Albania takes another step towards declassifying communist-era intelligence files
Albania’s legal committee on Friday (October 7) passed a bill allowing access to all former communist state security files from 1944 to 1991, but failed to reach a consensus on who should have access to them.
Albania was under a communist dictatorship for almost 50 years. The Sigurimi (State Security Directorate), the secret service and political police of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, recruited thousands of citizen spies to denounce their friends, colleagues and family members. Among other things, the files contain information about those spied on and their work.
The Socialist MPs voted in favor of the law, but not a provision mandating that every institution of public administration must publish the documents of the sigurimi and that everyone has the right to request a copy of them – which in other words would amount to a complete one Release of the documents.
Importantly, the law provides for the repeal of a section of the existing law that prohibits screening officials who have already been screened in the early stages of the democratic transition.
These historical background checks are viewed by many as flawed, and the law banning their verification has enabled former spies to hold important positions of power.
According to Genta Sula, head of the Records Authority, 78 former Sigurimi employees still work in public institutions today.
Speaking to Euronews, Genta Sula said his institution had given the contact details of these 78 people to the departments where they work, but that it was up to those institutions to decide what to do next with that information.
She also stated that many archival documents had disappeared and were believed to have been destroyed.
“I’m saying what we know is that there has always been destruction, as in all archives, we don’t keep everything. The archives were preserved for two reasons, first for their historical importance, second for their operational importance.”Grenta Sula said, adding that the records of those who committed political crimes were also destroyed.
In addition to questions about previous government files, more than 6,000 people have gone missing since the fall of the communist regime – including those who died in prisons and forced labor camps or were killed by communist forces.
In 2021, the European Commission found that the bodies of missing people had not been returned to their families “partly due” to a lack of capacity and resources, but also stressed that this requires political will.
She also called for concrete measures to establish an effective cooperation mechanism between the institutions concerned and to raise public awareness of the issue.
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