Albania hasn’t had a significant case received from a whistleblower yet

Author: Goran Lefkov

Whistleblowing in Albania as a powerful tool in the fight against corruption has not borne fruit yet. The state adopted a Law on Protection of Whistleblowers relatively early in 2016, but for 6 years now there has been no significant case from which other countries in the region can learn, such as the case of Murat Mehmeti in Kosovo and the Lazarevski-Kostovski case in North Macedonia.

There is a case that had occurred before the Law on Protection of Whistleblowers was passed in 2014, when police inspector Dritan Zagani pointed out that the cousins of the then Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri had been involved in drug trafficking. Inspector Zagani pointed out that Moisi Habilaj and his group had been using Saimir Tahiri’s car to sell drugs.

Although Zagani indicated directly, where and what to be looked for, the public prosecutor did not pay any attention to this indication and did not take any measures to clear up the case.

The mafia in Albania, intertwined in state institutions and beyond, not only did not protect Inspector Zagani, but entered into a very brazen confrontation with him. After having pointed out to Tahiri’s mafia-organized group, police inspector Zagani was arrested.

Instead of suppressing corruption and drug trafficking after the statements of the police inspector, the opposite happened. To intimidate Zagani, they arrested him. Immediately after his release, Zagani left for Switzerland, where he was granted political asylum.

Saimir Tahiri’s case was later effectively resolved in 2018, but not in Albania, where the gang had been formed, but in Italy. The Carabinieri there first arrested Moisi Habilaj (Saimir Tahiri’s cousin) for drug trafficking. A year later, Tahiri himself was caught in a police trap. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison. His sentence was later commuted to three years’ probation.

Unfortunately, Albania still does not recognize the heroic feat of the police inspector from Fier, Dritan Zagani, and as a case of a whistleblower, his name was also on a warrant.

Instead of implementing the Law on Protection of Whistleblowers and getting thousands of citizens to help the institutions, the Republic of Albania does not that. This reduces the effectiveness of the fight against corruption. The help of whistleblowers is very important in the fight against corruption. Organized countries use this tool to obtain crime and corruption information much more easily and efficiently.

This case was one of the weights that put Albania down on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception. Thus, the country today ranks 104th along with Kosovo. Only North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are behind Albania, ranked 111th.