1- Another online portal/application
A new initiative was inaugurated this month in the Ministry of Interior Affairs in cooperation with Vodafone Albania and Protik centre: the Digital Police Commissariat. ‘’This program will serve citizens and the State Police to guarantee quality of service, rule of law, the fight against corruption and increase the parameters of public security’’. Seemingly this initiative will bring the citizen closer to state police, helping the latter through reporting different infringements in the following fields: wrong parking, corruption, theft, illegal construction, gun possession and complaints. In monitoring a few cases advertised by the mMnistry itself as successful cases of reporting and resolving, almost all of them have to do with wrong parking of cars, especially in the capital. The problem of traffic jam and lack of parking spaces is not new to Tirana. However, it seems that two elements were forgotten in designing this technological equipment that aims to include citizens directly:
- The App can’t address all citizens, while it was advertised as the most successful equipment to guarantee order and security in the country, Firstly, not everyone owns a smartphone to use the App and secondly the latter is mostly appealing for young people, who do not have difficulties using it. An elderly citizen will have to resort to traditional means of reporting.
- Problems related to wrong parking, especially in Tirana are not caused solely by carelessness and lack of respect for traffic rules on the side of citizens. We should not forget the role of infrastructure, or lack thereof that often makes it impossible to accommodate an increasing number of cars in the country. With an akmost complete lack of underground parking lots, that would ease the burden of parking in the city, a question comes to mind: Where are all these cars going to go? When SP came to power several visible initiatives were undertaken that resembled a ‘’campaign of fines’’ for drivers and their cars parked wrongly. However, this did not bring any substantial change or permanent solution to the problem. There is little chance that this gadget will offer a new alternative solution, except for promoting the now fashionable culture of apps and online portals.
2- When the ministry bluffs
The ministry of Interior started and ended the month with bad news for its work and what it is trying to transmit to the citizens of Albania. On May 4, in the city of Kukes a group of citizens gathered, without proper permit, to protest and ask for electricity debt forgiveness accumulated in this area throughout the years. They chose to block the nation’s highway in order to not allow movement of cars in this section. The situation deteriorated to become a grave incident of abuse of duty and physical abuse of protesters. What made the situation worse was the moment when the chief of crimes at Kukes commissariat pulled out the gun to point it to protesters. The incident was filmed and distributed through social media causing a scandal and many polemics on what had happened.
The scandal of police misbehavior does not end here. To aggravate the issue further, the Miistry of Interior Affairs issues a press release, a few hours after the occurrence, protecting and justifying openly the conduct of its employees, passing the blame on to the organizers of the protest. In an extract of this declaration we can read: ‘’…citizens gathered have exercised acts of violence towards employees of the police with stones, wood etc, although the police called their acts illegal. During the escort of Nderim Lushi as organizer and promoter of the violent protest against police officers, he tried to steal the gun from the Chief of Crimes of Kukes commissariat, who pulled the gun out to prevent this act and deviate from the crowd’’.
Maybe the Ministry was not aware of the video circulating in social media when the press release was issued. The video clearly showed that everything claimed above was not only not true, but completely contrary to what had actually happened. The following day, the ministry itself posts the video in its facebook page (nothing is shown in the official website) followed by a short declaration that contradicted completely the press release issued the previous day. According to the new declaration ‘’Gun possession in a peaceful protest is illegal. As it is illegal for state police officers to overcome the law in order to restore order.’’ Maybe officials from the Ministry were not aware of this a day earlier? Why such a ridiculous justification was used to protect an unacceptable act of one individual that represents the institution in charge of order and security in the country?
The dynamics of this incident do not end here, as the Ministry of Interior takes another step that shows:
- Lack of accountability towards the incidents that fall within its field of competencies
- Lack of transparency
A few days after the first declaration was issued, blaming protesters and victimizing the police officers for the escalation of the situation during the protest, the latter is deleted from its facebook page, surely to avoid the bad figure it made through irresponsible declarations for the case in hand. Luckily, technology is sufficiently developed to save the traces of what we would like to erase. This is not the image of a police with European standards.
3- Security paradoxes in Albania
It would not be wrong to call Albania the country of paradoxes and absurdities. On May 27 Tirana was under a heavy presence of police forces in the occasion of Serbia’s Prime Minister visit, Mr. Aleksandar Vucic. It seemed as if the whole state had landed in a few streets of the capital. According to the declaration of the Deputy Director of the Albanian State Police, Mr. Altin Qato ‘’In this framework the central structures of the General Directory for Public Safety, General Directory for Organized Crime and Serious Crime, the General Directory for Border and Migration, Directory of anti-terror and Special Operation Forces will be engaged.
Supporting the Police Directory in Tirana and Durres the following will also be angaged: Moving Operational Forces and Rapid Intervention Forces, 160 police officers and Special Forces RENEA.
The Police Directory in Tirana will engage a total of 850 police officers.’’ All responsible structures for safety and order in the country were in the streets of the capital with a show of protective force for the leader of the other state. However, in the city center, in the middle of the day a triple murder occurs, in a gang fight that reminded us of Western Movies. The majority of media reporting the news praised the quick response of the police forces: only 4 minutes. Keeping in mind that literally the whole police force was in the streets that day, it would have been shameful and disturbing if an incident of the sorts in the capital and during the visit of Prime Minister Vucic would have not been solved in such a timeframe. The opposite would have been a failure of the Albanian state that was trying to show its strength and security capacities by putting at disposal a helicopter monitoring the visit from the air. It is not a matter of being proud with the quick response of the police to solve the crime, it is a matter of concern that such crime scenarious including drugs and setoffs happen during the day, all around our daily lives and us.
1- Gazeta Panorama. 4 maj 2015. Kukës, shefi i krimeve u drejton armën e rreh protestuesit. Online: http://shqiptarja.com/news.php?IDNotizia=289921&page=4
2- Gazeta shqiptarja.com. 27 maj 2015. Tiranë, 3 të vrarë te Zogu i parë për një vrasje në Holandë. Online: http://shqiptarja.com/home/1/tiran–3-t–vrar–te—39-zogu-i-par—39–p-r-nj–vrasje-n–holande–295284.html
3- Gazeta Sot. 4 maj 2015. Ngjarja në Kukës, reagon Policia e Shtetit: Nderim Lushit iu refuzua kërkesa për protestë – Online: http://ëëë.sot.com.al/aktualitet/ngjarja-n%C3%AB-kuk%C3%ABs-reagon-policia-e-shtetit-nderim-lushit-iu-refuzua-k%C3%ABrkesa-p%C3%ABr-protest%C3%AB#sthash.Bn1TCYJN.dpuf
4- Ministria e Punëve të Brendshme. 13 maj 2015. Aplikacioni ‘’Komisariati Dixhital’’ – Policia në dorën e qytetarit. Online: http://ëëë.punetebrendshme.gov.al/al/te-rejat/fjalime/aplikacioni-komisariati-dixhital-policia-ne-doren-e-qytetarit-video&page=1
5- Policia e shtetit. 26 maj 2015. Konferencë për Shtyp mbi masat e marra me rastin e vizitës së Kryeministrit të Republikës të Serbisë në vendin tone. Online: http://ëëë.asp.gov.al/index.php/home/275-slideshoë-home/7400-konference-per-shtyp-mbi-masat-e-marra-me-rastin-e-vizites-se-kryeministrit-te-republikes-te-serbise-ne-vendin-tone
6- Ministria e Punëve të Brendshme. 13 maj 2015. Aplikacioni Komisariati Dixhital – Policia në dorën e qytetarit. Online: http://ëëë.punetebrendshme.gov.al/al/te-rejat/fjalime/aplikacioni-komisariati-dixhital-policia-ne-doren-e-qytetarit-video&page=1