May 27. 2024. 8:59

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US: Corruption, gender-based violence of concern in Albania, Kosovo


According to the latest United States Department of State report published Monday, corruption and gender-based violence remain critical issues for Albania and Kosovo.

In Albania, deficiencies with the independence and integrity of the judiciary, a lack of independent media, and ongoing corruption in governmance are the main problems facing the EU candidate country.

The report, however, did note that progress is being made in the form of the Special Anti-Corruption Structure (SPAK), which, over the last 12 months, investigated and prosecuted senior officials and members of organised crime structures.

Regarding women’s rights, the authorities have not effectively enforced laws on the rate and have not published any data on spousal rape.

The report notes that the authorities do not sufficiently understand the concept of spousal rape and often do not consider it a crime. In addition, while the law also covers sexual harassment, authorities often fail to enforce it.

Neighbouring Kosovo, which applied for EU membership in December 2022, was also significantly criticised for lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence. It notes that cases of gender-based violence often go unreported due to social stigma and a lack of trust in authorities.

“Until September [of 2022], prosecutors have investigated 160 cases of rape and filed 30 lawsuits.”

It also noted the case of the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Pristina by five suspects, including four adults and a minor. The report said that prosecutors filed charges against them, including human trafficking, child pornography, and using the sexual services of a trafficking victim, but not rape.

It also mentions the murder of a pregnant woman by her husband outside the maternity hospital in the capital. He escaped and committed suicide two days later. Still, the police came under fire as she had previously reported domestic violence and was under police protection at the time of her murder.

He also concludes that fewer women hold leadership positions in businesses, police or government.

“The Institution of the People’s Advocate has reported that women are often subject to discriminatory employment practices, as well as forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment in the workplace, both in the public and private sectors.”

According to the report’s findings, women in Kosovo “are underrepresented in the labour market, since only one in five women is an active part of the formal labour market.

In terms of corruption, the report notes that the law foresees criminal penalties for officials involved in crime, but they have not been appropriately implemented.

“There have been several cases of reporting corruption at the government level. Officials have sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. The lack of effective judicial supervision and the fragility of law enforcement has resulted in this problem,” the report said.

It is mentioned there that some corruption cases have been repeatedly appealed, leading to the statute of limitations expiring.

“In December 2021, the Kosovo Institute for Justice has identified 11 cases of corruption that risked statute of limitations; in January, seven of these cases expired due to the statute of limitations”.

The Anti-Corruption Agency and the National Audit Office are also mentioned in the report as being responsible for fighting government corruption.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)