Progress on finding the remains of some 6000 people still missing after the fall of Albania’s communist regime is still no more tangible due to disagreements between law enforcement institutions, according to the Files Authority, who reported to the Laws Commission on Wednesday (6 July).
Gentiana Sula, the acting chairperson of the institution, was tasked with reporting on the recommendations of the assembly and the European Commission regarding the fate of thousands murdered and missing from the reign of dictator Enver Hoxha.
“There is an agreement between the Albanian government and the International Commission for Missing Persons, ICMP, which has been ratified by the Assembly. At that time, our institution did not have a tag for the missing; this could be a new and fresh change that we need the parliament to invest in,” she said, requesting that the authority be included in the draft law that regulates this agreement.
“We asked for institutional cooperation for the families to come to us. The prosecution has had its own hesitations,” – she added.
In fact, issues with prosecutors are well documented.
Albanian prosecutor Sokol Stojan told local media that prosecutors have no role to play in the case of disappearances or executions. He added this is because they “were punished according to the laws of the time.”
He added that it is an administrative problem and admitted that some prosecutors have refused to address cases that land on their desks. The prosecutor also claimed that the statute of limitations means it is impossible for prosecutors to open investigations for disappearances that happened decades ago.
Stojan did not comment on the cases where people were executed and murdered without a trial, therefore nothing to do with the laws of the time.
Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed that his government has “done as much as we can” to bring to light the story of those that suffered during communism and continue to suffer today.
Sula said her institution has the ability to work with the families and identify places that were used to eliminate and dispose of the regime’s political opponents.
Director for Information at the authority, Selami Zalli, said that the lack of exhumations is a severe issue. Under Albanian law, suspected grave sites cannot be explored without permission from a prosecutor.
Multiple applications for digs are pending with the prosecution and have been held up for years.
During the last year, the Albanian prosecutor’s office failed to conduct any investigations into missing person cases from the communist regime, despite repeated warnings from international officials, the European Commission said in its recently published country report.
Concerning the right to life, the EC noted that this failure and the low number of resolved cases were “partly due” to a lack of capacity and resources. They called for political will to establish an efficient cooperation mechanism among relevant institutions and to enhance public awareness on the matter.
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