Saturday, December 07, 2019

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Article Index

Albania

There were reports of significant societal discrimination against members of the Romani and Balkan-Egyptian communities. Some schools resisted accepting such students, particularly if they appeared to be poor. Local NGOs reported that many schools that accepted Romani students marginalized them in the classroom, sometimes by physically setting them apart from other students. In February two men set fire to a Romani settlement in Tirana, destroying dozens of homes and forcing the entire community to relocate. The men admitted to their crime in a deal that guaranteed a reduced sentence and excluded the Romani victims from seeking damages for the property destruction. In November the Tirana District Court ruled that the arson did not constitute a hate crime because it did not involve the use of "words or writing." The government had not provided the victims with an adequate permanent housing solution at year's end.

The law permits official minority status for national groups and separately for ethnolinguistic groups. The government defined Greeks, Macedonians, and Montenegrins as national groups; Greeks constituted the largest of these. The law defined Aromanians (Vlachs) and Roma as ethnolinguistic minority groups.

The ethnic Greek minority pursued grievances with the government regarding electoral zones, Greek-language education, property rights, and government documents. Minority leaders cited the government's unwillingness to recognize ethnic Greek towns outside communist-era "minority zones", to utilize Greek in official documents and on public signs in ethnic Greek areas, or to include a higher number of ethnic Greeks in public administration. The government translated election materials into Greek and Macedonian for the May 8 elections.

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