To: Mr. Bledar Çuçi, Minister, Ministry of Interior
Decision of the Council of Ministers no. 206, dated 16.03.2016 “On the creation, composition, organization, and functioning of the National Commission for Asylum and Refugees,” (hereinafter the Commission), based on article 100 of the Constitution and paragraph 2, article 22, of law no. 121/2014, “On asylum in the Republic of Albania,” envisaged the creation of the National Commission on Asylum and Refugees as the competent authority that decides on complaints against all decisions by the authority responsible for asylum and refugees. Paragraph 2 of this decision envisages that the 7 members, 5 of which are representatives of ministries, one representative of the State Intelligence Service, is also a representative of civil society organizations, namely the Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC).
During the period January 2020 – April 2021, representatives authorized by AHC have participated in procedures to review complaints by asylum seekers, in their capacity of members of this Commission, for 8 asylum seekers. In 5 decisions of the Commission, the AHC representative in the commission has remained a minority in favor of requests by asylum seekers, depositing its dissenting opinion against the majority of the members of the Commission. one of these decisions is that of September 10, 2020, regarding the complaint submitted by Turkish citizen Selami Simsek, a case known for the public in the country.
On July 24, 2020, AHC addressed the Minister of Interior of that time to make him aware of the inappropriate conduct, from an ethical and procedural standpoint, of the General Secretary of the time (at the same time, chair of the Commission), Mr. Plarent Ndreca, toward the Executive Director who was the legal representative of the AHC, in one of the Commission meetings. During this meeting, the legal representative of AHC opposed the actions of the Commission Chair for explanations and reports by the sides because the meeting formally could not be conducted due to a lack of quorum (more than half of the members were not present). At this moment, the Commission chair questioned the legitimacy of the AHC representative as a member, with the justification that the issued authorization was not valid. According to the chair (National Commissioner), the Executive Director, at the same time a legal representative of the organization, could not issue an authorization for herself, but a court decision was needed to certify that fact. This claim was opposed, based also on earlier official correspondence between AHC and the Ministry of Interior, which identified and recognized officially the AHC Executive Director, present in the meeting. It is worth emphasizing that for this official letter to the Minister of Interior, AHC never received a response.
By letter no. 3480/1, the Ministry of Interior sent to AHC and the State Intelligence Service for an opinion, the draft decision of the Council of Ministers “On the criteria for appointment, causes for dismissal, and reward for members of the National Commission for Asylum and Refugees,” accompanied by an explanatory report. Although the letter is dated July 5, 2021, it was submitted to our offices and protocoled in the AHC book two months later, namely on October 14, 2021. This draft decision, based on paragraph 3 of article 78 of the new law on asylum, no. 10/2021, envisaged in paragraph 2, the reduction of the number of members from 7 to 5 members, of which one representative remained the Albanian Helsinki Committee.
Two weeks after receiving the request to provide feedback, namely on October 29, 2021, AHC sent an official letter to the Ministry of Interior (attached) to convey its suggestions and opinions on the draft decision. Among others, AHC confirmed in the letter its engagement in its capacity as a member of the Commission, in accordance with the organization’s mission, in respect of organizational independence protected by article 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and international standards for the enjoyment and effective exercise of the rights of asylum seekers in the country. On this letter, AHC never received a response.
In the absence of an official reaction and the passage of a very long time since the last meeting of the Commission on Asylum followed by AHC in its capacity as a member, we took the initiative to verify the composition of the Commission on the official website of the Ministry of Interior. Based on that, we were informed that the draft decision in question had been approved before arriving officially in the AHC offices. This decision appears to have been published also in the Official Gazette. With concern, referring to paragraph 2 of this decision, we notice that AHC is no longer a member of the Commission, which now only includes representatives of the four Ministries as part of the Council of Ministers, and one representative of the State Intelligence Service. It is notable that although 6 months have passed since the approval of this CMD, AHC has not been communicated any reason why it is not represented as a member of the Commission.
Per the above, by means of this open letter, we express our regret about this change, which represents regress in terms of previous standards of transparency, responsibility, and accountability, for the representation of the civil society sector in the composition of this Commission.
On this occasion, AHC conveys that pursuant to its mission, we have made positive contributions, in the capacity of a member, with constructive and professional opposition in those cases appealed by asylum seekers, for which we have been minority members of the National Commission on Asylum and Refugees. This contribution of AHC has relied on and been led by best international standards accepted by our country in ratified international conventions and in guarantees envisaged specifically in article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights that protects the right (among other rights of asylum seekers) to due process.
For the Albanian Helsinki Committee,
- Shkresen e M.Brendshme derguar KShH-se per konsultimin e projektvendimit, protokolluar ne dt.15/10/2021 e gjeni duke klikuar ketu.
- Komentet dhe sugjerimet tona qe kemi percjelle ne M.Brendshme per VKM ne dt. 29 Tetor 2021, me nr.prot 734, e gjeni duke klikuar ketu.
 Article 22 of the law envisages that the National Commission for Asylum and Refugees is the sole competent and decision-making authority on complaints against the decisions of the authority responsible for asylum and refugees. The creation, composition, organization, and functioning of the National Commission on Asylum and Refugees are determined by decision of the Council of Ministers.