The Christian Democratic Party and the treatment of its supporters by the police and government [ALB100875.E]

The Christian Democratic Party of Albania (PDK)

The Democratic Christian Party of Albania (PDK) is a "right-wing center" party (ATA 22 June 2005) that is led by Nikolle Lesi (ibid.; Europa World Year Book 2005 2005, 470). Established in 1991 (ibid.; ATA 22 June 2005), the PDK draws most of its support from Catholic towns in the North of the country (Political Handbook of the World 2005-2006 Dec. 2005, 17; Political Parties of the World 2005, 9).

On 2 June 2005, the PDK joined the New Democrat Party (PDr), the Republican Party (PR), the Liberal Union Party (PBLD), the National Front Party (PBKD), the Movement for Human Rights Party (PLDLN), and the Liberal Party of Democratic Union (PBD) to form a coalition named the Alliance for Freedom, Justice and Wellbeing (SeeNews 28 June 2005). The PDK holds two of Albania's 140 parliamentary seats since the country's elections in July 2005 (Angus Reid Consultants 3 July 2005).

In 2004, the Christian Democratic Party (PDK) supported the Democratic Party's activities to help remove the Socialist Party (PS), led by Fatos Nano (SeeNews 28 June 2005), from power (Rilindja Demokratike 20 Aug. 2004). The "centre-right" Democratic Party (PD) replaced the Nano government after winning the country's July 2005 elections (BBC 22 Jan. 2006).

Treatment of Supporters of the Christian Democratic Party (PDK)

In January 2004, Albania's Prime Minister Fatos Nano sued the PDK's leader, Nikolle Lesi, for libel (IHF 2005; Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005, Sec. 2.a). Lesi was sued for allegedly printing "false information" about the Prime Minister in his newspaper, Koha Jone (IHF 2005), which claimed that Nano's having awarded himself six months' salary for work associated with the privatization of the National Savings Bank of Albania "amounted to corruption" (Article 19 27 May 2004; IPI 2004).

Nikolle Lesi was fined approximately "US$20,000" by the Tirana District Court (IPI 2004; Article 19 27 May 2004; CPJ 2004), one hundred times the average monthly salary in Albania (ibid; Article 19 27 May 2004). The PDK leader's trial was also allegedly "marred by procedural irregularities" (CPJ 2004). Lesi appealed the court's decision (IHF 2005; Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005, Sec. 2.a); however, no further information could be found on the outcome of the appeal among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

In May 2004, the prime minister's wife, Xhoana Nano, also sued Nikolle Lesi for libel (IHF 2005; CPJ 2004; IPI 2004; Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005, Sec. 2.a) and requested that the Supreme Court remove Lesi's parliamentary immunity (ATA 4 Oct. 2004; IHF 2005; Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005, Sec. 2.a) in order for criminal charges to be laid (ibid.). According to the US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2004, in Albania, "[l]ibel carries criminal sentences, from a fine to 2 years imprisonment" (28 Feb. 2005, Sec. 2.a). The Albanian Parliament, however, voted against lifting Lesi's immunity (IHF 2005; IPI 2004; SETimes 9 Nov. 2004).

Prior to Albania's July 2005 elections, there were reports of opposition candidates, including members of the Christian Democratic Party, being "attacked and intimidated" (IWPR 23 June 2005). According to the PDK leader, the party's candidates were "under pressure" as a result of a "political vendetta led by the prime minister," further claiming that some candidates had been fired from their jobs (ibid.).

No further information on the treatment of supporters of the Christian Democratic Party of Albania could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


Albania Telegraph Agency (ATA) English News Service [Tirana]. 22 June 2005. "Some Data On Parliamentary Parties That Participate in Elections of July 3." (Factiva)

____. 4 October 2004. Anila Struga. "Lesi's Immunity to Be Discussed After Report of Commission of Mandates." (Factiva)

Angus Reid Consultants. 3 July 2005. "Democracy Elections: Albania." http://www.angus-reid.com/tracker/index.cfm?fuseaction=viewItem&itemID=7362 [Accessed 24 Jan. 2006]

Article 19. 27 May 2004. Andrew Puddephatt. "Open Letter to Mr. Fatos Nano." http://www.article19.org/pdfs/letters/letter-to-prime-minister-of-albania.pdf [Accessed 24 Jan. 2006]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 22 January 2006. "Country Profile: Albania." http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1004234.stm [Accessed 24 Jan. 2006]

Committee to Protest Journalists (CPJ). 2004. Attacks on the Press 2004: Documented Cases from Europe and Central Asia for 2004. "Albania." http://www.cpj.org/attacks04/europe04/albania.html [Accessed 24 Jan. 2006]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. 28 February 2005. United States Department of State. "Albania." http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41666.htm [Accessed 29 Dec. 2005]

Europa World Year Book 2005. 2005. 46th ed. Vol. 1. "Albania." London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.

Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). 23 June 2005. Suela Musta. "Albania Election Campaign Turns Nasty." http://iwpr.gn.apc.org/?s=f&o=242097&apc_state=henibcr200506 [Accessed 24 Jan. 2006]

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF). 2005. "Albania." Human Rights in the OSCE Region: Europe, Central Asia and North America, Report 2005 (Events of 2004). http://www.ihf-hr.org/documents/doc_summary.php?sec_id=3&d_id=4057 [Accessed 25 Jan. 2006]

International Press Institute (IPI). 2004. South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO). "Albania." 2004 World Press Freedom Review. http://www.freemedia.at/wpfr/Europe/albania.htm [Accessed 24 Jan. 2006]

Political Handbook of the World 2005-2006. December 2005. Edited by Arthur S. Banks, Thomas C. Muller, and William R. Overstreet. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Political Parties of the World. 2005. 6th Edition. Edited by Bogdan Szajkowski. London, UK: John Harper Publishing.

Rilindja Demokratike [Tirana, in Albania]. 20 August 2004. "Albanian Party Leader Urges Street Protests to Bring Down Government." (BBC Monitoring European/Factiva)

Southeast European Times (SETimes). 9 November 2004. "Albania's Ruling Party Rejects Motion by Prime Minister." http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/newsbriefs/setimes/newsbriefs/2004/11/09/nb-04 [Accessed 24 Jan. 2006]

South East Europe Newswire (SeeNews) [Sofia]. 28 June 2005. "Key Facts - Main Political Parties in Albania's Sunday Elections." (Factiva)

Additional Sources Consulted


Oral source: Albanian Human Rights Group (AHRG) provided the Research Directorate with published materials for this Response.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), European Country of Origin Information Network (ECOI), Freedom House, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Transitions Online.