Draft Law on National Minorities sent for adoption to the Albanian Parliament

17-06-06-01-41-50banner_foto_km_deklarata_ok

After many years of advocacy by the national minorities and their representative organizations, the Government of the Republic of Albania has approved and sent for adoption to the Parliament of the Republic of Albania the final draft of the Law “On National Minorities in the Republic of Albania”. The draft law is a product of the work and conclusions drawn up by the Working Group of representatives of state institutions that cover issues concerning minorities for this purpose. The Committee for National Minorities of the Republic of Albania, an institution that has been regularly advocating for the adoption of such an act, played a major role and contributed to the adoption of critical positive dispositions.
The law contains a definition of national minorities as nationals of Albania resident in the country, characterized by permanent and old ties with the Albanian state who show different cultural, ethnic, religious and traditional characteristics and the will to preserve and promote them in the community and individually. In this regard, the following minorities are recognized in the law: Greeks, Macedonians, Vlachs / Arumanians, Roma, Egyptians, Montenegrins, Bosniaks, and Serbs. The law also stipulates that the recognition of new national minorities shall be carried out by a decision of the Council of the Minister of the Republic of Albania upon the proposal of the ministry responsible for internal affairs.
In addition to the generally accepted principles and dispositions adopted by the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, concerning the right to free self-expression, prohibition of discrimination, the right to freedom of association and assembly, freedom of religion, equal and effective participation in the country’s public life, the law provides that in the municipalities where minorities live traditionally, minority language lessons are organized in accordance with education legislation, while the criteria for determining justified requirements and the number of students are determined by the decision of the Council of Ministers. The law also defines the right of national minorities, apart from the right to independently establish their media institutions, to be represented in state-run radio-television programs without discrimination.
The law provides the use of the language of national minorities for official purposes in the territories of municipalities where the number of members of minorities occupies 20% of the total number in that municipality. This includes the use of minority languages in topographic signs and names of places in the municipality, as well as maintaining official communications and correspondence in those languages.
The law defines the scope of work and functions of the Committee for National Minorities, which continues to have an advisory character by providing recommendations and proposing solutions to state bodies on issues related to national minorities, overseeing the implementation of the legal framework on minorities, and giving opinions on the application for recognition of a specific national minority.
Finally, the draft law provides the establishment of the Fund for National Minorities in support of development projects and protection of the rights of national minorities and for the preservation of their national identity.
The associations of our minority welcome the adoption of the draft Law on National Minorities as one step that will pave the way to improving the real status of the rights and freedoms of national minorities in Albania. Although the draft generally stipulates protection of national minorities and does not provide the best solutions regarding the guarantee of equal participation of minorities in legislative, judicial and executive power, education in minority languages for all levels of school hierachy, the use of minority languages before judicial and executive institutions and the use of minority alphabet in the personal documents, we consider that the law represents a starting point for further legal regulation and concrete implementation of the rights and freedoms belonging to national minorities in Albania.
The text of the law in Albanian attached.

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