For several days now, peaceful protests have been taking place in the main cities of Albania, during which citizens are asking the government to take measures to reduce taxes on fuel and provide subsidies for the immediate increase of prices for basket products. We have seen with concern the disproportionate intervention of the state police forces, masked or plainclothes officers have often used violence while taking more than 200 protesters in police stations, 50 of whom have been arrested and about 150 others have been prosecuted or have been declared wanted by the police. The right to peaceful assembly is a fundamental human right, enabling individuals to express themselves collectively and to participate in the transformation and shaping of the society.
This right also forms the basis of a participatory system based on democracy, human rights, the rule of law and pluralism. As such, this right must be respected, regardless of the opinions that anyone can express about these protests. The observation of the law is a key factor in democratic states for the normal functioning of state institutions. In fact, one of the main tasks of the government in times of crisis is to protect its citizens from their consequences, by acting responsibly in the management of the public affairs and resources. The consequences of the crisis of price increase, are mostly felt by the poor, as well as the citizens who belong to the most vulnerable groups of society.
Based on the above, we call on the structures of the State Police, not to use violence and repression against protesters, as well as to stop their intimidation through accusations such as "illegal gathering", which are being rejected case by case in Court, based on the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the law on the right of assembly. Repression of citizens or free media will only worsen the likelihood of considering dialogue to find democratic solutions to the issues raised by the protesters.
List of signatory civil society organizations:
Albania Media Council
Albanian Legal and Territorial Research Institute A.L.T.R.I
Center “Res Publika”
Center for Legal and Civic Initiatives
Center for Social Advocacy
Center for the Rights of the Child in Albania
Center for the Study of Democracy and Governance
Civil Rights Defenders
Community Reporters Albania
Egyptian and Roma Youth Movement
Free Legal Aid Tirana
Open Data, Shqipëri
Open Mind Spectrum Albania
Social Justice Organization