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map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

Albania's unicameral assembly (Kuvendi) consists of 140 seats, 100 of which are determined by direct popular vote. The remaining seats are distributed by proportional representation. All members serve 4-year terms. The Speaker of Parliament has two deputies, who, along with 13 parliamentary commissions, legislate Albanian affairs.

The President is the head of state and elected by a three-fifths majority vote of all Assembly members. The President serves a term of 5 years with one right to re-election. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and approved by a simple majority of all members of the Assembly. The Prime Minister serves as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers (cabinet), which consists of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and other ministers. Members of the Council of Ministers are nominated by the Prime Minister and approved by the President.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Courts & Judgments

Albania's civil law system is similar to that of other European countries. The court structure consists of a Constitutional Court, a Supreme Court, and multiple appeal and district courts. The Constitutional Court is comprised of nine members appointed by the Assembly for one 9-year term. The Constitutional Court interprets the Constitution, determines the constitutionality of laws, and resolves disagreements between local and federal authorities. The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal and consists of 11 members appointed by the President with the consent of the Assembly for 9-year terms. The President chairs the High Council of Justice (HCJ) which is responsible for appointing and dismissing other judges. The HCJ is comprised of 15 members--the President of the Republic, the Chairman of the High Court, the Minister of Justice, three members elected by the Assembly, and nine judges of all levels elected by the National Judicial Conference.

The remaining courts are each divided into three jurisdictions: criminal, civil, and military. There are no jury trials under the Albanian system of justice. A college of three judges, who are sometimes referred to as a "jury" by the Albanian press, render court verdicts.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Human Rights

The Albanian Government's human rights record was poor in many areas in 2001; however, there were some improvements. The opposition Democratic Party (DP) alleged that the Government was responsible for the killing of one of its members while in police custody at the Rreshen police station, although a government medical team confirmed that the death was a suicide. Police beat and otherwise abused suspects, detainees, and prisoners. The DP credibly reported some incidents of police harassment of its members and of the dismissal of some of its members from official positions for political reasons. Prison conditions remained poor. The police arbitrarily arrested and detained persons, and prolonged pretrial detention was a problem. The judiciary is inefficient, subject to corruption, and executive pressure on the judiciary remained a serious problem. The Government occasionally infringed on citizens' privacy rights. The Government limited freedom of the press, although there were some improvements. Police on at least one occasion beat and detained journalists. There were a few limits on the right to freedom of assembly. Violence and discrimination against women and child abuse were serious problems. Vigilante action, mostly related to traditional blood feuds, resulted in many killings. Societal discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, particularly against Roma and Egyptians, persisted. Child labor was a problem. Trafficking in persons, particularly of women and children, remained a serious problem.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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