Albania’s Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents and the State Police signed an agreement to work together to revive stalled efforts to find the remains of people who disappeared under Communist rule.

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Albanian Officials Agree to Cooperate to Find Communist-Era Missing

Names of people jailed in Communist Albania at the Museum of Secret Surveillance, also known as the House of Leaves in Tirana, Albania. Photo: BIRN.

A cooperation agreement intended to boost efforts to find the remains of thousands of people who went missing under Albania’s repressive Communist regime was signed on Thursday by the head of the State Police, Gledis Nano, and Gentiana Sula, president of the Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents, AIDSSH.

The AIDSSH said in a statement that the purpose of the agreement is to coordinate the activities of the two institutions and strengthen cooperation to ensure a fair legal process of identifying and recovering the bodies of those who disappeared or were executed during the Communist period.

“The right of family members to know the fate of their relatives is a human right which is not subject to restrictions, just as enforced disappearance is a crime that is not statute-limited, but lasts until the fate and whereabouts of the victim are determined, and recognises the obligation and responsibility of the state to investigate effectively, in compliance with domestic legislation and international acts ratified by law,” the statement said.

The agreement came after legal changes in 2020 which allow the AIDSSH to formally cooperate with state institutions to find ad identify the remains of those who disappeared during Communist rule from 1946 to 1991.

The names of about 6,000 people who were executed were identified in the early 1990s. But the whereabouts of many of them remain unknown.

In 2018, the International Commission on Missing Persons, ICMP started the process of searching for their remains after eight years of negotiations with the Albanian government.

Two mass grave sites from the Communist era were identified in the Dajti and Ballsh areas in September 2018, and the ICMP and Albania’s Institute for Integration of Politically Persecuted Persons submitted a request to excavate them.

But the process then stalled and no excavations have started.

“Prosecutors’ offices have not issued orders for excavation, citing a lack of financial resources to cover costs that would arise from engaging technical experts of the Institute of Legal Medicine [of Albania],” said an ICMP report in March last year.

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