From: Exit News
Almost Half of Those Arrested During Protests Were Minors, Reports Albanian Ombudsman

Nearly half of those detained by the police in Tirana during the protests that followed the killing of Klodian Rasha by a police officer were minors.

According to a preliminary report by the Albanian Ombudsman, during the protests of December 9 and 10, 124 people have been detained. Of them, 57 were minors, some younger than 14 years old.

Some of the detained claimed that they had no relation to the protests, whereas two minors have alleged that police pressured them into admitting that they had committed violent actions.

“All those arrested were interrogated regarding the actions committed during the protest. Some of them claimed that they participated in the protest, but did not commit violent acts. Others claimed that they happened to have been passing by and did not participate in the protest. Two minors, when asked whether an attorney or a psychiatrist were present during the interrogation, responded that they were only interrogated by a police officer, who pressured them to admit they had committed violent acts,” the report found.

The Ombudsman has also expressed concern regarding the overpopulation of arrest facilities in police precincts.

Under normal settings, local police precincts in the capital can only accommodate 33 detainees and 25 arrested people. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their capacities have been hindered. 

However, as assessed by the Ombudsman’s inspection, precincts have exceeded their capacities, holding more people than they are equipped to, even under normal settings. 

“At the time of inspection, there were a total of 52 arrested. Holding cells were equipped with hand sanitizer and there were face masks in some of them, but not enough [for all those arrested]. From the detainees, there was only a limited number of claims of violent acts on the part of police officers, but there were no formal complaints filed in order to further facilitate our institution’s investigation,” the report confirmed.

Regarding the case of journalist Xhoi Malësia, the report said that the police claimed that “he was not treated as a detainee and was not held in the detainment cells.”