A parliamentary committee in Albania has paved the way for the adoption of a new law that would declassify documents from Albania’s Communist-era State Security Directorate, the Sigurimi.
The draft law was approved on Friday by the parliamentary legal affairs committee.
If passed, the law would declassify former Sigurimi files except for in cases that relate to national security or relations between Albania and other states.
The bill was backed by lawmakers from the ruling Socialist Party and the opposition. Social MPs, however, rejected an amendment that stipulated that every public institution should publish a list of all former State Security documents in possession. They also rejected an inclusion that any single individual should have the right to request a copy of these documents.
For the draft law to be entered into law, it must be approved by parliament. Given the cross-party consensus reached at the parliamentary committee, this is a likely outcome.
According to historian Erald Kaprim, however, implementation of the law is likely to face barriers due to a lack of resources and staff.
“I don’t believe it will bring about fundamental changes,” Kapri told reporters.
“Human resources and technology are needed. We don’t have either. There is also a need for digitisation,” he continued.
The Sigurimi forced Albanians to live under a state of constant surveillance for close to five decades under the brutal regime of Communist leader Enver Hoxha.
The Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents, the institution charged with looking after the State Security Directorate archives and for keeping tabs on officials that collaborated with the Sigurimi, has argued in the past that Albania’s legislation stipulates that officials cannot be twice subjected to background checks regarding their possible cooperation with the Communist regime.
The background checks conducted in the early stages of Albania’s democratic transition in the 1990s are widely believed to have been flawed. As a result, a number of alleged former Sigurimi collaborators and spies are able to hold positions of power to this day. According to current law, these individuals are exempt from being vetted a second time.
In July, pro-government media published a series of allegations regarding the comeback of former president Ilir Meta. As part of the allegations, Meta was labeled a Communist-era secret police collaborator.
The claims were published after Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents said it had received a declassify request to verify information that a politician with the initials I.M. had been named as an informer for the Sigurimi.
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