The 1998 Constitution of Albania (as amended) stipulates that: "The life of a person is protected by law."Art. 21, 1998 Constitution of Albania (as amended).It further prohibits inhumane treatment:
No one may be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment.Art. 25, 1998 Constitution of Albania (as amended).
Article 47 of the Constitution provides that:
1. Freedom and unarmed participation in peaceful gatherings is guaranteed.
2. Peaceful gatherings in public squares and places are held in conformity with the law.
However, Article 170(1) states that: "Extraordinary measures can be taken due to a state of war, state of emergency or natural disaster and last for as long as these states continue."
The use of force by the police or other law enforcement agencies is not specifically regulated under the Constitution.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1950 European Convention on Human Rights||State Party|
Police Use of Force
The Albanian State Police, which is the primary law enforcement agency in Albania, reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The 2007 Law on State Police of Albania specifically regulates police use of force. According to Article 118 (Use of force):
(1) Use of force on persons is the direct action by means of physical force, equipment, other means, or firearms.
(2) The Police officer uses force in order to achieve a legal purpose only when it is necessary, and only after other measures have been unsuccessful or are impossible. The Police officer uses the minimum amount of force necessary in accordance with the principle of proportionality.
(3) When using force, the police officer selects the level of necessary force from a continuum of force options which includes, among others, verbal persuasion, physical restraint, impact weapons, aerosol weapons (devices with chemical paralysing substances), electrical impulse devices, police dogs, and firearms.
(4) The injured shall be provided help and medical assistance when force is applied, if necessary and possible in the situation.
(5) The Police officer must warn that he will use force prior to its execution. The warning may be abandoned if the circumstances do not permit it, in particular if the immediate execution of means of force is necessary to prevent immediate threat.
The 2014 Law on Weapons of Albania does not regulate the use of firearms by the police. Use is subject to the 1998 Law on the Use of Firearms. Article 1 of an unofficial translation provides that: "The firearm is used as an extreme means in order to stop or paralyze the illegal actions of the person or persons mentioned in this law, when the other means didn't give any result or when it is clear that their use will not be successful." The rules set down in the 1998 Law are more permissive than international law allows. It is reported that the law on firearms has been amended by a 2010 Law but this does not appear to be publicly available.
In addition, Article 88 of Albania's Criminal Code provides that serious intentional injury inflicting, inter alia, disfigurement, mutilation or any other permanent damage to the health, is punished with imprisonment of between three and ten years. Article 248 of the Code prohibits actions and omissions as a result of abuse of power committed by a person vested with public powers, and punishes those actions with a term of imprisonment of up to seven years, if they do not constitute any other criminal offence.
The People's Advocate Ombudsman deals with complaints against police officers in Albania.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2014 Concluding Observations on Albania, the Human Rights Committee expressed concern at excessive use of force by the police against demonstrators, a lack of accountability, as well as at "reports that children in conflict with the law are ill-treated in police stations after arrest."
Also in 2014, in the context of the Universal Periodic Review of Albania under the United Nations Human Rights Council, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment referred to a significant number of allegations of physical ill-treatment of criminal suspects by the police, and noted that the allegations related mostly to ill-treatment inflicted at the time of questioning with a view to obtaining a confession. The European Committee was particularly concerned about allegations of ill-treatment received from young persons who alleged that they had been subjected to physical ill-treatment by the police at the time of apprehension and/or during interrogation as well as ill-treatment of a psychological nature.
Phoni v. Albania (2018)
This case concerned allegations of ill-treatment by a special police unit in the Rapid Reaction Force (RRF). In a rather surprising judgment in which it rejected a claim of substantive violation of the prohibition of inhumane treatment, the European Court of Human Rights stated as follows:
The Court notes that throughout the investigation the applicant consistently claimed that the authorities had used force against him. The applicant’s account of events was corroborated by two witnesses (N.P. and Ni.P.) questioned in the course of the investigation.... However, equally consistently, all the police officers in question claimed the opposite. They consistently stated that the applicant had had an injury to the back of his head from the outset, that he had been involved in the fight, and that they had not used any force against him.... This account of events was corroborated by witnesses A.S., A.E. and J.K. in their statements of 7 August and 17 October 2012 and 15 January 2013. In these circumstances, it is clear that the whole set of events did not “lie wholly, or in large part, within the exclusive knowledge of the authorities”. While the medical report in respect of the applicant was produced a day after the events, this is not sufficient for the Court to conclude, certainly not beyond reasonable doubt, that he was indeed ill-treated in breach of Article 3 of the Convention.... The second expert report carried out by the FMI stated that it had been impossible to identify the object that had caused the applicant’s injuries. Moreover, there were some indications to the effect that the injuries sustained by the applicant might have been caused as a consequence of him and the other people being involved in the fight before the police intervention. According to the prosecutor’s decision of 13 May 2013, the applicant had been hit by another man prior to the police intervention during the physical dispute. The Court notes that the prosecutor’s decision stated that doubts had arisen as to whether the offence of abuse of power had been committed, on the grounds that the injuries sustained by the applicant might have been caused while he was being escorted to the police station by the RRF officers. Nevertheless, the Court notes that, in his written observations, the applicant did not submit any claim concerning any alleged ill-treatment against him while being escorted by the police officers to the police station. He strongly maintained that the police officers had beaten him in public in the main street of the city. In these circumstances, the Court considers that it is not apparent that the applicant was still in good health when the authorities arrived at the scene....
The Court did find a failure of the duty to investigate adequately under Article 3 of the European Convention.