Press Release

Remarks of General Prosecutor Olsian Çela at the 2nd roundtable "Promotion of legislative-criminal mechanisms in the fight against Gender-Based Violence"

Honoured Speaker of the Assembly, Mrs. Nikolla,
Honoured Minister, Mr. Çuçi,
Honoured Mrs. Bushka and Mrs. Lakomy,

The gender-based violence continues to be the focus of the prosecution's institutional activity and 
one of the objectives set each year in the fight against crime. We consider this phenomenon as a challenge of vital importance that requires a further strategic approach in achieving a profound and a long-term impact in the society.

This approach has urged us to change this roundtable into an annual tradition, as a necessity to discuss and coordinate institutional measures at legislative and criminal level, also through the involvement of the civil society, in order to increase public awareness towards immediate reaction and reporting of any form of violence and the appropriate orientation of victims to competent structures.

The General Prosecution is consistent in its assessment that the measures needed to be taken in response to this phenomenon should engage several actors, as well as be accompanied by thorough multilateral analysis of criminological nature and more extensive, as well as periodic and transparent to the public. The generating and the efficient use of the entire social energy that brings real and tangible changes, far away from the slogans and the barren publicity is our common challenge and task.
It is to be appreciated the fact that the social and institutional sensitivity to gender-based violence has increased, thus leading to an improvement of the efficiency of law enforcement institutions in this area. The arrangement of this roundtable in itself proves the seriousness of a commitment, which is already comprehensive with the potential of creating synergies of transformative power.
In case of throwing a comparative glance to the statistical data of the 9 months of 2021, it is noticed an increasing trend of the criminal offenses of domestic violence compared to a year ago. There are 977 criminal proceedings registered compared to 932 cases in 2020. It is very concerning the fact that an increasing trend is also encountered in the committing of such an offense repeatedly and in the presence of children.
A slight increase is noticed referring "Sex crimes", where the comparative figures for the 9-month period show a higher number of proceedings referring these crimes, 116 cases as such from 106 cases of a year ago. 

There are no changes regarding the situation for criminal offenses against children, marriage and families, where the number of criminal proceedings registered for the same comparative period is at the level of 62 proceedings. However, here, I would like to highlight an upsetting fact that reveals an increase of cases of the criminal offense of "Juvenile Abuse".

The serious events taking place this year with juvenile victims are an indicator of a serious problem in the society, which demands an increased institutional attention and further. The violence against minors, due to the incapability and impossibility of victims to perceive and report crimes, makes it quite complex and difficult to take effective measure having also in mind the social, economic and cultural factors that greatly affect the right treatment of the phenomenon. 
Minors are the most vulnerable part of the society and they need our presence and protection more than anyone else. Furthermore, the abuse of minors generally occurs in an environment where violence against women is present and repeated. Their violation or their growth in environments, where violence is part of everyday life damages the future of the country irreversibly, since it is the preamble to tomorrow's society, where violence possibly will be accepted from a cultural point of view as the normality and the violated ones of today may potentially become the future violators.

Therefore, a serious commitment remains crucial for the prosecutors, both for the careful evaluation of any data and further full investigation of facts, as well as for the tough approach regarding the measures of sentencing the wrongdoers. Institutional tolerance or indifference in cases of violence against all vulnerable people within the family or in other social surroundings do inspire other acts of violence.

Another moment that I want to emphasize is the lack of reliable statistical and analytical data on the impact of the pandemic regarding the level of gender-based violence. Globally, there is an increased attention to analyzing how the restrictions on free movements, the online learning and other professional activities, which prolonged the time of staying home for all social categories of people have increased the reporting on domestic violence, especially the recurring episodes recognized by the local authorities.

Lack of reporting due to various restrictions that have been applied to limit the pandemic may be an explanatory factor for the discrepancy of trends in statistical terms in our country.

Worldwide data show an increase of violence through the use of computer networks, especially during the pandemic, due to the increased use of virtual platforms, which significantly enable the contact between perpetrators and potential victims. On our part we should aim at reflecting internet gender-based violence in specific statistical data, so as to better evaluate the extent of the problem and the measures to be taken.

In the framework of accomplishing the obligations of the General Prosecution Office regarding the resolution of the Albanian Parliament and in implementation of the recommendations of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) we have taken the following measures:

•    Approval of the instruction on the effective investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses against gender-based violence and hate-based violence that addresses the obligations of the Istanbul Convention. This instruction aims at unifying the procedural measures in the prosecutions of general jurisdiction; promoting the inter-institutional cooperation and that with civil society organizations; conducting trainings, drafting specific protocols and strategies in dealing with cases involving victims of gender-based violence, domestic violence and hate-based violence.

•    Another measure is the issuance of the instruction on the effective investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses with minors who are in conflict with the law, victims or witnesses.
In spite of the efforts made, there is still much to be done in this aspect, such as regarding the improvement and well-functioning of the statistical system in order to generate and analyze data, thus establishing a flexible system based on the needs of the prosecution, the parliament or other national and international law enforcement institutions with which the General Prosecution Office exchanges information.

We should continue to focus on improving professionalism for the handling of cases with a subject of a special status, such as minors or women and girls, who are victims of violence or rape, in order to prevent discriminatory treatment of the victim.

I, hereby, would like to encourage and urge the coordinators to inform on any identified or suspected case. It is crucial that the victim is not subjected to re-victimization by the wrongdoers or other state actors during the exercise of their duties, while it is still needed to work for the standardization of practices that ensure the protection of victims' personal data.

In an article from The Economist for September 2021, entitled "The Cost of Women's Oppression", which refers a survey entitled "The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Global Governance and National Security" is concluded that the countries, where women are maltreated are the poorest and have less stability.

In the ranking of 176 countries on a scale from 0-16, considering factors such as unequal treatment of women in the right to family life; property rights; early marriage for girls; the living in the husband's family after marriage; polygamy; the price of the bride; preferences for the birth of sons; violence against women and society's attitudes towards this violence, it is noticed that rich democracies clearly come first. 

Australia, Sweden and Switzerland have a zero index, while Iraq, Nigeria, Yemen or Afghanistan have a figure of 15. 
The conclusion of the three authors of the survey seems to be: “The worst curse to a nation is to underestimate the women of that nation and put them in an inferior rank”. These data bring about some conclusions of which, I would like to highlight the two key ones:

Firstly, it is of high importance to understand that the future and progress of a country is in direct proportion to the level of guaranteeing and protecting women's rights as well as its role in society.

Secondly, high levels of gender-based violence can be an indicator of deeper social problems, which cannot be solved by the judiciary, alone, through prevention or punishment of the offenders.
The issue is much more complex and it requires a multidimensional strategy. It is essential to make a thorough and a profound analysis of the current situation so as to highlight the real causes of this violence, being social, cultural or economic ones. Probably, we might need a real social revolution in terms of perceiving the phenomena of violence and discrimination as serious obstacles to the progress, requiring a concrete commitment of every state structure, of every non-governmental organization, of every entity or social group.

The prosecution is fully committed to accomplishing its role in this respect, an effort that needs to be supported coherently, also in terms of a multifaceted visionary inter-institutional approach and beyond.

Thank you!