A better protection system for the witnesses in Albania thanks to €550 000 EU-funded project (18/06/2012)

Tirana, 18 June 2012

PRESS RELEASE

In framework of the €550 000 twinning project funded by the EU to enhance the operational and logistical capacities of the Directorate of Witness and Special Persons Protection, a conference was held today to take stock of the achievements. Judiciary reform, the fight against corruption and the fight against organised crime are among the 12 Key Priorities of the European Commission for Albania to gain candidate status. But the efficiency of the fight against organised crime cannot be considered as complete if the victims and witnesses of crime cannot feel safe to collaborate with state institutions. The EU funded project provided support to the country's Criminal Justice Sector regarding the implementation of new law on witness protection and to build long-term capacity within the Albanian State Police Directorate for Witness Protection, the Office of the General Prosecutor, the Court and the Prison Service.

During the conference, the Head of the Operations at the EU Delegation to Albania, Mr Luigi Brusa underlined that "it is part of European Standards to consider as unacceptable for the criminal justice system to fail to bring defendants to trial and obtain a judgment because witnesses have been effectively discouraged from testifying freely and truthfully". "The efficiency of the fight against Organised Crime cannot be considered as complete if the victims and witnesses of crime cannot feel safe to collaborate with state institutions. Advancing Witness Protection is therefore paramount in advancing the Rule of Law in Albania and further increase capacities to fight organized crime", said Mr Brusa.

The twinning with the Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation and the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau as junior partner started 16 months ago. The project complemented other EU assistance on the matter still on going; namely: the provision of IT communication system for Witness Protection Directorate, a project of approximately 125,000 Euros, the provision of Vehicles 266,000 Euros, and an EU Regional Project for Witness Protection in the Fight against Serious Crime and Terrorism (WINPRO), which gives support to the all Western Balkans countries in this field with 4 million Euros.

This EU funded twinning project and the WINPRO Regional project provided also recommendations for the future functioning and the restructuring of the Witness Protection Unit and the Witness Protection Directorate hopefully to be soon implemented by the Albanian authorities.

For further information, please contact:

Artes BUTKA
Press & Information Officer
Tel: + 355 4 2228 320, + 355 42 228 479
E-mail: artes.butka@eeas.europa.eu
Delegation's website: www.delalb.ec.europa.eu