Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston: Addendum - Mission to Albania (A/HRC/17/28/Add.3)
Human Rights Council
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
The visit of the Special Rapporteur to Albania focused primarily on extrajudicial executions in the context of blood feuds and domestic violence.
Both in terms of economic and social development and of respect for human rights and the rule of law, Albania has achieved an enormous amount in a very short period of time. The communist era was characterized by extreme repression, persecution, the imprisonment and killing of thousands for political purposes, and economic isolation and stagnation. Since its transition in 1991, Albania has enacted comprehensive democratic, economic, social and legal reforms. These impressive achievements should serve it well as it proceeds towards candidacy for membership of the European Union. At the same time, Albania continues to face strong challenges, including corruption and the need to implement its ambitious reform agenda with limited resources and in the face of political gridlock between the main parties. These challenges make it all the more important that issues of justice and accountability be addressed effectively.
The blood feuds dealt with in the present report involve the pre-meditated revenge killing of a member of a murder victim’s family, committed in order to restore the honour lost as a result of the initial murder. Such killings have decreased steadily over the past five years, but the phenomenon has not been entirely eliminated, and the broader implications of the feuds continue to have a corrosive effect on society. The most important problems are significant self-isolation by families fearing a revenge killing, and a continued belief in the legitimacy of collective punishment of a wrongdoer’s family members, even when they are completely innocent in the matter. It is, however, also important not to exaggerate the magnitude of the problem. While the Government has taken important steps to address blood feuds, much more can be done to ensure adequate research to address root causes and to bolster and target education efforts so that individuals do not resort to private violence or collective punishment of family members as a means of dispute resolution.
The Special Rapporteur also investigated domestic violence against women, which is pervasive in Albania and has resulted in victims’ deaths. Despite efforts by the Government and international donors, much remains to be done by the Government, including the allocation of necessary financial and other resources to fund shelters, counselling and educational programmes.
The Government should also prioritize accountability – with action and not just words – for past crimes, including cooperation with the various investigations into killings that allegedly took place in Albania following the Kosovo war, prosecution of all those responsible for the deaths in Gërdec, and a full and transparent accounting for the thousands of disappearances and deaths during the communist era.