APPEAL No. VD (Trafficking) Albania CG  UKIAT 00115
Date of hearing: 4th May 2004
Date Determination notified: 26th May 2004
MR. P. R. LANE (VICE PRESIDENT)
MS. D. K. GILL (VICE PRESIDENT)
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||RESPONDENT|
(a) whether it is reasonably likely that an individual would be trafficked in Albania.
Our consideration of this issue is set out at paragraphs 15(a) to (g) below.
(b) whether there is in general a sufficiency of protection for women who may be at risk of being trafficked.
Our consideration of this issue is set out at paragraphs 16.1 to 16.3 below.
(c) the Tribunal's reasoning in  UKIAT 00023 K (Albania) (see paragraphs 17.1 to 17.3 below).
(a) that the Adjudicator had failed to identify the objective evidence upon which she relied in making her findings as to the Appellant's fear of being trafficked. It is asserted that the objective evidence shows that trafficked women are not afforded "adequate sufficiency of protection" and that the police are tacitly involved in the trafficking of women.
(b) that the Adjudicator had failed to have regard to the case of K (Albania)  UKIAT 00023, where (it is asserted) the Tribunal had found that sufficient protection is not available to trafficked women in Albania.
Documents delivered on the Appellant's behalf:
(a) The IAS Research Analysis dated 13th April 2004, entitled: "Albania: Trafficking, Blood Feuds".
(b) The Determination of the Tribunal in  UKIAT 00023 K (Albania).
(c) The European Commission's "Albania: Stabilisation and Association Report 2004" dated 30th March 2004.
(d) A joint UNICEF, UNOHCHR, OSCE-ODIHR report dated November 2003, entitled: "2003 Update on Situation and Responses to Trafficking in Human Beings in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro, including the United Nations Administered Province of Kosovo, and Romania". We have before us an extract of this report (pages 1 to 52 thereof).
(e) The report of the U.S. Department of State on Albania dated 11th June 2003, entitled: "Trafficking of Persons Report".
(f) An undated report by Anti-Slavery International, entitled: "Trafficking world-wide and in Albania". This report appears to have been produced in 2003.
(g) The U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights in Albania for 2003, dated 25th February 2004.
(h) The U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights in Albania for 2002, dated 31st March 2003. We have before us an extract of this report – i.e. the section on women and the trafficking of persons.
(i) The CIPU Report dated October 2003. We have before us the following extracts of this report: paragraphs 6.42 to 6.55 and paragraphs 6.108 to 6.121.
(j) An article published on the "Guardian Unlimited" Website which is dated 5th November 2003 and which is entitled: "Janie's secret".
We also have a "Schedule of Essential Reading", which sets out key passages from the documents we have referred to above.
Document delivered on the Respondent's behalf:
(k) The CIPU report on Albania dated October 2003.
Determination and reasons
f. Trafficking in Persons
The law criminalizes trafficking in persons and provides penalties for traffickers; however, trafficking in persons, particularly women and children, remained a problem. Police corruption and involvement in trafficking was a problem.
A 2001 Criminal Code amendment introduced specific articles on trafficking that set the following penalties: Trafficking in persons (5 to 15 years in prison); trafficking of women for prostitution (7 to 15 years in prison); and trafficking in minors (15 to 20 years in prison). The lack of prosecution of traffickers remained a problem; however, police and prosecutors claimed to have dismantled 28 trafficking groups during the year. Traffickers who were arrested often were released because of insufficient evidence, and, if prosecuted, they often were charged for lesser crimes or were given less than the minimum sentence for trafficking.
In September, a regional anti-trafficking sweep called Mirage II, resulted in 125 arrests for various forms of trafficking, prostitution, and smuggling.
The absence of a witness protection program impeded the Government's ability to build strong cases against traffickers, ……………………. Victims often did not identify themselves as trafficked persons and were unwilling to testify due to fear of retribution from traffickers and distrust of the police. Cooperation between the police and prosecutors remained weak. During the year, the Government established an Organized Crime Task Force to handle high profile and sensitive organized crime and trafficking cases. Through the Task Force training and international technical assistance, police and prosecutors received training for better coordination to gather evidence, solve cases, and convict criminals.
.............. the number of Albanians and third-country nationals subjected to trafficking to other countries decreased. ....................
…………………… Trafficked Albanians increasingly fell into the 12 to 18-year-old age group. Roma and Egyptian communities were particularly vulnerable due to poverty and illiteracy. …………………
…………………. Both Albanian and foreign women trafficked by Albanian organized crime networks were abused, tortured, and raped.
Due to the poor economic situation, men and women from organized criminal groups lured many women and young girls from all over the country by promising them jobs in Italy and Greece. Some men, primarily in the north of the country, also married women and girls under false pretenses [sic] and took them abroad as prostitutes. Other forms of recruitment included promises of marriage, and, to a lesser extent, the selling of victims to traffickers by family members or neighbors or kidnapping, including from orphanages.
The police often were involved directly or indirectly in trafficking. Few police officers, and no other government officials, were prosecuted for trafficking during the year. Lawyers and judges were also manipulated and bribed, permitting traffickers to buy their way out of punishment if arrested. During the year, the Ministry of Public Order's Anti-Trafficking Unit within the Organized Crime Sub-Directorate and the Office of Internal Control paid particular attention to police involvement in human trafficking; the Office of Internal Control investigated 266 cases of police involvement in all forms of trafficking. Many of these cases resulted in suspensions or dismissals, and a growing number of police officials implicated in trafficking cases faced arrest and prosecution.
In December, police arrested several servicemen on suspicion of raping and trafficking a 16-year-old girl. …………………
Police treatment of trafficked women continued to improve during the year. Most police stopped treating trafficked women as criminals rather than victims and routinely referred them to local and international NGOs for assistance. Foreign women who were detained at times lacked translation services or were not given a choice of lawyers.
Victims of trafficking often faced significant stigmatization from their families and society. Several NGOs were active in addressing victims' needs. The IOM operated a reintegration center in Tirana that provided counseling [sic] and medical services, job training, and some legal assistance. The IOM also cooperated with the OSCE to relocate outside of the country those victims whose safety was at risk. In July, the Government opened a shelter outside Tirana for trafficking victims, offering assistance ranging from psychological counseling [sic] to medical treatment. With the assistance of the IOM, the Government processed 15 repatriation cases during the year and 13 of these women were returned to their home countries by year's end. Government services available to trafficking victims remained limited.
The Vlora Anti-Trafficking Center, which opened in 2001, had nto [sic] become fully operational, although, in September, it was used as a command post for Mirage II. In December, the Government signed a memorandum of understanding with Greece, Germany, and Italy to turn the Vlora Anti-Trafficking Center into a fully operational tool in the fight against all forms of illegal trafficking from and through the country. National and international NGOs carried out most of the country's trafficking awareness campaigns
(a) First, we considered the evidence as to overall numbers of victims. The UNICEF/UNOHCHR/OSCE/ODIHR report (page 55 of the Appellant's bundle) states that the number of victims of trafficking from Albania is unknown. In 2001, official sources indicated that 100,000 Albanian women and girls were trafficked to Western European and other Balkan countries over the previous ten years. However, a year later, another official document stated that about 6,000 Albanian women and girls had been trafficked abroad for sexual exploitation. According to footnote 73 on page 55 of the Appellant's bundle, the second figure has been quoted by Vera Lesko in their report entitled: "Girls and Trafficking: Research into Trafficking in Human Beings for the year 2002". The figure given in this report is, in turn, obtained from a Report of the Anti-Trafficking Unit of the Ministry of Public Order. It is not clear what period this figure of 6,000 relates to but its placing in the report would suggest that it relates to the same 10-year period.
(b) The fact that there is such a disparity in the numbers given in the UNICEF/UNOHCHR/OSCE/ODIHR report of the total number of victims is a reflection of the difficulty in obtaining reliable statistics. We are mindful of this difficulty, but we also note that the U.S. Department of State "Trafficking in Persons Report" (page 73 of the Appellant's bundle) states that the Ministry of Public Order completed a "significant study" indicating that more than 5,000 Albanian women and girls were trafficked into prostitution in the last decade. It is reasonable to infer that the statistics upon which this estimate of "more than 5,000" is based show that the total figure is less than 6,000 – otherwise, the report would refer to an estimate of "more than 6,000". We therefore proceed on the basis that the statistics on which this estimate is based show that the total figure is less than 6,000 over a ten-year period. This equates to a figure of less than 600 victims per year. When one allows for the fact that this 10-year period spans the mid-1990s when the problem of trafficking is said to have peaked, the current total yearly number falls further. We are of the view that the description of the report of the Ministry of Pubic Order in the U.S. Department of State report as a "significant study" suggests that appropriate weight can be given to the numbers given in the Ministry of Justice Report, albeit that we are mindful that even this figure may be an under-representation of the problem.
(c) The parties before us endeavoured to draw our attention to the size of the "at-risk" population – i.e. the numbers of women/girls who are potentially at risk of being trafficked. There were no such figures available in the documents before us. Our attention was however drawn to the total population of Albanian, which the CIPU report gives as 3.09 million (paragraph 2.1 of the CIPU report).
(d) Paragraphs 6.110 and 6.111 give an idea of those persons who are potentially at risk of being trafficked. These paragraphs state:6.110 Trafficked Albanians increasingly fell into the 14- to 17-year-old age group; according to the AHRG, 25 percent of Albanian trafficking victims were minors. Italian census figures in 2000 showed that there were more than 900 children (girls ages 14 to 18) who worked as prostitutes in Italy. The press reported several cases involving minors who were victims of trafficking throughout the year. Such children often were bought from families and in a few cases kidnapped. The Centre for the Protection of Children's Rights (CRCA) reported that more than 2,000 children between the ages of 13 and 18 were involved in prostitution rings.6.111 Due to the poor economic situation, many women and young girls from all over the country - particularly Berat, Fier, Lushnje, Shkoder, and Vlora -were lured by men and women from organised criminal groups who promised them jobs in Italy and Greece. Some men, primarily in the north of the country, also married women and girls under false pretences and took them abroad as prostitutes. Other forms of recruitment included promises of marriage, and to a lesser extent, the selling of victims to traffickers by family members, or kidnapping, including from orphanages.(our emphasis)
(e) The following points emerge from these paragraphs. Firstly, victims are increasingly 14 to 17-year-olds. Secondly, we have an idea of the methods employed by groups involved in trafficking to gain their victims. The picture is that potential victims are largely lured by promises of jobs abroad. Some men, primarily in the north, also married women and girls under false pretences and then took the women or girls abroad as prostitutes. Both of these methods of "recruitment" suggest that the victim is tricked into giving her consent to being taken away. The selling of victims to traffickers by family members, or kidnapping, is said to occur "to a lesser extent".
(f) We are of the view that the figures we have referred to in sub-paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) above do not show that it is reasonably likely that any particular individual is at real risk of being trafficked in Albania. Young girls are more likely to be at risk, but this does not mean that even they are reasonably likely to be at risk. Furthermore, as the CIPU report states, the main method of recruitment involves some consent being given by the victim, albeit that such consent is obtained by trickery. If an individual claimant does not allow herself to be tricked into giving her consent to being taken away, then the risk of being trafficked becomes very remote or speculative. Accordingly, we are of the view that, absent particular features in a case (such as, for example, where a claimant's family members have sold the claimant to a trafficker or where, on credible evidence, it is accepted that an individual who has already been trafficked is at real risk of being pursued by the same group on return), it is not reasonably likely that an individual Albanian girl or woman would be at risk of being trafficked, even if the individual falls within the 14- to 17-year-old age group.
(g) It is often asserted on behalf of claimants that the fact that an individual has already been abducted and trafficked in the past means that it is reasonably likely that the individual would again be abducted and trafficked. To the extent that this assertion is based on the general risk of abduction for the purposes of trafficking, we are satisfied that there is no real risk that an individual would be re-abducted simply because she was abducted previously. The position might be different if, for example, there is credible evidence that the group responsible for the first abduction have shown an interest in the individual's whereabouts since she left their captivity or are found credibly to have some interest to pursue the individual.
- the 2001 amendment to the Criminal Code;
- that, during the year 2003, the Ministry of Public Order's Anti-Trafficking Unit within the Organised Crime Sub-Directorate and the Office of Internal Control paid particular attention to police involvement in human trafficking;
- that the Office of Internal Control investigated 266 cases of police involvement in all forms of trafficking. Many of these cases resulted in suspensions or dismissals, and a growing number of police officials implicated in trafficking cases faced arrest and prosecution.
- In December, police arrested several servicemen on suspicion of raping and trafficking a 16-year-old girl.
- The IOM operated a reintegration centre in Tirana which provided counselling and medical services, job training, and some legal assistance; and
- In July, the Government opened a shelter outside Tirana for trafficking victims, offering assistance ranging from psychological counselling to medical treatment.
Many men, especially those from the north eastern part of the country, still follow the traditional code known as the 'kanun', in which women are considered and treated as chattel. Under the kanun, a woman's duty is to serve her husband, and to be subordinate to him in all matters............. The kanun "law" which is not recognised by the Albanian Government, also states that it is acceptable to kidnap young women for brides. This practice continues in some areas of the north east.
The appeal is DISMISSED.
Ms. D. K. GILL
VICE PRESIDENT Date: 18th May 2004