News 28 Mar 14

Albania Promises Ex-Political Prisoners €13.1m

Prime Minister Edi Rama on Friday said the government would set aside €13.1 million in 2014 for former prisoners of conscience of Albania’s Communist regime.

Besar Likmeta

Albania's government has pledged to end the hold-ups in compensation payments that have angered former political prisoners in the country. “The problem is much bigger than our ability to resolve it immediately,” Prime Minister Rama said.

“We will try first to close the wounds of their moral mistreatment while proceeding with the material compensation,” he added.

The sum of €13.1 million awarded by the government covers only part of the total payment promised to former political prisoners, based on a law approved by the previous centre-right government.

Albania’s Association of Former Political Prisoners believes that about 5,577 men and 450 women were executed for political crimes during the Communist era from 1946 to 1991. Tens of thousands of others were imprisoned or sent to labour camps.

A law passed in 2007 said that former political prisoners of the regime were entitled to 2,000 lek (€14.3) for every day of prison that they had served.

However, the government then divided the payment into eight tranches and over the past five years only one of those segments has actually been disbursed.

In October 2012, a group of ex-prisoners held a hunger strike in Tirana, calling for immediate reparations of their time in prison.

Two of the prisoners set themselves on fire in protest and one of them later died in an Italian hospital.

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