Get the ‘big fish,’ Albania told

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 10, 2017 10:07

Get the ‘big fish,’ Albania told

Story Highlights

  • U.S. Ambassador Donald Lu said this week that the country’s international partners expect aggressive plans the Albanian government has proposed will result in the arrest and prosecution of several big fish early next year.

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TIRANA, Nov. 7 – Albanian authorities have been urged by international representatives to show concrete results in the fight against corruption and organized crime, including the arrest and prosecution of “big fish.”

U.S. Ambassador Donald Lu said this week that the country’s international partners expect aggressive plans the Albanian government has proposed will result in the arrest and prosecution of several big fish early next year.

“Albania’s international partners expect this. The people of Albania demand and deserve this,” Lu said “The Albanian people have our assurance that the United States will engage strongly against organized crime no matter what links it has with powerful people, including powerful politicians, judges, prosecutors or businessmen. No one is above the law.”

EU’s top diplomat in Tirana, Ambassador Romana Vlahutin, said that after approving a deep justice reform, Albania should now move equally decisively to the next battle, the one against organized crime and corruption.

“I want to believe that [upcoming] operations will be a truly decisive step towards a state that is much stronger than any sort of crime,” Vlahutin said, adding she commended all law enforcement officials who “want to prove they have the will, the strength and the capacity to safeguard the law and order and the security of all citizens.”

She added Albanian law enforcement should “show concrete, tangible and irreversible results in this momentous fight.”

The comments came at an event where Prime Minister Edi Rama unveiled a major multi-agency plan to tackle organized crime, bring its leaders to justice and confiscate illegally-acquired assets.

Releasing a detailed report outlining the plan, the prime minister said the program will bring together all relevant departments, institutions and agencies with a view to ridding the nation of criminal elements which have developed and infiltrated Albanian society.

“This new anti-crime structure will be in charge of the most intensive and long-term operation ever undertaken against organized crime,” he said.

Called Operation Power of Law, the program was approved this week by Albania’s government. Implementation will be led by the Ministry of Internal Affairs together with a Central Task Force, appointed by the prime minister.

New judicial bodies and other law enforcement elements will be required at the national and local levels. The government will be seeking further assistance from international partners, including the EU and Europol, Interpol, neighbouring countries such as Italy and Greece, and the FBI in the United States.

Rama acknowledged a number of weaknesses in the nation’s past efforts to combat organized crime so far.

However, Fatmir Xhafaj, Albania’s minister for internal affairs, said his ministry together with local police forces have made major progress against the illicit drugs trade. However, he confirmed that the trans-shipment of imported drugs is the next challenge.

“What we’re finding is that while domestic production is at last being reduced, the people and machinery previously devoted to the export of cannabis are now being deployed to import cannabis and other drugs and to re-export them. This is a growing problem which requires joint co-operation by all the nations involved – including Albania as a trans-shipment point, but also the producing and consuming countries,” Xhafaj said.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 10, 2017 10:07