[ Country-by-Country Reports ]
ALBANIA (TIER 2)
[Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]
is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes
of sexual exploitation and forced labor, including forced begging. Albanian
victims are trafficked primarily to Greece, and also to Italy, Macedonia,
Kosovo, Spain, France, the U.K. and other Western European countries, as well
as within Albania. Available data indicate that more than half the victims of
trafficking are under the age of 18. Most sex trafficking victims are women
and girls between the ages of 15 and 25, and 90 percent are ethnic Albanian.
Ethnic Roma children are most at risk for forced begging. There is evidence
that Albanian men have been trafficked for forced labor to the agricultural
sector of Greece and other neighboring countries.
Government of Albania does not fully comply with the minimum standards for
the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to
do so. The government demonstrated increased political will to combat human
trafficking over the last year, particularly through progress made in its
efforts to identify victims of trafficking. Concerns remained regarding
whether the government vigorously prosecuted labor trafficking offenders and
public officials who participated in or facilitated human trafficking.
Recommendations for Albania: Vigorously investigate and prosecute law enforcement
officials’ complicity in trafficking; vigorously prosecute labor
trafficking offenders; continue to work with NGOs and civil society to ensure
full implementation of the national mechanism for referring victims to
service providers; continue funding victim assistance and protection
services, including shelters; and improve existing prevention programs in
collaboration with NGOs, including joint activities targeted at reducing the
demand for human trafficking.
The Government of Albania made some progress in its anti-trafficking law
enforcement efforts during 2008. Albania criminally prohibits sex and labor
trafficking through its penal code, which prescribes penalties of five to 15
years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and
exceed those prescribed for rape. In 2008, Albania prosecuted 22 trafficking
cases, compared with 49 in 2007, and convicted 26 trafficking offenders,
compared with seven in 2007. All of the prosecutions and convictions involved
sex trafficking of women or children. In 2008, sentences for convicted
trafficking offenders ranged from two to 25 years’ imprisonment. The
government instituted routine anti-trafficking training for police recruits
and current police officers, and organized additional training for judges and
social service providers. In an outreach effort to potential female victims,
in 2008 the government assigned approximately 20 female anti-trafficking
police officers to organized crime police units throughout the country.
Pervasive corruption at all levels and sectors of Albanian society remained
an obstacle to reducing human trafficking in Albania. The government reported
that the cases of official complicity referenced in the 2008 Report were
determined to have involved smuggling, not human trafficking.
The Government of Albania boosted efforts to provide victims of trafficking
with protection and assistance in 2008. Officials improved the functioning of
the national victim referral mechanism and, as a result, identified 108
victims of trafficking in 2008, a five-fold increase from the previous year.
The government provided approximately $262,000 in funding to the
government-operated victim care shelter, an increase of 16 percent over the
previous year; it also provided occasional in-kind assistance, such as use of
government buildings and land, to four additional NGO-managed shelters. The
government encouraged victims to participate in investigations and
prosecutions of trafficking offenders; however, victims often refused to testify,
or they changed their testimony as a result of intimidation from traffickers
or fear of intimidation. Victims were not penalized in Albania for unlawful
acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. Albanian law
provides for legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to
countries where they may face hardship or retribution.
The Government of Albania implemented several anti-trafficking prevention
activities during the reporting period. International organizations fund the
majority of prevention campaigns, but the Ministry of Interior has funded the
national toll-free, 24-hour hotline for victims and potential victims of
trafficking since November 2007. The Ministry of Education includes in its
high school curriculum awareness-raising of the dangers of trafficking.
Senior government officials spoke out against human trafficking, and the
government provided tax breaks to businesses that employ people at-risk for
trafficking. In 2008, the government approved a new national action plan on
combating trafficking, which specifically addressed issues related to child
trafficking. The Ministry of Tourism took the lead in monitoring a code of
conduct for the prevention of child sex tourism that 24 tourist agencies and
hotels signed. There was no evidence that the government undertook prevention
activities specifically targeted at reducing the demand for commercial sex
acts or forced labor.