Operazione Colomba – monthly report of activities in Albania – February 2019

Present situation
At the end of the month, a bomb, hidden in a package inside a private garden, exploded in the hands of a boy, killing him. Allegedly, the murder is related to an event happened in March 2016, when the victim’s brother shot two cousins, injuring one and killing the other.
Around the same time, a murder and an attack were committed. A man was killed in his car by a neighbor, apparently for a dispute that had occurred in the bar of a village. In the car there was also the 10-year-old son of the victim, who remained unhurt. In Korça (southern Albania) unknown people shot at a man’s car, fortunately without causing victims; his son thinks it might be a revenge for a robbery he had committed in 2008.
In the middle of the month, a man got conditional release, after he had been extradited from Italy in 2014, where he had been previously sentenced to life imprisonment. The judge stated that the alternative measure to detention was granted due to his good conduct and the relationship he had created with the victim’s family. It is interesting to note how, although not explicitly mentioned, a form of restorative justice has been applied to this case. (more…)

Blood feuds in 2018 – numbers from the press

Operazione Colomba carries out a monitoring activity about data related to the blood feuds phenomenon in Albania by reading and analyzing articles published in the press on a daily basis. Every day the volunteers read 3 newspapers of the Albanian national press and try to monitor also the foreign press, looking for elements that can attribute crime news stories to the blood feuds phenomenon, when it is not already clarified in the press. The identified cases are then classified in a database, according to a subdivision between cases of hakmarrje (vengeance) and cases of gjakmarrje (blood feud).
The data collected in 2018 show a constant trend in the use of violence to approach disputes caused by different reasons, with an average of 11 cases per month of vengeance, throughout the national territory. The 5 cases attributable to the blood feud result as a consequence of vengeance acts previously committed, according to mechanism of retaliation, typical of private justice.
The case occurred in Spain highlights the phenomenon of the so-called blood feud export, a phenomenon that involves the victims even when they are abroad.
For further information on the classification and on the geographical and numerical distribution of the phenomenon, see the triennial Report “Descriptive document on the phenomenon of ‘hakmarrja’ and ‘gjakmarrja’ to raise awareness among Albanian and international institutions – III edition”, p. 18.

On the basis of data collected during 2018, Operazione Colomba in Albania has drawn the following diagram which shows the number of hakmarrje and gjakmarrje cases occurred during last year. The total number of cases is 137: 5 happened for gjakmarrje and 132 for hakmarrje. (more…)

Albania News in response to “Le Iene”

After the latest report by the Italian TV show “Le Iene” about a case of blood feud, the website “Albania News – The Voice of the Albanian Diaspora in Italy”, through Arbër Agalliu’s words, seeks to outline the phenomenon more accurately. We share with you this opinion as a further way of pressure on Albanian authorities in order to undertake effective actions against such practice. For years, Operazione Colomba volunteers, together with local associations, have been asking the implementation of the law n.9389 of 4/5/2005, which establishes the creation of a Coordination Council and its functioning in order to cope with the phenomenon of blood feuds. For this purpose, Operazione Colomba encourages everyone to join the campaign #KunderGjakmarrjes (Against Blood Feuds) to promote the transition to a restorative justice and to nonviolent means to eradicate this practice. (more…)

“Gli occhi della guerra” talks about the phenomenon of blood feuds

“Families which are supposed to take revenge sometimes, do not even mean to do it, but there is a social obligation that pushes them to take action. We believe that these families are victims of this phenomenon twice: in addition to the loss of a loved one, their members are regarded as potential assassins by the rest of society. We do our best to stand by both parts involved in the feud. Every day we visit these families in order to bring them some positivity and thereby defuse the tension. This is not easy. It is a long and challenging process.”

When talking about the phenomenon of the blood feuds in Albania, there is the risk to address superficially an issue that, actually, is difficult to grasp.
First of all, in order to understand the vendettas, it is essential to consider the Albanian socio-political context. At the beginning of the 90’s, Albania came out of a ferocious dictatorship, which lasted for about 50 years and attempted to make disappear several traditions of the country. Paradoxically, for this reason, nowadays the blood feud practices are so hard to eradicate. Indeed, despite the strides forward Albania has made in the last 20 years, the legacy of the previous regime, as well as the weaknesses of the democratic institutions and the shortcomings of their judiciary system, have created the conditions where traditional values and customs are practiced and carried out in a distorted way. (more…)

PRESS RELEASE Blood feuds, Operazione Colomba: «They are still present in Albania»

Operazione Colomba

“The blood feuds phenomenon is unfortunately still a tangible and significant reality in some areas of Albania. Not only the European Union but also the Albanian institutions have recognized the existence of the phenomenon”. This is what Operazione Colomba, the Nonviolent Peace Corps of the Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII Association, stated in a note about the interview of the Counciellor of the Albanian Minister of the Interior to the Italian TV broadcast “Le Iene”.

“The phenomenon violates the fundamental human rights, including, first of all, the right to life and also causes as a consequence the problem of self-isolation. To eradicate this problem – the note goes on – it is necessary to guarantee the certainty of penalty as its absence can contribute to the use of vendetta as a form of private justice”.

Operazione Colomba, the Nonviolent Peace Corps of the Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII Association, has been present in Albania since 2010 to fight the blood feuds phenomenon.

Operazione Colomba works through the permanent presence of volunteers who daily visit people involved in this social plague, supporting them and implementing mediation and reconciliation processes among the parties in feud.

With reference to “Le Iene” broadcast, aired on the Mediaset networks on 10 February 2019, Operazione Colomba reports below some words of Albanian Interior Minister Counsellor Hilë Lushaku: “Currently there is no such phenomenon […] blood feuds are the product of some associations to obtain funds […] It is a phenomenon now gone by, that abroad is being magnified, to create problems to Albania […] Our experts are considering reviewing the article which deals with blood feuds and remove it from the Albanian penal code”.

In this regard, Operazione Colomba states that: