Implement Council of Ministers’ Decision No. 842, of December 6, 2011, “On the approval of compensation levels for damages caused to agricultural products and businesses by the rainfalls and flooding in the district of Shkodër”
On June 24, 2012, the inhabitants of the Trush village, Commune of Bërdicë, district of Shkodër, for the second time in a row protested against failure to pay them compensation for damages caused to agricultural products and businesses by the flooding of the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. The print and broadcast media reported on these protests in a detailed fashion.
Based on the above and considering the concern of the inhabitants of these areas as directly linked with their legitimate interests, the Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC), on June 29, 2012, sent to the site an observation group to meet with inhabitants of the Communes of Bushat, Trush, Bërdicë, and the heads of the communes of Rrënzë and Bërdicë. At the conclusion of their mission, the observation group also met with Mr. Fatbardh Sheqi, General Secretary of the Shkodër Prefecture.
According to information obtained during these meetings, it was clear that none of the inhabitants in the flooded areas of the Shkodër district had been compensated for the damages caused by the major flooding of 2010-2011, although the damage assessment process by commissions established in accordance with the relevant decision of the Council
of Ministers had been completed long before.
AHC was informed that the heads of communes as well as the Shkodër Prefecture were aware of this fact. In fact, the latter had informed the relevant national bodies about the citizens’ complaints;1 however, they had received no response to date.
AHC also studied the Council of Ministers’ Decision No. 842, dated 06.12.2011 “On the approval of compensation levels for damages caused to agricultural products and businesses by the rainfalls and flooding in the district of Shkodër.” According to this decision, the government recognized and accepted the damage caused to private property of many citizens and businesses in the Shkodër district and decided to compensate them for those damages, at the amount of 1.112.303.342 (one billion and one hundred and twelve million and three thousand three hundred and forty two) Lek, in total. The government decision also establishes that the fund for the compensation of affected families would be
paid for entirely by the Albanian Electricity Corporation (KESH),2 by putting money into a special account of the state budget.3 To date, the broad public opinion and the affected families themselves, have not become aware of any objection by KESH with regard to this obligation.
In finding that failure to compensate the damages caused by the flooding has made living conditions of Shkodër district inhabitants extremely difficult and has violated their rights to property, AHC suggests to the government to inform immediately, through responsible bodies, the broad public opinion and those affected in particular whether the necessary amount for compensation has been transferred by KESH into the special state budget account. If this amount is yet to be disbursed in the state budget, the responsible bodies should force KESH to immediately pay the aforementioned amount and establish exact deadlines for the execution of compensation to the damaged citizens. AHC is of the opinion that such negligence toward fulfilling obligations deriving from CMD No. 842, dated 06.12.2011, is unpardonable and has serious consequences on the damaged citizens. Unjustified delays to compensate for damages give the damaged persons the legal right to claim interest in accordance with legislation in force.
On the other hand, we are of the opinion that the government should carry out better assessment and respond in a timely fashion to the troubles and concerns of its citizens, particularly when its structures are directly or indirectly responsible for causing these. Promises should be kept and fulfilled because they carry political costs, but obligations deriving from legal acts must be fulfilled, even if it takes the use of the state’s obligating force; otherwise, we should admit that the rule of law does not function properly and that not only reduces people’s trust in governing bodies, but also adds to the costs of public administration.