ARCT Statement with regards to Recommendations of the Human Rights Committee to Albanian Government

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On 15-16 July 2013, the UN Human Rights Committee held its 108th Session dedicated to the Second Report on the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights. ARCT, as an accredited NGO, has produced it Shadow Report based on the List of Issues that the HRC has left to the state authorities.

  Discussions were focused on the current situation of human rights in the country, the level if independence, transparency and efficiency of mechanisms, institutions dealing with these rights.

  Being the only organization, providing full reply on the List of Issues, the Report of the ARCT has been consulted and used as a source of information to the members of the Committee. Sir Nigel Rodley has explicitly mentioning ARCT contributions and the role that civil society actors should play for the promotion of human rights in the country. Very recently the Committee produced the Concluding Observations on the second periodic report of Albania, where a number of Principal matters of concern and recommendations were prepared for considerations from all interested parties

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  While commending Albania for criminalizing domestic violence and spousal rape in its Criminal Code, the Committee notes with regret the continuing reports of domestic violence against women and children, including corporal punishment. It is particularly concerned at reports of ineffective police investigation into domestic violence complaints which in turn result in actual impunity of perpetrators. (arts. 3, 7 and 24).

  While appreciating the inclusion of articles 86 and 87 in the Albania's Criminal Code that criminalizes acts of torture and ill-treatment, the Committee is concerned at the large number of complaints against law enforcement officials of ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty... The Committee is also concerned at the lack of information on case-law invoking article 86, and about reports that investigations into such crimes rarely result in the conviction of perpetrators and in compensating victims (arts. 2, 7 and 10).

  The Committee recommends that "Albania should ensure strict implementation of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. In this connection, Albania should ensure that law enforcement personnel receive training on the investigation of torture and ill-treatment by integrating the Istanbul Protocol in all training programmes for law enforcement officials. Albania should thus ensure that allegations of torture and ill-treatment are effectively investigated and that alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with sanctions commensurate with the seriousness of the crime, and that the victims are adequately compensated.

  Recommendations are raised with regards to gender equality, rights of people with disabilities, blood feud and human trafficking. A special recommendation was with regards to the arrest and detention of juvenile offenders, stating that "Albania should effectively investigate all allegations of ill-treatment of children in police stations. It should reform its juvenile justice system by: (a) establishing juvenile chambers with trained judges, (b) creating long term rehabilitation programs with a view to facilitating integration of those children in society after release, and (c) ensuring that imprisonment of children is sought as a last resort, and providing for education facilities for imprisoned children".

  Access to Justice and Right to Compensation and rehabilitation were considered crucial to be ensured by Albanian state authorities to victims:

The Committee is concerned about the reportedly frequent incidence of arbitrary detention and expresses its concern that access to a lawyer after arrest is often hindered and that police decisions on the release of arrestees may be subject to bribes, The Committee expresses its concern about undue delay in delivering court decisions in criminal cases; that reasoning of court decision's at first instance is not delivered in time which compromises the ability of the aggrieved party to appeal; that hearings are often not public, and; that the transfer of files to the court of appeal is often delayed. The Committee is also concerned about the ineffectiveness of the free legal aid for persons in need (arts. 9, and 14).

  The Committee concludes with another strong recommendation on intensifying the cooperation with civil society actors for the preparation on proper addressing the basic strategies: National Strategy on gender equality; National Strategy on Roma Rights, National Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities, national strategy on juvenile justice, etc. The Committee also requests the Albanian authorities, when preparing Third periodic report, to broadly consult with civil society and non-governmental organizations, active in the field. 

  The recommendations provided by ARCT and the information provided by legal, psychiatric, medical and social expertise was fully taken into consideration by the Members of the Committee, through their questions, and also confirmed the acceptance through the Concluding Observations.

  ARCT is currently working for the preparation of the Shadow report on the upcoming UPR Session on Albania.