ALBANIA: Children's rights in the Special Procedures' reports

Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the reports of the UN Special Procedures. This does not include reports of child specific Special Procedures, such as the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, which are available as separate reports.

Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purpose of clarity.

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UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
François Crépeau 

Country visit: 5 – 13 December 2011
Report published: 10 April 2012

Movement of children to neighbouring countries for forced labor:

While acknowledging measures taken by the authorities to ensure that Albanians are informed of trafficking risks link to migration, the Special Rapporteur was alerted in his meetings about a lack of comprehensive understanding of the interplay between migration and different forms of exploitation of vulnerable groups in society, notably children, women and Roma. Poor socio-economic conditions in parts of Albania continue to trigger a movement - often seasonal - of children to neighbouring countries for begging and other forms of forced labour. He heard about Roma children as young as seven leaving Albania on short-term migration to beg, collect cans and pick tomatoes and engage in other types of agricultural work abroad. (para. 28)

In this context, the Special Rapporteur welcomed the current focus of the National Coordinator for Anti-Trafficking of Human Beings on economic exploitation an exploitation of children in particular. (para. 27)

The protection of the rights of emigrant children: 

In the context of "the protection of the political, economic and social rights" of Albanian emigrants (art. 1, para. 2 (b)) (...) The limited capacity of consular services, the rights of children, persons deprived of their liberty and protection of social rights are priority issues. (para. 30)

Registration of children and the right to name and nationality: 

The Special Rapporteur noted with serious concern the impact on the enjoyment of children's rights as a result of the aforementioned restrictions in law and practice (the 2006 Law on Emigration of Albanian Citizens limits its scope of application to Albanian citizens who have "migrated regularly" (para. 32)). One key issue is ensuring the birth registration of Albanian children abroad, especially those born in Greece by parents in an irregular situation, leading to a situation of statelessness. He was also informed of lengthy processes of Albanian authorities to have children recorded in the civil status registry and noted with concern that late registration (two years after birth) is penalized with a fine. Registration of Roma children born to Albanians abroad was reportedly particularly difficult. (para. 33)

As a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Albania has an obligation to ensure the right of children to a name and a nationality and to free and compulsory birth registration (art.7). In this regard, the Special Rapporteur welcomed the cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tirana legal Aid Society to increase the number of Albanian children to be registered abroad. The agreement commits the Government to instruct Albanian consular offices to retrieve maternity certificates from maternity homes abroad. (para. 34)


Albanian children living abroad also face difficulties in receiving education in their native language, with host countries restricting the establishment of seperate schools or not offering teaching in Albanian at public schools. Measures should be taken with a view to ensure that education of Albanian children abroad is directed at the development of the child's cultural identity and language. (para. 34)

The return of unaccompanied Albanian children from neighbouring countries: 

(The Special Raporteur) welcomed the instruction of the Ministry of the Interior to the effect that all border crossing points have at least one female police officer to interview children and women. (para. 42)

Nevertheless, the Special Rapporteur identified several concerns with regard to the return process that required immediate attention. He is deeply concerned at reports of unaccompanied Albanian children returned to the borders by the authorities of neighbouring countries outside the framework of readmission agreements. These children, sometimes undocumented, are returned to the border without a prior assessment of their best interest and without proper follow-up in terms of social care. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur regrets that the Albania-European Community Readmission Agreement does not contain a specific clause on unaccopanied children and their protection needs and the absence of implementation protocols of readmission agreements. (para. 43)

The rights of children crossing the border: 

While appreciating that all border points have seperate reception rooms for chldren and women, some rooms lacked natural light. Of particular concern to the Special Rapporteur was the holding cells in three reception centres visited. One had nothing but a cement floor, open windows and humid conditions. (para. 45)


Women, youth and children require particular attention and support in the reintegration process. While noting the planned activities for readmitted children as well as for unemployed female job-seekers in the return strategy, the Special Rapporteur was informed that many children and young women (aged 20-28) faced problems in accessing education, training and employment opportunities as well as school abandonment and isolation. In particular, the lack of a tailored strategy at local level to integrate children in schools or provide women with  employment opportunities was stressed. (para. 50)

The particularly dire socio-economic situation of women returnees and children living in so called "informal areas" or "informal housing settlements" in the outskirts or Tirana was highlighted to the Special Rapporteur. Access to essential services such as water, central heating and electricity in these areas is estimated to be less than half the average access in Tirana. Awareness of and the level of trust of State support and social services is reportedly very low. (para. 51)

The role of social workers in facilitating sustainable reintegration through the promotion of social and economic rights of returnees at the local is critical, in particular in regard to vulnerable groups. Noting the limited role assigned to social workers in the reintegration strategy, the system of child protection units with dedicated social workers who provide psychosocial services to children and families at risk could present a good practice to build on in this respect. (para. 52)

Detention of migrant children in an irregular situation: 

The Special Rapporteur was particularly concern at the presence of a Somali girl and her female relative in the detention centre in Kareç. At the time of his visit, they had been staying in the centre for almost two weeks. They informed the Special Rapporteur that they had not had any contact with their families nor received information on the development of their case or on their right to access to a lawyer. They had been told to “wait”. Staff had shown interest in their situation, they explained, only on the day of the visit of the Special Rapporteur, when the Somali woman was given a pair of socks. The girl further told the Special Rapporteur that, while initially with the police at Tirana International Airport she had been told that they would either stay in the centre or be sent back to Somalia. According to the girl, she had received no response when asking police what would happen to her if she decided to stay in Albania. (para. 62)

While noting information that children are not accepted at Kareç, he notes that the internal regulations contain provisions which foresee the presence of “minors” in the centre. He is further concerned that the Law on Foreigners (art. 87) allows for detention of unaccompanied minors in a “social centre” on an exceptional basis. The Special Rapporteur recalls the general rule that separated and unaccompanied minors should not be detained. (para. 63)

Legal provisions for general rights of children in the context of migration: 

A review of the law should also ensure that the right to education not be restricted to “permanent residents” (art. 30) and include an explicit provision on the right to a nationality of children born to foreigners in Albania. The law should also contain the principle of the best interest of the child wherever it impacts on the situation of children in the context of migration. (para. 66)

Recommendations regarding the rights of migrant children: 

The Special Rapporteur encourages the placement of vulnerable groups – children, women, youth and the Roma – at the heart of a human rights-based national migration strategy. The Government is called upon to undertake analysis on (i) the interrelation between migration and all forms of exploitation, including trafficking, and (ii) the human rights of women in the context of migration, and to ensure sustainability of shelters for victims of violence. (para. 70(c))

The Government should take urgent necessary consulate measures necessary to guarantee to each child born to Albanian parents abroad the right to free and compulsory registration, a name and nationality. The Government should contemplate a study on the difficulties encountered by Albanian migrants abroad to register their children and implement the cooperation agreement between the Government and the Tirana Legal Aid Society on increased birth registration; promote the right to education for Albanian children abroad by strengthening current consulate initiatives such as the distribution of “ABC” textbooks to these children and intensifying negotiations with the relevant host countries on provision of education in the their mother tongue; (para. 72 (c-d))

The Government should: take urgent measures to ensure that the return of Albanian unaccompanied children from neighbouring countries only takes place pursuant to an analysis of the best interests of the child and is properly followed-up on an individual basis by national authorities. Authorities of the concerned countries should conduct an in-depth assessment of the situation and put in place prompt measures to ensure that no child is returned outside of the formal readmission agreements (para. 73 (a))

The Government should formulate, in partnership with returnee women and children themselves, specialized programmes for Albanian women and children migrants returning voluntarily or forcibly for their reintegration at local level (para. 73 (g))

The principle that migrant children should not be subjected to detention, or only in exceptional circumstances as a last resort and for the shortest period of time, should be explicitly protected. (para. 74 (c))

The Special Rapporteur urges the Government to strictly ensure that no child is held in the detention centre in Kareç (para. 74 (d))


UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions
Philip Alston

Country visit: 15 February – 23 February 2010
Report published: 14 March 2011

Blood Feuds:

The Special Rapporteur notes that:

Family members of those subjected to blood feuds, and mediators, emphasized that it is generally not permitted to kill a family member in his own home, or to kill women or children. Thus, for those families observing the traditions of blood feuds, when the initial killing occurs, the male members of the killer’s family immediately “self-isolate” by not leaving their home. (para. 9)

Isolation imposed by blood feuds has an impact not only on males, but also on women and children who are subject to home confinement. Such families are denied their rights not just to freedom of movement, but also to education, childhood development, social security, access to health care and to vote. (para. 44)

The Second Chance programme of the Ministry of Education is an effective means of providing home schooling for isolated children. Based on my investigations in Shkodra district, the programme is staffed by clearly dedicated officials and teachers. But much more could and should be done. (para. 46)

I did not find significant evidence that women self-isolated for fear of being the subject of a revenge attack. A large number of girls did self-isolate, though this tended to be out of respect for the other family or fear that the girls would be assaulted or trafficked. (para. 48)


The Special Rapporteur recommends that:

The Government’s understandable desire to see blood feuds as a purely historical artefact should not blind it to the need to consider taking measures such as:

(a) Establishing the secretariat long envisaged but not created for the coordination committee on blood feuds;

(b) Encouraging sustained interdisciplinary research on the issue of blood feuds, including its root causes and means of ending both killings and self-isolation, a task perhaps best entrusted to a new national institute of criminology;

(c) Consulting leading scholars and religious leaders to determine how best the Government might (i) conduct outreach to end self-isolation of families in blood feuds, (ii) facilitate more effective forms of reconciliation by community leaders of stature, and (iii) ensure mediators have no potential conflict of interest of any kind in the issue;

(d) Ensuring that educational curricula at all levels include an emphasis on individual human rights and specifically rebut the collective punishment message sent by the relevant parts of the kanun. (para. 70)

Domestic Violence: 

The Special Rapporteur expresses concern that:

Domestic violence is widespread and some deaths have resulted. Approximately one out of three Albanian women experience physical violence at home. (para. 52)

The few studies that are specific to Albania highlight cultural factors, including a strong historic tradition of male dominance, the fact that domestic violence has long been considered to be a “normal”, private part of family life, and that Albanian society has emphasized hierarchical family order and intergenerational control. (para. 53)

Attitudes remain a major challenge, however, especially with regard to Government budgeting for programme initiatives. Most financing currently comes from donors. Of 13 shelters for abused women and children, only four receive Government funding. A new shelter in Tirana, refurbished by the United Nations Development Programme, has Government support but no clear agreed budget allocation. The Government assured me that adequate funding would be forthcoming. Additional shelters are also urgently needed. (para. 57)


The Special Rapporteur recommends that:

The Government should follow through on its assurances to fund programmes and shelters. Domestic violence programmes will need to be long-term to erode the deep-seated patriarchal views facilitating violence and to increase victims’ access to justice. (para. 72)

The media should be more responsible in its coverage of domestic violence issues. (para. 73)


UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression
Mr. Abid Hussai

Country visit: 29 May – 2 June 2000
Report published: 23 January 2001

Marriage Kidnappings: The Special Rapporteur’s attention was drawn to the fact that Albania is a male-dominated society and that domestic violence against women still occurs in Albania.
Most abuses continue to be unreported. Moreover, there is no Government-sponsored programme to provide assistance for victims of domestic violence and more generally to protect the rights of women. It is to be noted that in the north-eastern part of the country, men still follow the traditional code known as the kanun, in which women are considered chattel and may be treated as such. According to the kanun, it is also acceptable to kidnap young women to make them brides. (Paragraph 85)

Trafficking: Trafficking of women and girls for the purpose of forced prostitution is also a significant problem in the country. Albania is both a transit and a source country for such trafficking, which consists in recruiting or coercing women by criminal gangs to work as prostitutes abroad, most often in Italy and Greece. The Special Rapporteur noted that a number of local women’s associations and NGOs are seeking to raise public awareness about prostitution and related crimes. However, most of these organizations are small, with few resources and almost no external support. (Paragraph 86)

Student Activists: During the mission, the Special Rapporteur had the opportunity to meet with student representatives. They were unanimous in affirming that students are free to demonstrate but that most of demonstrations are politically motivated and taken over by political parties. According to students from the Faculty of Journalism, the large number of students who work as free-lance reporters at certain newspapers had the feeling that there are still some taboo issues, like drugs, trafficking of women, prostitution and street children. If such is the case, the Special Rapporteur considers that the public has the right to be informed about such important issues which also have to be faced by the authorities. (Paragraph 88)


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