Albania Seeks to Address the Issue of Missing Persons from Communist Era

A conference organized in Tirana on Friday by the Albanian Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth explored ways of implementing a strategy to account for the estimated 6,000 people who disappeared in the country during the period of authoritarian rule from 1944 to 1991.

“After adoption of the Law on opening the files from the Communist era, starting the program to find missing persons is one of the most important political decisions of the Albanian state,” said Minister of Social Welfare and Youth Blendi Klosi. “Opening the files and starting the program to find missing from the dictatorship era are parts of the same process.”

In March 2015, ICMP received an invitation from the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth to discuss potential paths of cooperation between ICMP and the Albanian authorities to address the issue of persons missing during the period of the Communist regime. An ICMP Delegation visited Tirana in April 2015 to discuss potential cooperation. In October 2015, a delegation from the Albanian Government completed a three-day study trip to ICMP’s facilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The delegation visited ICMP’s DNA laboratories in Sarajevo and Tuzla, the Identification Coordination Division and Podrinje Identification Project in Tuzla.

“That the Albanian authorities have recently adopted legislation on opening the Communist-era files, and are now making an effort in good faith to begin a process that will make it possible to recover and identify 6,000 missing persons shows a genuine a resolve,” Matthew Holliday, head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, told conference participants, adding that ICMP stands ready to assist the authorities in Albania if it is invited to do so.

ICMP is an international organization whose mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying persons missing from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters and other causes.  It works with governments, civil society organizations, justice institutions, international organizations and others throughout the world to address the issue of people who have gone missing as a result of armed conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime and other causes.

As the only international organization exclusively dedicated to this issue, ICMP is actively engaged in developing institutions and civil society capacity, promoting legislation, fostering social and political advocacy, and developing and providing technical expertise to locate and identify the missing.