Due to signals from the investigative media, the Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC) monitored and provided legal assistance on the issue of discrimination due to the economic and social condition of citizens living in the vicinity of the former Torovica Camp, Balldre administrative unit, in Lezha Municipality.
After highlighting the disturbing problems that the 15 families living in the former camp building faced, AHC received the consent of 3 of the inhabitants to represent their case legally. The inhabitants lived in very grave and miserable conditions in the building that used to serve as a camp for prisoners in Torovica.
AHC provided legal assistance and represented the inhabitants before the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination, who accepted the complaint of the inhabitants by decision no. 116, of 04.05.2018. The Commissioner highlighted the discrimination of inhabitants due to their economic and social conditions by Lezha Municipality structures. Furthermore, the Commissioner ordered that the Municipality take immediate measures to secure drinkable water, containers for urban waste, alternative solutions for housing and improvement of road infrastructure for the inhabitants of the former Torovica prisoners’ camp, within 30 days after the day the decision was made available.
The temporary solution of the infrastructure situation by maintaining the 500 meter road segment connecting the center of Marlecaj village to the former Torovica camp with gravel, the considerable distance from the homes of the petitioners to the urban waste containers, the lack of any project/plan by the Lezha Municipality for drinkable water supply for families, as well as the lack of plans/projects or measures it has taken or will take to improve the living conditions and find an alternative solution for housing in dignified conditions for inhabitants of the former Torovica camp, are some of the violations that the Commissioner highlighted in the decision to protect the inhabitants from discrimination. The failure of the Lezha Municipality to fulfill legal obligations has placed petitioners on an unequal footing compared to other inhabitants of this administrative unit, for which measures have been taken to improve their living conditions. It is expected that Lezha Municipality, within 30 days, will inform the Commissioner about measures undertaken in order to ensure respect for denied rights.
This case has been followed in the context of the project “Creating and promoting positive good governance practices to local communities and vulnerable groups in Albania,” with financial support from the U.S. Embassy’s Democracy Commission Small Grants Program.