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Public debate on Anti-discrimination in Tirana

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, in the framework of Open Regional Fund for South East Europe – Legal Reform, under the activities of “Legal protection against discrimination in SEE” subproject, organized a roundtable with the main actors working in the field of antidiscrimination in Albania on 13th of April, 2016, in Albania. The purpose of this meeting was to present the findings of a draft report on antidiscrimination carried out during January – March 2016, in Albania, by national experts Prof. Dr. Arta Mandro Balili and Prof. Assoc. Dr. Flutura Kola Tafaj. The meeting was attended by representatives from Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Faculty of Law, School of Magistrate, Ombudsman, Ministry of Justice, Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination, Council of Europe, OSCE etc. 
This draft report was considered as a very important and interesting one, especially because it is done for the first time in Albania, and it is a comprehensive analysis throughout the countries of the region, which have somehow the same challenges and problems. Representatives from Ombudsman Institution were very interested on cooperating with international partners such as Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights (Vienna) (BIM). The representatives from Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court and Constitutional Court were willing to contribute with statistical data with regard to discrimination cases. However, in Albania the courts report only the discrimination cases which are subject of a criminal judgement. The labor disputes, in case of termination of employment, are the most typical cases in which discrimination is raised as a topic. 
Some other important discussions were about free legal aid, which is not easily accessed by the vulnerable target groups due to the bureaucratic procedures, missing of information and not being aware of their rights. Missing of specialized judges, lawyers, in antidiscrimination field makes difficult the implementation of legal framework on protection from discrimination. Another problem for the easy implementation of the antidiscrimination measures is the burden of proof, especially in cases with private parties. Article 12 of the Albanian Civil Procedure Code (CPC) provides “The party which claims a right has the obligation to prove, in conformity with the law, the facts on which it supports its claim.”, while article 63 (6) of the Law for Protection from Discrimination (LPD) provides “After the plaintiff submits the evidence on which he bases his claim and on the basis of which the court may presume discriminating behaviour, the defendant is obligated to prove that the facts do not constitute discrimination according to this law.” It is visible that it is conflict between CPC and LPD on this matter that should be further interpreted and unified by the jurisprudence.  An interesting topic raised at the meeting was about the balance between discrimination and free autonomy of will. It was agreed by the participants that inclusion of mediators in antidiscrimination cases before submitting the case at the court is crucial especially in sexual harassment cases. The roundtable was successfully concluded and it was agreed that everyone, will read the draft - report and send their comments and suggestions.