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Albania: Fear of ill-treatment / prisoners of conscience / possible POCs

, Index number: EUR 11/002/1997

Vladimir Goxhi, Arben Gega, Stavri Shkembi, Gjergji Meta, Ermir Caci, B Memushi; Roland Beqiraj, journalist: Mass demonstrations are continuing in the town of Vlora, part of a wave of protests throughout Albania by people demanding the return of money invested in fraudulent pyramid investment schemes. There is concern that the current unrest may lead to further human rights violations, as occurred during similar protests in January, including police violence against non-violent demonstrators, the ill-treatment of detained demonstrators and the detention of prisoners of conscience and possible prisoners of conscience. The men named above are among those who were subject to arrest and beatings. Roland Beqiraj, a journalist, was arrested and beaten by police the day after he reported on demonstrations in Korca on 28 January. Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience and is calling for his release. A number of opposition party leaders have also been arrested and/or charged in connection with the demonstrations.

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