From: Alice Taylorr
US State Department: Not A Single Human Trafficker Convicted in Albania, Government Must do More

Once again, the Albanian government has “failed to meet the minimum standards” to eliminate human trafficking, according to the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2021.

While the report mentions that Albania is making “significant efforts to do so” and has improved in terms of effort compared to 2020, it still remains a “Tier 2” country.

Among Albania’s efforts, the report included prosecuting slightly more defendants and spending more money on human trafficking shelters. The country also took steps to seize assets and transfer them to a fund for victim support services. The US State Department noted that Albania has also worked on documents to strengthen child protection, and it had appointed a new coordinator to the Office of National Anti-Trafficking.

Unfortunately, these steps weren’t enough, and the government “did not meet minimum standards in several key areas. This included not prosecuting a single trafficker, identifying more minor victims, and decreasing funding to NGO-run shelters.”

The country also hasn’t implemented any screening processes for vulnerable populations, including migrants, asylum seekers, those involved in commercial sex, and children. Mobile units remained underfunded and understaffed despite being those which identified the most victims annually.

The State Department called for the government to “vigorously investigate,  prosecute, and convict traffickers to identify victims proactively.”

They must also train lawyers, prosecutors, and judicial officials to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases properly. The focus should be given to matters like consent and coercion in the context of sex and labor trafficking.

NGO-fun shelters should receive adequate and constituent funding and support, as should mobile victim identification units.

Furthermore, reintegration services should be improved, including access to mental health services, witness protection measures, and a victim-centered approach. These recommendations echo years of similar calls from the State Department and Council of Europe.