Public Statement – We recommend to the Albanian Assembly to request to the Venice Commission a Legal Opinion for the draft law “On the Registration of Non for Profit Organizations” and to avoid its approval in urgent conditions
The Commission of Legal Issues, Public Administration and Human Rights of the Assembly of Albania, organized on 24th of February 2021, a hearing session on the draft law “On the registration of Non for Profit Organizations” with civil society organizations representatives.
Being confident that the Assembly does not approve any legal initiative proposed by the executive but performs its important functions in accordance with the Constitution and in compliance with the principle of check and balance of powers, civil society organizations representatives addressed a request to the Assembly for organizing of this hearing session in October 2020, while the hearing session was organized only now, and furthermore one day after the approval of the draft law in principle by the Law Commission.
The initiative for a new law is very positive and welcomed by civil society organizations, which have been requesting it for years, but we note with regret that the attitude of state institutions responsible for drafting, proposing, and reviewing this draft law has been exclusionary toward a sector such as of the civil society in the country, which is directly affected by it.
The consultation process was organized in the absence of a climate that guarantees inclusiveness, transparency, effective consultation, and discussion in good faith.
We would like to inform the public opinion that when the initiative was drafted by the Ministry of Justice, representatives of civil society organizations were invited to provide their comments to this draft law only in the final stage of the process, after the fact that it was effectively finalized and within a period of 7 days, that does not meet the minimum requirements of the law “On notification and public consultation”, where stakeholders must have at least a one month period of consultation. Despite the short consultation deadlines, the NPO representatives offered their input in this process, but the Ministry of Justice reflected a very low number of suggestions and did not provide explanations for the reasons or arguments for rejecting the other ones.
At the hearing session in the Law Commission organized on February 24th, the discussions by representatives of CSOs highlighted a number of principle issues that the draft law has. With regret, we note that the statements articulated during the hearing session by members of the Law Commission have biased and prejudiced tones towards the sector.
The Ministry of Justice and the Assembly presented that this draft law addresses the MoneyVal recommendations of the Council of Europe while the issues raised by the civil society sector are not related to issues of the MoneyVal recommendations.
We oppose provisions in the draft law that create an uncertain and vague situation for the civil society sector and that may put the sector under the pressure of unfair and intimidating attacks, especially those organizations that monitor and aim to increase state institutions’ accountability and responsibility.
We would like to clarify to both the public opinion and the Assembly as well, that the civil society sector does not oppose any provision aimed at preventing or combating terrorism or terrorist financing through the activities of civil society organizations.
We also specify that even with the legal framework in force, every non-profit organization has the obligation to report to the tax institutions.
In the draft law proposed by the Council of Ministers, we note that there are provisions for which earlier, the Venice Commission has expressed substantial reservations in its 2014 opinion on the legislation of Azerbaijan, finding it in violation of international standards https://rm.coe.int/1680306ff8 . In this opinion, the Venice Commission found that the proposed changes in the legislation of Azerbaijan have a chilling effect in the non-profit organization and that the discretion of supervising by the public authorities is unlimited nor clearly define in an explicit manner.
Following the hearing session on 24 February 2021, after presenting to the Commission all the above issues, we were invited by the Commission to a working meeting on 26 February 2021 to continue the discussions on the issues raised.
Appreciating the readiness of the Commission to organize this meeting, a representative of the group of organizations participated in the meeting on February 26th, where on behalf of the group were submitted comments on the draft law and stressed again to the Commission representatives that as long as the draft law has a number of issues in principle, cannot be discussed article by article.
As above, considering the great importance and impact that this legal initiative has on civil society organizations which must exercise their mission in accordance with all international standards sanctioned in the Conventions to which our country has acceded and which provide for freedom of organization, we recommend to the Assembly:
- To not approve the proposed draft law in the conditions of an emergency that undermines the effective consultation with civil society organizations as the main stakeholder and group of interest;
- To request to the Venice Commission a Legal Opinion for the draft law, regarding the compliance of this draft law with European standards and international experience in the fields of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
Based on the previous experience of the Assembly to consult with the Venice Commission for initiatives of special importance such as the draft law “On the legislative initiative of voters in the Republic of Albania”, the legal initiative for vetting in politics, constitutional amendments in the frame of the justice system reform, the draft law “On guaranteeing the integrity of the persons elected, appointed, or that exercise public functions”, etc., we hope that this request of 119 civil society organizations will be taken into consideration and to give an opportunity to a body above the parties, as it is The Venice Commission to give a legal opinion on the compliance of this draft law with international standards.
(in alphabetical order)
Academy of European Integration and Negotiations
Academy of Political Studies
Albanian Association of Italian Language Teachers (A.P.A.D.I)
Albanian Association of PJHA
Albanian Center for Population and Development (ACPD)
Albanian Centre for Economic Research (ACER)
Albanian Centre for Environment Governance – (ACEG)
Albanian Consumer Centre
Albanian Disability Rights Foundation (ADRF)
Albanian Helsinki Committee
Alliance against Discrimination of LGBT, Albania
ARSIS, Social Organization for Youth Support
Association Action for Change and Transformation –ACT
Association BID Berat
Association for Democratic Culture
Association For Women and Children
AWEN-Albanian Women Empowerment Network
Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – BIRN Albania
Beekeepers Association of Tirana
Beyond Barriers Association
Center for Bridging Communities
Center for Labor Rights
Center for Social Advocacy
Center for the Study of Democracy and Governance (CSDG)
Centre for Community Development “Today for the Future”
Centre for Parliamentary Studies
Centre Legal Civic Initiative
Child Rights Centre Albania (CRCA)
Civic Forum of Selenica
Civil Right Defenders Albania
Community Reporters Albania
Consulting and Development Partners
Cooperation and Development Institute
Co-PLAN Institute for Habitat Development
Counseling Center for People with Disabilities
Counseling Line for Boys and Men
Counseling Line for Women and Girls
Different & Equal
Dorcas Aid International Albania
Ecological Club, Elbasan
Environmental Center for Development Education and Networking (EDEN)
Epoka e Re Center
Euro Partners Development
European Movement Albania
For Social and Environmental Welfare” Berat.
Forum for Free Thought
Gender Alliance for Development Center (GADC)
Gender, Peace and Security Association
GO2 Organization for Sustainable Urban Planning
Hand to Hand Against Nation Apathy – “H.A.N.A” Center
Help the Life Association
Human Dimension Organization
Human Right in Democracy Center
Information Centre Aarhus, Shkodra (AIC)
Information Network and Active Citizenship (INAC)
Institute for Democracy and Mediation
Institute for Development and Civic Initiatives
Institute for Development and Research Alternatives (IDRA)
Institute for Policy & Legal Studies (ISPL)
Institute for Political Studies
Institute of Roma Culture in Albania
International Solidarity Association (SHIS)
International Voluntary Projects, PVN
Light Steps Women Centre
Local Democracy Agency
Missionaries of Social Rights, Kuçovë
My History blog
National Association for Integration and Development (SHKIZH)
National Association of Social Workers
National Centre for Community Services
Natural Resources Development Organization
North Green Association
Observatory for Children and Youth Rights
Open Doors Center
Open Horizon Association
Open Society Foundation Albania
Partners Albania for Change and Development
Patients with Chronic Diseases in Albania Network
People First Association
Professional Business and Craft Association of Albania
Protection of the Natural Environment – Vlora
Psycho-Social Centre “Vatra”
Puka Beekeeper Association
Puka Youth Centre
Ray of Hope Organization
Resource Environmental Center – Albania (REC Albania)
Roma Active Albania
Roma and Egyptian Youth Movement
Shelter for Girls and Women
Social Contract Institute
The association “Social Center to Help People in Need” Fushë-Arrëz
The Association “Udhëtim i Lirë – Liberi di Viaggiare”
The Center for Protection of Natural Ecosystems in Albania, EcoAlbania
The Women’s Democracy Network Albania (WDN-Albania)
Tirana Legal Aid Society (TLAS)
Useful to Albanian Women
Vizion OJF Association
Voice of Roma in Albania
Walk in My Shoes Organization
Well Point Association- Care for all
Women in Development organization
Women in Public Service Albania Center
Women to Women
Women towards Integration Organization
Youth Activities Centre
Youth Center Perspektiva
Youth Voice Network