Tirana 18 September 2020 - Through this Public Statement, CRCA/ECPAT Albania would like to express our serious concern on the violation of legal procedures during the escort of a 12-year-old girl to the premises of the Fier Police Directorate by police officers.
Three days ago, an investigative TV broadcast, showed the unusual situation of the escort and interview of a 12-year-old girl by the police in the city of Fier. The cause was the situation created among 15 teenage children who circulated inappropriate photos of their 17-year-old peer. After receiving a complaint, the police decided to intervene, where, among others, they stopped on the street, while three police officers dressed in plain clothes escorted to the Police Directorate the 12-year-old girl-child (according to media sources) using a private car. The actions took place without the presence of her parents, lawyer, or the psychologist, including the interviewing of the child. The girl and her mother told to the media that all the time the minor was interviewed only at all and was even threatened by the police officer who was interviewing her.
CRCA/ECPAT Albania is seriously concerned of the police behaviour, which is in contradiction with the principles and standards set by the Juvenile Justice Code, the Constitution of Albania, Criminal Code and the UNCRC.
According to Article 40 of the CRC: “1. States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child's sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child's respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child's age and the desirability of promoting the child's reintegration and the child's assuming a constructive role in society. ”
While in its second paragraph, it is clearly explained how the legal process of interviewing a minor by the police should be. CRC stipulates that the juvenile must be presumed innocent until his innocence is legally proven; be informed promptly and directly of the charges brought against him, if appropriate, by his parents or legal representatives, and have legal assistance or any other appropriate assistance in preparing and presenting his defense; as well as not be forced to testify or plead guilty; to question or have the prosecution witnesses questioned and to ensure the appearance and questioning of his defense witnesses on equal terms.
According to the testimony of the mother of the 12-year-old girl, there was not a psychologist to accompany and interview the child. The Fier Police are found to be in complete violation of Article 18 of the Juvenile Justice Code, which obliges the presence of a psychologist even during the escort of a juvenile “at any stage of criminal proceedings with juveniles in conflict with the law, as well as during the questioning of a juvenile victim or witness, regardless of age over or under 14, the presence of a psychologist is mandatory.”
This is not the first time the Police in Albania is accused of violating the rights of the child. Few months back the 4 police officers were caught on camera physically abusing a 14-years old child in public, while so far, the police have stayed silent on the case, dismissing from Police only one of four abusers. Based on such repeated events of institutional violence by police officers against children and juveniles, CRCA/ECPAT Albania calls for an immediate investigation and prosecution of every responsible police officer who flagrantly violates the rights of the child and juveniles in criminal proceedings.
The conduct of an internal investigation by the Police for this event is considered extremely important. On the other hand we recommend urgent and nationwide training of all police officers who are in contact with children or juveniles, in conflict with the law, witnesses or victims of crime, to learn the principles and standards of the Juveniles Code, as well as to practice situations of interviewing, escorting, isolating or protecting juveniles when they are under the care of the Police.