Albania is one of few countries in the region that still does not have a Youth Law in place.
ECPAT member Children’s Human Rights Centre of Albania and the Albanian National Youth Network have worked together to write a whole host of changes to public policies for children and young people in Albania, compiled under the new draft Youth Law. The Albanian Parliament will start to review the draft legislation within a week, leaving many in the country hoping that things will finally change in terms of children’s rights.
Despite there being more than 700,000 children in Albania – making them 25 percent of the population, the country is one of few in the region that still does not have a youth law in place. The draft-law, submitted to parliament by child rights activist Nora Malaj, was written in consultation with more than 1,000 young people across 12 regions under the slogan “For youth, with youth and by youth”. It seeks to establish a new national and local architecture for youth participation and empowerment, and proposes the creation of an ombudsman for youth, and a national youth coordinator office. It will also introduce a quota for the minimum number of young people that can participate in decision-making, a dedicated national and local budget for youth, and support for youth groups and organizations. Past ECPAT research has highlighted the need for such bodies and mechanisms to prevent child sexual exploitation and support its victims.
Children’s rights activists in the country await a decision from the government and whether it fulfills commitments to establish proper child rights structures, including dedicated elements that address the sexual exploitation of children.
“The question is whether or not the government will say YES to the law and accept the solutions provided by young people. It is something to keep an eye on over the following months” – the Children’s Human Rights Centre of Albania.