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Country Factsheet I June 2014

Torture in Albania Developed in collaboration with the Albanian Rehabilitation Centre for Trauma and Torture (ARCT)


How many victims? • •


Who are the victims? • • • •


Former victims of political persecution and their families People who were condemned to forced labour Former Guantanamo Bay prisoners referred to ARCT Inmates

Who are the perpetrators? • •


Albania inherited 16,000 former political prisoners from the previous regime - 2,500 of these are alive today. It is estimated that 35-38% of prison population are tortured per year) are not recognised as such.

State authorities who served during the communist regime; Police staff working in police stations, prison and pre-detention Institutions.

Overall situation of torture Despite positive efforts, Albania continues to struggle with the national enforcement of its international commitments to anti-torture conventions. The Albanian criminal justice system fails to implement or to correctly interpret the Article 1 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), and the courts never apply Article 86 of the Albanian Criminal Code on Torture, which stipulates that any act of torture is punishable by five to ten years in prison. Furthermore, the country suffers from an inherited culture of impunity due to the damage caused by the previous communist regime. There are many issues currently concerning the movement against torture, mainly centred around the failure of the Albanian government to properly criminalise torture under its own criminal code. Compounding this are problems surrounding independence of the judiciary, a lack of effective means to tackle the inherited impunity, and the failure to establish a proper body responsible for ensuring an improvement to detention conditions. Overall, this creates an environment where a proper complaints and investigation is invisible.

Where does torture take place? • • • •

Prisons and prison hospitals Police stations Pre-detention facilities Psychiatric hospitals More factsheets available at

Country Factsheet I June 2014

Torture in Albania When does torture take place?

• •

The overall situation of torture rehabilitation

The rehabilitation of torture survivors remains a topic outside the attention of state institutions and public health services, despite the passing of a Parliamentary Resolution on this issue in 2006.

During arrest, upon transportation and during the interrogation of detainees During imprisonment

The ARCT is the only provider of rehabilitation services to torture victims in Albania, as there are no state-funded or other policies/frameworks for the rehabilitation of former political prisoners or other victims of torture. The ARCT provides services without discrimination, through periodic visits and check-ups in Tirana and in the Shkodra region. Victims have a choice of services and services are holistic. ARCT also provides help to the former Guantanamo prisoners settled in Albania in need of medical, psychological and social treatment/ reintegration, in cooperation with their legal representatives in the USA and UK.

Forensic documentation of torture and illtreatment

The ARCT is successfully implementing the Istanbul Protocol for the effective documentation of torture and ill-treatment in detention. Through a joint Memorandum of Understanding from the general prisons directorate, the IP has been integrated into the official system. This has raised the importance of the role of the medical staff in the IP surveys and investigations for referred cases. The ARCT offers prison staff training for the newly established and existing penitentiary institutions through well developed and professional training materials, and specific mechanisms in place for the legal, education, medical and police staff. More than 160 health professionals (including medical doctors, assistants, nurses and support staff, educators, and police officers benefitting from ARCT expertise) have been trained.

What national, regional and/ or international treaties/conventions are applicable?

national Constitution: • Article 25 prohibits torture • Article 122 grants ratified international treaties self-executing status in domestic law. Since the UNCAT definition of torture and its criminalisation is not sufficiently detailed internally, the Convention is not satisfied. • Article 44 guarantees compensation to those who have suffered damages due to illegal action, or omissions, by state employees and bodies. Criminal Code: • Definition in Criminal Code article 86 in line with CAT article 1 • Articles 58 & 59 stipulate victims’ right to request prosecution and compensation from the perpetrator and opens the possibility for victims’ participation as a party to the criminal case. regional and international • Ratified ECHR and CPT • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – 4 October 1991 • 1st Optional Protocol to the ICCPR - 4 October 2007 • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) - 11 May 1994 • Optional Protocol to the CAT - 1 Oct 2003

Country Factsheet I June 2014

Torture in Albania Legal framework for reparation, accountability and prevention

Reparation: There are no special provisions in the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedural Code about the five forms of reparation. The Civil law foresees the damage compensation through a civil complaint. Accountability: There is no legal ground for the victim’s participation: Albania retains the provision of the secrecy of investigation, where files are kept closed and there is no direct involvement of the victim in the investigation. No IP documentation is available. As previously mentioned, the article 86 of the Criminal Code states Torture, as well as any other degrading or inhuman treatment, is punishable by five to ten years of imprisonment. Also Article 87 states: “Torture, like any other degrading or inhuman treatment, when it has inflicted handicap, mutilation or any permanent harm to the well-being of a person, or death, is punishable by ten to twenty years of imprisonment.” No exclusionary rule applies. Prevention: NPM: Albania designated the People’s Advocate as its NPM through legislation n°9688 (10 March 2008), with activities reportedly having started in January 2008.

Priorities and concerns Recommendations from the IRCT and its member centre

• • •

• • •

Recommendations from international bodies

Put in place a Government supported rehabilitation programme for victims of torture and ill-treatment in order to comply with CAT article 14 and basic principles of reparation in international law. Ensure that torture victims are able to regain their dignity and resume their lives as active members of society. Establish a functional system ensuring that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment are promptly and effectively investigated by independent and impartial authorities, including by conducting medico-legal examinations in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol. Ensure that the People’s Advocate (ombudsman) has the capacity to implement both his overall mandate and his special role as national preventive mechanism (NPM). Ensure that NPM visits are regularly conducted and make full use of relevant medical expertise. Ensure the presence of medical personnel in all detention facilities. Ensure that detainees have a right to be examined by a doctor of their choice upon request.

Human Rights Commission CCPR (2013): • The State party should ensure strict implementation of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. In this regard, the State party should ensure that law enforcement personnel receive training on investigating torture and ill-treatment, by integrating the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or degrading Treatment or

Country Factsheet I June 2014

Torture in Albania (‘Recommendations from international bodies’ continued)

Punishment (Istanbul Protocol) in all training programmes for law enforcement officials. Committee against torture CAT (2012): • 23.b: That all law enforcement, medical and other personnel involved in the holding in custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment and the documentation and investigation of torture are provided, on a regular basis, with training on the Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol), requiring the identification of both physical and psychological consequences for victims of torture; • 27. The Committee urges the State party to take immediate legal and other measures to ensure that victims of torture and ill-treatment obtain redress and have an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible, in particular the former political prisoners and persecuted persons, and to collect data and share information in the next periodic report on instances and types of compensation and rehabilitation granted.

Member contact details Albanian Rehabilitation Centre for Trauma and Torture (ARCT) Website: Address: Rr. Kont, Urani Nr.10, Tirana, Albania Telephone: 0035 542 239 121

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) is an independent, international health-based human rights organisation, which promotes and supports the rehabilitation of torture victims, promotes access to justice and works for the prevention of torture worldwide. The vision of the IRCT is a world without torture. Copenhagen Europe Center Vesterbrogade 149, building 4, 3rd floor 1620 Copenhagen V Denmark Email: For more information please visit

2014 © International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) All rights reserved

IRCT Country Factsheet - Albania  

IRCT's country factsheets are advocacy tools developed in collaboration with IRCT members in the respective countries. The factsheets cover...

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