Interceptions of Communications in Albania: Legislation, Practice and Accountability System



Since 2005 Albanian authorities have been able to use digital technology to conduct lawful interception of multiple targets and multiple communication devices. This trend has been driven by the need to keep up with effective investigation of crime, as the technology in the field of telecommunications has constantly developed. However, the effectiveness of such policy remains questionable as pointed out on several reports of the Prosecutor General to the parliament.
While the law has been amended several times to allow for the increased effectiveness of the interceptions, the system for the control and oversight of the adequacy of the implementation of the legislation that regulates the electronic surveillance regime has remained underdeveloped.
Over the last decade there have been a number of allegations on unlawful interceptions conducted by different institutions but no action has been taken to improve the existing accountability mechanisms.
The lack of effective control and oversight has seriously damaged the legitimacy of the use of such investigative procedure, as evidenced by the lack of trust displayed publically by the highest public and political figures of the country. The latest amendments of the law on interception and the Code of Penal Procedure in 2017 provide for an expansion of the interception competences and the increased use of such procedure through the development of multiple intercepting capabilities.
In the conditions of the lack of effective accountability system there is a risk abuse of competences and powers and of encroachment on the fundamental rights. This would have significant negative implications on the success of convictions, as the ruling could be overturned by higher level courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, but also on the integrity and political legitimacy of the security, law enforcement and judicial institutions. Such omissions may have negative implications for Albania’s policy alignment with the European Union, as ensuring full compliance with fundamental rights and guaranteeing more transparency, accountability and democratic control, are among the key principles of the European Agenda on Security.
The Albanian executive and legislative branches should take steps to address these shortcomings by improving the legislation with the aim to strengthen the accountability framework and practices in order to align them with the European Court of Human Rights case law and the EU policies.