albanian leaders have found themselves guiding the transition to 
democracy with the ever present threat of their country becoming entangled in the Yugoslav wars of 
succession, as Serbia continues to pursue a highly repressive policy toward the two million ethnic 
Albanians in Kosova. The regional environment could scarcely be more threatening or less propitious 
for Albania's efforts to continue with fundamental political and economic reforms. 

Post-communist Albania has undergone rapid and significant political, economic and social 
transformations It has a vibrant opposition and an outspoken press. The legal fi-amework for a 
market economy has been put into place Within four years, Albania has moved fi^om the ruins of a 
totally state-owned economy to a market economy, with the private sector accounting for more than 
65 percent of the GDP and about 70 percent of the national wealth in private hands. Agriculture, 
transportation and retail trade, and housing have been almost totally privatized The restructuring 
and privatization of large state-owned enterprises has also begun and the government is actively 
seeking foreign partners for the privatization of sectors of strategic importance, including mines, 
electric power, and telecommunications. Albania has achieved one of the highest growth rates in 
Eastern Europe, exceeding targets set by the International Monetary Fund. In 1993 and 1994, 
Albania registered GDP growth rates of 1 1 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. Last year, the 
economy grew by 6 percent Agriculture, the driving force behind the country's economic recovery. 



29 



inCTeased by 6 8 percent in 1994 and 6 5 percent in 1995 The lek remained stable, inflation dropped 
to 6 percent, and the trade deficit decreased to 6 5 percent of the GDP At the end of 1995, 
unemployment fell to 195,000, or 13 percent of the able-bodied population Unofficially, 
unemployment is estimated to be much higher Thousands of Albanians have taken to personal 
freedom and entrepreneurial opportunity with a fervor defying all forecasts A new middle class is 
emerging which has benefited from and supports market-oriented reforms Even former 
nomenklatura, which have amassed enormous wealth, and command the heights of the economy, 
have a vested interest in promoting stability and the further strengthening of the market economy. 

Albania has witnessed profound legislative transformations. The communist-era constitution 
has been thoroughly revised, and a new institutional architecture is largely in place. The relationship 
between the state and the citizen has undergone fundamental change and civil liberties by and large 
are now respeaed While lack of consensus between the country's main political forces prevented 
the adoption of a new constitution and voters rejected a draft submitted by the Democratic Party in 
November 1994, the 1991 provisional constitution has been amended and supplemented on several 
occasions. With the addition of a chapter on the Organization of the Judiciary and the Constitutional 
Court in 1992, and a Charter on Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms in 1993, Albania has 
indeed created a new constitutional system, with reliable checks and balances, safeguards for 
fundamental rights and freedoms, and genuine judicial review. 

The parliament has come to play a significant role and is the most important fora for 
deliberations about the country's politics There has been a remarkable degree of agreement between 
the presidency, the government, and the legislature on policy outputs and responses to sustain the 
reform impulse Political struggles between the executive and the legislature have been less 
pronounced and acrimonious than in most other East European countries. But this is due more to 
the Democratic Party's ability to preserve its comfortable majority in the parliament than to the 
practice of accommodation and compromise between the ruling party and the opposition. The 
fragmentation of the democratic parliamentary group has surprisingly not been as profound as many 
had prediaed Since 1992, the Democratic Party has experienced only two major splits, resulting in 
the defeaion of eight out of the original ninety-two deputies. 

Sali Berisha's strong leadership qualities and the pivotal role that he played in the downfall 
of communism have helped make him the unquestionable lynchpin of Albanian politics. An activist 
president, Berisha has proven to be an effective president, shaping the nation's agenda during a period 
of momentous political, economic, and social changes He has been the moving force behind the 
government's efforts at reform. He has displayed extraordinary persistence in the face of daunting 
challenges and a willingness to make unpopular and politically risky decisions to further the country's 
political and economic revival 

Albania is a staunch United States ally and has come to play an important role in the American 
strategy of preventing the expansion of the Yugoslav conflict It has forged close bilateral military 
ties with the United States and has placed at NATO's disposal its air and port facilities. Albania has 
emerged as a responsible regional player and American, West European, and NATO leaders have 



24-133 - 96 - 2 



30 



expressed respect for its constructive role. While relations with rump Yugoslavia remain frozen 
because of disagreeme n ts over Kosova, Tirana's relations with its other two contiguous neighbors — 
Macedonia and Greece — have expanded significantly. Berisha has attempted to balance Albania's 
concerns about Macedonia's treatment of the ^hnic Albanians with Tirantt's desire to maintain 
satis&ctory rdations with Skopje, espedally in the economic sphere. Concomitantly, he has exerted 
a restraining influence on ethnic Albanian leaders in Macedonia while trying to allay Macedonian fears 
about Albanian territorial claims. Albanian-Greek relations have gone through a difficult peiiod over 
the past few years. Disputes between Tiran<i and Athens have revolved around three m^n issues: 
ethnic Greek minority rights, illegal Albanian refugees in Greece, and the Albanian Orthodox Church. 
In addition, Albania's decision to recognize Macedonia and its deepening political and military 
relationship with Turkey, on the one hand, and Greece's dose alliance with Serbia, on the other, have 
served as a constraint on the expansion of bilateral ties. Despite continued suspicions, the two 
countiiee seem on the vray of reoonoiling thoir difTcronccs. The president of Greece is scheduled to 
visit TiranS later this month. Indeed, the steady normalization of Albanian-Greek ties since early 199S 
is probably one of the most positive developments in southern Balkans. 

Berisha has treaded carefully so as not to encourage irredentism among Albanians in former 
Yugoslavia. But Kosova and Macedonia present Albania's policy makers with a imique national and 
foreign policy predicament. The situation in Kosova can be described as neither war nor peace. 
Since the early 1980s, Kosova's Albanians have been living under virtual Serbian military occupation. 
Silent ethnic cleansing has been underway for several years. The region can erupt at any moment. 
Even in the wake of the Bosnia peace agreement, the political climate in Belgrade has not tipped in 
favor of an accommodation with the Albanians. Serbia has given no indication that it is willing to 
open talks with the ethnic Albanians, let alone consider their demands of separation from Yugoslavia. 
Similarly, Albanian leaders have shown no inclination to back away from their demands for 
independence. Meanwhile, ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova is facing growing internal 
opposition as his approach of peaceful resistance has given few results. All along he has told his 
supporters that good behavior and peaceful resistance will eventually be recognized and rewarded 
by the international community. Rugova's claims of international support have run up against the 
creeping realization that the international community is treating Kosova simply as a minority issue 
and might ignore Serbian repression of ethnic Albanians in order to secure Belgrade's compliance 
with the agreement on Bosnia. The exclusion of Kosova from the peace talks is seen as an enormous 
affront to Albanians on both sides of the border. 

Meanwhile in Macedonia, tensions have been rising between Slav Macedonians and ethnic 
Albanians, who according to official figures account for about 23 percent of the country's 
population. Ethnic Albanians object that constitutionally they are considered a national minority and 
have demanded equal nation status with the Macedonians. Other demands include the recognition 
of Albanian as an official language, Albanian-language education at all levels, including the university, 
free use of Albanian national symbols, proportional representation in government, economic, and 
cultural administration, and unimpeded development of the Albanian-language media. The 
Macedonian government has rqected most of these demands. The two ethnic groups are faced with 
seemingly irreconcilable divergences. Albanians, with their legacy of domination and discrimination, 



31 



are unlikely to see themselves as equal citizens of Macedonia. Slav Macedonians, for their part, are 
reluctant to accept the idea of autonomy or to raise the constitutional status of Albanians Unless 
Skopje develops a formula to reconcile Albanian demands for greater rights with a unified state, 
Albanian ethnic assertiveness will likely increase, potentially threatening Macedonia's very survival. 
Although the position of ethnic Albanians has improved significantly and they participate in the 
country's political life, unfortunately Macedonia is gradually, but indisputably, moving toward 
segregation, and not integration 

The unification of Germany and the Yugoslav wars of secession have delegitimized the 
question of existing borders. The salience of the Albanian national question is hkely to increase. 
Given current demographic trends and in the absence of a devastating war or some natural calamity, 
within a decade the Albanians will become the third largest nation in the Balkans, right after the Serbs 
and the Greeks How can their interests and national aspirations reconcile with those of their more 
powerful neighbors? Overwhelmed by the challenges and dilemmas of transition, the Tirane 
government has placed the issue of national unification on the back burner. But Albanians in and 
outside their mother country remain vulnerable to nationalistic rhetoric. There is an urgent need for 
the United States and its West European allies to focus on and attempt to manage the Albanian 
question Concomitantly with supporting Rugova's non-violent political approach, the United States 
should exert pressure on Serbia to accept a gradual and peacefiil "divorce" with Kosova. The 
outbreak of conflict in Kosova will likely have a spill over effect, possibly leading to a wider Balkan 
war, with disastrous efiFects for the entire region and perhaps beyond. Stability and peace in the region 
will to a Ijirge degree depend on how the emerging Albanian question is resolved. 

While Albania had made impressive progress since 1 992, it still faces immense difficulties. 
The optimism and hope that greeted the 1 992 democratic victory have mostly faded away. Those 
expectations were bound to prove too high in a country emerging fi-om four decades of terror and 
social and economic devastation at the hands of the most brutal communist dictatorship. The 
implementation of radical economic reforms has led to greats social dislocations. Albania has yet to 
achieve fiill economic recovery. Major problems include structural imbalances, unacceptably high 
unemployment, delays in overhauling the financial system, and inadequate transportation and 
communication infirastructure Real GDP growth in 1995 remained about 25 percent below the 1989 
level The economy also remains highly dependent on external factors These include continued 
foreign assistance, foreign investment, and the unresolved issue of Albanian refugees in Greece. 
Foreign aid is likely to decrease, while foreign investments remain problematic. Remittances fi^om 
refugees, which have played an important factor and in 1995 reportedly amounted to 25 percent of 
the GDP, are likely to gradually decrease The situation of more than 200,000 Albanian workers in 
Greece is dependent on the overall political relations between Tirane and Athens. Any deterioration 
in bilateral ties, as in 1994 when Athens deported more than 70,000 Albanians to protest the trial of 
six ethnic Greeks on espionage charges, will be reflected in the economic field. Large-scale 
expulsions of workers in Greece would have an immediate, devastating impact on the Albanian 
economy 

There is widespread recognition that the Albanian government has made tremendous strides 



32 



in respecting the human rights of its citizens However, there are still significant abuses of human 
rights, including instances of police abuse, procedural irregularities resulting in denial of fair trial, and 
mistreatment of defendants A key element in Albania's efiforts to consolidate a democratic system 
has been the establishment of an independent judiciary The Judicial system had to be build practically 
fi"om the ground up. But overcoming the weight of half-a-century of communist rule that displayed 
no regard for due process and considered the judiciary merely as the voice of the ruling party has 
proven to be a daunting task As a result, the judiciary still remains weak and not wholly 
independent. 

The press has gained authority and power to influence change and has managed to exercise 
practically unlimited freedom in both reporting and editorial comment But the media's new authority 
and power have not been accompanied by the necessary responsibility and accountability. The 
communist legacy is evident in the low level of professionalism and party influence. The country's 
leading journalists were trained under communism, are highly ideological, and display poor 
professional judgment. They see their role more as advocates of a particular point of view than as 
simple reporters Although there are more than 240 registered newspapers in Albania, most are 
organs of political parties and groups and usually engage in political diatribes. Almost without 
exception, the ostensibly independent papers are closely affiliated with, or financed by, different 
political parties and groups The relationship between the government and the media has been 
adversarial. There have also been occasional restrictions of the freedom of speech and press. The 
press law, approved by parliament in October 1993, was seen by both domestic and foreign observers 
as being too restrictive. Officials failed to realize that the law is not likely to determine media 
behavior and that professionalism is not something that can be ensured through government 
restrictions On many occasions, the authorities have shown striking ineptitude in their treatment of 
opposition journalists. The arrest and sentencing of journalists had a damaging impact on Albania's 
image abroad. Meanwhile, broadcasting remains a government monopoly. Critics say it has simply 
switched political masters, however, it does offer a great variety of information to its viewers and 
listeners The parliament has yet to approve a law permitting the establishment of private radio and 
television 

While the institutional features of a democratic government are largely in place, civil society 
as a political force, has yet to emerge With the exception of trade unions, few non-governmental 
associations are strong enough to exert effective pressures on state institutions. Lack of sustained 
political participation on the part of a growing number of Albanians could hamper the development 
of democracy. The absence of a well developed civil society sharply limits citizens' ability to influence 
events. 

The current constitutional order has contributed to some confijsion over personal and 
institutional roles and responsibilities The quality of Albania's institutional arrangements is quite 
impressive for a country in the initial phase of transition from communism to democracy, and 
compare favorably with the constitutions adopted by other former communist countries. But the delay 
in adopting a new Constitution has muddied the division of labor and responsibilities between 
different branches of government and, as a result, the decision-making process has at times been 



33 



confounded by institudona] confusion Moreover, current constitutional laws lack the legitimacy that 
a new single charter, even without significant modifications fi^om current documents, would have if 
it were ceremoniously adopted by the parliament, a constituent assembly, or through a popular 
referendum Therefore, the speedy promulgation of a new Constitution has become indispensable 
Albania's long-term interests dictate that the country's major political forces put aside their narrow 
political considerations, and engage in serious bargaining and compromise aimed at providing the 
emerging order with a solid constitutional underpinning 

The concentration of power in the presidency had a positive and a negative impact Berisha 
continues to be viewed as an indispensable guarantor of Albania's transition to democracy and a 
market economy His domination of the executive branch, however, has complicated the decision- 
making process, at times undermining good and effective administration and causing unnecessary 
delays in making decisions on major issues 

The extent to which the new governing elite, with no tradition of democratic problem solving 
and limited experience in rights and responsibilities, has been able to provide transparent and 
accountable governance remains debatable A salient feature of decision-makers has been lack of 
responsiveness to citizens' needs, requirements, and wishes The government often failed to draw 
the parliament, the opposition, and the Albanian people into a full and fi-ank discussion and debate 
of the pros and cons of major decisions before announcing them. Despite the significant changes and 
improvements since 1992, accountability remains largely an alien concept. Albania has a long way 
to go in creating a civil service based on merit and immune from all partisan influence or activity. 
There are no recognized standards of ethical conduct for government employees, and corruption, 
nepotism, and the use of official position for private gain are said to be widespread. From civil 
servants who demand small bribes to big businessmen who pay off cabinet ministers for major favors, 
comiption has become a growth industry. Too many post-communist high-level officials, who saw 
public ofiBce as an opportunity to enrich themselves, have amassed great wealth fi-om illegal sources. 
Lack of public accountability for both political and economic transactions threatens to discredit the 
Albanian political and business establishment The decree, issued in December 1995, requiring 
political oflBce bearers and senior public servants to disclose their assets has done little to increase the 
public's trust in government Clearly, new structures to implement state oversight, increased wages 
for civil servants, and more open and accountable business procedures could inhibit corruption in 
private contracts Nevertheless, unless immediate and swift measures are taken to establish effective 
legal and political constraints, Albania could face a situation in which graft and patronage are 
considered normal business practices 

The issues of accountability and transitional justice remain a perennial question as Albania 
struggles to overcome the legacy of decades of communist repression. Many former political 
prisoners maintain that Albania caiinot heal the wounds of the past and build a stable future without 
first addressing the horrors of Hoxha's regime and its lingering legacies. Initially, Berisha insisted 
that peace and stability had higher priority over justice. His election strategy in 1992 was driven by 
the belief that putting the past behind would facilitate the healing process. The Democratic Party 
focused more on restitution to communist-era victims than on retribution for its evils, warning that 



34 



8 

Albania's delicate political balance could not afford a retribution process. Right wing forces, 
however, insisted that to achieve reconciliation and peace, Albania must seek some redress for the 
crimes of the communist rule After months of blustery rhetoric fi^om both sides, the parliament in 
September 1995 passed a broad lustration law barring from public office for six years former senior 
communist officials. Democratic Party officials claim the law represents a basis for a lasting 
reconciliation and argue it will promote a more legitimate political leadership. The leftist opposition 
has denounced the measure as designed to prevent leading Democratic Party opponents from running 
in this spring's elections The law also allows legal proceedings against crimes committed by the 
former regime More than thirty former senior officials have been arrested and are awaiting trial on 
charges of genocide and other crimes 

Albania has yet to see the emergence of viable political parties that articulate competing 
interests and preferences of individuals Probably several rounds of elections will be necessary before 
a stable system of relatively disciplined and responsible parties can emerge While political 
participation is concentrated almost exclusively within the realm of the parties, citizens' identification 
with parties remains relatively weak as these groups seek to develop their positions on the issues amid 
shifting political allegiances. Most Albanian parties have not developed deep-rooted group loyalties 
and rest on an uncertain base of popular support Many overlap ideologically and in their social 
appeal, making it difficult to describe their ideological stand in terms of the Western traditional left- 
right continuum Moreover, Albania has witnessed a tendency toward increasing fragmentation of the 
largest parties. 

Parliamentary elections will be held at the end of May or the beginning of June. The election 
law has been revised The number of seats elected from single-member districts has been raised from 
100 to 115, the rest — 25 — will be awarded proportionately based on party lists, with a 4 percent 
threshold More than a dozen parties are expected to appear on the ballot. Although according to 
two recent polls ~ the US National Republican Institute and European Commission's 
Eurobarometer - the Democratic Party is likely to win the largest bloc of seats, the situation is fluid 
and unpredictable and it is impossible to gauge the relative strength of the parties that will be 
competing Economy is likely to be the dominant issue Relations with the United States are also 
likely to have a great saliency While it is important to maintain neutrality and not take sides, the 
United States should not remain indifferent Washington should not hesitate to assert its preference 
for a result that will advance democracy, a free market economy, and regional cooperation. 

Despite the significant institutional and political changes and splits within the ruling party, the 
Albanian political scene continues to be dominated by two main actors — the Democratic Party and 
the Socialist Party The Social Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance have gained increased 
importance, but do not provide real alternatives to the Democrats and the Socialists. Outside 
parliament there are numerous parties, most of them with small membership If they are to survive, 
they must differentiate themselves and broaden their appeal to a skeptical electorate. 

The Democratic Party remains the only party with a clear political and economic program, 
which strives to appeal to multiple interests It has retained a wide base of support that cuts across 



35 



all segments of the society The perils and pitfalls of governing the country during a crisis period, 
however, have taken a significant toll and the Democratic Party faces an uphill battle With the post- 
1992 demobilization, attachment to the Democratic Party has become weaker and strong partisans 
of the 1991-1992 period are largely gone The voting behavior of significant blocks that made up the 
Democratic Party's coalition in 1992 is unpredictable Since assuming power, the Democrats have 
moved away as an ally of such groups as former prisoners, followers of right wing parties, trade 
unions, and others The Democratic Party has also come to be seen as a party tolerant of high-level 
corruption. Thus it faces a formidable task in developing a broad campaign strategy that will produce 
a winning coalition Assuming it wins the election, the Democratic Party will have to do lots of 
adjusting. It will no longer have its accustomed parliamentary majority and will need to learn to 
consult with the opposition and reach political consensus on critical issues, such as drafting and 
approving a new constitution 

The Socialist Party is the most cohesive and powerfijl opposition force in the country. It 
rejects Berisha's policy of shock therapy and massive privatization, advocating instead gradual 
economic reforms and continued state role in regulating the economy. The Socialists are also wary 
of Albania's growing military relationship with the United States and NATO. The party leadership 
is heavily dominated by conservative communists and its claims of renovation are disingenuous. Since 
its humiliating defeat in 1992, the Socialist Party has displayed little comiriitment to democratic values 
and practices and has attempted to block the process of transition every step of the way. In recent 
months, in a bid to prove that they are a moderate force, the Socialists have toned down their anti- 
Western, and particularly anti-American rhetoric But there should be no doubt that an election 
victory by the former communists will pose a significant threat to Albania's democratic ftjture. The 
Socialists are very resentfiil of changes since 1992 and if they return to power, the temptation to seek 
revenge against the Democratic Party will be great Cohabitation between a democratic president and 
a socialist-controlled parliament would be very difficult While there is no chance of going back to 
Hoxha's dictatorship and centralized economy, the Socialists' mere attempt to roll back or retard 
such moves as mass privatization, and repeal a large degree of legislation enacted since 1992, would 
be fi^aught with great instability 

The Social Democratic Party, currently the third-largest bloc in parliament, has its roots in 
the reformist wing of the APL Some of its leaders have a distinctly communist background; they 
were quick-change artists who had failhfiilly served Alia's regime. Party Chairman Skender Gjinushi, 
a former member of the Central Committee of the APL, served as minister of education in the last 
communist government. He represented the communist government in negotiations with 
demonstrating students in December 1990 and hunger strikers in February 1991 . Other party leaders, 
including historian Paskal Milo, had close links with the communist government. With an electoral 
support of some five percent in 1992, the Social Democratic Party came in third, winning seven seats, 
a more impressive performance than expected Dissatisfaction with the communist regime had 
improved the Social Democratic Party's odds, as many voters with a leftist orientation opted for this 
party rather than the Socialist Party But as the memory of the communist regime fades, the Social- 
Democrats are likely to face their stifiFest competition fi-om the Socialists rather than fi^om the 
Democrats. With many analysts arguing that the ideological distinction between the Social 



36 



10 

Democratic Party and the Socialist Party is fading, the Social-Democrats will have to compete with 
Socialists for the same working-class strata and trade union members. Furthermore, the party split 
in December 1994 and the establishment of the Social Democratic Union could damage the Social 
Democratic Party's prospects in 1996. 

The Democratic Alliance, formed in late 1 992 by what its critics call the "communist" wing 
of the Democratic Party, stands out as the fourth most important force in parliament, with six 
deputies The party leadership is composed of former senior Democratic Party officials, with nation- 
wide name recognition. Self-described as a center-left party, the Democratic Alliance claims to 
represent the urban, middle-class, and intellectual strata and lacks a mass base of support. The 
Democratic Alliance has been plagued by internal fissures over relations with the Socialists. While 
the majority in the leadership continues to work for a coalition with the Socialists against the ruling 
party, some see any cooperation with former communists as a compromise of principles. Others in 
the leadership have taken up the middle ground between the two positions, choosing to emphasize 
the permissible forms of contact and cooperation with the Socialist Party but generally embracing 
the idea of a coalition with the Social Democratic Party. 

The Republican Party, the second opposition party to be formed after the APL was forced 
to sanction political pluralism, initially operated largely in the shadow of the Democratic Party. 
Fractious and unpredictable, in the 1992 election it failed not only to meet the four percent threshold 
but also to get its chairman Sabri Godo elected to the parliament. It won only one seat. The party's 
poor performance was attributed to the lack of a clear program, acrimonious intra party struggles, 
and leadership problems. Considered by many analysts as a party on the verge of extinction, the 
Republican Party has been in search of an identity In an attempt to create a social base, it has moved 
steadily to the right and has adopted an increasingly demagogic posture on many issues, including the 
thorny question of restitution for former owners Godo apparently believed that the only way to 
revive his party's fortunes was to move to the right with a tougher stance on property issues. By 
1994, its profile had changed to essentially that of a single-issue party. It embarked on a campaign 
designed to return the property confiscated by the communists to their rightfiil original owners. 
Nevertheless, its election prospects remain uncertain at best. 

The Right League. Composed of a group of loosely defined parties vying to outbid each 
other in their anti-communist positions, the right remains superficially divided. Right-wing parties 
claim that the Democratic Party's reluctance to return property to their original owners and expose 
the criminal nature of communism is preparing the ground for the return to power of the Socialist 
Party They maintain that Berisha has not done enough to prosecute former APL oflBcials and to 
expose the criminal nature of communism The parties on the right have a strong nationalistic 
component, advocating the unification of Kosova and other Albanian-inhabited territories in former 
Yugoslavia with Albania. They have accused neighboring countries of attempting to undermine 
Albania's economic and social structure by orchestrating economic chaos, political unrest, and social 
upheaval. They consistently expound the themes of the need for a nationalist-democratic fiision to 
counter Serbian-Greek pressures and/or designs. 



37 



II 

The Right League's opposition to the Democratic Party reflects a hard political reality which 
belies expectations of an easy rapprochement Tactical alliances between the two remain unlikely 
unless the two sides can bridge their programmatic diiferences But bridging this ideological gap 
would require fundamental changes in the current policies of one or both sides. Any rapprochement 
will almost certainly be evolutionary But with the rise in the Socialist Party popularity, the Right 
may reluctantly come to the conclusion that the Democratic Party is the lesser of two evils. Despite 
the deep animosity between the Right and the Democratic Party, they still might join forces against 
the Socialist Party. 

Other Parties. Among other parties, the most important is the Party for the Protection 

of Human Rights, which represents the ethnic Greek community While its stronghold is in the south, 
in the ethnic Greek-inhabited areas, it has expanded its activities, opening branches in many areas of 
the country where there are no ethnic Greeks The party has effectively used its strong ties with 
Greece to expand its influence and is expected to do well in the next election. 

Although the date for parliamentary elections has not yet been set, Albanian political parties 
have already begun the campaign for the hearts and minds of the voters. The spirit of tolerance and 
reconciliation have been overtaken by militaristic rhetoric and political manipulation. As elections 
approach, political tensions are likely to rise and incidents of sporadic violence or terrorist acts 
cannot be ruled out. But there is reason to believe that the elections will be suflBciently free and fair 
for the will of the people to be reflected in the results With the successful conclusion of free and 
fair elections, Albania will have passed an important test of maturity, strengthening its democratic 
orientation and paving the way for further stability and prosperity. 



The E>emocradc Party took the helm at the most turbulent period in Albania's modem history. 
There is no question that there have been problems and mistakes, but the successes of President Sali 
Berisha and his government far outweigh their failures In four years, Albania has attained relative 
economic and political stability. Pluralistic democracy and market economy are beginning to take 
root The symbols of a new Albania are everywhere But the tasks that confront Albania in flilly 
consolidating its democracy are formidably ambitious The road ahead is fraught with the risk of 
reversion and the most difficult task in building a genuine democracy will be to inculcate civic values 
that will make democratic ideals part of the Albanian moral fiber. Further gains, of course, will 
depend primarily on the choices the governing elites make and the strategies they pursue. But 
continued moral, political, and material support from outside, particularly the United States, will also 
remain crucial 

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. 



38 



Kathleen Imholz 
March 14, 1996 

TESTIMONY BEFORE 
THE COMMISSION ON SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE 

Challenges to Democratization in Albania 



Chairman Smith, members of Congress, staff, ladies and 

gentlemen: thank you for the invitation to say a few words 

today about the state of democratization and the rule of law 
in Albania. 

If I am critical, and I have to be critical, my 
criticisms should be taken in a constructive spirit. 
Albania has had a hard history, not just the forty-five 
years of Stalinist Communism after World War II but four 
hundred fifty years of Ottoman Turkish occupation and other 
invaders too numerous to mention. That this little country 
has survived and, since 1912, defended an independence few 
thought it would ever achieve is close to a miracle. 

Even if they didn't have diplomatic relations between 
World War II and 1991, the United States and Albania have a 
special relationship going back many years. Among other 
things, at the Paris Peace Conference after World War I, 
Albania, which as I noted became independent only in 1912, 
was about to be dismembered and cease to exist as a country, 
when Woodrow Wilson stepped m and, supporting his principle 
of self-determination, demanded that Albania's integrity be 
maintained. He is a hero to this day in the country, and 
many people there bear the name "Vilson." 

It is often said that when you save someone's life, you 
are responsible for them thereafter. I believe the United 
States has and should continue to have a special role where 
Albania is concerned. This is not just because we saved 
Albania as a country in 1920, but because of the importance 
to us of peace and stability in the Balkans today, which 
true democracy and legality promote. 

Let me note that I have no Albanian ancestry. I am a 
New York City corporate lawyer, with Irish and German roots. 
My interest in languages and history led me to the Balkans 
many years ago, and although it was impossible for an 
American lawyer to go to Albania at that time, I developed a 
strong desire to do so. I was able to realize that desire 
only in 1991, a few weeks after the first pluralist 
elections. The friends I made and the intrinsic interest of 



39 



what that country has endured, and what it is going through 
now, have led me to return as many times as I have been able 
in the past five years. I have learned the language and 
closely watched legal developments there. And I have 
learned more from Albania about what law means, and how and 
why it works or doesn't work, fhan three years at Harvard 
Law School and more than twenty years of legal practice in 
New York ever taught me. 

Few outsiders expected that democracy and compliance 
with the rule of law would develop overnight, especially in 
a country with Albania's past. My criticisms do not stem 
from unrealistic expectations. When I first went there in 
April 1991, the private practice of law had just been re- 
established, after not existing for over twenty years, 
Neveretheless, I found a legal tradition that surprised and 
impressed me. Well into this century, the northern Albanian 
highlands preserved comprehensive oral codes (called the 
"Kanun") that contain traces of earliest Indo-European law. 
In the few short years between consolidation of its 
independence and the Italian occupation in 1939, Albanian 
lawyers, trained outside the country since it had no 
institutions of higher education of its own, succeeded in 
drafting and enacting civil and criminal codes that were 
quite good for the time. And even under Communism, as in 
the other countries of the region and despite the absence of 
private lawyers to defend people who were arrested, a 
comprehensive legal system existed. Of course, the 
Communist state, like all totalitarian states, twisted the 
law to its own ends when it so desired and considered its 
own interests to be above the law. But it is a mistake to 
think of the prior regime as "lawless." 

In 1991 — the process "actually began, a little, in 
1990 — Albania set about reforming its legal system, with 
the aim of creating a modern system based on free market 
principles and respect for generally recognized 
international human rights and other norms. Like the other 
countries of the region, post-Communist Albania was 
descended upon by numerous Western "advisers" and self- 
designated experts, some of whom genuinely helped in the 
immense job of creating the new system; but the large bulk 
of the work, and it really is an enormous and complicated 
process, has been done by the Albanians themselves. Five 
years into the process, most of the framework is now there. 
But as I will describe, there have been and continue to be 
large failures of implementation. There have been some 
bright spots; but on the whole, the picture is a dark one. 
In particular, the general lack of faith in the judicial 
system is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, 



40 



promptly and firmly, by whatever government leads the 
country after the upcoming elections. 

Let me also add that I have not been in Albania since 
the terrible, and unprecedented, terrorist bombing of 
February 26, and I am not addressing it in these remarks, 
except to condemn it and to express the hope that the truth 
behind it will be determined quickly. 

A little over a year ago, two events occurred that gave 
reason for optimism about democratic development in Albania. 
On November 6, 1994, a referendum on a new Constitution was 
defeated by the Albanian people, expressing their free 
choice despite strong executive pressure. Less than two 
months later, an attempt to remove the chief judge of 
Albania's highest court from office on a pretext was 
defeated when, on February 1, 1995, Parliament broke party 
lines and narrowly voted to uphold his immunity. I say that 
these events were a reason for optimism regardless of the 
merits of either of them, because they showed a developing 
pluralism and the peaceful use of democratic methods — 
voting -- to resolve hotly contested questions. The 
subsequent year, however, has seen little but backtracking. 

After the March 1992 parliamentary elections, which the 
Democratic Party won overwhelmingly, and Dr. Berisha's 
election by parliament as president in early April, Albania 
underwent many changes, including dramatic economic growth 
and an acceleration of the process of legislative revision 
that had already begun. Albania's last Communist 
Constitution, the Constitution of 1976, had been repealed in 
1991 and replaced by a constitutional law called the "major 
constitutional provisions." As first enacted, it was rather 
sketchy; but after the 1992 elections, a chapter restruc- 
turing the judiciary was added to it, which, among other 
things, stated clearly that judges of the highest court (the 
court of cassation) , as well as the Attorney General 
(General Prosecutor) and his deputies, could not be removed 
from office except on a reasoned decision of parliament that 
it had been proved that they committed a "serious crime 
specifically provided by law." It also established a 
constitutional court for the first time in Albania. 

The quoted provision of the judiciary chapter of the 
Constitution was ignored when the ruling party decided to 
get rid of its first Attorney General in September 1992. 
When he appealed his dismissal to the constitutional court, 
that court issued a decision that in effect stated that the 
Constitution did not mean what it said. Parliament's right 
to "control" the administration of justice was held to 



41 



override an express constitutional provision to the 
contrary. In the face of criticism from bar associations 
and human rights organizations all over the world, the 
Albanian government nevertheless felt compelled to justify 
the Attorney General's dismissal. Thus, he was charged with 
the crime of falsifying personnel transfer documents. The 
"falsification" consisted of three cases in which, it was 
claimed, his introductory statement was false that the 
Supreme Council of Justice, the body with jurisdiction (on 
which the Attorney General sits), had approved the 
transfers. He was convicted in early December 1992 without 
being permitted to call other members of the Supreme Council 
of Justice as witnesses. With international attention 
focussed on the case, however, instead of the nine year 
prison sentence permitted by the law of the time, he was let 
off with a fine of 1,000 lek (US$10). 

The trial was highlighted in the U.S. State 
Department's Human Rights Report on Albania for 1992. Those 
of us who follow legal developments in Albania with interest 
and concern hoped that it was an aberrancy, explainable as 
an occurrence of the transition from a totalitarian state to 
a democratic one. 

Unfortunately, the same constitutional provision was 
used, or misused, again last September, when the chief judge 
of the highest court, who had narrowly escaped removal 
earlier in 1995, was attacked again, this time successfully: 
that is, he was removed from office. I will not go into the 
details of his case, which are spelled out in an account he 
has written for the East European Constitutional Review and 
which I am submitting with my written testimony. Although 
no criminal proceeding was brought against the judge before 
he was removed from office, I think it likely that one would 
have ensued, as in the case of the former Attorney General, 
had he and his wife not left the country shortly after his 
dismissal. They are now studying abroad. 

It is particularly dramatic when the highest member of 
the judicial branch is the subject of proceedings like this, 
but it should also be noted that there have been many other 
cases in the past four years in which Albanian lower court 
judges have been removed summarily. They do not have the 
same constitutional "protection" as the Attorney General and 
cassation judges (not that it has been a protection in 
fact) . It is at the lower court level, of course, that most 
people's contact with the judiciary of any country occurs. 
This fall, the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, out of 
Washington and New York, issued a broad criticism of the 



42 



Albanian judicial system, stressing the problems at all 
levels . 

The lack of faith in the judicial system that I noted 
above has many contributing causes. The Albanian government 
has quite properly identified widespread corruption as one 
of them. They have all my support for meaningful efforts to 
combat that; it is an intractable problem. But it is also 
important that judges be perceived to be independent and not 
subject to removal for deciding a case in a way other 
branches of the government do not want. For example, within 
a day or two of the 1994 acquittal of the editor of the 
newspaper Koha Jone, which regularly criticizes the 
government, the judge who acquitted him was removed from 
office and imprisoned on a charge of corruption. I have 
absolutely no idea whether that charge was grounded; but the 
circumstances under which it was brought made it seem like a 
pretext. The charge was quietly dropped in the face of 
international protests, but the judge never got his job back 
and he now practices law privately. Another reason for lack 
of faith in the system is an apparently rather widespread 
failure to enforce judicial decisions, which would appear to 
be within the government's power to change more easily than 
some of its other problems. 

I could give many other examples of challenges to 
Albania's democratic legal development, but in the limited 
time available, I will mention only the Constitution (with a 
digression on the press law) and the so-called "genocide" 
and "verification" laws passed last September and November. 

Contrary to what is often said, Albania has a 
Constitution. It is the law on the ma^or constitutional 
provisions, with all its amendments, each passed in a 
perfectly valid manner for constitutional laws, that is, by 
two-thirds of Parliament. The human rights amending 
chapter, enacted in 1993, is one of the brightest of the 
bright spots in Albanian law that I mentioned. The law on 
the major constitutional provisions is sometimes called the 
"transitional Constitution, " because it was intended from 
the beginning that it be replaced by a complete new 
Constitution. And various groups of Albanian jurists and 
others have been working on this since 1991. I have seen 
most of their drafts and translated many of them. And in my 
opinion, several have been excellent. 

The draft that went to referendum in 1994 was not one 
of the better ones, but it would have sufficed. It was, in 
fact, not too different from the law on the major 
constitutional provisions. In my view, the worst thing 



43 



about it was that it further weakened a judiciary that is 
already too weak. It would have sanctioned removing a judge 
of the high court without proof of a crime, for example. 
The real reason why the chief of cassation was attacked for 
alleged malfeasance shortly after the referendum failed was 
that the requirement I have quoted about proof of commission 
of a serious crime remained, and still remains, in the 
Constitution. Otherwise, he could have been quickly and 
quietly removed. 

Following the "no" vote in the referendum, a technical 
drafting group was set up composed of designees of several 
opposition parties, and this group prepared still another 
draft Constitution. Previously, the drafting groups had 
tried to accommodate President Berisha's desire for a strong 
presidency within a parliamentary government, but now they 
felt free to create a government with a figurehead 
president, somewhat like the German system. This is the 
last draft that has been prepared. President Berisha 
himself has been reported as saying that Albania should take 
an already existing Constitution of a Council of Europe 
member and adopt it without changes. I hope this suggestion 
is not a serious one, for in my opinion it would be one of 
the worst ways to solve Albania's constitutional problem. 

Law is organic; a foreign law translated word for word 
and grafted onto another culture makes limited sense and can 
do much harm. The experience of constitutional drafting 
groups in Albania over five years has shown that they have 
the needed ability. The new Constitution that comes out of 
the process should fit Albania. 

Sometimes it does seem simpler just to take what other 
countries have done, and a well-known example is Albania's 
press law, enacted in the fall of 1993 despite vociferous 
protests from local journalists and worldwide organizations. 
It was said to be a translation of the press law of the 
German province of Nordrhein-Westphalia, but I have compared 
the Albanian law with the German original and there are 
quite a few differences. More importantly, the Albanian law 
exists largely in a vacuum, since Albania lacks the judicial 
infrastructure that Germany has, its experience in 
interpreting speech restrictions, its constitutional 
history, and other elements that underlie the implementation 
of the German law. 

I think that the great Albanian writer and scholar of 
the early part of this century. Father Fishta, summed it up 
quite well in his introduction to a compilation of the most 
famous oral law code of Albania, the Kanun of Lek Dukagjin: 



44 



"Nji ligje e preme, po zame, " he wrote in the rich dialect 
of northern Albania, "per ingliz, aleman e tjere popuj te 
shtruem e te gjytetnuem, sugurisht nuk ban - sado e drejte e 
e ndershme te jet - per rrebela te Ballkanit." This means, 
roughly, "Let us consider a cut-and-dried law of the 
English, Germans or other orderly, civilized peoples: 
however honorable and just it may be, it just doesn't work 
for the rebels of the Balkans." 

Ironically, because the press law attracted so much 
criticism, and perhaps also because of the absence of the 
legal infrastructure, Albania has not used it much. In the 
last few years, many opposition journalists and others 
writing in newspapers have been arrested, and most of them 
convicted, but they have usually been charged with 
violations of the criminal code, such as defamation, 
dissemination of state secrets, inciting hatred against 
parts of the population, and so forth. Perhaps other 
speakers today will say a little more about some of these 
cases . 

Finally, I will mention two laws passed recently, which 
are on the verge of being implemented as the elections 
approach. English translations of both are attached to my 
testimony. These laws have been described simplistically as 
barring former senior Communists from holding office until 
2002, but the reality is much more complicated than that. 

The first law was passed on September 22, 1995 and 
promulgated by President Berisha on September 26. It is 
called "On genocide and crimes against humanity committed in 
Albania during Communist rule for political, ideological and 
religious motives." The second, intended to implement it 
but also changing and expanding it, was passed on November 
30 and promulgated on December 4. Its title is "On the 
verification of the moral character of officials and other 
persons connected with the defense of the democratic state." 
In this testimony I call them, for short, the genocide law 
and the verification law. A constitutional court decision 
issued January 31, 1996 upheld both laws, but made some 
changes to the verification law. 

Before going on, I want to make it very clear that 
criticizing these two laws is not in any way making a 
statement or judgment about or downplaying crimes committed 
during the Communist regime in Albania. I was not there 
then; as an American lawyer, I was not permitted even to 
enter the country. Hundreds of conversations with people 
who lived through this period have given me some knowledge 
of it, but it would be presumptuous and improper of me to 



45 



draw conclusions about or make light of what the people of 
Albania went through in those years. 

But if we are really committed to the "rule of law", it 
is proper that we analyze individual laws, including these, 
which have serious defects on their face and significant 
dangers that may well flow from their implementation. 

The genocide law is so called because the first two of 
its five short articles direct the office of the prosecutor 
to investigate communist crimes against humanity "with 
priority" and provide that the present code of criminal 
procedure shall apply to the perpetrators of these crimes. 
But the third article is the heart of the law: it declares 
that persons in a number of categories may not be elected to 
central or local organs of power or named to the high 
administration of the state, the judicial system and the 
mass media until December 31, 2001. You can see the 
categories in the translation, along with the proviso at the 
end "with the exception of cases when they have acted 
against the official line and distanced themselves 
publicly. " 

You can also see near the beginning of the article that 
these persons are defined as the "perpetrators, promoters 
and implementers" of Communist crimes against humanity and 
genocide. This, I believe, is designed to meet the 
objection often made to laws of this kind that they punish 
status, and not conduct. But creating an irrebutable 
presumption that the status entails the conduct in no way 
closes the evidentiary gap. 

The verification law, whose purpose, as I said, was to 
implement the genocide law but which also amends and 
broadens it, begins with an extensive list of positions in 
government that may not be held by people in the prohibited 
categories. Journalist for a newspaper with a circulation 
of more than 3,000 was originally one such position; but as 
you can see, since the translation includes changes made by 
the constitutional court decision, that was struck down, on 
the correct ground that such a position is not a state job. 

The second article expands on and adds to the 
prohibited categories of the genocide law. I think it is 
important to note that even as expanded it does not cover 
all senior communist positions; candidate members of the 
Central Committee, for example, are not included, nor are 
various other positions equal in rank to ones that are 
listed. On the other hand, the categories of informer, 
aggravating witness in political cases and several others 



46 



include many people who were not members of the Party of 
Labor at all, much less high-ranking ones. It has been 
estimated many times that in the tight Communist police 
state that Albania was for forty-five years, as much as one- 
third or one-fourth of the entire population was registered 
in one way or another with State Security (Sigurimi) . In 
theory, all of these people are covered by these laws. 

The remainder of the verification law sets up a seven- 
member commission all of whose members are appointees of the 
ruling party. They can be removed at any time and for any 
reason by the person or organ that appointed them. They 
meet in closed sessions and, by majority vote, say "yes" or 
"no" to people who would be candidates for Parliament or any 
of the other positions listed at the beginning of the law. 
The commission must act within fifteen days, and a rejected 
applicant has one appeal, direct to the Court of Cassation, 
which also must act within fifteen days. 

It is not yet clear how this time frame will fit with 
the upcoming parliamentary elections. Opposition parties 
will need time to replace re:)ected candidates, and the 
replacements will have to go through the same procedure. 
The procedure and timing are wholly within the control of 
the party in power. Even the constitutional court, while 
approving the laws m general, felt nervous about this and 
directed parliament to supplement the law to assure that the 
time limits will be respected. 

Finally, the commission will have access to "all 
archival material, " including the archives of the Party of 
Labor and the Sigurimi. After the commission completes its 
work, disclosing this documentation is prohibited until 
2025. This is intended to end the question of what to do 
with the Communist era files, a question of enormous debate 
in Albania as throughout the region. Time will tell whether 
this law will truly end that debate. 

Despite the rhetoric of their titles and preambles, 
these laws fall within the category that has become known as 
"lustration" laws, the first example having been passed in 
what was then Czechoslovakia in 1991. The word is borrowed 
from ancient Roman religius rituals called "lustrum" and 
"lustratio, " and is intended to convey the meaning of 
purification. Calling them "purge" or "screening" laws 
would be clearer. 

To the extent that the genocide law actually deals with 
serious crimes, Albanian critics quickly noted that 
genocide, murder and similar crimes had been against the law 



47 



at all times. The former President Ramiz Alia, the widow of 
dictator Enver Hoxha and most living former Politburo 
members had been prosecuted and convicted between 1992 and 
1995, generally of lesser crimes such as misappropriation of 
funds. Ramiz Alia, indeed, had served his sentence and was 
released last July. He has recently been re-arrested, along 
with numerous others, although it is not yet clear what new 
evidence will be presented. That the genocide and 
verification laws were enacted not in 1992, when the 
Democratic Party first took power, but on the eve of the 
1996 elections and following the dramatic referendum defeat, 
has understandably led many to a cynical conclusion. 

Another problem is that the laws conflict openly with 
Albania's admirable charter of human rights, which has 
constitutional status. The constitutional court got around 
this issue in a way that reminds me of its 1992 decision 
justifying the Attorney General's removal: Parliament has 
the power to override some people's constitutionally 
guaranteed rights if they believe that this guarantees the 
implementation of all human rights. Perhaps there is some 
progress in that this time, at least, a dissenting opinion 
identified the issue clearly and spoke out boldly for 
complying with Albania's fundamental law. 

I do not want to end this discussion on a negative 
note, but right now in Albania, the challenges to the legal 
order are great. The United States should try to understand 
the situation there as best it can and give appropriate 
support, because peace and stability in the Balkans are in 
our national interest, and a country that truly respects and 
implements the rule of law creates conditions of peace and 
stability for all its citizens. 

Avash avash, the Albanians say: slowly, slowly. 

Democratic legal development is always slow. If enough 

people are persistent, however, I am convinced that it will 
come to Albania. 

Thank you. 



10 



48 



Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe 

Hearing on Albania 

March 14, 1995, Washington D.C. 

Testimony of Fred Abrahams - Human Rights Watch/Helsinki 



First of all, thank you for inviting me here to speak. As 
always, Human Rights Watch is grateful for the opportunity to 
participate in these discussions. 

My name is Fred Abrahams and I monitor the human rights 
situation in Albania for the Helsinki division of Human Rights 
Watch. I spent one year working in Albania as a journalist and at 
a Media Training Center in Tirana during 1993-94 and have visited 
the country three times since then. Based on this experience, I 
can testify that Albania has taken some important steps to 
establish a democratic state with respect for human rights. 
According to law, Albanian citizens are now free to travel, 
practice their religions, open businesses and express criticism of 
the government. All of these rights signify a dramatic break from 
the not-so-distant past. 

However, the experience of the last five years also reveals 
how difficult it is for Albania to shake its Stalinist past. 
Although Albanian law recognizes the basic civil and political 
rights outlined in the Helsinki Accords, in practice Albanian 
citizens are»still not adequately free to enjoy these rights. In 
part, we may attribute these restrictions to Albania's lack of 
experience with democracy. But in many cases, human rights 



49 



violations in Albania are the direct result of specific actions 
taken by the new government . 

Of particular concern is the state's continued interference in 
the judiciary. Despite many improvements, the court system is 
still used as an instrument of the state, especially against the 
political opposition. The leader of the largest opposition party 
is currently in prison after a trial fraught with due process 
violations. Since 1992, numerous other critics of the government 
have been harassed, tried, imprisoned or, in a few cases, 
physically attacked by unknown assailants — usually without any 
response from the government . 

Judges that make independent decisions on sensitive cases are 
sometimes reassigned to lesser posts or fired. More than 4 00 
persons were mostly selected by the ruling Democratic Party to 
participate in a special six-month law course . Upon completion of 
the course, they were enrolled as last year, part-time students in 
the law faculty. Today most are working aa judges and prosecutors 
throughout the country. 

Last September, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was 
unconstitutionally sacked by parliament, prompting a protest from 
the U.S. Department of State. According to constitutional law, a 
Supreme Court judge may only be dismissed by parliament when proven 
that he has committed a serious crime or is mentally incapable to 
perform his duties, neither of which the Albanian government was 



50 



able to prove. Despite this, parliament voted 73-0 to remove the 
Chief Justice from his post. However, Human Rights Watch obtained 
the official voting record from parliament proving that the vote 
had been falsified in order to obtain the necessary quorum of 7i. 

The government has undertaken an ambitious effort to prosecute 
former communist officials who committed crimes during the previous 
regime. However, the process has been selective and, at times, in 
violation of international law. Some former communist officials 
were denied the right to a fair trial, while others have avoided 
prosecution altogether because of their ties to the current 
government . 

Freedom of the press is also circumscribed. Despite numerous 
promises from President Sali Berisha, no legislation exists to 
allow for the transmission of private television or radio, leaving 
the state-run programs that favor the government as the main 
provider of news for the majority of the population. Attempts to 
open private local radio stations have been thrwarted by the 
police. 

While there are many private newspapers throughout the 
country, they are restricted by a repressive press law and 
obstacles to their distribution. Since 1992, a large number of 
journalists, including foreign correspondents, have been harassed, 
arrested or beaten by unknown assailants after writing articles 
that were Critical of the government. 



51 



In recent months, the largest daily in the country, Koha Jone , 
haa experienced repeated harassment and intimidation at the hands 
of authorities. In January, the paper was publicly accused of 
collaborating with the Serbian secret police, although no concrete 
proof has been made public. On February 26, police detained the 
entire staff of the paper, including the publisher, editors, 
journalists, computer operators, drivers and a cleaner, in order to 
question them about a bomb that had exploded that morning in 
Tirana. 

The rights of minorities have improved since the fall of 
communism. Nevertheless, problems do exist, particularly with the 
sizable Greek minority in the south of the country. In September 
1994, five members of the ethnic Greek organization Omonia were 
tried and convicted on charges of espionage and the illegal 
possession of weapons in a case that violated both Albanian and 
international law. The five defendants were later released but not 
before 70,000 Albanian guest workers had been expelled from Greece 
as retribution by the Greek government. The issue of Greek- 
language schooling and the return of property owned by the Orthodox 
Church are also areas of concern. 

In general, however, I believe that the problems of the Greek 
minority are related to the question of democracy in the country as 
a whole. Many of the minority's specific complaints, such as 
discrimination in state employment and harassment by the secret 
police, are the same complaints made by the political opposition. 



52 



In other words, all Albanian citizens with different views from the 
central authority -- either on an ethnic or political basis -- 
suffer repercussions. 

Religious freedom has largely been restored in what was 
Europe's only officially atheist country. New mosques and churches 
are being constructed at a rapid pace to rival the military bunkers 
that dot the landscape. As mentioned, the government could 
expedite the return of former church property. There have also 
been two failed legislative attempts by the government to control 
who may head a religious community. In general, however, Albania 
has not succumbed to the religious hatreds that have ripped apart 
the former Yugoslavia. As the noted Albanian poet Pashko Vasa has 
said: "The religion of Albanians is Albanianism." 

Parliamentary elections are due in the spring of 199S but, as 
of today, no fixed date has been set. Based on the Albanian 
government's human rights record during the last four years, I must 
express my deep concern that these elections will be neither free 
nor fair. 

First of all, a new law requires all potential candidates to 
be screened by a special commission composed solely of government 
representatives. Any person found to have held top positions in a 
communist -era government, or to have been a collaborator with the 
former secret police, will be prohibited from running in the 
elections. Individuals may appeal to the Supreme Court, but the 



53 



timing of the campaign, as outlined in a newly passed electoral 
law, makes this appeal procedure virtually unavailable. 

The same electoral law also revised the composure of the 
electoral commissions to the advantage of the government. 
Electoral zones will be devised by the President, and the 
Democratic Party will receive a disproportionate amount of media 
air time. 

The biggest problem, however, is the government's bi-polar 
perspective on politics. From President Berisha down, Albanian 
officials have repeatedly demonstrated an "ua versus them" 
mentality. If you are not for us, you are against us. If you're 
not a democrat, you're a communist. Criticism is viewed as 
treason, dissent as a crime. 

In closing, I would like to say that the United States can 
play an important role in fostering Albanian democracy. However, 
in my opinion, it is crucial to encourage the process rather than 
the party. Albania has a long history of strong leaders, from 
Enver Hoxha to King Zog, and I believe it is a mistake to encourage 
the historical trend toward centralization by supporting one 
specific political force. Rather, the United States can assist in 
the construction of democratic institutions and the evolution of 
democratic culture. One way to do' this is to maintain and, if 
possible, increase the amount of foreign aid given to the country. 



54 



Finally, I would mention that today Human Rights Watch 
released a full report on human rights in post -communist Albania, 
which documents many of the abuses I have mentioned today. I am 
making it available to the commission. Journalists and others 
present today may see me after the hearing to obtain a copy. Thank 
you very much. 



55 



Zef Brozi 
12/95 



FOR THE EAST EUROPEAN CONSTITUTIONALISM REVIEW 

Not to be published or used except with the author's prior 

consent. 



THE INDEPENDENCE OF JUDGES IN ALBANIA 

DURING THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION: 

AN IDEAL AND A BITTER REALITY 



Until the end of 1990, Albania was a one-party 
Communist state, self isolated from the world. The 
separation of the three powers was not accepted even 
nominally in the Constitution. Under the Constitution of 
1976, the Party was the principal guiding force of the state 
and society. The judicial power was not considered separate 
or independent. 

In December 1990, after student demonstrations joined 
in by the people, political pluralism was legalized and 
other parties were created, the first of them being the 
Democratic Party, founded December 12, 1990. On March 31, 
1991, the first pluralist parliamentary elections were held, 
and won by the (Communist) Party of Labor by a large 
majority. Nevertheless, during most of 1991, a coalition 
government ruled Albania. The 1976 Constitution was 
repealed at the end of April and replaced by a "law on the 
major constitutional provisions, " intended to be 
transitional . 

On March 22, 1992, early parliamentary elections were 
held and won overwhelmingly by the Democratic Party. While 
a Parliamentary Commission worked on a complete new 
Constitution, a chapter on the judiciary was added to the 



56 



ma1or constitutional provisions, setting up for the first 
time a Supreme Council of Justice (SCJ) and a Constitutional 
Court, and proclaiminq the independence of the judicial 
power . 

1. THE .TTIDICIAL SYSTEM BEFORE 1992 

The structure of the 3udicial system in Albania before 
1992 was: A Supreme Court, courts of the second level 
(zonal courts), courts of the first level (district courts), 
and courts in villaqes and cities that were "people's 
courts," without professional ludqes. 

Judqes were elected for specific terms. The ludqes of 
the Supreme Court were elected by Parliament every four 
years, without any limitation on their riqht to be re- 
elected. Other ludqes were elected by the people every 
three years by secret vote. In order to be elected a "judqe, 
a person had to be a law qraduate and was supposed to enjoy 
popular trust and respect. Judqes were not prohibited from 
takinq part in politics. In fact, most of them were party 
members, some in leadership positions. 

The whole judicial systerr was directed by the Supreme 
Court, which had wide powers. (The Ministry of Justice was 
abolished in the late 1960'.s and not re-established until 
1990). It administered the nudicial budqet approved by 
Parliament; all judqes were subordinate to it; it directed 
their professional qualification and saw to the proper 
functioninq of the viork of all courts. The judicial system 
was a well-oiled machine. The Supreme Court was the supreme 
authority. 



57 



2. THE >TtJDiriAL SYSTEM FROM 1992 UNTIL TODAY 

2 . 1 THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK 

In Law Nr. 7491, dated April 29, 1991, "On the ma-jor 
constitutional provisions," approved by the first pluralist 
Parliament, it was accepted for the first time that "[t]he 
fundamental principle of state organization is the 
separation of the legislative, executive and judicial 
powers . " 

Matters connected with the structure of the ^judicial 
system, the principles of its functioning, the criteria for 
and manner of election, and the naming and removal of judges 
found full legal regulation in constitutional law Nr. 7661 
dated April 29, 1992 "On the organization of justice" and m 
ordinary law Nr. 7574 dated June 24, 1992 "On the 
organization of justice and some changes in the Codes of 
Criminal and Civil Prnredure." 

According to article one of the constitutional law, 
"The ludicial power is separate from and independent of the 
other powers . " 

The new -judicial structure consists of the Court of 
Cassation (the highest court), the appellate courts, the 
first level courts and military courts. There is also a 
separate Constitutional Court. The number of courts, their 
territorial jurisdiction and the total number of judges is 
set by presidential decree. At present, Albania has one 
Court of Cassation, one court of civil appeals, one court of 
military appeals and thirty-six district courts. The total 
number of judges is about 300. 



58 



2.2 ELECTION AND REMOVAL OF THE JUDGES OF THE COURT OF 
CASSATION. 

The method for electing and removinq judges of the 
Court of Cassation is regulated by the constitutional law. 

Judges of the Court of Cassation are elected by 
Parliament for a seven year term with the right of re- 
election. The president proposes the chairman and vice- 
chairmen, while the deputies may propose other judges. 

The judges enioy immunity. They may not be detained, 
arrested or punished for acts connected with the fulfillment 
nf their duties. 

A Cassation ludge may be removed from office, by a 
reasoned decision of Parliament, only in two cases: first, 
when It 15 verified that hp ha=; committed one of the serious 
penal acts specified by law; second, when he is mentally 
incompetent . 

As can be seen, although the constitutional law does 
not contemplate life tenure for judges, it guarantees their 
non-removability. The law leaves no room for other motives 
for removing a judge of Cassation, except for the two cases 
contemplated in it. But experience would show that this law 
would be violated without hesitation in the attempts of the 
other powers to sub^jugate the Court of Cassation. In 
practice, the reasons for removal were extended without any 
limitation, as will be discussed below. 



59 



2,3 NAMING AND REMOVAL OF THE JUDGES OF THE DISTRICT 
AND APPELLATE COURTS 

Judges of the district and appellate courts are named 

by the Supreme Council of Justice (SCJ) . Unlike the judges 

of the Court of Cassation, who are elected for a seven year 
term, they have no fixed term. 

The conditions for being a judge and for removing a 
judge are set out in law Nr. 7574 dated June 24, 1992 "On 
the organization of justice...". Under it, persons who are 
Albanian citizens, have a law degree, enjoy full capacity 
and have good moral character may work as ;}udges. They are 
discharged from office by decision of the Supreme Council of 
Justice when they commit a penal offense, become incompetent 
from the viewpoint of health, do not pass a periodic 
professional examination, violate work discipline or commit 
a "moral infringement." 

Thus, the reasons for removing these judges are much 
broader and do not correspond with the constitutional 
principle of the non-removabi 1 i ty of judges. They give the 
green light to the executive and political power to 
discharge those judges who displease them. 

By law, the Minister of Justice has the right to take 
certain disciplinary measures against ;]udges (except judges 
of Cassation) : he may reprimand them or warn them of a 
possible discharge from work. Furthermore, he proposes 
other disciplinary measures to the Supreme Council of 
Justice: suspension from work, transfer or discharge. In 
practice, although he does not have the right by law, the 
General Prosecutor also does this. These procedures are 



60 



contrary to the Constitution of Albania and unprecedented in 
the Western world, and has been harshly criticized by 
international institutions, as well as within the country. 

Albanian judges are always in danger and threatened. 
Whenever he wants, complying with the political interests 
that he defends, the Minister of Justice can put pressure on 
or discharge "faithless" judges. 

The law provides that the judges have immunity and may 
not be searched, detained, arrested or criminally prosecuted 
without the authorization of the Supreme Council of Justice. 
But in practice, this principle has been violated, and in 
some cases judges have been arrested without legal reasons, 
without the authorization of the SCJ but merely by the order 
of a prosecutor or an employee of the police. 

3. THE SUPREME COUNCIL OF JUSTICE 

Since the ma^or questions relating to the district and 
appellate judges are connected with the Supreme Council of 
Justice (SCJ), It is necessary to speak a bit about this 
organi zation. 

The SCJ was created for the first time in 
constitutional law Nr. 7561 of April 29, 1992. In article 
15 of that law, the manner of formation, composition and 
competencies of the SCJ are set out. 

The SCJ consists of the President of the Republic, who 
chairs it, the chairman of the Court of Cassation, the 
Minister of Justice, the general prosecutor (attorney 
general), and nine ;)urists elected one time for a five-year 



61 



term at a joint meeting of the Court of Cassation and the 
Office of the General Prosecutor. 

Its competencies are naming district and appellate 
judges, taking disciplinary measures against them, 
discharging them from office, and authorizing their criminal 
prosecution. Its decisions are taken by a simple ma:)ority 
of votes. No information about its proceedings or 
discussions is given to the public or even to the judges 
discharged by its decisions. 

Many critical comments can be made with respect to this 
legal structure and the activity of the SCJ to date. First, 
the law should provide how many judges, how many lawyers and 
how many prosecutors are to be members of the SCJ, assuring 
a majority of judges from all levels. At this time, no 
lawyer is a member of the SCJ, judges are in the minority 
and the representatives of the executive are in the 
majority. Not unexpectedly, the results of the voting tend 
to be in favor of the executive power rather consistently. 

Second, the Minister of Justice and the general 
prosecutor should not be members of the SJC, or should not 
have the right to vote, because they may use their power to 
threaten judges or punish them. (It may be noted that the 
Minister of Justice chairs the Bulgarian analogue of the SJC 
and does not have the right to vote) . 

Third, the members of the SJC should be elected by the 
association of judges and the Bar Association (association 
of private lawyers) . In this way, the elected members would 
represent and protect the interests of the judicial power 
rather than the executive power. Today's method of electing 



2A-1 1^ _ Qft _ T 



62 



nine jurists is in fact a designation and not an election. 
The President has named them himself, although the law does 
not give him this right and although they have been formally 
approved by the Court of Cassation and the Office of the 
General Prosecutor. Practically, the President has selected 
those who are his trusted men, who will not raise opposition 
even when the interests of judges and the judicial power are 
seriously violated. This has made the SJC only a formal 
entity, while in fact, the President decides. 

It is significant that the office where the SJC meets 
is in the building of the presidency, right next to his 
office, and the secretary of the SJC is one of the 
president's secretaries. 

Fourth, the procedure of giving out disciplinary 
measures to judges and removing them is in contravention of 
all experience of other states, whether Western or Eastern, 
and the standards of international acts with respect to an 
independent judicial power. As noted, disciplinary measures 
against judges are proposed by the Minister of Justice or 
the General Prosecutor, who also take part in the vote on 
them. The :judge against whom the measure is taken is 
neither notified nor called to give explanations. The law 
gives him no right to appeal. 

Under this procedure, during the years 1992-1995, about 
92 judges were removed. The reasons for their removal were 
generally more political than legal. Judges who did not see 
eye to eye with positions of the party in power, the 
Democratic Party, were removed in a flash. The Council of 
Europe asked for explanations from the Albanian government 
about the removal of these judges, but that was all. 



63 



For giving disciplinary measures to judges, it would be 
better to create a disciplinary cominission consisting of 
only judges and lawyers. The conmission could be a 
constituent part of the SJC, as is the case in Italy, or 
separate, as in many other countries. In no case should the 
person proposing the punishment against a judge be a member 
of the disciplinary commission or take part in the vote. 

Fifth, the manner of functioning of the SJC should be 
regulated by law and not by rules that it itself adopts. 
Experts from the Council of Europe and America have 
supported this recommendation. In fact, from 1992 until 
March 1995, the SJC had functioned without rules. And even 
the rules eventually adopted in 1995 conflicted with the 
Constitution in a number of articles. 

Sixth, the procedure of nominating ])udges has received 
much criticism. The Minister of Justice proposes them. The 
professional qualifications and moral stature of the 
candidates are not evaluated, but rather their political 
attitudes and party sympathy. During the years 1994-1995, 
the majority of the judges named had no experience and, 
indeed, had limited legal training. They had been prepared 
with six month law courses in 1993, rather than receiving a 
normal diploma from the Faculty of Law as the law requires. 
Although the original intent behind the courses was a sort 
of affirmative action for people who had been politically 
persecuted, and the Society of Politically Persecuted People 
made some nominations, m fact, most of the approximately 
450 students who were chosen for the courses were Democratic 
Party loyalists or active sympathizers. As a consequence, 



64 



the professional level in the district and appellate courts 
has become extremely low, and many judges are politicized. 

A more honest and beneficial way to name judges would 
be by competition, depending on their professional skills. 
The judicial conference of the Albanian Judges Association 
held in Tirana July 27-29, 1995, made a declaration in 
which, among other things, it criticized the practices to 
date of the SJC in naming and removing judges and sought 
that the designations be done by competitive examination and 
not based on political criteria and that the non- 
removability of judges be guaranteed. 

4. THE WAR OF THE PRESIDENT, THE GOVERNMENT, THE 
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT AND THE OTHER MECHANISMS OF POWER TO 
SUBJUGATE THE COUP.T OF CASSATION IN 1994-1995. 

The political and executive power, and the 
parliamentary group of the Democratic Party (DP), continue 
to be directed by the same mentality and positions with 
respect to the courts and the judges as in the past, in the 
years of the dictatorship, although with a democratic 
veneer . 

The three year period 1992-1995 has shown that the 
independence of judges in Albania will be much delayed in 
its realization, although it has been accepted in the law. 
Just as in the past, the political and executive powers, as 
well as the legislative one, are trying to make the courts 
trusty tools in their hands. 

Today in Albania, a neo-dictatorship holds power, 
dressed in a democratic veil. Political opponents are 



10 



65 



fought against, threatened and imprisoned; human rights and 
freedoms are openly violated; and corruption by those in 
power is constantly increasing. Freedom of speech is 
accompanied by the imprisonment of journalists who dare to 
criticize the current regime, especially with respect to 
corruption or dictatorial practices. People fear the secret 
police (now called SHIK instead of "Sigurimi"), which has 
been put in the service of the PD and the President. All 
those whose political beliefs deviate from the ruling party 
are at risk of losing their jobs. The state crushes and 
distorts the individual. These people need protection to be 
assured on the basis of law, and only independent courts can 
provide such a protection. 

During the years 1994-1995, the Court of Cassation was 
the only state institution that showed signs of independence 
from the dictates of the president, the government, the 
political and legislative powers; that had begun to awaken 
people's hope and trust that their violated rights could 
have lawful, honest judicial protection. 

The president and other powers commanded by him fought 
fiercely, and with astonishing intrigues, against the 
attempts of the Court of Cassation for a judiciary 
independent from them. And with the silent tolerance of the 
Western World, including the Council of Europe to which 
Albania had just been admitted at the end of June, and a 
ipeople used to sub;]ugation, the president reached his goal 
on September 21, 1995. 

On that night, the Chairman of the Court of Cassation 
iwas discharged in lightning-speed, in a parliamentary 



11 



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proceeding called by the President, with only PD deputies 
present, and the absence of a quorum. 

4.1 WHY DID THE WAR OF THE PRESIDENT AND OTHER POWERS 
AGAINST THE COTIRT OF CASSATION AND ITS CHAIRMAN BECOME SO 
INTENSE IN 1994-1995 AND NOT BEFORE? 

The time period of the duel between the Court of 
Cassation and the forces mentioned above is not 
coincidental. To make the answer somewhat more clear, it is 
necessary to digress briefly and discuss certain things 
experienced in those two years. 

A Democratic Party member of Parliament had been 
appointed Chairman (Chief Judge) of the Court of Cassation 
in late September 1993 to fill a vacancy. At the beginning 
of 1994, having seen many official documents go from the 
Office of the President, Parliament, and the leadership of 
the Democratic Party in which orders were given about 
specific cases under ad;)udication, he sent a letter to those 
institutions, m which he asked them not to interfere in the 
work of the court and not to send formal or informal orders 
about such cases. Shortly thereafter, following a meeting 
of the Supreme Council of Justice at which both had been 
present, the President took the Chairman of Cassation aside 
and angrily commented about this letter that "you [the 
Chairman] are obliged to keep me informed and carry out my 
orders even about court cases." 

Furthermore, from many court cases and citizens' 
complaints, it became clear that the police, the 
prosecutors' offices and the secret police (the National 
Information Service, or "SHIK" from its Albanian initials) 



12 



67 



were not complying with the requirements of law and the 
Constitution and the code of criminal procedure in 
connection with searches of homes and persons, detentions 
and arrests. Among other things, physical and psychological 
violence was being used against the persons detained or 
arrested, in some cases even causing their death; and the 
orders of the court were not being implemented by the 
police, which sought to put themselves above the courts. To 
correct these violations, the Chairman of Cassation wrote a 
letter to the President and the Minister of the Interior in 
April 1994, asking that measures be taken to guarantee the 
respect of the constitutional laws about human rights. But 
on the contrary, instead of doing this, the persons to whom 
the letter was directed began a ]oint war against the 
Chairman of the Court of Cassation. 

This set the stage for the events of late May, 1994, 
when the Court of Cassation found two journalists of the 
independent newspaper "Koha Jone, " Aleksander Frangaj and 
Martin Leka, innocent of a charge of the dissemination of a 
state secret. The Chairman of Cassation had been the head 
of the three-^udge body that decided the case, and the day 
after the decision was announced, the President called the 
Chairman into his office and expressed his outrage at the 
decision. "Why did you find the journalists innocent? Why 
didn't you ask me?" The Chairman responded: "No, Mr, 
President. For decisions of the court I don't account to 
anyone, not even to you." 

It is noteworthy that, although expressing his strong 
feelings about their guilt, earlier in May, in response to 
international pressure, the President had given a pardon to 



13 



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Frangaj and Leka, along with some other journalists, while 
the case was on appeal to Cassation. 

On November 6, 1994, a draft constitution to replace 
the law on the major constitutional provisions was voted on 
by the Albanian people in a referendum. It was the good 
fortune of Albania, however, that the people voted against 
it. Prepared under the President's tight control, and 
approved by a commission whose majority was PD, it 
strengthened the personal power of the President, already 
strong under the ma^jor constitutional provisions, while 
giving lip service to Albania's remaining, formally, a 
parliamentary republic. The draft also made inroads on the 
principles of religious freedom by dictating governing 
conditions for ma^or religions. Importantly, while 
proclaiming that "the judiciary is independent," it not only 
failed to guarantee ^judicial independence but violated the 
independence of the judicial power and especially that of 
the High Court (Cassation). 

Under the draft referendum constitution, which 
according to the President "God himself had blessed," the 
High Court was actually put under the power of the 
President, because on his proposal, for any reason, its 
judges could be removed by Parliament. The requirement of 
proof of a serious crime, specified by law, was dropped, as 
well as the requirement that Parliament issue a reasoned 
decision that the crime had been proved. Since the cases 
for removal were not described at all, the referendum 
constitution would have given an open road to the full 
dependence of the high court on the political, executive and 
presidential power. 



14 



69 



According to his hidden plans, as soon as the 
Constitution won, the President was going to remove its 
chairman as well as several other judges of Cassation who 
had been his allies in the fight for an independent 
judiciary. 

Since the referendum constitution lost and the people 
won, the President angrily sought other ways to sub;3ugate 
the Court of Cassation. 

On November 17, 1994, the police and the deputy general 
prosecutor created an incident in the corridor of the 
General Prosecutor's office, while the Chairman of Cassation 
was in a meeting. His chauffeur and bodyguard were injured, 
and the prosecutor's bodyguard drew his gun but was 
prevented from shooting. This provocation was a threat to 
the Chairman himself, a warning that there would be a 
physical attack on him too. That same day, the Chairman of 
Cassation called a press conference, drawing attention to 
the attack and denouncing it as a political attempt, 
organized in the high offices of the state. Time proved him 
right. 

The Chairman has sometimes been criticized for using 
the press during the attacks on him and his office, but it 
is important to stress that the press was virtually the only 
means available to him at that time. The criminal justice 
system did not function. For example, in the incident 
described above, and in others to be discussed, no criminal 
proceedings were ever begun against the persons who 
initiated the violence or crimes. 



15 



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4.2 THE KALLAFATOS CASE 

On December 29, 1994, in an unexpected and lightning- 
fast manner, the General Prosecutor, under the President's 
orders, presented to Parliament a request for the removal of 
the immunity of the Chairman of the Court of Cassation with 
an accusation ungrounded either in law or in fact: the 
Chairman's signing of an order, prepared by the chair of a 
three-judge body of Cassation not including him, to release 
from ^ail a Greek citizen and foreign investor in Albania, 
Kostadinos Kallafatos. 

In late November, 1995, the three-judge body of the 
Court of Cassation had reversed the two decisions of the 
lower courts, which had sentenced Kallafatos to four years' 
imprisonment for his alleged possession of 260 grams of 
unprocessed leaves of cannabis sativa. He had not been in 
^ail prior to trial, and therefore had been arrested and 
taken to jail directly from the district court, in 
accordance with normal Albanian criminal procedure. Upon 
the reversal of the conviction, therefore, again in 
accordance with procedures, an order for his immediate 
release was sent to the prison. Such orders are normally 
and customarily signed by the chairman. The procedure is an 
administrative one, not specified m detail by the law in 
effect at that time, and it was this fact that gave the 
executive power an idea of a possible way to attack the 
Chairman. 

From November 22, when this order was issued, and 
December 29, 1994, no problem about the case or the 
procedures was brought to the attention of the Chairman of 
Cassation or raised in Parliament. On the day when the 



16 



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question was finally brought to Parliament, the Chairman was 
working as always in his office and had no knowledge of the 
accusation nor any chance to defend him.self or give 
explanations in Parliament, contrary to its rules. 
Expecting Parliament's rubber-stamp approval, the police had 
surrounded the building of the Court of Cassation and were 
ready to arrest the Chairman. But Parliament deferred 
consideration of the question temporarily. 

At this point, many international organizations, the 
Albanian Helsinki Committee and the Organization of Albanian 
Judges, lawyers and politicians protested, considering the 
accusation an attempt to remove the Chairman of Cassation 
for political rather than legal reasons. Indeed, on 
February 8, the Chairman was scheduled to head a three-judge 
panel reviewing the case of five Albanian citizens, members 
of the Greek minority and leaders of that minority's 
organization "OMONIA, " who had been given prison terms for 
espionage. The state feared an honest adjudication under 
the law, because they knew the weaknesses of the case. 
Thus, they sought to accelerate the date of the adjourned 
hearing in Parliament. 

Throughout January 1995, the President worked on the 
deputies of the DP, including calling a special meeting of 
the PD Parliamentary group, to tell them to vote for lifting 
the Chairman's immunity, which would lead to his arrest and 
consequent removal from office. On February 1, taking 
advantage of the absence of many opposition deputies, the DP 
brought the case to the floor of Parliament for discussion. 
At first, the Chairman of Cassation was not permitted to 
enter Parliament nor to give explanations. After four hours 



n 



72 



of insistence by a number of deputies, he was finally 
permitted to speak before Parliament. 

The debates continued into the night. Among other 
things, they concerned whether or not the vote would be 
secret, as required by the rules of Parliament, or open, as 
the leadership of the DP Parliamentary Group insisted. It 
was finally decided by secret vote that the vote on the 
Chairman's immunity would also be secret. 

Foreseeing that the results of the vote would not be 
what the President wanted -- he was calling the chairman of 
Parliament every few minutes with instructions and comments 
-- ten minutes before the vote was to take place, a deputy 
of the PD took the Chairman of Cassation aside and asked him 
to resign before the vote, m which case the question of his 
immunity would be withdrawn and he would not be arrested. 
Understanding their fear, but considering that to do so 
would be dishonorable, the Chairman of Cassation refused to 
resign. Around midnight, the secret vote was taken, and his 
immunity was narrowly upheld. 

The independent press at that time called this the 
President's second great loss, after the referendum. Public 
opinion was favorable to Parliament's stand, but adherents 
of the President increased their pressure on the Court of 
Cassation and its chairman. The secret police trailed him 
constantly, surveilled his home and his telephone calls, and 
threatened him on the telephone, among other things. • 



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4.3 THE OMONIA CASE 

On February 8, as scheduled, the Cassation hearing on 
the five OMONIA defendants took place. For more than a 
year, this case had aggravated relations with Greece, which 
had forcefully expelled more than 70,000 Albanian refugees 
working in Greece. Many American and European organizations 
sought the release of the five. Nonetheless, the President 
of Albania and organs subordinate to him pressured the court 
to keep them in prison. There was even an attempt to steal 
the files of the case from the safe of the Chairman of 
Cassation, but foreseeing the possibility, he had had them 
moved to another office. 

The hearing was public, with the participation or 
presence of many diplomatic representatives, human rights 
institutions, deputies, American and Greek lawyers, and 
lournalists. The :]udicial process revealed the unlawful 
acts of the secret police (SHIK) , the office of the 
prosecutor and other state mechanisms in this staged 
proceeding. 

The three-judge panel of the Court of Cassation decided 
on the release of the five imprisoned defendants. The 
Chairman, in the minority, argued for a finding of 
innocence, based on illegalities in the proceeding and the 
absence of convincing evidence. The other two judges 
confirmed the guilty finding, but held that the defendants 
should be released on probation. 

The release of the five caused an earthcfuake in the 
office of the president, the office of the prosecutor and 
SHIK. The head of the secret police (SHIK) called the 



19 



74 



Chairman of the Court of Cassation in his office right after 
the decision was issued and threatened him, calling him un- 
Albanian and a traitor and saying that "we will get rid of 
you...". That shameful act was publicly denounced by the 
Chairman and by journalists who were in his office and 
themselves heard the tense conversation. Although it 
constituted a criminal offense under law, no proceeding was 
ever initiated. 

In addition, the deputy general prosecutor, after 
consultation with the President but in violation of the 
requirements of law in several respects, ordered a stay 
(suspension) of this decision. Faced with pressure from 
representatives of a number of foreign embassies in Tirana, 
representatives of international institutions and foreign 
and local journalists who had followed the proceeding and, 
after the verdict, stood all afternoon and evening in front 
of the prison awaiting the release of the defendants, after 
eight hours or so the Office of the General Prosecutor was 
obliged to retract the order of suspension of the judicial 
decision. The five members of the Greek minority were 
released around midnight. Threatening telephone calls from 
high offices of the state to the home of the Chairman of 
Cassation continued during the night. 

The decision was well received by the people and, of 
course, by the defendants. Relations between Albania and 
Greece began to improve sensibly. Albanian politicians who 
had attacked the Court of Cassation began to travel for 
official visits in Greece. 



20 



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4.4 THE KRYEZTU CASE AND OTHER DEVELOPMENTS 

In March 1995, the Court of Cassation reversed the 
guilty finding of two persons convicted on the basis of 
evidence that had been created by the police and SHIK. This 
case, also known as the "Kryeziu-Meshi Case, " was another 
one that revealed serious violations of human rights in 
Albania. Because it got little attention outside Albania, 
the facts will be discussed in some detail. 

On June 26, 1993, Ismet Kryeziu, an ethnic Albanian 
from Kosovo working in Tirana, was arrested and accused of 
possession of unlicensed arms. The district court sentenced 
him to eight years imprisonment, and the court of appeals 
affirmed. A policeman, Lin Meshi, accused of collaborating 
with him, had been sentenced to two years imprisonment. 
When the case came to Cassation almost two years later, 
after innumerable delays and trials held behind closed 
doors, it turned out that the two were innocent, victims of 
a trap set by the police, the prosecutors and SHIK, with 
possible implications to higher executive levels. 

Lin Meshi revealed that he had been ordered to plant 
weapons in the home of his friend Kryeziu on the night in 
question, with the understanding that other police would 
break in on them. And so it happened. The police did not 
have the appropriate search warrant. They found nothing 
incriminating except the weapons Meshi had brought. They 
also arrested Meshi, explaining that this was necessary for 
appearances but that he would be released from jail in a few 
days. To his surprise, a criminal proceeding began against 
him. Again it was explained that appearances required it, 
that he should not tell the truth about Kryeziu and that the 



21 



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proceeding would be dropped. But his imprisonment dragged 
on. Finally, he told the prosecutors directly what had 
happened and they released him, but he was ordered not to 
tell the truth in the court proceeding against Kryeziu. 

Disobeying the orders of his superiors must have been 
difficult for a simple policemen, but on the day of 
Kryeziu' s trial (closed for ostensible reasons of state 
security), he did tell the truth. Nonetheless, Kryeziu was 
found guilty. In an act of revenge, Meshi himself was re- 
arrested and sentenced to the two years imprisonment noted 
above . 

In finding the innocence of the two men and ordering 
their immediate release, the three-judge panel headed by the 
Court's Chairman noted, among other things, that not only 
was the whole process a trap set by the police and the 
secret police, but the prosecutors and judges of both levels 
joined m a compromise to hide the truth; the initial search 
was illegal; other requirements of constitutional law were 
not respected, such as the right to a lawyer during the 
investigative process, the right to be presented promptly 
before a judge, the right to a speedy trial, and others. An 
arms possession charge should not have been called a "state 
secret, " with the trial held m secret and delayed for many 
months, with numerous adjournments of what was a factually 
simple case. 

The decision received wide publicity in Albania, which 
had positive and negative aspects. Positively, it showed 
the Albanian people that injustice, even in the judicial 
system, could come to light and be redressed. But, as a 
serious accusation against the state, it caused an increase 



22 



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in the attempts of the state to seek vengeance against the 
Court of Cassation and its Chairman. 

In another 1995 case, the Court of Cassation heard and 
upheld the appeal of the chairman of the court of the 
district of Kor?e, who had been arrested by order of the 
deputy general prosecutor. The reason was that the judge 
had modified a measure of arrest ordered by a local 
prosecutor. Under Albanian constitutional law and 
international norms, a ^udge cannot be held responsible nor 
be prosecuted or arrested simply because other state organs 
disagree with a decision of his. The office of the 
prosecutor had, however, brought a case against the judge, 
accusing him of abuse of office, for just that reason. In 
the years 1993-1995, the number of cases where judges were 
penally pursued because of their decisions had increased 
markedly. The state wanted to frighten judges, and indeed, 
they were succeeding; the judges felt quite insecure. In 
this case, the Court of Cassation ordered the release of the 
judge and made it clear that arresting him had been illegal. 

But the more that the Court of Cassation fought for the 
correct and equal implementation of the law, without 
discrimination for reasons of political beliefs or party 
affiliation, or other reasons, the more fiercely the 
political and executive power fought against it. In May 
1995, the parliamentary group of the DP tried to remove two 
judges of the Court of Cassation (not the Chairman) on the 
pretext that they had been erroneously elected a year and a 
half before despite not having seven years' experience in 
the organs of justice as required by constitutional law. 
This attempted removal was in violation of the Constitution, 
which, as explained above, at this time contains very 



23 



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limited reasons for removina a iudae of Cassation. In fact, 
the attemct was made because these two iudqes were 
considered to be in the camo of the Chairman and did not act 
in the service of the executive. In addition, one of them 
was the president of the Albanian Judqes Society and had 
publicly spoken in support of the Chairman of the Court of 
Cassation in his attempts for an independent judiciary. He 
had also been a member of the judicial body that judqed the 
case of the five minorities. In May, however, shortly 
before the Question of the acceptance of Albania into the 
Council of Europe was considered, and under international 
pressure, the removal request was withdrawn by those who had 
proposed it in Parliament. 

The President and the executive looked for other ways. 
Durinq the months of May and June, the Ministry of Justice 
and the qovernment tried to have chanqes made in the just- 
aDproved law about the state budqet with respect to the 
budqet of the Court of Cassation. The attempt was clear: 
this court was to be put under budqetary and administrative 
dependence of the Ministry of Justice. For eiqht months, 
the budqet of the Court of Cassation was blocked, except for 
salaries. The chanqes requested by the executive were made 
in the law, and the Court of Cassation lost powers that it 
had had even in the time of the dictatorship, not to speak 
of the five transition years: budqetary and administrative 
independence from the executive. Now, the employees of the 
administration of the Court of Cassation are named by, and 
are subordinate to, the Minister of Justice, and that 
ministry administers its budqet. 



74 



79 



4.5 THE DECISION TO REHEAR THE NANO CASE 

The "last straw, " which led to astonishing machinations 
by the government and the eventual dismissal of the Chairman 
of Cassation in violation of the Constitution, was his 
decision m July 1995 to call the plenum of the Court of 
Cassation for a rehearing of the case of Fatos Nano, 
imprisoned leader of the major opposition party, the 
Socialist Party (SP) . 

Nano had been arrested in 1993, after his immunity as a 
member of Parliament was lifted, and sentenced to twelve 
years' imprisonment after a trial held nine months later for 
misappropriation of state property "in favor of third 
parties" and related falsification of documents. The case 
involved the administration of international food aid to 
Albania in the difficult transition year of 1991, during the 
first part of which Nano held various government posts, 
including that of Prime Minister :)ust before and just after 
the March Parliamentary elections. (The "third party" was 
an Italian firm, Levante & Co., chosen to administer the 
food aid when Nano was Prime Minister but continuing during 
successive governments, including that of the PD) . 

Nano and his lawyer, the Socialist Party and a number 
of international organizations considered his prosecution to 
be solely political, with the accusations unsupported by 
evidence. They sought his release from prison. Under the 
Code of Criminal Procedure in effect at that time, anyone 
sentenced after a final decision has the right to appeal to 
the Chairman of the Court of Cassation for a rehearing of 
his case by the plenum of the Court, that is, by all the 
judges. 



25 



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At first, the prosecutor's office had accused Nano of 
abuse of office and falsification of official dociiments, but 
the court amended the charge to misappropriation of state 
property, a much more serious charge. Under standard 
Albanian criminal law, the court should not have made the 
charge against the defendant more serious, as it did in the 
instant case. Nano had not accepted the accusation either 
in the investigative phase nor in court, and had presented 
evidence and arguments in defense of his innocence, but they 
were not taken into consideration by the court. In his 
request for a rehearing, Nano also presented new evidence, 
not previously available, including the decision of the 
Italian organs of ;]ustice which found the delivery of the 
aid to Albania by Levante & Co . to be in order. According 
to the Code of Criminal Procedure, this decision constituted 
full proof of Nano ' s innocence of the charge of mis- 
appropriation. 

Among other things, Nano and his lawyer complained of 
flagrant procedural violations in the investigation and in 
the trial. He had had no chance to familiarize himself with 
the investigative file nor had he had sufficient time to 
prepare his defense; his request for the receipt of various 
items of evidence had not received any attention; the 
translation of several documents from Italian into Albanian 
was not correct or notarized, but, m violation of law, had 
been made by persons with a state interest in the case. 
Another unlawful act was the taking of 200 pages from the 
investigative file because they did not support the 
accusation. (Later, in December 1995, Nano's lawyer sent 
his copy of this material to the President as a protest 



26 



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against his interference m the trial and his keeping Nano 
in prison) . 

At the beginning of July 1995, Nano's lawyer presented 
a request to the Chairman of Cassation to initiate the 
plenum procedure, setting out the above data and his claims 
for a finding of innocence. Among his reasons for doing so 
at that time was the imminent effectiveness of a new Code of 
Criminal Procedure on August 1 that would take away the 
plenum procedure. 

As for all citizens, in accordance with the rules of 
the Court, the files were taken from the Tirana district 
court and studied by the inspectors of legality in the Court 
of Cassation. They reported that the claims of the prisoner 
were correct and the case should be reheard in Cassation. 
(In November 1995, after the Chairman's dismissal, several 
of these persons were removed from office by the Minister of 
Justice) . 

In response, on July 14, 1995, the Chairman of the 
Court of Cassation ordered that the Nano case be reviewed in 
Cassation on July 25. Having faced more than a year of 
battle with the political powers, the Chairman knew that 
this decision would awaken all the force of the state, 
directed by the President, against him. He foresaw that the 
state would use every means to remove or arrest him as they 
had done before. It was well known that the President had 
ordered Nano's arrest and imprisonment and that he feared 
the chairman of the largest opposition party, especially as 
the new parliamentary elections approached. (Their normal 
date would be March 1996, but it was said that the President 
would defer them to give the DP time for the effects of the 



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absence of lights and heat in winter to die down) . It was 
known that the DP deputies, constituting a majority m 
Parliament and wanting to keep their power, had no interest 
in Nano's release from prison. It was also known that if 
the question of removing the Chairman of Cassation went to 
Parliament again, the President would not permit the 
"mistake" of February 1 to be made again, that is, a secret 
vote. Many believed that the President had data about which 
DP deputies had been collaborators of the Communist secret 
police as well as data about current corruption by them, and 
that this information was being used to control their votes. 

Nonetheless, the Chairman of Cassation believed that 
regardless of all this, the duty of the court was to protect 
citizens from arbitrariness by the state, treating them all 
as equal before the law. For him, Nano was a citizen like 
all the others. He was not to be discriminated against at 
the whim of the President. The truth about his case was not 
to be hidden. The case was to be reheard by Cassation. The 
full bank of judges would decide, according to the evidence 
and the law. 

On the next day, July 15, vicious attacks on the 
Chairman were printed in the PD press, and in the following 
days it became clear that all the forces of the state had 
been marshaled against him. The chairman of the district 
court of Tirana, a close friend of the President and from 
his home region, blocked the Court of Cassation from 
obtaining part of the file of the Nano case (which, in 
accordance with Albanian procedures, was under his control 
in the court archives) . This act was unprecedented. 



28 



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It became clear on the day of the hearing that the 
purpose of this had been to create an excuse for 
adjournment. On that day, the General Prosecutor appeared 
before the plenum and said he needed more time to prepare 
himself, having been unable to read the missing part of the 
file (although in fact, he could have gone to the archives 
himself and read it, before the file was blocked) . He asked 
for an adjournment to September, and the Court agreed, with 
only the Chairman and a few other judges resisting his 
request. They were aware that a new Code of Criminal 
Procedure would enter into force on August 1, and were 
uncertain of its effect on a proceeding that had already 
commenced. 

On the same day, that is, July 26, without the 
Chairman's knowledge and showing the concerted efforts of 
the government to sabotage the rehearing, an amendment to 
the new Procedure Code was presented to Parliament and 
passed with the votes of only PD deputies. Its text is 
short: "For criminal cases that are in the investigative 
stage, at the court of the first level or the court of 
appeal when this Code enters into force, the provisions of 
the prior Criminal Procedure Code shall be applied up to 
November 15, 1996." 

In other words, since this law excluded cases in the 
Court of Cassation, the new Procedure Code would be 
effective immediately only for those cases on August 1. And 
the new Code had abolished the plenum procedure. The 
opposition press referred to this amendment as the "Law 
against Nano, " since the pendency of the plenum hearing 
against him was the reason for passing it. 



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4 . 6 FURTHER ATTACKS 

Nevertheless, the adjourned date had been set, and as 
September approached, the public attacks on the Court and 
its Chairman began again. The party press and state- 
controlled media waged a campaign of defamation against him, 
falsely accusing him of having been a collaborator with the 
secret police, that he was getting divorced even though he 
had just been married, and telling other untrue and harmful 
stories . 

He was even accused of being "a participant in 
Communist genocide" because m 19B9, when he was a ^udge m 
the district court of Tirana, he had had a case involving a 
schizophrenic defendant. Accused of the destruction of 
state property and agitation and propaganda, the defendant 
could have received a lengthy prison sentence, but on the 
evidence of psychiatric experts that he was mentally ill and 
could not be held responsible under the criminal law, he had 
been found not guilty and sent for treatment to a local 
Tirana facility. All of this was in accordance with 
standard Albanian procedure, which also permitted him to 
apply each year to be released. 

The expert had at that time recommended he be sent to a 
mental hospital outside Tirana, a more serious form of 
commitment, but the 3udge (now the Chairman of Cassation) 
agreed with the request of the defendant's legal advisor 
that the lesser treatment was adequate. When the case was 
resurrected to attack the Chairman, his 1989 decision was 
falsified before being printed in the party newspaper, so 
that it showed him finding the defendant guilty and 
sentencing him to the other, more serious facility outside 



30 



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Tirana. In September, the Chairman made a complaint to the 
district prosecutor for falsification of a court decision 
and defamation because of this, attaching the original 
decision that had been falsified. No action has resulted. 

These facts are explained m detail to show the lengths 
to which the government went m its attempts to vilify the 
Chairman of the Court that was trying to make its own 
decisions and, among other things, get to the truth of 
Nano's case, one of the most serious post-Communist legal 
proceedings in Albania. 

On September 1, state television reported that the 
government had asked the Constitutional Court to declare 
certain orders of the Chairman suspending (staying) civil 
judicial decisions unconstitutional. A showdown was 
clearly imminent. Acting on the principle that "the end 
justifies the means," the government was clearly going to 
stop at nothing short of removing the Chairman of Cassation. 

From the beginning of its life m 1992, when created 
under the constitutional law on the administration of 
justice and the Constitutional Court mentioned above, that 
Court had distinguished itself for being a political 
instrument of the President and his party, somewhat like the 
old Politburo during the time of the dictatorship, carrying 
out the party's orders, all powerful and answerable to no 
one. By the Constitution itself, this Court's decisions are 
final and cannot be appealed, even if they are openly 
unconstitutional or even criminal. 

Involving the Constitutional Court directly in the war 
against the Chairman of Cassation was the only means left to 



31 



86 



the President to get rid of the Chairman while giving the 
appearance of legality. But the pretext used was absurd. 
The orders of the Chairman staying certain civil decisions 
were in compliance with and contemplated by the Code of 
Civil Procedure in effect, article 185 to be exact. If the 
parties wished to complain against a stay, they had a legal 
route to do so, either to the district court or directly to 
Cassation. But no such complaints had been made. Former 
Chairmen of Cassation, vice chairmen and general prosecutors 
had used the procedure themselves, sometimes even in excess 
of their authority, but without any governmental complaint. 

Promptly on learning of the government's complaint, the 
Chairman himself wrote to the Constitutional Court, 
requesting them to find the complaint outside their 
jurisdiction, because by law a citizen with a complaint 
against a stay could appeal directly, as described above. 
As expected, his reqiiest was not accepted, and the case was 
set to be decided on September 14. 

Continuing the campaign against the Court of Cassation, 
on September 5 the Minister of Justice ordered the discharge 
of three employees of the Court. The order was clearly 
illegal, since the employees had been appointed by the Court 
itself, by competitive examination. They could be fired 
only by the Chairman, as employer, under the procedures 
specified ir. the new Labor Code (effective at the end of 
August 1995) and in their contract. Either from ignorance 
of the law or for some other reason, the Minister of Justice 
cited a statute that had been repealed in his order. 



32 



87 

4,7 THE SURROUNDING OF THE COURT OF CASSATION 

On September 6, 1995, at seven o'clock in the morning, 
the building of the Court of Cassation was unexpectedly 
surrounded by many uniformed police. The ostensible reason 
was the firing sixteen hours previously of the three 
employees, who were the director of administration, the 
director of legality and the documentation clerk and who 
were not permitted to enter the building. Several judges 
and other employees of the Court were also impeded from 
entering, the police jostled them and the director of 
administration was taken to the police station and kept in 
isolation for twelve hours. Ordinary citizens and lawyers 
were prohibited from entering, and the work of the Court 
came to a halt. Two journalists who took photographs of the 
surrounded Court were detained by the police and their film 
was confiscated. 

In a special meeting that day, the judges and 
administrative staff of the Court analyzed the situation and 
issued a statement to the press. (It is interesting to note 
that the two judges who voted against the statement became 
the new Chairman and vice-chairman of the Court on September 
21, the night the old Chairman was discharged) . The 
statement said the police action was an unprecedented and a 
brutal attempt to intimidate the judiciary and called for 
the immediate removal of the police and for holding the 
perpetrators of the act criminally liable. 

But the police stayed, both the uniformed police who 
were present outside the Court for two days and members of 
the secret police (SHIK) who filmed and photographed people 
coming and leaving, and surveilled the Chairman, throughout 



33 



88 



September, until his discharge. His telephone calls 
continued to be listened to, as had been the case for over a 
year . 

Opposition deputies as well as some from the DP, 
representatives of foreign embassies and local and foreign 
journalists came to the Court to learn what was happening. 
The opposition in Parliament sought an interpellance of the 
Prime Minister on an urgent basis, but he did not present 
himself until aft-er the Chairman's discharge weeks later. 
The Chairman of Parliament, a PD deputy, as well as the vice 
minister of the Interior, gave interviews on state 
television in which they denied that a police action had 
taken place at the Court. But hundreds of people had seen 
it, and the opposition and independent press had written 
about it m detail. 

4.8 THE SITUATION DETERIORATES FURTHER 

The opposition in Parliament continued to seek the 
interpellance of the Prime Minister, but the President, 
preparing for his trip to the United States to meet 
President Clinton on September 12, did not permit it. 

The opposition then walked out of Parliament in 
protest. This, of course, was to the benefit of the 
President and the PD. Having a majority, they could take 
whatever actions they wanted without debate, provided only 
that a sufficient number of their members to constitute a 
quorum was present. Events would show that not even this 
requirement needed to be met. 



34 



89 



The Cassation rehearing in the Nano case had been set 
for September 12, but on September 7, the government 
presented another complaint to the Constitutional Court. 
This time, they sought a finding that the rehearing would be 
unconstitutional . 

On September 9, the President left for the United 
States. On the same date, the Attorney General (general 
prosecutor) left unexpectedly for England. The vice 
chairman of the Court left for Strasbourg a day later. Both 
of these people were to have been present at the Nano 
rehearing, and their staged absence made it necessary for 
the Chairman to postpone the rehearing until September 20. 

The events at Cassation had gotten the attention of 
many international organizations, which protested against 
them. The situation was well known in Washington, D.C., 
too. On September 12, the Albanian President was received 
in the White House for a short meeting. According to the 
press release from the White House, President Clinton raised 
the question of strengthening the independence of Albanian 
courts. It is not known how the Albanian President 
responded. 

A few days later, the President returned to Albania and 
the Constitutional Court took up again the two questions 
awaiting a decision. On September 19, that Court issued a 
decision holding the proposed rehearing by the Plenum in the 
Nano case "illegal and unconstitutional." Thus, the hearing 
scheduled for September 20 was finally and definitively 
annulled. The political power had achieved several goals. 
The imprisoned leader of the opposition would not have a 
reconsideration of his case by the full Court of Cassation. 



35 



90 



And the message had gone out clearly to courts and judges 
all over Albania: do not think for the independence of the 
judicial power. You will do what we say. 

A footnote is in order on the Nano case. Several 
months later, a three-^udge body of the Court of Cassation 
heard an appeal by his lawyer that had come to them in the 
regular way, based on certain changes made under the new 
Criminal Code and dealing only with the length of the 
sentence, not with his guilt or innocence. The appellate 
court decision, shortening his sentence by a year, had been 
issued in July, and Nano appealed to Cassation. The file, 
however, was not delivered in a timely fashion to that 
Court; It stayed locked in the safe of the appellate court, 
leading to opposition protests. The day after the Chairman 
of Cassation was discharged, the file was finally released 
and delivered to Cassation. Nano withdraw his appeal, 
stating that he had no confidence m the Court of Cassation. 
But a three-judge body heard the case anyway in November, 
and added back the year to his sentence that the appellate 
court had taken away. 

5. THE DISCHARGE OF THE CHAIRMAN 

On September 21, 1995, the Constitutional Court 
performed another service for the President and the 
government. At 2 P.M., it issued the requested decision 
declaring unconstitutional certain suspensions (stays) of 
final civil decisions. 

Thus, the President finally felt he had a legal 
foundation for what he had been seeking all year: the 
discharge of the Chairman of the Court of Cassation. Around 



36 



91 



dinnertime on September 21, he sent to Parliament his 
proposal to remove the Chairman, both as chairman and as a 
judge, on the basis of the Constitutional Court decision 
issued four hours earlier. As noted above, the opposition 
parties had walked out of Parliament some days previously to 
protest the situation at Cassation and the Prime Minister's 
failure to appear before them for explanations. By acting 
quickly, the DP could act alone, and so it did. The 
electronic records of Parliament show that six minutes after 
the session began, somewhat after 6 P.M., the Chairman of 
the Court of Cassation was removed from office and from the 
Court. 

As was learned the next day, September 22, not only was 
the decision unconstitutional, but the vote had been 
falsified. While the DP had a majority in Parliament, not 
all of their deputies attended the session, for various 
reasons. Thus, the number of aeputies required by 
constitutional law to be present -- a majority, or 71 
deputies -- was lacking. The vote was recorded as 73-0. At 
least three deputies from opposition parties have declared 
publicly that they were not present in Parliament at that 
time although their votes were counted. Even if all of the 
other votes are valid, as to which there- is some doubt, it 
is without question that a quorum was not present. 

Furthermore, the procedure violated Parliament's rules 
in other respects. There was no debate, the vote was open 
(compare February 1), and the question had not been put in 
Parliament's agenda previously, which would have alerted the 
opposition. 



37 



92 



The same night, a few minutes later, without 
discussion, the proposal of the President for the new 
Chairman of Cassation was approved, as well as a new vice- 
chairman to replace him. 

That night, the Chairman of the Court of Cassation was 
working in his office, not aware of any of this or that the 
Court was once again surrounded by uniformed police, just as 
it was on December 29, 1994 or February 1, 1995. He heard 
the news of his discharge watching television in his office 
at 6 P.M. Several friends and a representative of the 
American Embassy were in the office with him, which was 
appropriate as they had been witnesses to the war against 
the Court of Cassation and supporters of its Chairman. But 
there was no need of police. The next day, the Chairman 
held a simple meeting, handing over his office to his 
successor and saying good-bye to his staff and fellow 
judges. He and his wife went for a short rest to Mirdita, 
the region north of Tirana where he was born, followed by 
three cars of the secret police. The secret police 
continued to follow them until he left Albania in November. 

FOR WHAT REASONS WAS THE PROPOSAL OF THE PRESIDENT FOR 
THE DISCHARGE OF THE CHAIRMAN, AND THE VOTE OF THE DP 
PARLIAMENTARY GROUP, UNCONSTITUTIONAL? 

As explained above, the current Constitution sets out 
clearly the cases when a :)udge of the Court of Cassation may 
be removed: first, when it is confirmed that he has 
committed a serious crime specifically provided by law in 
the Criminal Code, and second, when he is mentally 
incompetent. 



38 



93 



There is no other reason why a judge of Cassation may 
be removed. Any broadening of the cases of removal is 
contrary to the Constitution, as well as to the 
international acts signed by Albania. 

In the instant case, neither was the chairman accused 
of, nor was it affirmed that he had committed a crime. 
Furthermore, his mental state was normal. 

The question arises: does the declaration of the 
Constitutional Court that several of his orders were 
unconstitutional constitute a reason for his dismissal? (A 
legal analysis of article 185 on staying final civil 
decisions, and why the Chairman's actions were not 
"unconstitutional," would be too long here and remains to be 
written) . 

The answer is clear: No, because the criminal law does 
not provide that it is a criminal act. Nor does the 
constitutional law itself so provide. 

Even if it were to be considered as such, there have 
been many other Constitutional Court decisions that found 
various acts of government officials unconstitutional. For 
example, is the President himself subject to discharge, 
because he is the chairman of the High Council of Justice, 
one of whose decisions about the transfer of a judge was 
held unconstitutional at the end of 1994? Should Parliament 
discharge him for violating the Constitution, a power that 
the constitutional law gives it? Are all the judges of 
Cassation whose decision of July 26 to rehear the Nano case 
in September was declared unconstitutional by the 
Constitutional Court decision of September 19 subject to 



39 



24-133 - 96 - 4 



94 



dismissal? Until now, no suggestion of this kind has 
accompanied any Constitutional Court decision. 

For all of these reasons, the dismissal of the Chairman 
of Cassation was unconstitutional. It is clear that it was 
done for political and not legal reasons. A statement of 
the United States government issued shortly after the 
Chairman's discharge was of the same opinion. 

Several deputies brought complaints to the 
Constitutional Court about the Chairman's dismissal, but as 
of the end of December, the Court has deferred its decision 
several times. In addition, a number of deputies who 
considered the decision of the Constitutional Court about 
the stays of civil decisions to be groundless have requested 
detailed information from the files of the case. It is 
likely that there will be further developments. 

6. THE JUDGES' ASSOCIATION 

On March 12, 1994, the Association of Albanian Judges 
was created on the initiative of several judges of the Court 
of Cassation and other jurists. It approved its charter and 
a Judicial Code of Ethics, prepared in conjunction with 
American experts. 

Judge Petrit Plloqi, a member of the Court of 
Cassation, is its president. 

The association has held two annual judicial 
conferences, prepared with the help of American lawyers, 
judges and institutions, which sponsored them. Various 
problems connected with the independence of the judiciary 



40 



95 



have been treated in these conferences, the role of the 
courts m the protection of human rights, the role of a 
Judges Association in the protection of the interests of 
judges and the judicial power, and American experts have 
shared their experiences. The association has established 
ties with various foreign analogues and its representatives 
have taken part in international activities. 

The association has made several attempts to protect 
the independence of the courts from the fierce attacks of 
the political and executive power. In January 1995, the 
leadership of this association issued a declaration in 
support of the Chairman when he was under attack in 
connection with the Kallafatos case, as explained above. 
The association also opposed the putting of the courts under 
the administrative and financial dependency of the Ministry 
of Justice. 

In the conference held in Tirana on July 27-28, 1995, 
the association denounced the attempts of the Minister of 
Justice to derail the conference by ordering judges not to 
take part m it. Obviously, the executive and political 
power feared the union of all the judges, and for some time 
has worked to divide tJtaa and silence^ 

And in fact, the association has not played the role it 
might have. When the attempt was made to remove two of the 
judges of Cassation in May 1995, one of them being the 
president of the association, it did not react. Nor did it 
take any action when the Court of Cassation was surrounded 
by uniformed police on September 6-7, 1995, or later. At 
this time, the Judges Association is subject to the other 



41 



96 



powers. But it has the potential to be an active force 
defending the independence of the judicial power. 

7. SOME CONCLUSIONS 

1. Albanian legislation regarding the judicial system 
doeinot guarantees the independence of judges in accordance 
with international standards, and it should be amended and 
supplemented. In the new Constitution that is still 
awaited, the Supreme Council of Justice should be 
eliminated, and another solution found for naming judges and 
giving them disciplinary measures. The judicial power 
should not be dependent on the executive in any way. The 
budget and administration of the courts should be in the 
dependence of the judicial power itself and not the Ministry 
of Justice. 

2. At this time in Albania, judges are not 
independent. They have been turned into the tools of the 
political and executive power. 

3. The President is exercising strong power over all 
courts and all judges. Among other things, he is using them 
to maintain his power and punish the opposition. 

4. The dismissal of the Chairman of the Court of 
Cassation on September 21, 1995, was unconstitutional. It 
was done for political reasons, because of his insistence on 
an independent judicial power. 

5. Unfortunately, the current situation in Albania is 
not one of the rule of law, although it is masked in a 
democratic veil. The Western world, in particular the 



42 



97 



United States, should support those forces that are truly 
democratic in the coming parliamentary elections. If the 
current political forces continue in power, Albanian courts 
will forget what the word "independence" means. 

Asst -Professor Dr. Zef Brozi 
New York, New York. 

December 1995 



43 



98 



Kathleen Imholz Translation 
12/95 

Official Journal of the Republic of Albania Nr. 21/1995 
(September) -- page 923-4. 

LAW 

Nr. 8001 dated September 22, 1995 

ON GENOCIDE AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 

COMMITTED IN ALBANIA DURING COMMUNIST RULE 

FOR POLITICAL, IDEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS MOTIVES 

In reliance on article 16 of law nr. 7491 dated April 
29, 1991 "On the major constitutional provisions, " of 
articles 1, 3, 6, 18 of law nr. 7692 dated March 31, 1993 
"On an addition to the major constitutional provisions" [Tr. 
note: the human rights chapter of the transitional 
Constitution] and of articles 67 and 74 of the Criminal Code 
of the Republic of Albania, desiring to speed up criminal 
cases connected with crimes against humanity for political, 
ideological, class and religious motives organized and 
carried out by the communist state in violation of basic 
human rights and freedoms, through physical and 
psychological violence, making up, falsifying or 
manipulating facts, causing as a consequence murder, 
imprisonment, internment and exile as well as the mass 
destruction of religious institutions and objects, 

THE PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY 
OF THE REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA 

D E"C I D E D: 

Article 1 

The organs of the Office of the Prosecutor, in 
compliance with the criminal and procedural provisions, are 
charged to begin immediately and with priority the 
investigation of activity connected with crimes against 
humanity committed in Albania during Communist rule for 
political, ideological and religious motives. 

Article 2 

The perpetrators of the activity contemplated in 
article 1 of this Law shall be investigated and charged 
according to today's code of criminal procedure. 



99 



Article 3 

There may not be elected hereafter in the local and 
central organs of power nor be named to the high 
administration of the State, the judicial system and the 
mass media, until December 31, 2001 the perpetrators, 
promoters and implementers of the above crimes, who have 
been until March 31, 1991: former members of the Political 
Bureau and the Central Committee of the Albanian Party of 
Labor (and Albanian Communist Party) , former ministers and 
former deputies of the People's Assembly, former members of 
the Presidential Council, former chairmen of the Supreme 
Court, former General Prosecutors, former first secretaries 
of the districts, former employees of State Security, former 
collaborators of State Security as well as those who were 
denouncing witnesses to the harm of defendants in political 
proceedings, with the exception of cases when they have 
acted against the official line and distanced themselves 
publicly. 



Article 4 

The Council of Ministers is charged to prepare legal 

acts and to approve regulations by December 15, 1995. 



Article 5 
This law is effective immediately. 



Promulgated as decree nr. 1221, dated September 26, 1995 of 
the President of the Republic of Albania, Sali Berisha. 



100 



LAH ON THE VERIFICATION OF THE MORAL CHARACTER 

OF OFFICIALS AND OTHER PERSONS 

CONNECTED WITH THE DEFENSE OF THE DEMOCRATIC STATE 

passed November 30, 1995 
by the People's Assembly of the Republic of Albania 

[Kathleen Imholz translation 12/95 from the draft law 
published at page 5 of the newspaper ALBANIA on November 23, 
1995. The draft law was said to have been passed without 
changes, but when the law as passed is published m the 
Official Journal of the Republic of Albania in the next few 
weeks, there will doubtless be some changes, both because of 
typographical errors in the newspaper version and other 
reasons. The letter written about December 4 by Article 19 
group in London about this law suggests that there were some 
changes. By the way, the Article 19 letter calls this the 
"Law on the Verification 4)f the Stature of Political and 
Public Figures," which may be the title of the law as it was 
passed or may just be a different and shortened translation 
of the title given in ALBANIA] . 

In reliance on article 16 of Law Nr, 7491 dated April 
29, 1991, "On the major constitutional provisions, " to 
assure the purity of the democratic life of the state in the 
period of post-communist transition, on the proposal of the 
Council of Ministers, the People's Assembly of the Republic 
of Albania decided: 

Article I 

The organs and functions for which this law specifies 
the conditions to serve in them are: 

a) Deputy in the People's Assembly of the Republic of 
Albania; 

b) The President of the Republic, those elected by 
Parliament and those named by the President of the Republic; 

c) Members of government, state secretaries, their 
deputies, general directors and directors of ministerial 
directories as well as those equivalent to them in other 
state structures; 

C) In the office of the President, the administration 
of the People's Assesibly and the Council of Ministers, of 
other central ministries and institutions, of the 
Constitutional Court, of the Court of Cassation, of the 
Control Service of the State, of the Office of the General 
Prosecutor euxd in ranks lower than those mentioned in point 
"c, " if it is judged by the head of the office to be in the 
interests of the defense of the state and its official data. 



101 



d) The qroTemor, daputy governor and directors of the 
Bank of Albania; 

dh) In the Azmad Forces of the Republic of Albania for 
officers whose organic function includea high ranks (general 
and colonel), the coTwnand of independent entities. 

e) Prefects, chairmen and members of district 
councils, chairmen of municipalities and communities and 
members of the council of municipalities and communities . 

d) In the National Information Service. [SHIK] 

f) In the Republican Guard. 

g) Police chiefs, employees of the criminal police and 
other special branches. 

gj) Judges, lay judges, prosecutors and officers in 
the judicial police [formerly the office of investigation] . 

h) In diplomatic representations of the Republic of 
Albania. 

i) In Albanian state radio and television as directors 
and editors. 

j) Journalists and ea^loyees with higher positions in 
newspapers with a circulation of over 3,000 copies. 

k) In management functions in economic communities, in 
state financial and insurance institutions, as well as in 
state banks. 

1) Rectors and directors in universities and schools 
of higher education. 

—Reticle 2 

In order to serve in the organs and functions mentioned 
in article 1 of this law, it is necessary that a person 
during the period November 28, 1944 to March 31, 1991: 

a) Not have been a member or candidate of the 
Political Bureau, secretary, member of the Central Committee 
of the Party of Labor of Albania (PLA) , first secretary of 
the Committee of the PLA in the districts and analogous 
levels, employee of the sector for state security in the 
Central Committee of the PLA, except for cases when he has 
acted against the official line or distanced himself 
publicly. 

b) Member of the government, member of the 
Presidential Council, chairman of the Si^preme Court, General 
Prosecutor, deputy before the elections of March 31, 1991, 
except for cases when he has acteJ against the official line 
or distanced himself publicly. 

c) Not to have worked as an officer in State Security 
(legal or illegal) , the special forces of the Ministry of 
the Interior [lit., departments of pursuit], and units for 
protecting high state figures. 

?) Not to have been registered in the materials of 
State Security as a collaborator (informer, agent, resident. 



102 



or accoTnmodator) or not to have collaborated consciously 
with State Security (no t to have been the possessor of an 
apartment put at the disposition of State Security) . 

d) Not to have been a denunciator or false or 
aggravating witness in political cases to the injury of 
defendants . 

dh) Not to have worked as an officer in the structure 
of camps and prisons with political prisoners. 

e) Not to have completed the higher school of the 
Ministry of the Interior and its earlier analogues, in the 
security section, or the courses of three or more months in 
the same section, as well as their analogues outside the 
state. 

e) Not to have taken part as investigator/ prosecutor, 
judge or lay judge in special political cases. 

f) Not to have been or be a collaborator of any 
foreign investigative service or their analogues. 

Article 3 

In special cases, but always with the approval of the 
Prime Minister, minister of Defense, minister of the 
Interior and the chairman of SHIK, for the account of his 
own organization, may fail to apply the condition specified 
in letters "c," "g," "dh," and "e" of article 2, when its 
application affects important interests of the state and 
when the purpose of this law is not violated. 

Article 4 

In order to verify-tfte facts mentioned in article 2, a 
state commission shall be established consisting of a 
chairman, vice-chairman and five members, honorable citizens 
and of stature and who are not deputies of the People's 
Assembly. 

The chairman is named and removed by the People's 
Assembly. The vice-chairman and one member of the 
commission are named and removed by the Council of 
Ministers, while one member each shall be named and removed 
by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defense and the 
National Information Service [SHXK] . 

Only those who have not performed an activity specified 
in article 2 of this law may be named members of the 
commission. The Prime Minister, the minister of Justice and 
the Chairman of the National Information Service jointly 
exercise supervision of the camdldacies. 

Membership in the commiaaion is non-delegable. [The 
literal meaning of the last word, "pazevend^sueshme, " is 
"may not be replaced; " but in view of the provisions above 
that members may be removed by the persons who named them. 



103 



and of conmon sense, It seems more likely that the meaning 
is that the members cannot send deputies to meetings of the 
commission] . The pay of members of the commission shall be 
set by the Council of Ministers. 

Before his designation as a member of the commission, 
the opinion of the person who is proposed shall be received. 

— Article 5 

The activity of the commission is effective when there 

are present the chairman or vice-chairman as well as at 

least 4 of its members. Sessions of the commission shall be 

closed and its decisions taken by a majority of votes. 

Article 6 

The commission may conduct investigations to determine 
the facts mentioned in article 2, as well as call an 
interested party for explanations. 

The investigations shall be conducted according to the 
rules of the code of criminal procedure for the calling of 
witnesses, experts and so forth. In the case of a refusal 
to testify or a giving of false witness or expertise, the 
persons are responsible criminally according to the penal 
code. 

Article 7 

The commission begins a proceeding when a request is 
made; 

a) By a person who will put up his candidacy for 
election to one of the functions of article 1. 

b) By the work places mentioned in article 1. 

c> By a person who will work in one of the positions 
or organs mentioned in article 1 (paragraphs b through 1), 
the request to be accompanied by the proposal for his 
appointment. 

9) By an interested party against whom an accusation 
is made in the press or publicly, or by those close to him 
when he is not living, when the decision is necessary for 
purposes of rehabilitation, economically or morally. 

e) [SicI By the prosecutor's office or the courts, 
when this fact comes ouu from an investigation or trial. 

Article 8 

The commission shall make a decision within 30 days 
from receipt of a request. In the decision it shall be 
indicated whether or not the person fulfills the 



104 



requirements of this law connected with the functions 
mentioned in article 1. 

^flj^n it is affirmed in the decision that the citizen is 
not a person among those mentioned in article 1, this fact 
shall be reflected in all his documents. 

Article 9 

Every person who shall hereafter put up his candidacy 
for election to one of the functions of article 1 must first 
have received the decision of the commission that he has not 
taken part in any of the functions included in article 2. 

When he does not f ulfi ll the conditions to be presented 
as a candidate in the coming elections and nevertheless 
presents his candidacy for registration, notification shall 
be made to his party [lit. electoral subject], public 
opinion and the Central Election Coamission, which shall not 
register him as a candidate. 

When a person does not fulfill the conditions that are 
required in order to work in one of the functions mentioned 
in article l (paragraph b through 1) , he shall be discharged 
from work within 15 days from the day of notification of the 
decision by the state commission. 

Employees of status who are discharged from duty 
according to this law lose the financial rights that belong 
to them. 

Persons who have been checked under this law and who do 
not turn out to have been in the functions that article 2 
includes, shall not be checked again when they take on other 
duties provided in article 1 during the time that the law is 
in effect. 



Article 10 

Within seven days from the date a decision of the state 
commission is communicated to him, a person may appeal to 
the Court of Cassation, which must reach a decision within 
thirty days. 



—Article 11 

The facts provided in the decision of the commission, 
as well as the decision itself, are prohibited from being 
made known to public opinion without the prior written 
permission of the interested party, except for the case 
mentioned in the first paragraph of article 9. 



105 



Article 12 

A requast for the varification of the l«adersblp of 
pacties and political associations who ar« present in the 
political and social life of the country may be presented by 
the minister of Justice and by the leaderships themselves, 
which shall be notified of the results. If these people 
continue in those structures, public opinion shall be 
informed. 

Article 13 

In fulfilling the duties with which it is charged by 
this law, the state commission has the right to demand that 
all archival material be put at its disposition, including 
the documentation of the Albanian Party of Labor, from which 
data about the activity of State Security and particular 
persons may be taken that have to do with the implementation 
of this law. 

The Ministry of the Interior, the National Information 
Service, courts and prosecutors, the general Directory of 
the Archives are obliged to present immediately to the 
comnission, on request, all archival materials demanded. 

At its request, the conmission shall immediately have 
put at its disposition all copies of the above documents 
connected with the activity of State Security, with the 
program of its work or particular citizens. 



Article 14 

If the state commission or organs charged with the 
defense of the constitutional order notice during their 
activity data about the persons specified in article 1, they 
shall inform the heads of the respective structures, who 
shall act according to this law. 



Article 15 

The maintenance and public use of any document or 
facsimile of it outside the archives, mentioned in article 
13, as well as the hiding, disappearance, falsification and 
every other means of manipulation of the documentation of 
State Security and other institutions with data that are the 
object of this law, as well as false public accusations 
against an individual, constitute a criminal offense and are 
punishable with five years imprisonment. 



106 



Article 16 

In the absence of other legal provisions, disclosing 
the documentation that is the object of this law for 
decisions about persons is prohibited after the year 2001 
until the year 2025. The National Information Service, the 
Ministry of the Interior and the General Directory of the 
Archives of the State are charged with safeguarding the 
archives . 



Article 17 

For persons who shall be punished for crimes against 
independence and the constitutional order, abuse of power 
and crimes against state property, their being in the 
positions prescribed in article 2 constitutes an aggravating 
circumstance. 



Article 18 

The Council of Ministers is charged with drawing \ip 
necessary regulations for the implementation of this law. 



Article 19 

This law is effective immediately and shall be repealed 
on December 31, 2001, except for articles 14 and 16. 



107 



K. Imholz Translation. 2/96 

From the Official Journal of the Republic of Albania 
Nr. 26/1995 (December), pp. 1144-1148. 



LAW Nr. 8045 dated December 7, 1995 

ON THE INTERRUPTION OF PREGNANCY 

In reliance on article 16 of law nr. 7491 dated April 
29, 1991 "On the major constitutional provisions," on the 
proposal of the Council of Ministers, 

THE PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY 
OF THE REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA 

DECIDED: 

CHAPTER I 

GENERAL PROVISIONS 

Article 1 

The law guarantees respect for every human existence 
from the beginning of life. This principle shall not be 
violated except for cases when it is necessary and under the 
conditions specified in this law. 

The defense of this principle, information about 
problems of life and national demography, education about 
social responsibilities, the acceptance of the child in 
society and family policy are national obligations. The 
organs of central and local power shall make these 
obligations a reality and support every initiative that 
assists in making them a reality. 

Article 2 

The principles on which this law is based are: 

1. Health care at all levels must use the services of 
family planning, as a means of avoiding unwanted 
pregnancies. The interruption of pregnancy [translated 
hereinafter by the translator as "abortion"] shall not be 
considered a method of family planning in any case. 

2. A woman has the right of precise information and 
advice before an abortion. 



108 



3. In cases when abortion is not contrary to the 
provisions of this law, it must be performed in conditions 
that are safe for the health of the woman. 

4. In all cases, women must be assured health care for 
the treatment of possible complications after an abortion. 

5. Advice and family planning service after abortion 
must be immediate, with the aim of avoiding unwanted 
pregnancies. 

6. Abortion is permitted only when the undesired 
circumstances in this law are verified to exist and in any 
case with the consent of the woman. . 



CHAPTER II 

ABORTION 

Article 3 

A voluntary abortion shall be done only by an 
obstetric-gynecological specialist doctor in state and 
private health institutions that meet the conditions set in 
the respective guidelines of the minister of Health and 
Environmental Protection. 



Article 4 

A doctor of whom a voluntary abortion is requested must 
at the first visit inform the woman about: 

1. The medical risks entailed by abortion to future 
pregnancies as well as biological problems of medical 
intervention. 

2. The rights, assistance and advantages guarantees by 
law for the family, the mother and the child, as well as the 
possibilities of adoption of children who are expected to be 
born. 

3. Institutions and organizations that may offer the 
woman moral and financial support. 

4. Clinics and hospitals that perform abortions. 



Article 5 

The Minister of Health and Environmental Protection 
shall set by special guidelines the content, manner of 
preparing and distribution of the advisory materials with 
the information contemplated in article 4. 



109 



Article 6 

If the women, after receiving the information mentioned 
in article 4, repeats her request for an abortion, the 
doctor shall ask for written confirmation of the request. 
This confirmation shall be requested after at least 7 days 
have passed from the first request. 

When possible, the husband or a parent shall also take 
part in the counsel and making of a decision about an 
abortion. 

If the term of 7 days would cause the time periods set 
out in this law to be exceeded, the doctor may decide hat 
this term be at least 2 days. 

Article 7 

If the decision is confirmed, the doctor shall perform 
the abortion in the conditions contemplated in article 3. 
When the doctor to whom the request is directed is not the 
one who will perform the abortion, then the request shall be 
returned to the woman together with a certification about 
compliance with the procedures of articles 4 and 6 to be 
presented to the doctor who will perform the abortion. 

The state or private institution where the woman is 
accepted shall include in her records the request and the 
certification about compliance with the procedures. 

Article 8 

In the case of pregnancy of an unmarried girl not yet 
16, in addition to her own request for an abortion, the 
approval of a person who exerts parental authority or is her 
legal guardian is also required. 

The request of the girl herself shall be done without 
the presence of the persons mentioned in the above 
paragraph. 

Married women who are minors are subject to the 
provisions of article 7 of this law. 



Article 9 

Abortion for medical reasons may be performed up to the 
twenty-second week of pregnancy, if a committee consisting 
of three doctors, after examination and consultation, judges 



no 



that the continuation of the pregnancy and/or the birth of 
the child endangers the life or health of the woman. 

When the committee judges that the fetus has 
malformations incompatible with life, or an illness that 
would make it an invalid with treatment uncertain, it shall 
decide on an abortion at any time. 

The Minister of Health and Environmental Protection 
shall specify by special guideline the cases mentioned in 
the first paragraph of this article as well as the 
conditions that the doctors of the committee should fulfill. 

Article 10 

When the women considers that the pregnancy creates 
psycho-social problems, voluntary abortion may be performed 
within the twelfth week of pregnancy. 

Article 11 

Abortion for social reasons shall be performed during 
the twenty-second week of pregnancy, if a committee 
consisting of three specialists, a doctor, a social worker 
and a jurist, after examination and consultation, judges 
that the pregnancy is the result of rape or another sexual 
crime, as well as when other social reasons are verified. 

Guidelines for the treatment of these cases and the 
make-up of the committee shall be approved by the Minister 
of Health and Environmental Protection. 

Article 12 

All abortions must be the object of a declaration 
confirmed by the doctor who performs the abortion, which 
shall be send by the institution to the Institute of 
Statistics. Data about abortions shall be sent by the state 
or private health institution to the Ministry of Health and 
Environmental Protections, in accordance with the respective 
guidelines . 

The declaration and other information shall not contain 
the identity of the woman. 

Article 13 

All warnings to women must be given to women who 
request abortion, the information and advice prescribed in 



Ill 



this law and in other regulations [sub-legal acts] for its 
implementation. 

Article 14 

In all cases of abortion, the doctor who performs it is 
obligated to inform the wome^i about services of family 
planning and to advise about contraceptive methods that the 
institution here he works offers and/or other state and 
private institutions. 

CHAPTER III 

SPECIAL PROVISIONS 

Article 15 

Every kind of propaganda and advertising, direct or 
indirect, in words or pictures, of institutions, methods, 
medications and products that cause abortions are 
prohibited, except in scientific publications destined for 
doctors and pharmacists. 

Article 16 

No doctor may be obliged to perform an abortion against 
his will. 

Article 17 

Violations of the provisions contained in articles 4, 
6, 7, 12, 13, 14 and 16 of this law, when they do not 
constitute a criminal offense, shall be punished as admin- 
istrative offenses by fine of from 50,000 to 100,000 lek. : 

Violations of the provisions contained in article 15 
shall be punished by fine of up to 100,000 lek. 

Fines are given by the supervisory organs designated by 
the minister of Health and Environmental Protection. 



Article 18 

An appeal against the decisions of the supervisory 
organs and the execution of decisions shall be done 
according to law nr. 7697 dated April 7, 1993 "On 
administrative infractions. 



112 



Article 19 

The Council of Ministers shall approve state fees for 
abortions. 

Article 20 

All provisions that conflict with this law are repealed. 

Article 21 

This law is effective fifteen days after publication in 
the Official Journal [i.e. January 12, 19961.. 

Promulgated as decree nr. 1331 dated December 22, 1995 of 
the President of the Republic, Sali Berisha. 



113 



HuiDAn Rights WAtch/H«lsinki 

485 fi(th Avenue 
New York. NY 10017 
Telephone (212)972-8400 
facsimile (212) 972-0905 
E-mail hTwnyca>hTw oig 

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH/HCUIMU 



hnka [>allrT 
Christopher Pjnn- 




HELBIISTKI 



AOVisMV coMMrrra 



Excerpted from: HUMAN RIGHTS IN POST-COMMUNIST ALBANIA 



M Bernard Ai' 
Roland Alurjn 



by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki 

156 page report to be released March 18, 1996. 



I9tv3n Dnk 
AdnanW DcWtnd 
Fr Robcn Oniun 
Stanley EnerlstcKi 
Ellen Fuitcf 
WillardGaylin. Mn 
Michael Gellen 
Juhn Glusman 
PaulOoMr 
Roben K <;oldinan 
Jack Grr-enbrrK 
Riu E HauKT 



(Copyright © March 1996 by Human Rights Watch. 

All rights reserved. 

Printed in the United States of America. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 95-081455 

ISBN:'l-56432-160-6) 



BcnUcy Kasul 
Manna Pinio kau(nun 
Joanne Landy 



Milcnkovttch 



I. INTRODUCTION 



Susan Weber Sor 
Michael Sovcm 
Fria Stem 
Sveilana Stone 
Rose Styron 



Rosalind C Whitehead 
WiUiam D /.abcl 



Warren 

HUMAN RICHn WATCH 
Kcnncih Roih 
Ejeecutive Director 
Cynthia Brown 
Program Director 
Holly J Burkhatier 
A^i-ocacy Director 
Can LaMarchc 

Brussels Office Director 
Juan E Mendez 
General Counsel 

Communications Direct oi 
Joanna Wcurhler 
United Sat ions 
Representaitiv 



For nearly half a century Albania experienced a brand of commimism 
unknown to the rest of Eastern Europe. A fateful blend of isolationism and 
dictatorship kept this tiny Balkan country the poorest and most repressive in all of 
Europe. During his forty-year reign, the Albanian leader Enver Hoxha banned 
religion, forbade travel and outlawed private property. Any resistance to his rule 
was met with severe retribution, including internal exile, long-term imprisonment 
and execution. His domination of Albania's political, economic and social life 
was absolute. 

In light of this history, Albania has made substantial progress toward 
respect for civil and political rights in the past five years. Democratic elections in 
March 1992 swept the communist party from power, installed a new government 
led by President Sali Berisha of the Democratic Party, and paved the way for a 
series of liberalizing reforms. 

Still, five years has not been enough to wipe away the legacy Hoxha's 
rule. The complete absence under communism of independent courts, a free 
media and human rights mechanisms poses a serious challenge to Albanian 
democracy today. More seriously, the one-party mentality is still deeply 
ingrained in many of the country's new leaders: critics of the ruling Democratic 
Party are often regarded as critics of "democracy." 

BRUSSELS HONGKONG LONDON LOS ANGELES MOSCOW NEW YORK RIO DE |ANEIRO WASHINGTON 



114 



As a result, Albanian citizens are still plagued by serious human rights violations, such as 
restrictions on freedom of expression and association, manipulation of the legal system and 
violence by the police. In part, these abuses are the result of Albania's Stalinist past. But in 
many cases, the human rights violations in Albania today are the direct result of specific actions 
on the part of the new government. 

Of particular concern is the state's continued interference in the judiciary. Despite many 
improvements, the court system is still used as an instrument of the state, especially against the 
political opposition. The leader of the largest opposition party is currently in prison after a trial 
fraught with due process violations. Since 1992, numerous other critics of the government have 
been harassed, tried, imprisoned or, in a few cases, physically attacked by unknown assailants — 
usually without any response from the government. Judges who make independent decisions on 
sensitive cases are sometimes reassigned to lesser posts or fired. More than 400 persons, 
predominantly selected by the Democratic Party, were appointed as judges and prosecutors 
throughout the country, upon completion of a special six-month law course, thereby 
strengthening governmental influence over the judiciary and law enforcement officials. 

Despite some positive developments - such as a new Bill of Rights - some of Albania's 
new legislation does not conform to international standards. Of particular concern is a new law 
that created a commission, appointed predominantly by the government, to review the 
communist-era secret police files. All those who were members of pre- 199 1 governments or 
found to have been collaborators with the former secret police are banned from holding elected 
office or other government-appointed posts until the year 2002. There is considerable fear that 
the law will be applied selectively against political rivals to the government. 

The government has undertaken an ambitious effort to prosecute former communist 
officials who committed crimes during the previous regime. However, the process has been 
selective and, at times, in violation of international law. Some former communist officials were 
denied the right to a fair trial, while others have avoided prosecution altogether because of their 
ties to the current government. 

Freedom of the press is also circumscribed. No legislation exists to allow for the 
transmission of private television or radio, leaving the state-run programs that favor the 
government as the sole provider of news for the majority of the population. While there are 
many private newspapers throughout the country, they are restricted by a repressive press law 
and obstacles to their distribution. Since 1992, a large number of journalists, including foreign 
correspondents, have been harassed, arrested or beaten by unknown assailants after wxiting 
articles that were critical of the government. 

The rights of minorities have improved since the fall of communism. Nevertheless, 
problems do exist, particularly with the sizable Greek minority in the south of the country. In 
September 1994, five members of the ethnic Greek organization Omonia were tried and 



115 



convicted on charges ot'espionagc and the illegal possession of weapons in a case that was in 
violation of both Albanian and international law. The five defendants were later released but not 
before 70,000 Albanian guest workers had been expelled from Greece as retribution by the Greek 
government. Large-scale detentions of ethnic (jreeks by the Albanian police and secret service 
before the trial created an atmosphere of fear in areas inhabited by Greeks. The issue of Greek- 
language schooling and the return of property owned by the Orthodox Church are also areas of 
concern. 

Parliamentary elections are due in the spring of 1996 but. as of February 1996, no fixed 
date had been set. The closing months of 1 995 saw renewed efforts by the state to silence 
independent voices in the judiciar)' and media, as well as those of opposition politicians. Human 
Rights Watch/Helsinki fears that these actions are an attempt by the government to eliminate its 
political rivals, thereby jeopardizing the fairness of the forthcoming elections. 



Iliimun Rights H'alcli/Helsinki 

Human Rights Watch/Helsinki was established in 1978 to monitor and promote domestic and 
international compliance with the human rights provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. It is 
affiliated with the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, which is based in Vienna. 
Austria. Holly Gartner is the executive director; Erika Dailey. Rachel Denber. Christopher 
Panico and Diane Paul are research associates; Ivan Lupis is the research assistant; Fred 
Abrahams is a consultant; Anne Kuper, Alexander Petrov, and Shira Robinson are associates. 
Jonathan Fanton is the chair of the advisory committee and Alice Henkin is vice chair. 



116 



Interview with the Very Reverend Arthur E. Liolin, Chancellor of the 
Albanian Archdiocese in Boston. By Kestnna Budina. January. 1995 

Note: Albojiian Orthodox Christians during the Bjzantine and Ottomnn period belonged to the Greek Orthodox 
Church. With independence, Albanians filt iIk need for a national church tueh as that of the Bidgarians, Romanians, 
attdSrrhs. IheAutocephalotts Albanian Church was initially established in Boston, Mass., in 1908 and officially pro' 
claimed in the homeland as an Autacephalous Orthodox Chtirch in 1922. A statute of the Church requires that the 
head of the Church be of Albanian naiionalityi Whenfitedom of religion was re-instituted in Albania in 1991 afirr 
thirty years ofrepresuon, the Albanian Church sought help from the Greek Ontrch in replenishing the ranks of the 
clergy and organising humanitarian assistance. In 1992 Greek Bisltop Anastasios YannuCttos was named Archbishop 
of the Albanian Orthodox Chtirdt. The Albanian Church in the U.S. hat been reluctant to recognize Yannulatos, 

The U.S. Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese is a member of the Onliodox Omrth of America, as are other ethnic 
Orthodox churcha in America. A recent article in the Albanian-American newspaper Illyria claimed diat, 'the Albanian 
Orthodox legacy is in the hands of.. Father Liolin, the chancellor oftijt archdiocese, the very last stronghold opposing the 
■murpettim of the Albanian Autocephalotis Orthodox Church by Greek Bishop Yatimdlatos. In fact. Father Liolin was the 
first clergyman to enter Albania to stimulate the rtligiotu awakening in 1988, 1989, 1992 and 1994. " 

Kestrlna Budina: Wiat do you think about the relation of the Church to national identity with regard to the Greek 
and Albanian populations in South Albania^ 

Revsrand Arthur E. Liolin: Conslderaiioii must be given to the history of llw Ottoman period when the millet sys- 
tsm was Imposed over the people. The Sultan placed all Orthodox jnder the jurisdiction of the Greek Patriarchate 
In Istanbul. The Greek language became the lingua franca under the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, the legacy 
ol tNs period Is the misconception thnt all Orthodox In Albania are Greek. TTiIb lalsehood Is being perpetuated 
even today lor polltteal ends and Is regreiiatsle because II Ooes not foster harmony. As the Balkan countries 
became independent, each ol them sought an Independent church. The first Hlurgy in Albanian occurred In Boston 
In IdOB, because Albania was still under Ottoman oile. The Onhodox Church In Albania was proclaimed autochep- 
hatous (self-govarning) in 1922 In Beral alter many years, marked by Greek persecution of Albanian priests, such 
as Father Stathi MelanI, Papa Christo Nagovani eto., who were killed by fanattes. In 1937, the Albanian Orthodox 
Church WBS recogr^ized by the Patriarch of Constantinople, including all contested areas. Wherever the Greek 
iTiinorfty vUlageB existed, the liturgy was In Greek. 

KB: Do you think that the Albanian Church should play a rvle in developing Albanian national identity? 
AEL: Tlie first role of the Albanian Church Is spiritual, to develop the moral qualities of the faithful in all of Albania. 
The Church also has a role In the rediscovery of Albanian and lllyrlan saints, and In making known ttie history ol 
Albania and Illyria. However, the Church ought to enrich and not divMe the lives of people. Too many harm the 
faHh by equating it with nallonafism alone. 

KB: Does the exisunce of Greek elements in the hierarchy of the Albanian CJnmh prevent it from playing this rolt! 
Should anytt/ing be done about this! 

AEL: The great stmggle to create the Albanian Church and to distinguish it from the Greek Church, and the numer- 
ous martyrs ak)ng that way, make il somewhat of an offense that a Greek is heading the Albanian Church. This 
can be sakl from several vantage points. Before coming to Albania, Bishop Janullatos Indioaled in his letters that 
he would stay for a concrete period of time and help reconstruct the Albanian church. Within a month and a half 
from the democratk: elections (March 1992), In a secretive manner he was appointed head of the Albanian C^rch, 
a pennanent posltton. It would certainly make you wonder about Intentkins. 

Greek hegemony has been stimulating cornjptlon using money and resources from Greece, ostensibly to 
rebuM the church, but due to general condltlonG of poverty this akj can be Interpreted as a means of contnjIRng 
people. TraditHTnally there has been ecumenical, goodwill spirit among the reRgious communities in Altranla. This 
has not been prevalent among the Greek Ortliodox In Greece or even among the Muslims of Turi^ey So having 
any type of Greek leadership would foster Intolerance In the people, which Is Incompatible with the history, mar- 
tyrs, and statute ol the Albanian Orthodox Church. 

According to the apostolic canons of the Church, the leadership In any place or country should be Indigenous, 
since this Is the most effective way ol transmuting the gospel. This has been reflected In the constitutions of many 
countrtes In Europe. Greek. Italian, Finnish constltulk>n3 all require the heads ol churches to be indigenous. 
TTierafore. Albanians should be trained and a timetable shouk) be prepared and made publto for the appointment 
of the Albanian Church leadership. If the Greek Bishop is sincere, he shouW declare that he will ordain Albanian 
prlBits, and he shook) poblldy distance himsell from the North Epiros Irredentists who wouW dismember the 
Albanian nation. 

nnaly. all Orthodox Albanians in the U.S. pray lor a day wl>en the proper candidates will emerge from among 
the citizens of Albania to properly lead the church there. I am sure that sincere Orthodox Greeks pray lor the same 
result for their sister church in Albania. ■ 



nilimHAI .SIIUVIVAI t^lAltlllllY SIIMMt^H J995 



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