Tirana, Albania, May 26 (Tirana Echo) – Albania should step up protection of children and inclusion of persons with disabilities – said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, after a five-day visit to Albania which focused on children’s rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, and access to free legal aid.
Albania lags behind European counterparts and its Balkan neighbors in protecting the rights of children and disabled people as the small country of 3 million struggles to guarantee European standards of governance for its citizens. High levels of domestic violence and school violence have been reported in the past.
Mijatović welcomed Albania’s commitment to ensuring better protection of children through legislation which contains the necessary human rights and anti-discrimination safeguards, including the 2017 law on the protection of children’s rights. However, she stresses the need for more effective implementation of the existing legislation and better co-operation between different levels of responsible authorities.
Notable progress in tackling school violence was noted by the Council of Europe.
“I am pleased that there is a large consensus of all stakeholders that violence against children is unacceptable. However, continuous awareness raising is needed to change societal attitudes that violence against children as a way of disciplining them is acceptable.”
The Commissioner also underlined the need to address bullying and violence among peers, which appear to be widespread in schools, while raising the capacity and training of education professionals in preventing cases of violence, including sexual violence and children witnessing domestic violence.
However, Mijatović failed to address a core issue in Albania, that of how foreign aid and international projects are being applied in a country where consultancy and NGO projects receive millions of euros each year, with little transparency and poor tangible results to show.
Albanian legislation guarantees the inclusion of all children in mainstream education without discrimination on any ground, however implementation of laws remains poor, in particular towards Roma and Egyptian children and those with disabilities. Hundreds of organizations and consultants work in the human rights sector, receiving huge sums of money from international donors each year, but little has changed.
Albania receives each year hundreds of millions of Euros in aid from international institutions and various countries. However, little transparency is provided as to how international grants and donations are applied and who benefits the most. Critics have demanded more transparency, arguing international funding goes predominantly to virtual consultants and a shady NGO market.
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