U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Albania
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||11 June 2003|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Albania, 11 June 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d7b328.html [accessed 1 July 2015]|
Albania (Tier 2)
Albania is a source and transit country primarily for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and begging, respectively. Female victims are trafficked to Italy and Greece, and on to other EU countries, such as Belgium, France, the U.K, and The Netherlands. Victims transiting Albania mostly come from Romania and Moldova, with smaller numbers from Bulgaria and Ukraine. Children are also reportedly trafficked from Albania to work as beggars in Italy and Greece. The Government of Albania does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In the past year, the government improved its law enforcement efforts, particularly in cooperation with Italy; police significantly reduced clandestine speedboat traffic across the Adriatic, and the number of foreign women transited through Albania for Western destinations decreased measurably. Nevertheless, corruption and lack of protection for vulnerable children remained problematic.
The government's Inter-Ministerial Commission on Human Trafficking coordinates its National Action Plan, now in its second phase of completion. Part of this plan included the appointment of a Minister of State who serves as the country's anti-trafficking coordinator. In this role, the Minister works with various ministries, NGOs and the international community to address trafficking in Albania. The Ministry of Education participated with NGOs to train teachers and to produce and disseminate information in schools on the dangers and mechanics of human trafficking. A series of 12 programs on public awareness was broadcast on television in 2002. The Ministry of Public Order completed a significant study indicating that more than 5,000 Albanian women and girls were trafficked into prostitution in the last decade.
The government criminalized trafficking in women and children in 2001. The Chief of the Ministry of Public Order's (MOPO) Anti-Trafficking Sector coordinates the government's anti-trafficking law enforcement activities. The MOPO has a unit in each prefecture, and recently created a delta force to enhance operations. Prosecutions of traffickers increased in the past year, as did efforts to punish or arrest corrupt government officials for involvement in trafficking; however, corruption is a major problem with little follow-through on most investigations. The government continues to show inadequate conviction and sentencing rates, with most defendants released for lack of evidence or ultimately charged with lesser crimes. The Organized Crime Sector and the Office of Internal Control also conduct specific anti-trafficking actions. In 2002, 144 trafficking cases were sent to trial by the General Prosecutor's office and 17 people were convicted. The MOPO investigated 31 cases of police involvement in trafficking during 2002, with at least one officer convicted but given a minimal sentence. The government showed increased effectiveness in coordinated law enforcement efforts with the government of Italy and with the SECI Center in Bucharest. Its new Three Port Strategy increased its ability to monitor its porous borders and its overall interdiction capabilities. Albanian police also improved their investigative and operational capabilities. In April 2003, the National Police conducted a three-day, cross-country sweep targeting traffickers, and the Organized Crime Unit, working with Italian police, disabled a sophisticated child-trafficking network, arresting high-ranking local customs and law enforcement officials.
Through its nation-wide anti-trafficking units, police refer victims to victim assistance and protection centers throughout Albania, including the Linza shelter, which the government opened in March 2003. The centers provide reintegration and education for domestic victims and repatriation for foreign victims. Phase two of the National Action Plan mandates creation of a witness protection program that currently is lacking. In the absence of a witness protection system, the government has taken limited measures to protect witnesses, mostly ad hoc and relying on NGOs and foreign governments. With funding by IOM, six police commissariats opened temporary witness protection shelters in 2003. The government hosted the Third Regional Ministerial Forum that produced a regional government declaration on the legalization of victims' status in destination countries.