Following hundreds of reports to authorities, only one case – with two defendants – related to election crimes has resulted in a conviction, according to a report by the Center for Public Information Matters in Albania.
The general elections on Monday April 25 were accompanied by a total of 291 complaints of vote buying, manipulation, pressure and other forms of electoral crimes. These issues have also been taken up by various international bodies, including the OSCE/ODHIR, which have called for far-reaching reforms to protect citizens against electoral crimes.
However, a report on the incidence and investigation of election crimes estimates that to date around 140 such complaints have been registered as criminal charges by authorities. Of these, only one resulted in a final decision.
During a presentation of the report on Friday, Gerti Shella, director of the centre, said: “The manipulation of elections has been and remains a serious concern for Albania. Despite the stricter legal provisions, criminal investigations in the area of elections have not been effective in Albania.
The center monitored the elections and the post-election period for any alleged electoral crime. Until November 2021, 158 notifications have been received, of which 82 have led to the opening of criminal proceedings. The Special Prosecutor’s Office against Crime and Corruption, a structure supported by the EU and the United States, registered 115 requests, but only 57 led to the opening of criminal proceedings.
And only one case, with two suspects, resulted in a conviction.
Journalist Klodiana Lala, a member of the centre’s board of directors, said: “I expect the prosecution [of these crimes] be more serious. Our law enforcement institutions should create mechanisms to prevent election crimes, vote buying and selling. It shouldn’t stop at certain surveys or reports.
Other council members noted that the public has long lost faith in the prosecution and does not believe such crimes will be punished.