The government decreased law enforcement efforts. Articles 110(a) and 128(b) of the criminal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of eight to 15 years’ imprisonment for a trafficking offense involving an adult victim, and ten to 20 years’ imprisonment for an offense involving a child victim. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Albanian State Police (ASP) investigated 85 new cases with 112 suspects, an increase compared with 61 cases with 27 suspects in 2021; 71 suspects for sex trafficking and 41 suspects for unspecified forms of trafficking. The ASP investigated no suspects for “knowingly soliciting or patronizing a sex trafficking victim to perform a commercial sex act,” the same as in 2021. The General Prosecution Office (GPO) prosecuted 54 cases with eight defendants, compared with 60 cases with 19 defendants in 2021. Separately, the Special Structure against Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK) initiated two new investigations and continued to investigate two cases initiated and registered in 2021. Of the four investigations, SPAK referred one to court for dismissal and merged two investigations, resulting in two active investigations. Courts did not convict any traffickers, a significant decrease compared with 11 traffickers in 2021, but the same as no convictions in 2020. In past years, judges sentenced some traffickers to lenient sentences, such as probation which undercut efforts to hold traffickers accountable, weakened deterrence, created potential security and safety concerns for victims, and was not equal to the seriousness of the crime. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking crimes. In 2021, the government permanently dismissed a police officer for “prostitution and maintaining a brothel” and, in 2020, the government suspended five police officials, including the Director of the Border and Emigration Directorate of Tirana and three chiefs of units, after media reported a story alleging their complicity in an organized trafficking operation. The Tirana Regional Court dismissed charges for the police officers, but the police authorities disciplined the Border and Emigration Director with a temporary downgrade in rank and disciplinary procedures were ongoing against the other three officers at the end of the reporting period.
ASP’s Criminal Police Department Directorate of Investigations of Narcotics and Trafficking maintained an Anti-Trafficking Unit, which investigated trafficking in persons in addition to drug and contraband trafficking. Each of ASP’s 12 regional directorates also maintained a section that investigated trafficking. The government continued judicial reforms that changed prosecutorial jurisdiction for trafficking cases; SPAK and the Special Court of Appeals on Corruption and Organized Crime have jurisdiction over trafficking cases related to organized crime, while GPO and district courts prosecuted trafficking cases without an organized crime nexus. However, GRETA, prosecutors, and other observers reported district prosecutors did not have the specialized experience and capacity to prosecute trafficking cases successfully. GRETA and observers reported authorities confused overlapping elements of “exploitation of prostitution” and trafficking and at times applied the lesser charge because it required less specialization and time or due to the false belief that trafficking crimes required a transnational element. Similarly, some authorities prosecuted defendants with “disgraceful acts against minors,” “sexual harassment,” or “sexual intercourse with violence” instead of trafficking. Limited resources, capacity, and reports of constant turnover within law enforcement created additional obstacles to maintaining capacity to investigate trafficking, including a lack of resources to investigate trafficking through virtual means. The government maintained institutionalized training programs at the School of Magistrates for judges, prosecutors, and judicial police. The government, in cooperation with NGOs and international organizations, trained police officers, judges, prosecutors, and victim coordinators on various anti-trafficking issues. The government received two extradition requests from foreign authorities and GPO sent 26 rogatory letters and received 22 rogatory letters from foreign authorities.
from 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – U.S. Department of State
2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State