The 2016 U.S. State Department report on human rights in Albania claims that “the most significant human rights problems were pervasive corruption in all branches of government.”
The report, which included chapters on every nation in the world, presented a number of serious challenges that Albania faces in improving its human rights record and business climate.
While the report claims that Albania made strides towards combating low-level government corruption in 2016, it also calls out an Albanian government that “did not implement the law effectively” leading to senior government officials who “frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.”
“Prosecution of higher-level crimes remained elusive due to investigators’ fear of retribution, a general lack of resources, and corruption within the judiciary itself,” the report said.
Pervasive corruption and political pressure have prevented Albania’s judiciary from functioning independently and effectively, according to the report.
Electoral irregularities and atmosphere of distrust
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observer missions to the 2015 local elections in Albania and 2013 parliamentary elections were positive in their assessments of the elections but stated that “important procedural irregularities” were observed.
In reference to the OSCE observations from the 2015 local elections, the State Department report said that there were ”widespread allegations of pressure on voters, which, together with observed instances on election day, raised concerns about voters’ ability to cast their vote freely.”
Albania’s 2013 parliamentary elections also faced serious challenges.
The OSCE claimed that “the atmosphere of distrust between the two main political forces tainted the electoral environment and challenged the administration of the entire electoral process.”
Demolished homes and businesses
The U.S. State Department report claims that Albanian officials have demolished homes and businesses without the legal authorities to do so.
“Authorities demolished homes and businesses without due legal process or recourse for owners to receive adequate compensation,” it said.
Restrictions on media freedom
The report cites political pressure, threats, and violence as challenges to Albania’s journalists and media freedom, particularly journalists “who tried to investigate crime and corruption stories,” the report said.