The current structure and function of the State Information Service (Sherbini Informative Kombetare, ShIK); its mandate; to whom it reports; whether it has local offices which report to local authorities [ALB42914.E]

According to Brassey's International Intelligence Yearbook (2003, 3), the State Information Service (Sherbimi Informative Kombetare, ShIK) was formed in July 1991 and replaced communist Albania's Sigurimi security police. ALB33124.E of 27 October 1999 provides background information on both the ShIK and Sigurimi and their functioning to that date.

Brassey's states that in 1998, the ShIK was "renamed the Department of National Security (DSK) but the Constitutional Court changed the name to the State Information Service, with the local media continuing to refer to it as the ShIK" (2003, 3). Country Reports 2003 refers to the State Intelligence Service as the SHISH and notes that the organization is responsible for both internal and external intelligence gathering and counterintelligence (25 Feb. 2004, Intro.). Brassey's expands the scope of these activities, adding "anti-terrorism, anti-corruption, and anti-drugs trafficking activities" and notes that ShIK personnel have the powers of arrest and detention (2003, 3).

A 2000 report by the Tirana-based Institute for Policy and Legal Studies (IPLS) provides an overview of the structure of the State Intelligence Service and its legislative basis. According to this report, the State Intelligence Service "bases its activity on the law no. 8391, date 28/10/1998 'On the State Intelligence Service'" (IPLS 2000). Further, the IPLS report outlines its mission and function and its position relative to other state bodies:

Mission and Function:
According to Article 1 of this law, the State Intelligence Service is an intelligence organ of the state with national security functions.
[The] State Intelligence Service has the following duties:
- [to] collect information from abroad for the purposes of national security;
- to] undertake intelligence activity for purposes of the protection of integrity, independence and constitutional order;
- [to] collect information in regard to terrorist activity, production and trafficking of narcotics, in regard to production of weapons of mass destruction as well as crimes against the environment;
- [to] collect information in regard to organized crime that endangers the national security.
Institutional Position of the State Intelligence Service and relationship with other state bodies:
[The] State Intelligence Service is under the authority of the Prime Minister. Its Head is appointed and dismissed by the President of the Republic with the proposal of the Prime Minister.
Article 9 expressly states that [the] State Intelligence Service does not carry activities of a military or police character. Nevertheless, article 3, paragraphs 4 and 5, specifies that [the] SIS has several duties in respect to rule of law and order.
It is interesting to note that the law in its article 6 provides for a close relationship and co-operation between [the] Head of Service and [the] Prosecutor General. The Attorney General has to approve the working procedures of the State Intelligence Service. Such procedures deal with:
- ... how the information is collected;
- the use of physical and electronic controls;
- the ways of securing and protecting the sources of information;
- the ways of verifying the information and its sources;
- the collection of information from persons that are to be sources of information.

A permanent subcommittee in the Parliament also supervises the activity of the State Intelligence Service. The Head of [the] Service reports in front of this subcommittee at least once a year (Article 7).

The Council of Ministers supervises the State Intelligence Service activity by appointing a General Inspector. This General Inspector is under the authority of both [the] Prime Minister and Head of the Service (IPLS 2000).

In correspondence received on 8 October 2004, a representative of the IPLS confirmed that the State Intelligence Service is also known by the acronym SHISH and that the structure, as outlined in the 2000 report, remains unchanged.

While recent information on the activities of the SHISH is limited to those references found in Country Reports 2003 (25 Feb. 2004), Brassey's and the International Crisis Group (ICG) reported that in 2002, a committee was struck to investigate the alleged illegal activities of what the ICG refers to as the SHISH (11 Mar. 2003, 4) and what Brassey's refers to as the ShIK (2003, 5). The committee was to investigate, among other things, the murder of Azem Hajdari in September 1998 (Brassey's 2003, 5; ICG 11 Mar. 2003). For information on this murder, please see ALB37186.E of 14 June 2001 and ALB34263.E of 20 April 2000. According to the ICG,

On 18 November 2002 the three-month parliamentary investigation in SHISH collapsed when the opposition boycotted [the] adoption of the final report. It had earlier produced its own report claiming SHISH had unlawfully spied on its leaders and was involved in the killing of Hajdari. These charges were ignored in the report adopted by the Socialist majority, and the opportunity to establish a consensus on past (and future) intelligence activities was lost (11 Mar. 2003, 4).

Information on the status of the committee's report and whether it was ever adopted could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

In 2002, Kujtim Hysenaj was appointed head of the SHISH (ICG 11 Mar. 2003, 4; CEELI Nov. 2002). Further information on the activities of the SHISH and on whether it has local offices could not 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.


Brassey's International Intelligence Yearbook. 2003. Edited by Robert D'A. Henderson. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's Inc.

Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI). November 2002. "Significant Legal Developments for Albania: November 2002." [Accessed 22 Oct. 2004]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

Institute for Policy and Legal Studies (IPLS), Tirana. 8 October 2004. Correspondence received from representative.

_____. 2000. "Organizational Study of the Albanian Judicial Sector: State Intelligence Service." [Accessed 4 Oct. 2004]

International Crisis Group (ICG). 11 March 2003. Albania: State of the Nation 2003. [Accessed 28 Sept. 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

Publications, including: Europa World Yearbook, People in Power, Political Handbook of the World.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International, Balkans Web, Dialog, East European Constitutional Review, Human Rights Watch, Jurist: Albanian Law, Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, South East European Times.

Associated documents