TB (Blood Feuds, Relevant Risk Factors) Albania CG  UKIAT 00158 (21 June 2004)
Date of hearing: 8 June 2004
Date Determination notified: 21 June 2004
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||RESPONDENT|
'My family were subjected to harassment and discrimination, on account of our religion. Tirana is not a big town really and in our area I would say that everyone knew that my family was Catholic. I would estimate that over 60% of the population in the area where we lived were Muslims. We were often verbally abused, especially if we were spotted going to church or buying pork, for example. I have been called a "stupid, idiot, Catholic" and "dirty Catholic scum" on many occasions. I have never been seriously physically abused but I have been slapped around the face and had stones thrown at me".
'The unchallenged evidence was that his father had killed two members of the Shtefni family as recently as August 2001. This, therefore, was not ancient history. Moreover, it had happened, as Mr Gill emphasises, in public, so that the killing of the members of the Shtefni family was obvious to a number of others. When the appellant's father emerged from hiding in September that year he was shot and killed. When the appellant emerged from hiding in the capital, Tirana, he was immediately shot at. These facts give this case particular force, and yet there is no reference to them in the IAT's decision and no attempt to consider whether, even if the Tribunal were right about the general situation as to effective protection from blood feuds, this appellant fell within that general situation.'
'35. I do emphasise that every case has to be considered on its merits. I do not for one moment suggest that every Albanian who reaches these shores and has been involved at some stage in a blood feud, however remotely or indirectly, is automatically to be regarded as someone who cannot be removed without breaching his Article 2 or Article 3 rights. The outcome, as always, would depend on the details of his case and on the evidence about conditions in Albania at that time. I am dealing in this judgment only with the instant case. However, in this instant case I conclude that the IAT was wrong to interfere with the findings made by an Adjudicator. He was not plainly wrong in the conclusions reached. Having arrived, as I do, at that conclusion, it is unnecessary to deal with the various other arguments canvassed on behalf of the appellant in writing. I, for my part, would allow this appeal.'
'37. Mr Eicke for the Secretary of State submitted that if this appeal were to be allowed, asylum would have to be granted to all applicants who plausibly claimed that they were the subject of a blood feud. I cannot accept that submission. The facts of cases in which a blood feud is asserted will all be different. It is for the Adjudicator in each case to decide whether the state can afford sufficiency of protection in all the individual circumstances of the case before him. Important circumstances might include, for example, the notoriety or the publicity of the original killings, the time which has elapsed since the last killing, what the applicant did during that time, and the number of those who have been killed on either of the sides which constitute a blood feud.'
'Whereas in the past a few could begin by discourtesy and shepherds leading herds past one another on pathways, today's equivalent can be found in the chaotic traffic situations of Albania's towns. Furthermore, currently bloodfeuds do not follow strict patterns, each case is different, and directed by the party to whom "blood is owing".'
'6.153 In addition to the work of the government, several agencies provided reconciliation to families involved in blood feuds, although according to the International Crisis Group there has been no concerted and coordinated strategy devised to compound this growing and deeply damaging phenomena. The Association for Fraternisation and Reconciliation aims to settle disputes between families through dialogue. The Albanian Peace Union, formerly the Albanian Reconciliation Mission was founded in 1991. It claims over a thousand members and to have resolved three thousand feuds in the last ten years.'
(a) whether the dispute can be characterised as a 'blood feud' at all;
(b) even if it can, the extent to which its origins and development (if any) are to be regarded by Albanian society as falling within the classic principles of the Kanun;
(c) the history of the feud, including the notoriety of the original killings and numbers killed;
(d) the past and likely future attitude of the police and other authorities towards the feud;
(e) the degree of commitment shown by the opposing family towards prosecuting the feud;
(f) the time that has elapsed since the last killing;
(g) the ability of the opposing family to locate the alleged potential victim anywhere in Albania;
(h) that person's profile as a potential target for the blood feud; and
(i) the prospects for eliminating the feud, whether by recourse to the payment of money, a reconciliation organisation or otherwise.
'6.11 Despite the views expressed in the expert's report that 'it is highly likely that the police would choose not to follow up on a case where the accidental death had not been reported' this did not mean that they would not take action on a complaint of an attempted shooting of the appellant in the circumstances described in his claim.'
'6.150 Following criticism from the European Union (EU) that failure to adequately address the problem of blood feuds might pose a barrier to further EU integration [t]he Albanian government held a round table conference in June 2003 to focus on an action plan to deal with ancient phenomenon [sic]. The government's moves are strongly backed by Albanian President Alfred Moisiu, who told the meeting he was totally committed to reducing blood feuds. In President Moisiu's address to the Albanian Assembly on 5 October, he said that the 'growing tendency towards family crime and the increased number of victims in the name of the Kanun is a blow to the state'. It was reported that during 2002 the Ombudsman's Office also contributed to resolving a number of highly controversial cases involving blood feuds.
6.151 Following a Presidential decree, Albania's Serious Crime Court was inaugurated on 1 January this year. The Court provides a parallel structure to the ordinary court system and will specifically deal with criminal offices carrying a minimum sentence of 10 years. On 7 January President Moisiu appointed 12 prosecutors who will target what are considered to be more serious crimes, including organised crime, human and drug trafficking and blood feuds. According to US State Department Report on Human Rights Practices in 2003 (US SDI 2003) 'Blood feud cases were adjudicated in a Special Crimes Court. Blood killings are distinguished from homicide cases and carry a sentence of no less than 25 years' imprisonment; in comparison, homicide carries a sentence of 15-25 years. Although blood feud prosecution rates were not available, estimates indicated that 60-65% of all case were brought to court and nearly all of them ended up at appellate level.
'6.152 In March 2004, the government chaired a round table conference in Shkoder with the aim of reducing the impact of blood feuds in the worst afflicted part of the country. Representatives attending the conference were from central and local government, regional police, religious leaders, local legal representatives and civic leaders. The Minister for Public Order, Igli Toska, announced the setting up of a special dedicated unit within Shkoder Police Department, charged with the dual aims of preventing blood feuds and introducing institutional reconciliation.'