US embassy cable - 06TIRANA629

EFFORTS TO IMPROVE ALBANIAN PRE-TRIAL DETENTION CONDITIONS

Identifier: 06TIRANA629
Wikileaks: View 06TIRANA629 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tirana
Created: 2006-06-13 05:49:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PREL PGOV PHUM KCRM AL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXYZ0023
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTI #0629 1640549
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130549Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY TIRANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4416
INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 2931
RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 2728
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 5298
RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO 0445
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE 4124
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 2950
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFNPKB/COMUSNAVEUR NAPLES IT
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA 3432
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2168
UNCLAS TIRANA 000629 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/SCE (MBENEDICT), DRL (MDAVIS) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PHUM, KCRM, AL 
SUBJECT: EFFORTS TO IMPROVE ALBANIAN PRE-TRIAL DETENTION 
CONDITIONS 
 
1. (U) SUMMARY. A DRL-funded project to improve conditions at 
one of Albania's largest prisons was launched June 7. This 
project will provide training to prison guards and 
administration officials. Complementing the project's launch, 
the Ministry of Justice disseminated a new internal 
regulation order to improve the treatment of women and minors 
in pre-trial detention facilities. These events come on the 
heels of an amendment to the Albanian Penal Code defining 
torture. END SUMMARY. 
 
PRISON ALREADY IMPROVED, PROJECT WILL BOOST MOMENTUM 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
2. (U) On June 7, PolOff participated in the launching 
ceremony of a DRL-funded project aimed at improving the 
treatment of pre-trial detainees in one of Albania's largest 
prisons. Implemented by the Albanian Helsinki Committee 
(AHC), with technical assistance from the Dutch Prison 
system, the 12-month, $50,000 project will provide training 
on human rights and prisoner handling techniques consistent 
with international norms and standards. 
 
3. (U) Jan van den Brand, Coordinator for Foreign Affairs at 
the Dutch Prison Service, said that in the last two years the 
situation at the Lezhe prison had gone from a tense 
environment where he was not allowed free access to all areas 
of the prison to one where he was allowed virtually 
unfettered access to all parts of the prison, where the 
operating climate had greatly improved, and where juvenile 
convicts had been completely separated from adults. 
 
4. (U) The prison currently houses 160 pre-trial detainees 
and 530 convicts, figures that he cited as being the maximum 
capacity for this all-male facility. He said that he was 
concerned about plans to increase the number of convicts to 
700, a situation which, in itself, would compromise the 
advances in prisoner treatment that had already been made. 
 
5. (U) According to Rrok Nikaj, Lezhe Prison Warden, the vast 
majority of prisoners there were convicted of murder, and 
many of these were blood feud killings.  (A centuries old 
Albanian form of "honor killings.")  He said that the 
lingering blood feud culture presented a challenge to prison 
management to protect the safety of the prisoners, forcing 
him to separate and isolate combating parties. 
 
NEW REGULATIONS AIMED AT STRENGTHENING HUMAN RIGHTS 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
6. (U) Edlira Papavangjeli, AHC Project Coordinator, said 
that the GOA Minister of Justice issued on June 6 a new 
directive regarding the treatment and handling of all 
pre-trial detainees. The new directive improved upon its 2003 
predecessor by increasing the minimum per prisoner space, 
formalizing a grievance mechanism for all prisoners, 
separating minors and women from other prisoners, and 
addressing the unique educational, social, and psychological 
needs of prisoners. The GOA further sought to improve 
Albania's human rights framework with an amendment to the 
Albanian Penal Code that clearly defined of the concept of 
torture. Passed on May 31 by the Council of Ministers, the 
measure awaits final adoption by the Parliament. 
 
PRISON AN IMPORTANT ECONOMIC ASSET 
---------------------------------- 
 
7. (U) Prefect of Lezhe, Njazi Reci, told PolOff that Lezhe 
prison was one of the largest employers in the district, 
employing many guards, cooks, and maintenance staff. He noted 
that the prison also was an important consumer of food 
supplies and other goods furnished by local small businesses 
in the district. 
ZATE 

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