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Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Section 3, Article 18 of the Constitution of Albania has an odd disclaimer that suggests that there are cases when discrimination is “objective and justified”.

In November 2011 the Constitutional Court of Albania ruled in favour of excluding the “ethnicity” category from both the Civil Status Act and the population census. While exclusion of this category from the Civil Status Act is generally consistent with the European Protection of Human Rights regulations, excluding it from the population census where completing it is strictly voluntary and only represents the self-identification of the respondent, is somewhat illogical.

The expert opinion is that this is Albanian government’s attempt to twist statistics in order to make the number of national minorities living in Albania appear smaller than it really is. All of this resulted in a situation where minorities residing outside the so-called “Minority Zones” have practically lost the ability to prove their identity.

The Albanian Criminal Code does not contain any statements about racial hatred and other prejudices serving as a motive aggravating the seriousness of the offense. Despite the assurances of the Albanian authorities that courts will be taking these factors into consideration when issuing verdicts, as well as statements that it “contradicts the Albanian legal system” , the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has on multiple occasions suggested for Albania to amend its Criminal Code in such a way that racism, as well as other prejudiced actions, would be treated as aggravating circumstances.

In the middle of August Albania introduced a new law that simplifies the process of citizenship acquisition for all the ethnic Albanians residing in the adjacent territories. Albania’s neighbouring countries saw this as another step towards creation of “The Great Albania”, which, hypothetically, is supposed to include parts of Greece’s, Macedonia’s, Serbia’s and Montenegro’s territories.

Albania also ratified the European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers in 2007. In March 2003 even a special law was issued - N.9034, “On Emigration of Albanian Citizens due to Employment Reasons”, Article 1 of which declared that Albania guarantees care and protection to its emigrant citizens and will maintain and develop connections with their countries of residence.

Article 16 of the Albanian Constitution dictates equality of rights, freedoms, and responsibilities for indigenous Albanian citizens, legal foreign immigrants, and Albanian residents without citizenship. In turn, Article 39 prohibits mass deportation of foreigners In March 2013 Albanian Parliament accepted a new amendment to the “Law on Foreigners”, which adapted it to the EU norms as much as possible. This amendment abolished the necessity for EU citizens to obtain a work permit in order to find employment in Albania, as well as gave EU citizens same rights as Albanian citizens for medical and social aid.

The amended version of the “Law on Foreigners” is consistent with Directive 2009/50/EC on Entry and residence of highly qualified workers, as well as with the introduction of EU Blue Card, which also regulates employment of highly skilled professionals from Third World countries. The new “Law on Foreigners” adapts the aforementioned directive to the specifics of Albanian population and economy. Laws regulating entry and exit from the country are also fully consistent with Directive 2004/38/EC on the right to move and reside freely. This means that Albania has implemented a visa-free regime for EU citizens and opened its borders for everyone in possession of a “Schengen Visa”.

The regulations for refugees and asylum seekers are governed by the “Law on Asylum in the Republic of Albania” implemented in 1998.

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