Albania | Recommendations on respecting the constitutional freedom of assembly even during the state of emergency

The People’s Advocate of Albania provides recommendations “On taking the necessary measures to respect the constitutional freedom of assembly even during the state of emergency” addressed to the Inter-Ministerial Committee of Civil Emergencies, General Prosecutor, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and the General Directorate of State Police in Albania.

During the last two years the Ombudsman Office has started to follow on its own initiative several cases made public in the media for obstructing the exercise of freedom of assembly, and has monitored almost all assemblies organized by Opposition Parties and groups of citizens, students organized in Tirana, the residents of "Unaza e Re", in the area of "Astiri" and in the area near "Bregu Lumit" in Tirana, who have protested respectively against Public Institutions of Higher Education for better conditions in universities, for the demolition of their buildings due to the implementation of the project’s expansion of the "Unaza Re" and the extension of the Boulevard "Zogu i Pare".

From the review of these cases by our institution it was found that in some of them:‚Äč

  • The notifications of the subjects for assemblies are refused due to unsuitable place requested for the gathering as it became an obstacle for the normal movement of the citizens and vehicles;
  • The responses of the police bodies to the fulfillment of the details, or the refusal of assemblies has been incorrect, but there are found inexistent reasons rejecting the notifications or giving responses by claiming that they did not meet the legal criteria by prohibiting the exercise of freedom of assembly of the citizens;
  • The heads of the police bodies (Commissariats’ Chiefs) to whom these notices are addressed to, have not issued reasoned decisions for communication with the organizer or the leader of the assembly for possible prohibitions and restrictions or other conditions, including the number of persons who will assist in its performance, according to article 6/1/a of law “On Assemblies”, or banning all gatherings in particular locations or public spaces, or deciding the time and place of the assembly, according to article 8 of this law.  In this way, the applicants’ right to a fair legal process was violated, as they were denied from the right to appeal against the expected decision of the Chef of the Commissariat of Police, as provided in article 25 of the law “On assemblies”;
  • The central and local structures of the State Police, mainly the Local Directorate of Tirana Police, have violated the principle of proportionality by exceeding the physical force exerted on citizens and throwing tear gas more than necessary, as well as in the closed premises.  

Source: The People’s Advocate of Albania 

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