From: Exit News
Interior Minister Contradicts Law on Police, Defends Officers Covering Badge Numbers

Albanian Minister of the Interior Sandër Lleshaj has stated that, on May 17, the police was present at the National Theater at the request of the ‘landowner’, that is, the Tirana municipality.

Speaking today in parliament, Lleshaj said that the police were fulfilling their legal duties by being there. “The police went there after being called by the ‘owner’ as a group of people who had no legal right to the building held it hostage for 27 months,” Lleshaj declared. The police were presented with two options and chose to follow the law, he said.

He also asserted that the police officers who had covered their badge identification numbers during the protests, were justified in doing so:

You will not see police officers who have ID numbers because they are identified by their executives [seniors]. The burden of their failures lies with their leaders and you know their names. If you want political responsibility you have my name, you don’t need to know theirs.

However, looking at the Albanian legislation on police, Lleshaj is, at best, unfamiliar with the law, and, at worst, guilty of willingly violating it.

The Minister’s statement goes against both the law on state police and the State Police Rulebook. 

Article 89 of the law on State Police stipulates that a police officer must wear “their police uniform, signs and symbols only during service, and in accordance with regulation.”

Meanwhile, article 37 of the State Police Rulebook forbids police officers to remove “symbols, emblems, rank, badges, insignia, etc., from their uniforms, and to modify parts of the police uniform.”

Every police officer during the May 17 protests that followed the demolition of the National Theater lacked a visible identification number on their uniforms. Thus, the Minister must be held responsible for this violation of the law and police regulations.

The police exerted violence on citizens and journalists, arrested dozens of people, and used tear gas against protesters. None of those violated have been able to identify the police officers who illegally assaulted them.

Lleshaj also defended the violent actions of the police during the protest that followed the demolition of the National Theater, and claimed that protesters were the ones inciting violence.