Tirana, May 26, 2019 - CRCA/ECPAT Albania and the Albanian National Youth Network (ANYN), through this open public statement, urge the Government of Albania to immediately withdraw from the parliamentary discussions and proceedings the Draft-Law “On Youth”.
On May 16, 2019, the Council of Ministers approved the Draft -Law “On Youth”, which is expected to pass for discussion and approval in the Parliament during the next few days. Although in January 2019, CRCA/ECPAT Albania presented to the MPs a completely different version of the Youth Draft Law, produced in consultations with more than 1000 youth from 12 regions of Albania, the Parliament refused to consider our request.
The draft-Law (the version proposed by the Government), completely omits 681,548 young people aged 15-29, or about 26% of the Albanian population. The draft doesn’t plan to make any investment to strengthening youth or establish institutions and mechanisms in support of them. It doesn’t even address the issue of young people leaving Albania, which according to Gallup's latest data, it counts for 80% of all young people.
From the review that CRCA/ECPAT Albania's experts have made of the Government’s version of the draft-law, there are several high risks that need to be considered due to the lack of control mechanisms, such as the following:
- It may further create and facilitate the opportunities for corruption of public officials at national and local level;
- Is in open contradiction with the Constitution of Albania, UN and Council of Europe human rights standards.Unequivocally it puts all the competences that young people must have, in the hands of mayors or the minister responsible for youth, by openly placing young people under the political control of one or more political parties in Albania.
- Moreover, the draft-law establishes serious opportunities for politicians to put under their control youth civil society organizations and groups, at local and national level, by creating a dangerous precedent in open violation of the most basic principles of democracy and the functioning of civil society organizations in Albania.
- It denies the right to benefit from public youth services almost every young person in Albania. This means that 139,043 students and 116,646 high school students will not be able to receive any free services, even though, as the UPR Report for Albania 2019 showed that young people are amongst the poorest and most excluded groups in society;
- Explicitly it denies all young people's right to be provided with the Youth Card, so much sought from students’ protests in Albania. This denies access to any friendly services the young people could benefit because of the Youth card. So far, the Youth Card wasn’t implemented because of lack of laws and bylaws. While for young people the Youth Card has always been one of their main requests, the Government hasn’t included the Card in the regulated youth services;
- It doesn’t regulate youth participation and representation at every decision-making process, thus denying young people may have a saying on matters important to them.After student protests, it appears that the Government is demonstrating, that it does not support any critical voice on policies for young people. Since the students’ protests last year, every Decision or initiative of the Council of Ministers has passed without discussing or consulting youth organization and groups;
- The draft contains serious technical, linguistic and structural weaknesses, which may also constitute a cause for non-implementation. The proposed draft-law fails to establish any institutional, local or national structure and mechanism that would facilitate youth work and account issuing of public officials against the youth. It does not guarantee the right to decent employment of young people. According to MAPS Report, about 30% of young people are neither employed, nor in education or training;
- Finally, the draft-law shows fundamental shortcomings regarding its compatibility with the standards of the Council of Europe for and European Union's Acquis for youth, while Albania aspires to open membership talks this summer.
Based on the above-mentioned arguments, we openly ask the Government and the Parliament of Albania: Since this draft doesn’t guarantee any new rights for youth in Albania, why have a new law?!
CRCA/ECPAT Albania and ANYN publicly urge the Government to immediately withdraw from the Parliamentary proceedings their version of the Youth Draft-Law, since if approved, the law will violate youth rights in Albania. CRCA/ECPAT Albania together with ANYN will urgently contact the EU delegation, the US Embassy in Albania and every other diplomatic mission in the country to express our grave concerns on this unprecedented tendency to violate the country's constitution and laws.
We also call upon all the MP’s: Turn this draft back to the Government!
A LAW FOR YOUTH! WITH YOUTH! BY YOUTH!