ADR Developments in Albania
Mediation law in Albania provides that mediation can be applied in civil law, commercial law, labor and family law, intellectual property, and consumer rights, as well as in disputes between public agencies and private entities. In criminal law, mediation can also be used in cases that are adjudicated by the court or prosecuted on the request of the victim, mainly for misdemeanors and non-serious crimes. For minors, mediation can be used as a diversion alternative from criminal proceedings for those offenses that are punishable up to five years of imprisonment (as provided for the in Code of Criminal Justice for Children, enacted in 2018).
In Albania, mediators must be accredited by the Ministry of Justice. Mediators exercise their profession as freelancers and are listed in the Register of Mediators, which is administered by the Ministry of Justice.
When the Albanian Mediation Law of 2011 was established, interest in mediation as a profession increased, and approximately 500-600 mediators were licensed in the following years. However, most of them had limited training. Additionally, many did not meet the criteria to be included in the Register of Mediators. Consequently, there are currently only 89 mediators listed. Still, only a small number of those listed are actively providing services (approximately 25-30 mediators). These mediators generally possess a lawyer’s license and have included mediation as an additional service in their license.
In 2013, the National Chamber of Mediators was established. The Chamber is responsible for the initial and ongoing training of mediators and for supporting other mediation related activities.
Although the legal framework has improved, the number of cases managed through mediation is still limited in Albania. Importantly, there is very little accurate data on the cases referred and managed through mediation. This is due to a number of factors including the non-harmonization of mediation law with the procedural codes, the reluctance of institutions to refer cases to mediation, pressure created in courts and prosecution offices by the vetting process that judges and prosecutors are undergoing in Albania, the mediators’ level of professionalism, and the lack of public information on mediation as a service. Despite a communal lack of trust in the court system, people are still primarily relying on them to resolve their conflicts due to these challenges.
Ongoing Efforts by the Government and Civil Society
The Ministry of Justice has sought support from international and domestic actors to strengthen the mediation system in Albania. Currently, the Albanian branch of CSSP Berlin (Center for Integrative Mediation) is partnering with the Ministry of Justice, the National Chamber of Mediators, and the Albanian Foundation for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation of Disputes on a project to support the implementation of mediation law, to develop by-laws, to build mediator capacities, and to develop a database for cases managed through mediation in Albania. Two mediation centers have been established in major cities, Tirana and Durres, which are expected to coordinate the referral mechanism of cases from the institutions to the centers and to the mediators.
By Merita Bala, Senior Fellow – Albania, Weinstein International Foundation