U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Albania

Albania (Tier 2)

Albania is a source country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor, mostly to Greece and Italy, and to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom, France and The Netherlands. Children, especially from the Roma and Egyptian communities, are trafficked internationally for forced begging. Regional and international experts consider Albania to have significantly decreased as a transit country to Western Europe.

The Government of Albania does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Arrests and prosecutions for trafficking-related offenses increased significantly, and the government continued its prevention of human trafficking by speedboat across the Adriatic. The government improved its monitoring of government officials involved in trafficking; however the government should take further steps to prosecute and convict complicit government officials, and improve its prevention and reintegration programs.


Albanian law prohibits trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation and for forced labor, with penalties up to 15 years' imprisonment, with a maximum of life in prison for aggravating circumstances. In 2003, the government arrested 317 suspects for trafficking-related crimes, and imposed sentences in 75 of 102 convictions from two to over 10 years' imprisonment. Some of these resulted from the government's involvement in Operation Mirage II, a coordinated transnational law enforcement operation. Some courts released convicted traffickers pending appeal without offering protection for witnesses and victims. Trafficking-related corruption was a problem; the government arrested four police officers on related charges, and investigated 11 cases of police involvement in trafficking. In a joint Italian-Albanian operation against a child trafficking ring, the government arrested and placed 16 suspects in pre-trial detention, including high-ranking customs and law enforcement officials. The government attacked trafficking through the Organized Crime Task Force, made up of select police and prosecutors. Albania's borders remained porous, though the government continued to improve interdiction at the country's main ports of exit and entry. The Vlora Anti-Trafficking Center (VATC) became operational in gathering information and creating regional anti-trafficking responses.


The government provided some facilities and personnel to assist trafficking victims. In July 2003, the government assumed operation of the National Reception Center for adult and child victims, previously known as the Linza Center. Police made ad hoc referrals to an NGO shelter in Vlora, which assisted 231 trafficking victims in 2003. In most cases, police screened victims at police stations then referred them to shelters. Under a new centralized referral system, police referred victims to the IOM for initial screening, and then to an appropriate shelter or international organization for further care. In remote prefectures, shelters were not available, and trafficking victims were at times held temporarily in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions until transported to shelters. While it finalized adoption of new witness protection legislation, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and several NGOs for ad hoc witness protection. In 2003, five witnesses were relocated to third countries under this arrangement.


The government conducted few prevention programs, relying on NGOs and international organizations to carry out such activities. The Ministry of Education and the IOM jointly developed two trafficking awareness manuals for secondary schools. The first phase of the program targeted 36 schools in at-risk regions. The government formed a Child Trafficking Working Group, which drafted a national strategy on child trafficking, and prepared a draft memorandum of understanding with Greece to prepare for the repatriation of child victims in advance of the 2004 summer Olympics.


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