ALBANIA (Tier 2)

Albania is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor, including forced begging. Albanian victims are trafficked primarily to Greece, and also to Italy, Macedonia, Kosovo, Spain, France, the U.K. and other Western European countries, as well as within Albania. Available data indicate that more than half the victims of trafficking are under the age of 18. Most sex trafficking victims are women and girls between the ages of 15 and 25, and 90 percent are ethnic Albanian. Ethnic Roma children are most at risk for forced begging. There is evidence that Albanian men have been trafficked for forced labor to the agricultural sector of Greece and other neighboring countries.

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. The government demonstrated increased political will to combat human trafficking over the last year, particularly through progress made in its efforts to identify victims of trafficking. Concerns remained regarding whether the government vigorously prosecuted labor trafficking offenders and public officials who participated in or facilitated human trafficking.

Recommendations for Albania: Vigorously investigate and prosecute law enforcement officials' complicity in trafficking; vigorously prosecute labor trafficking offenders; continue to work with NGOs and civil society to ensure full implementation of the national mechanism for referring victims to service providers; continue funding victim assistance and protection services, including shelters; and improve existing prevention programs in collaboration with NGOs, including joint activities targeted at reducing the demand for human trafficking.


The Government of Albania made some progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during 2008. Albania criminally prohibits sex and labor trafficking through its penal code, which prescribes penalties of five to 15 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and exceed those prescribed for rape. In 2008, Albania prosecuted 22 trafficking cases, compared with 49 in 2007, and convicted 26 trafficking offenders, compared with seven in 2007. All of the prosecutions and convictions involved sex trafficking of women or children. In 2008, sentences for convicted trafficking offenders ranged from two to 25 years' imprisonment. The government instituted routine anti-trafficking training for police recruits and current police officers, and organized additional training for judges and social service providers. In an outreach effort to potential female victims, in 2008 the government assigned approximately 20 female anti-trafficking police officers to organized crime police units throughout the country. Pervasive corruption at all levels and sectors of Albanian society remained an obstacle to reducing human trafficking in Albania. The government reported that the cases of official complicity referenced in the 2008 Report were determined to have involved smuggling, not human trafficking.


The Government of Albania boosted efforts to provide victims of trafficking with protection and assistance in 2008. Officials improved the functioning of the national victim referral mechanism and, as a result, identified 108 victims of trafficking in 2008, a five-fold increase from the previous year. The government provided approximately $262,000 in funding to the government-operated victim care shelter, an increase of 16 percent over the previous year; it also provided occasional in-kind assistance, such as use of government buildings and land, to four additional NGO-managed shelters. The government encouraged victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenders; however, victims often refused to testify, or they changed their testimony as a result of intimidation from traffickers or fear of intimidation. Victims were not penalized in Albania for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. Albanian law provides for legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.


The Government of Albania implemented several anti-trafficking prevention activities during the reporting period. International organizations fund the majority of prevention campaigns, but the Ministry of Interior has funded the national toll-free, 24-hour hotline for victims and potential victims of trafficking since November 2007. The Ministry of Education includes in its high school curriculum awareness-raising of the dangers of trafficking. Senior government officials spoke out against human trafficking, and the government provided tax breaks to businesses that employ people at-risk for trafficking. In 2008, the government approved a new national action plan on combating trafficking, which specifically addressed issues related to child trafficking. The Ministry of Tourism took the lead in monitoring a code of conduct for the prevention of child sex tourism that 24 tourist agencies and hotels signed. There was no evidence that the government undertook prevention activities specifically targeted at reducing the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.


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