During the last year, the Albanian prosecutor’s office failed to conduct any investigations into missing person cases from the communist regime, according to the European Commission’s recently published country report.
Concerning the right to life, the EC noted that this failure and the low number of resolved cases were “partly due” to a lack of capacity and resources. They called for political will to establish an efficient cooperation mechanism among relevant institutions and to enhance public awareness on the matter.
More than 30 years after the fall of communism, there are over 6000 people still missing. Amongst the missing are political prisoners, those who were executed without trial, those who were executed after sham trials, and hundreds who perished in horrific conditions in prison and labour camps.
The Albanian state nor the Socialist Party have formally apologised for the atrocities carried out over 50 years. There is no official memorial for victims, and students receive little information about what happened during the regime. Even more concerningly, there have been no convictions of those who killed, murdered, and tortured innocent people.
Some prominent communists, including those who worked in the regime’s judiciary and official roles, hold positions of power today.
In terms of searching for the missing, many files have been deposited with prosecutors, but there has been zero progress on many of them. Several filed by the International Commission on Missing Persons Western Balkans Program have not progressed in over three years.
Earlier this year, the head of the program, Matthew Holiday, said the Albanian government have a legal obligation to account for missing people.
Then in August, the OSCE said the fact that more than 6000 people are still missing is a “serious human rights violation” that “deeply and incessantly affects the families of the missing who long for a grave to mourn their loved ones.”
Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed that his government has “done as much as we can” to bring to light the story of those that suffered during communism and continue to suffer today.
In an extraordinary speech given in August at the inauguration of an exhibition of former state security documents called “Sigurimi in its own words”, Rama said:
“All the stories of persecutions and tortures coming from the dictatorship, beyond just personal suffering, are stories of suffering embedded in the social conscience. In that of other generations, in those who were born during the communist period but were able to build another life, and in those who are born in the post-communist period and for whom communism is a story learned from books or the elderly, but not a fact of life.”
He added:” We have tried to do as much as we can, although it’s certainly never enough to bring this story to light.”
While addressing the missing victims, he made no pledge to find them.