Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
While the constitution and law prohibit such actions, police and prison guards sometimes beat and abused suspects and detainees. Through September the Service for Internal Affairs and Complaints received complaints of police abuse and corruption that led to both administrative sanctions and criminal prosecutions.
On March 3, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) released its report on its most recent visit to the country in 2014. As in 2010, the CPT reported receiving a significant number of credible reports from detained persons, including juveniles, of physical mistreatment by police officers, consisting mainly of slaps, punches, kicks, and truncheon blows.
Through September the ombudsman received 140 complaints from detainees. Nearly one quarter of the complaints alleged physical or psychological abuse; the office of the ombudsman forwarded three of these to prosecutors.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Lack of medical treatment, particularly for mental health issues, was a serious problem, as were overcrowded facilities and poor physical infrastructure. The Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC) reported that conditions in certain detention facilities were so poor as to constitute inhuman treatment. Authorities improved some police detention facilities as part of a nationwide upgrade, but conditions remained poor outside of Tirana and other major urban centers. AHC research conducted among inmates through July showed the majority of complaints centered on poor living conditions, interference with private correspondence with family members, unresponsiveness to prisoner complaints and requests, delayed transfer of detainees from police stations to detention facilities, as well as physical or psychological abuse by prison staff or other inmates. As of July, six cases, or approximately 11 percent of all complaints, alleged physical or psychological abuse.
Physical Conditions: The prison population was on average 9 percent greater than the design capacity of prison facilities. Overcrowding was especially serious in pretrial detention centers. Conditions in prison and detention centers for women were generally better than those for men.
The government reported 12 deaths in prison through August; 10 were from natural causes, one from a fire incident in the Lezha Prison, and one from suicide. On July 30, a Lezha prison cell caught fire, resulting in the death of one inmate and the injury of five others and two guards. The General Directorate of Prisons fired 11 employees and disciplined 21 others as a result. On July 31, an inmate at Vaqarr prison was shot and injured in the prison yard. The inmate received medical assistance; the investigation continued at year’s end.
The majority of the 140 complaints received by the ombudsman from detainees through September dealt with the quality of health services. Detainees also complained about access to special leave programs, delays in the implementation of prison transfer orders, and undesirable transfers to other prisons. The AHC also reported an increased number of complaints about the quality of health services as well as transfer/nontransfer between detention facilities. The ombudsman and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported that authorities detained inmates with mental disabilities in regular prisons, where access to mental health care was wholly inadequate.
Prison and detention center conditions varied significantly by age and type of facility. The AHC identified problems in both new and old structures, such as dampness in cells, poor hygiene, lack of bedding materials, and inconsistent water supply.
Conditions in facilities operated by the Ministry of Interior, such as police stations and temporary detention facilities, were inadequate, except for regional facilities in Tirana, Durres, Gjirokaster, and Korca, which the government renovated in 2014 and 2015. Most detention facilities were unheated during the winter. Some lacked basic hygienic amenities, such as showers or sinks. Facilities were cramped, afforded limited access to toilets, and had little or no ventilation, natural light, or beds and benches.
Administration: The Ministry of Justice managed the country’s prisons. The ombudsman reported prison and police officials generally cooperated with investigations. NGOs and the ombudsman noted inadequate recordkeeping in some institutions, particularly in small or rural police stations.
Corruption continued to be a serious problem in detention centers, particularly in connection with access to work and special release programs. NGOs reported that those involved in work programs received less than 125 leks (one dollar) per month and did not receive credit for social security.
Independent Monitoring: The government allowed local and international human rights groups, the media, as well as international bodies such as the CPT to monitor prison conditions. The ombudsman conducted frequent unannounced inspections of detention facilities. In September the ombudsman reportedly was denied access to Fier prison to investigate claims of violence against an inmate.
Improvements: During the year the ombudsman and NGOs reported improvements in conditions in some prisons and detention centers. The General Directorate of Prisons indicated that by July overall prison overcrowding had been reduced from 25 percent over full capacity in 2015 to 9 percent. NGOs reported that police and prison authorities continued to demonstrate greater sensitivity toward the rights of juvenile and female detainees. The ombudsman noted that authorities were more flexible in allowing juveniles in pretrial detention centers to meet with relatives. Tirana’s Jordan Misja detention facility, which closed in 2015 after the ombudsman deemed it unsuitable, reopened with substantially improved living conditions.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The law and constitution prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
The Ministry of Interior oversees the State Police, the Guard of the Republic, and the Border and Migration Police. The State Police are primarily responsible for internal security. The Guard of the Republic protects senior state officials, foreign dignitaries, and certain state properties. The Ministry of Defense oversees the armed forces, which also assist the population in times of humanitarian need. The State Intelligence Service (SIS) gathers information, carries out foreign intelligence and counterintelligence activities, and is responsible to the prime minister.
Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over police, the Guard of the Republic, the armed forces, and the SIS, although officials periodically used state resources for personal gain and members of the security forces committed abuses.
Police did not always enforce the law equitably. Personal associations, political or criminal connections, poor infrastructure, lack of equipment, or inadequate supervision often influenced law enforcement. Low salaries, poor motivation and leadership, and a lack of diversity in the workforce contributed to continued corruption and unprofessional behavior. Authorities made efforts to address these problems by renovating police facilities, upgrading vehicles, introducing the use of in-car and body cameras, and publicly highlighting anticorruption measures.
Impunity remained a serious problem, although the government made greater efforts to address it, in particular by increasing the use of camera evidence to document and prosecute police misconduct. In April the Supreme Court upheld the one and three-year sentences handed down, respectively, to Guards of the Republic Ndrea Prendi and Agim Llupo, charged in the 2011 killings of four protesters.
While the government had mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption, police corruption remained a problem. The Service for Internal Affairs and Complaints conducted audits, responded to complaints, and carried out investigations with increased emphasis on human rights, prison conditions, and adherence to standard operating procedures. This office fielded 2,202 complaints, including 1,777 phone calls via the anticorruption “green line.” As of September authorities dealt with 34 cases involving 46 officers as administrative violations and handled eight cases involving eight officers as criminal offenses, forwarding them for prosecution. During the year the ombudsman also processed complaints against police officers, mainly relating to problems with arrests and detention.
Since 2014 the government has increased police salaries and instituted an open competition for new recruits, although the Albanian Security Academy reportedly exerted inappropriate influence over police hiring, firing, and promotions. Police were not compliant with special orders mandating women comprise 50 percent of new recruits, with the goal of reaching 30 percent female representation across the police force. The March appointment of a diversity specialist increased senior-level attention to the problem.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
The law requires that, except for arrests made during the commission of a crime, police may arrest a suspect on criminal grounds only with a warrant issued by a judge and based on sufficient evidence. There were no reports of secret arrests. By law police must immediately inform the prosecutor of an arrest. The prosecutor may release the suspect or petition the court within 48 hours to hold the individual further. A court must decide within 48 hours whether to place a suspect in detention, require bail, prohibit travel, or require the defendant to report regularly to the police. Prosecutors requested, and courts ordered, detention in many criminal cases, although courts sometimes denied prosecutors’ requests for detention of well-connected, high-profile defendants.
The constitution requires authorities to inform detained persons immediately of the charges against them and their rights. Law enforcement authorities did not always respect this requirement. There was no effective system for handling the monetary aspect of bail. Instead, courts often ordered suspects to report to police or prosecutors on a weekly basis. While the law gives detainees the right to prompt access to an attorney, at public expense if necessary, NGOs reported interrogations often took place without the presence of a lawyer. Authorities placed many suspects under house arrest, often at their own request, because if convicted they received credit for time served.
By law police should transfer detainees to the custody of the Ministry of Justice, which has facilities more appropriate for long-term detention, if their custody will exceed 10 hours. Due to overcrowding in the penitentiary system, detainees, including juveniles, commonly remained in police detention centers for long periods.
Arbitrary Arrest: The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention. Although the government generally observed these prohibitions, there were instances when police detained persons for questioning for inordinate lengths of time without formally arresting them.
Pretrial Detention: While the law requires completion of most pretrial investigations within three months, a prosecutor may extend this period to two years or longer. The law provides that pretrial detention should not exceed three years; the government reported seven cases of pretrial detentions exceeding this limit. Extended pretrial detention often occurred due to delayed investigations, defense mistakes, or the intentional failure of defense counsel to appear. By law a judge cannot prevent such delaying actions by holding the offending attorney in contempt of court. Limited material resources, lack of space, poor court-calendar management, insufficient staff, and failure of attorneys and witnesses to appear prevented the court system from adjudicating cases in a timely fashion. As of September, approximately half of the prison and detention center population was in pretrial detention.
Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: The criminal procedure code requires that the court examine the necessity of a detention within three days. If the detention is not revoked, the detainee may appeal up to the Supreme Court. If no decision is made within a prescribed period, the detention becomes void. The criminal procedure code also requires the prosecutor to provide the court bi-monthly updates regarding information obtained following detention. This includes providing summaries of testimonial and documentary evidence received. If warranted, the judge may revoke the detention based on the new information.
Protracted Detention of Rejected Asylum Seekers or Stateless Persons: Authorities often detained irregular migrants who entered the country. By September authorities had detained approximately 500 migrants at the country’s southern border with Greece; those who did not request asylum were deported to Greece within 24 hours. Migrants detained further inland generally spent up to a month at the Karrec migrant detention facility awaiting deportation. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) could monitor the processing, detention, and deportation of migrants. The government reported that less than 10 percent of migrants requested asylum, although NGOs maintained that some migrants who requested asylum might have been deported as well. UNHCR reported that conditions at the Karrec center were unsuitable, particularly for children. In August the government began moving some migrants to the Babrru open migrant facility, where conditions were better.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Although the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, political pressure, intimidation, widespread corruption, and limited resources sometimes prevented the judiciary from functioning independently and efficiently. Court hearings were often not open to the public. Court security officers frequently refused to admit observers to hearings and routinely telephoned the presiding judge to ask whether to admit an individual seeking to attend a particular hearing. Some agencies exhibited a pattern of disregard for court orders. The politicization of appointments to the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court threatened to undermine the independence and integrity of these institutions. As of September, two vacancies in the Supreme Court remained unfilled after nearly three years, despite a considerable backlog of cases facing the court.
The Ministry of Justice generally did not vigorously pursue disciplinary measures against judges. When it did so, the High Council of Justice was reluctant to enact those measures. Through October the ministry had initiated disciplinary proceedings against eight judges. Of these, authorities dismissed one, suspended another, and transferred one to a different jurisdiction. At the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the High Court also ordered the suspension of a High Court judge. This judge was later charged with receiving a bribe, and the case was pending at year’s end.
The law presumes defendants to be innocent until convicted. It provides for defendants to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them, with free interpretation as necessary, and to have a fair and public trial without undue delay. Defendants have the right to be present at their trial, consult an attorney and have one provided at public expense if they cannot afford one. The law provides defendants adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense, access to interpretation free of charge, and the right to access government-held evidence. Defendants have the right to confront witnesses against them and to present witnesses and evidence in their defense. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants have the right to appeal. The government generally respected these rights, although trials were not always public and access to a lawyer was at times problematic. Despite the statutory right to free legal aid, NGOs reported that very few individuals benefitted from this during the year.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
While individuals and organizations may seek civil remedies for human rights violations, courts were susceptible to corruption, inefficiency, intimidation, and political tampering. Judges held many court hearings in their offices, demonstrating a lack of professionalism and providing opportunities for corruption. These factors undermined the judiciary’s authority, contributed to controversial court decisions, and led to an inconsistent application of civil law.
Persons who have exhausted remedies in domestic courts could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). As of September, 495 cases were pending before the ECHR, most related to nonenforcement of domestic judicial or administrative decisions. In many instances, authorities did not enforce ECHR rulings. A 2013 study by the Open Society Foundation for Albania–Soros Foundation found that lawyers, prosecutors, and judges had limited knowledge of ECHR jurisprudence.
Persons who were political prisoners under the former communist regime continued to petition the government for compensation. On several occasions, groups of former political prisoners protested the government’s failure to pay them legally mandated compensation. The law gives priority to compensating women, the elderly, those with serious illnesses, and those who had never received a payment. The government made some progress on disbursing compensation during the year.
Thousands of claims for private and religious property confiscated during the communist era remained unresolved with the government’s Agency for Property Treatment. Claimants may appeal cases to the ECHR and during the year hundreds of cases–many of them related to property–were pending review there.
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The government’s National Inspectorate for the Protection of the Territory (NIPT) demolished some homes without due legal process as part of a wider campaign to demolish illegally constructed buildings. Through August the ombudsman received 16 citizen complaints against the NIPT, including failure to provide sufficient warning in writing, failure to consider a homeowner’s application for legalization of a property, and carelessness resulting in damage to other personal property, such as furniture and other structures.
Throughout the year residents of the Himara region complained of targeted heavy-handedness by the government that resulted in the partial or entire demolition of numerous houses and business with little warning and no legal recourse for adequate compensation. Authorities said the demolitions were needed for commercial development and cultural preservation. Residents claimed the government often did not recognize legal documentation of ownership and dispossessed home and landowners with minimal financial compensation.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is a crime. Penalties for rape and assault depend on the age of the victim. For rape of an adult, the prison term is three to 10 years; for rape of an adolescent between the ages of 14 and 18, the sentence is five to 15 years; and for rape of a child under 14, seven to 15 years. The law includes provisions on sexual assault and sexual harassment and makes the criminalization of spousal rape explicit. The government did not enforce the law effectively. Victims rarely reported spousal abuse, and officials did not prosecute spousal rape. The concept of spousal rape was not well understood, and authorities and the public often did not consider it a crime.
Domestic violence against women, including spousal abuse, remained a serious problem. Police often did not have the training or capacity to deal effectively with domestic violence cases.
Through August a government shelter for domestic violence survivors in Tirana assisted 24 women and 40 children, but it could not accept individuals without a court order. The government operated one shelter to protect survivors of domestic violence and NGOs operated four others. In addition, three NGO shelters provided protection and shelter to victims of trafficking as well as victims of abuse.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, although officials rarely enforced it. NGOs and the commissioner for protection against discrimination believed sexual harassment was seriously underreported. The commissioner for protection against discrimination generally handled cases of sexual harassment. The commissioner may impose fines of up to 80,000 leks ($640) against individuals or 600,000 leks ($4,800) against enterprises.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence. The quality of and access to government-provided health care, including obstetric and postpartum care, was not satisfactory, especially in remote rural areas.
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. Women were not excluded from any occupation in either law or practice, but in many fields, they were underrepresented at the highest levels. The law mandates equal pay for equal work, although many private employers did not fully implement this provision. In many communities, women experienced societal discrimination based on traditional social norms depicting women as subordinate to men. There were reports of discrimination in employment.
Gender-biased Sex Selection: According to the government’s statistical agency, the ratio of boys to girls at birth in 2014 was 109 to 100, which indicated that gender-biased sex selection was possibly occurring. The government did not take any steps to address the imbalance.
Birth Registration: An individual acquires citizenship by birth within the country’s territory or from a citizen parent. Parents were encouraged to register the birth of a child in a timely manner, and the law provides for a monetary reward for parents who register their children within 60 days of birth. Often, however, authorities did not disburse the reward. There were no reports of discrimination in birth registration, but onerous residency and documentation requirements for registration made it more difficult for the many Romani and Balkan-Egyptian parents who lacked legally documented places of residence to register their children or to access government services dependent on registration.
According to the domestic branch of the NGO Association for the Social Support of Youth (ARSIS), children born to internal migrants or those returning from abroad, especially from Greece, frequently had no birth certificates or other legal documents and consequently were unable to attend school or have access to services. This was particularly a problem for Romani families, in which couples often married young and failed to register the births of their children.
Education: School attendance is mandatory through the ninth grade or until the age of 16, whichever occurs first, but many children, particularly in rural areas, left school earlier to work with their families. Parents must purchase supplies, books, uniforms, and space heaters for some classrooms; these were prohibitively expensive for many families, particularly Roma and other minorities. Many families also cited these costs as a reason for not sending girls to school. Although the government had a program to reimburse low-income families for the cost of textbooks, many families and NGOs reported they were unable to receive reimbursement after purchasing the books. NGOs noted that occasionally teachers discriminated against Romani children because of their perceived poor hygiene.
Child Abuse: Observers believed that child abuse was widespread, although victims rarely reported it. In 2013 the Children’s Human Rights Center reported that 58 percent of children were victims of physical abuse, 11 percent were victims of sexual harassment, and almost 5 percent said they had been victims of sexual abuse. Almost 70 percent of children reported psychological abuse from family members, according to the center.
Early and Forced Marriage: Although the legal minimum age for marriage is 18, authorities did not enforce the law. Underage marriages occurred mostly in rural areas and within Romani communities. According to the 2015 Early Marriages in Albaniastudy of the Observatory of Children, approximately 3 percent of children between the ages of 15 and 18 were married. The study also noted that 9 percent of Romani children between the ages of 13 and 18 were married. ARSIS claimed that, in certain Romani communities, girls as young as seven and boys as young as nine were considered married. Some NGOs reported that early and forced marriages occurred in rural communities as part of human trafficking schemes, with parents consenting to their underage daughters marrying older foreign men, who subsequently moved them to other countries.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The penalties for the commercial sexual exploitation of a child range from eight to 15 years’ imprisonment. The country has a statutory rape law, and the minimum age for consensual sex is 14. The penalty for statutory rape is a prison term of five to 15 years. In aggravated circumstances, the penalty may increase to life imprisonment. The law prohibits making or distributing child pornography; penalties are a prison sentence of three to 10 years. Possession of child pornography is illegal. The law explicitly includes minors in provisions that cover sexual abuse, harassment, exploitation for prostitution, benefiting from services offered by trafficked persons, facilitating trafficking, and domestic violence.
Authorities generally enforced laws against the rape and sexual exploitation of minors effectively, but NGOs reported that laws prohibiting child pornography were rarely enforced. Some children under the age of 18 were exploited for prostitution.
Displaced Children: There continued to be numerous displaced and street children, particularly in the Romani community. Street children begged or did petty work; some migrated to neighboring countries, particularly during the summer. These children were at highest risk of trafficking, and some became trafficking victims. Since the law prohibits the prosecution of children under 14 for burglary, criminal gangs at times used displaced children to burglarize homes. There were few prosecutions of child trafficking cases.
A 2014 study by the UN Children’s Fund and Save the Children found that more than 2,500 children, nearly 75 percent of them from Romani or Balkan-Egyptian communities, begged or worked informally on the streets. Most children claimed earning money for their family was the principal reason for their begging or work, and nearly one-third of them said their parents forced them to work. According to the report, many of these children ran the risk of being trafficked.
The government subsequently implemented a pilot program in Tirana to remove children from the street and provide them with social care. Another pilot program provided financial incentives to parents to send their children to school and have them vaccinated. The State Agency for the Protection of Children’s Rights reported that authorities assisted 345 out of 808 identified street children between July 2015 and June 2016. ARSIS reported that children continued to work in cannabis plantations around the country.
Institutionalized Children: Media reported on cases of child abuse occurring in the orphanages of Shkoder, Durres, and Saranda. In April the ombudsman investigated the Shkoder orphanage and recommended criminal charges against several members of the staff for physical and psychological abuse as well as exploitation of child labor. The investigation continued at year’s end.
The migrant detention facility in Karrec was considered unsuitable for children, although a small number of migrant children resided there for periods lasting a few days to several weeks.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
There were reportedly only a few hundred Jews living in the country. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution and laws prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, transportation, access to health care, the judicial system, and the provision of other state services. Nevertheless, employers, schools, health-care providers, and providers of other state services at times engaged in discrimination. The law mandates that new public buildings be accessible to persons with disabilities, but the government only sporadically enforced the law. According to the 2011 census, 24 percent of persons with disabilities had never attended school. Widespread poverty, unregulated working conditions, and poor medical care posed significant problems for many persons with disabilities.
In June the government approved the 2016-20 National Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities, supported by a state budget of 1.5 billion leks ($12 million). The government also funded the Albanian Disability Rights Foundation with five million leks ($40,000) for the production of wheelchairs. The government sponsored social services agencies to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, but these agencies traditionally lacked funding to implement their programs. Resource constraints and lack of infrastructure made it difficult for persons with disabilities to participate fully in civic affairs. Voting centers often were located in facilities lacking accommodations for such persons.
The ombudsman regularly inspected mental health institutions. Both the admission and release of patients at mental health institutions were problematic due to lack of sufficient financial resources to provide adequate psychiatric evaluations. There was societal discrimination and stigmatization of persons with mental and other forms of disability.
There were allegations of significant discrimination against members of the Romani and Balkan-Egyptian communities, including in housing, employment, health care, and education. Some schools resisted accepting Romani and Balkan-Egyptian students, particularly if they appeared to be poor. Many mixed schools that accepted Romani students marginalized them in the classroom, sometimes by physically setting them apart from other students.
Romani rights NGOs criticized the lack of legal safeguards against eviction and demolition of Romani camps included in the law on property legalization. Evictions and demolitions continued during the year and affected many Romani families. The government operated alternative housing programs for evicted families including Roma, but these programs were generally unsustainable without significant NGO and external donor support.
The law provides official minority status for both national and ethnolinguistic groups. The government defined Greeks, Macedonians, and Montenegrins as national groups; Greeks constituted the largest of these. The law defined Aromanians (Vlachs) and Roma as ethnolinguistic minority groups.
The ethnic Greek minority complained about the government’s unwillingness to recognize ethnic Greek towns outside communist-era “minority zones” or to use Greek in official documents and on public signs in ethnic Greek areas. Public education was not available in the Romani, Serbo-Croatian, or Vlach languages.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, including in employment. Through August the government’s commissioner for the protection against discrimination received five complaints from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and organizations. Enforcement of the law was generally weak. In May the Council Of Ministers adopted the National Plan of Action for the LGBTI 2016-20, and in August an order of the prime minister established the National Group of Implementation and Coordination to implement the action plan. The action plan seeks to improve the legal and institutional framework for protecting LGBTI persons; eliminate all forms of discrimination; and improve access to employment, education, health, and housing services.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are among the classes protected by the country’s hate-crime law. Despite the law and the government’s formal support for LGBTI rights, homophobic attitudes persisted in private and public life. Public officials sometimes made homophobic statements. NGOs reported that families evicted LGBTI persons from their homes during the year. Through August the country’s first shelter for evicted LGBTI persons, opened in 2014, accommodated 12 individuals.
On May 14, activists participated in the fourth Tirana Gay (P)Ride against Homophobia, a short bicycle ride on Tirana’s main boulevard, and Albanians witnessed the first television spot on family equality rights. As part of a “diversity festival,” activists organized other activities, such as the public recognition of 30 persons who supported the LGBTI cause. Police ensured activists’ safety during the events. In May the job placement company Headhunters Albania released an LGBTI employment equality index rating the compliance of private companies with recruitment laws that protect sexual orientation. The index of 71 companies indicated that 62 percent had inclusive human resource policies but only 3 percent specifically addressed nondiscrimination of LGBTI job candidates.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. In the most recent demographic and health survey (2008-09), however, 71 percent of women and 69 percent of HIV-positive men reported discriminatory attitudes towards persons with HIV. Such persons experienced general social stigma, although there were no reports of violence against such individuals during the year.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
Incidents of societal killings, including both “blood feud” and revenge killings, occurred during the year. Media portrayed some gang-related killings as blood feud killings, and criminals at times used the term to justify their crimes. There were no cases of minors or women falling victim to blood feud killings. The ombudsman reported that authorities’ efforts to protect families or prevent blood feud deaths were insufficient, although the government increased efforts to prosecute such crimes.