Albanian Law Enforcement Working Towards Countering LGBTI Discrimination
Albanian law enforcement representatives visited the Netherlands to learn how they can improve protection of LGBTI Rights in their own country. The study trip was organised in partnership by the NHC and LGBTI rights group COC Nederland in the lead up to the Kick-Off meeting of the Countering discrimination and protecting LGBTI rights in Albania project.
Lessons from the Netherlands
During the visit, the representatives learned Dutch approaches to the protection of LGBTI rights through several lenses:
- Law enforcement and police academy approaches to protecting LGBTI rights
- Court room approaches to LGBTI discrimination cases
- Role of National Human Rights Institutions, Anti-Discrimination Units and Ombudsman Office
- Local/municipal level initiatives in countering LGBTI discrimination
- NGO approaches in LGBTI issues from a Muslim perspective (Albania is estimated to be 57% Muslim)
- Interpretation and implementation of the international framework of LGBTI rights protection
…We got a lot information, we identified for ourselves a lot of tasks to work on in the coming years” –Ilirjan Mandro
‘[The] Holland program was very interesting and important. We got a lot information, we identified for ourselves a lot of tasks to work on in the coming years,’ said representatives interviewed during the trip. Tasks regarding the Matra program such as the revision of curriculum and awareness raising strategies within law enforcement and with the public were identified.
Project Launch in Tirana:
Situation of LGBTI Discrimination in and around Albania
Following the study trip, on 6 June 2018 the Kick-Off Meeting of the project took place in Tirana. Allbanian Ministry of Health and Social Protection representative Etleva Sheshi, Expert, Directory of Gender Equality, highlighted The National Action Plan on LGBTI People in the Republic of Albania (2016-2020) as an important step made in this issue.
However, the situation is still in significant need of improvement. During the meeting the position of LGBTI persons in Albania was presented by local project partner organisations.
…there are few convictions for hate crimes against LGBTI persons. There is a need to gradually introduce a culture of non-tolerance against LGBTI discrimination…”
Underreporting of hate crimes and discrimination is a major issue throughout the world as well as in Albania. Hate crimes and discrimination incidents that are reported, are often not properly registered, investigated or prosecuted. As a result, there are few convictions for hate crimes against LGBTI persons. There is a need to gradually introduce a culture of non-tolerance against LGBTI discrimination, as it has a major impact on a range of human rights, including the right to health, justice, education, employment of those affected. In practice, this means for instance LGBTI suffering sexual and domestic violence, transsexuals being forced into prostitution as the only means to employment and LGBTI being unable to complete their education due to bullying and harassment.
NHC Programme Manager Annemiek van Goor appreciates the commitment shown by the Albanian representatives during the study visit. While LGBTI still proves a sensitive issue in the Albanian context, they openly discussed needs for support with their Dutch peers that would improve this situation.
Upon return to Albania they provided detailed information of the study visit to the General Director of the State Police, the Director of the Academy and the Office of the Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs, Mr. Hodaj, as well as staff and 170 students of the Faculty of Security and Investigation. The next step will be to involve partners throughout the justice chain in analysing and drafting a work plan on an improved response to hate crime and discrimination against LGBTI.
Background to the Project
The project is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the Matra framework, aiming to strengthen the capacity of government institution in order to develop the Rule of Law in pre-accession and Eastern European partnership countries.
The project covers two main perspectives in its approach to improving the protection of LGBTI rights: Law Enforcement/Legal & LGBTI Persons. From Law Enforcement Perspective the aim is that knowledge shared translates to improvements in the reporting, investigation, and prosecution of discriminatory acts and hates crimes against LGBTI community in Albania. From LGBTI and perspectives.
Ilirjan Mandro, Dean of Faculty of Crime Investigation and Security
Edlira Teferiçi, Specialist of Diversity, HR Directorate of Albanian State Police