In a report on human trafficking, the US State Department advised the Albanian government to “investigate, prosecute and punish traffickers – including officials who cooperate with them.”
“The government sentenced five traffickers in 2018 and 2019, the lowest number of convictions since 2014.” – emphasizes the report.
According to the Department, the Albanian government does not fully meet the required minimum standards for eliminating trafficking but is making efforts to do so. It is currently ranked as a “tier 2” country.
The report states that over the last five years, human traffickers have exploited domestic and foreign victims in Albania as well as exploiting Albanian women and children. They often use false promises such as marriage or employment to force victims into sex trafficking. Children are often forced to beg or perform other kinds of compelled labour. Members of the Roma and Balkan Egyptian community are regularly exploited by traffickers.
Victims are also used to carry out forced labour in cannabis fields in the country.
The government lacks screening efforts for vulnerable populations including migrants, asylum seekers, children, and individuals in commercial sex. According to the report, the authorities do not consistently participate in mobile victim identification units. In addition to this, they have continued to delay funding for NGO-run shelters and social services are lacking resources for care and reintegration.
The US State Department also advises changing the Albanian Penal Code to remove the part that calls for “demonstration of force, fraud or coercion” on charges of sex trafficking in minors.
Other prioritises recommendations include training police, front line officials, and labour inspectors, providing guidance on the concept of consent, allocated adequate funding and resources to government-run and NGOs that run shelters, and implement victim-centred approaches to the legal process.