Municipal Council of Tirana and Tirana Municipality have to take urgent measures to ensure that any interested citizen attends the meetings of the Council in accordance with local law!
Tirana, 28 February 2013 – Children Human Rights Center Albania (CRCA), one of the leading civil society organisations in the country is scandalized and outraged by the treatment that Tirana Municipal Council has has given to one of staff members of the CRCA and two young girls from the youth group Tirana Youth Leadership. Beside the fact that CRCA has followed all standard procedures for accreditation to attend Council meetings, the assisting staff of the Council has accompained the CRCA representatives out by treating the in the ugliest way and with complete lack of respect for the human dignity.
Through this letter we protest with all our strength for the violation of human rights and especially for the rights of women and girls, as guaranteed by the national legislation of Albania as well as the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Since 2006 onwards, CRCA works to promote equal participation of youth, women and minorities in the political life of the country. Since January 2012 we have been working together with a group of young people from political parties and civil society, through the "Youth Leadership in Tirana" to promote active youth participation in local governance. Part of our work is also the observation of local decision-making process, which takes place in Tirana Municipal Council, to see how much time and what budget resolving issues of youth, women and children in Tirana.
Albania CRCA representatives have already attended 6 Council meeting in 2012. At its meeting on 28 February 2012, CRCA had notified the Council for the presence of observers at the meeting and had not encountered obstacles. Our representatives were informed by municipal employees to arrive 30 minutes before the starting of the meeting.
The three observers (girls age 22-24 years) were introduced 30 minutes before the meeting and at first were allowed to enter the hall.
Then it was communicated that the meeting room of the City Council does not have sufficient space to allow all interested persons because this meeting the directors were also present. The way of communication was all the time unethical and inappropriate for a public institution, without giving any information if the meeting could however be attended just by standing. After a second attempt, the observers were put back into the room and brought back from there, with the excuse that " these places were reserved for the leaders of the Municipality". CRCA has never requested reserved seats in these meetings.
For CRCA, not allowing our representatives to follow closely the meeting of the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Tirana, is a serious violation of the law for local government in Albania. Law No. 8652, dated 31.7.2000 "for the organization and functioning of Local Government", in Article 34, paragraph 1, states: "Council meetings are open to the public. Every citizen is allowed to attend meetings of the council ... "
Prohibiting attendance of meetings is a violation of the basic rights of every citizen to participate and to attend meetings of its elected institutions, the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Albania. Moreover, for the interest of increasing transparency and good governance, the City Council of the Municipality of Tirana, should have its meetings open to all citizens of Tirana, because the Tirana of 2013 is not the Tirana of 1990 .
Starting from this very serious event, CRCA Albania recommends the Tirana Mayor, the Head of the Municipal Council of Tirana, as well as political groups in this Council, to take prompt measures to address this issue, including:
- Revision of the Rules of Operation of Tirana Municipal Council, to ensure that any interested citizen, have the opportunity to attend meetings of the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Tirana;
- Forecast in the regulation of procedures and ways to attend City Council meetings by stakeholders, such as making available another aula than where the meeting is held, where citizens and stakeholders through a monitor or other means, to have the opportunity to attend open meetings of the Council;
- Ensuring transparency to the citizens and taxpayers of Tirana, who have entrusting you the city government;
- Ethical behavior by the staff of the Municipality of Tirana. Review of the manner of reception of citizens and not allow potential personal bias to address the interested citizens.
In any case, if these important democratic demands are not solved , CRCA will eventually sue to the Constitutional Court, Article 39 of the Rules of Operation of the City Council Tirana as a clause that explicitly limits the right of citizens to information and public participation in their institutions.
CRCA believes that the right to information and participation in decision-making are among the basic human rights in a democratic country, so institutions should take all necessary measures to guarantee respect for the rights of citizens in the exercise of their away obstacles administrative.