IRB – Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (Author)
This response is based on information provided by the following specialists: a specialist on Albania at the Centre for Russia and East European Studies at the University of Toronto (28 Feb. 2000); an associate professor of history at Indiana University in Fort Wayne (15 Mar. 2000), the executive director of the Albania Helsinki Committee in Tirana (12 Mar. 2000); and a professor of history and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Illinois University in Macomb (23 Mar. 2000). The professor of history returned from Albania in mid-March, where he was part of a team from the Atlanta-based Carter Foundation that met with the Prime Minister, key ministers, leaders of major parties, Albanian and foreign NGOs and other groups and individuals.
Both the specialist on Albania and the associate professor stated that the Monarluies, also known as the Legality Party, has split. The specialist stated that although the two factions have the same political aims, they do not communicate with each other.
The specialist described the Legality Party as an "extremely marginal political force" in Albania, while the professor of history described it as being "not very popular" and occasionally an "irritant to the authorities." The professor of history stated that the Legality Party has been most active in the region around Mat, located in the north in Shkoder, where the party has some support. Regarding the treatment of Legality Party members by the authorities, the professor of history stated:
I have heard stories, although I don't have first-hand information, that some of these people have been called to the police station and read the riot act. In a few cases they may have been physically abused. To what extent is not clear, but nevertheless some of these people who are outspoken have been harassed, and some of the harassment has taken place at the local level where the officials are Democrats.
According to the specialist on Albania at the University of Toronto, lack of freedom of expression and political repression are not serious problems in Albania right now. The key problems for the government are corruption, some of it state-sponsored, and dealing with criminality and maintaining law and order. At present political issues have largely faded into the background. With regard to the treatment of Legality Party members by the authorities, the specialist stated:
A Legality Party leader was arrested about 18 months ago because he had incited a riot. The charges are probably legitimate because at one point the Legality Party was involved in efforts to destabilize Albanian political life. As well, one or two Legality Party members may be facing charges related to an incitement to riot that ended in violence during the 1997 elections and referendum on the monarchy.
The executive director at the Albania Helsinki Committee stated that his organization has no information indicating that the current government takes a "differentiated or discriminatory" stand towards the Legality Party. According to the executive director, "the organization of political parties and their activities is based on article 9 of the Constitution. The law bans only those parties that base their activities on totalitarian methods, incite and support racial, religious, ethnic and regional hatred, and use violence for taking power."
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 to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Albania Helsinki Committee, Tirana. 12
March 2000. Correspondence from the Executive Director.
Associate Professor of History, Indiana
University, Fort Wayne, Ind. 15 March 2000. Telephone
Professor of History, Western Illinois
University, Macomb, Ill. 23 March 2000. Telephone interview.
Specialist on Albania at the Centre for
Russia and East European Studies, University of Toronto. 28
February 2000. Telephone interview.
Additional Sources Consulted
Europa 1999. 1999.
World News Connection (WNC).
Two other oral sources contacted.
Internet sources including:
Albania Press Watch (APW).
Albanian Daily News.
Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA).
Athens News Agency (ANA).
British Helsinki Human Rights Group
Country Reports. 1998,
ENTER News Agency.
Hellenic Resources Network.
Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
International Centre for Migration
Policy Development (ICMPD).
International Crisis Group (ICG).
International Helsinki Federation for
Human Rights (IHF-HR).
International Journal of Albanian
Studies [New York].
Political Parties, Interest Groups and
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Slavic Research Centre.
Wilfried Derksen's Electoral