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UNODC and WHO facilitate the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Health and Civil Society in Albania
Tirana, 11 April 2014: The signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Albanian Ministry of Health and civil society organizations offering services in the area of drug treatment and care took place in Tirana.
During the ceremony, speeches were delivered by the Deputy Minister of Health, Chief the Addiction Clinic at the Mother Teresa University Hospital Centre and the Presidents of the non-governmental organizations "Aksion Plus", "STOP AIDS" and "Komuniteti Emanuel-Albania". The ceremony was attended by health professionals, civil society activists, UN agencies and media.
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding is a result of cooperation of national governmental and non-governmental partners in a one-year-long initiative of UNODC and WHO within the framework of a Joint Project on Drug Treatment and Care implemented with a view to support the efforts of Albanian authorities in this area.
Through this partnership and cooperation Memorandum, each entity seeks to improve several important elements of work related to drug treatment, such as the skills of health and social workers; the participation in joint training programmes; and the exchange of professionals, treatment materials and medicaments between them for mutual enhancement of service quality.
The Memorandum is the first cooperation agreement formalized by the Albanian Ministry of Health with the civil society in this area.
UNODC brings together civil society and government in Albania to support women in reporting corruption
Tirana, 10 April 2014: UNODC in close cooperation with the Office of the National Coordinator on Anti-Corruption hosted a roundtable workshop bringing together civil society organizations, women's groups, UNDP, UNWOMEN, police and government departments, to identify and discuss ways in which Albanian women can be best supported in coming forward with reports of corruption.
At the opening the workshop, Deputy Minister of Labor, Social Welfare and Youth and the UN Resident Coordinator in Albania underlined how women are more likely to be exposed to bribery and corruption due to their traditional role as the key interface between the family unit and public administration, particularly in sectors such as health, education and social services.
Building on the key conclusions of an earlier UNODC anticorruption conference held in Tirana by UNODC in late 2012, participants held detailed discussions on the current obstacles preventing women from coming forward with reports of acts of corruption and considered how legislative and institutional frameworks can be improved in Albania so as to increase the reporting by women.
Participants were facilitated by UNODC in addressing core themes including reporting tools and mechanisms, awareness-raising activities and the protection of reporting persons. In relation to each of these areas participants agreed upon a set of key observations and recommendations, to be finalized and agreed in an upcoming UNODC report.
The workshop is a part of UNODC work currently being taken forward in Albania aimed at encouraging women to come forward with reports of acts of corruption. This work was designed to provide a voice to women in the context of the development of a new whistleblower protection law by the Albanian government.
Participants from both government and civil society organizations noted that the workshop and associated follow-up activities will ensure that the views and concerns of women will be reflected in the upcoming legislative reforms.
The series of Women and Corruption workshops is supported by the UN Coherence Fund through the financial contribution of the Swedish Government.
The workshop was widely covered by the media. Top News TV and Ora News TV offered a live broadcast of the event.
Partners of UNODC: The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) encourages cooperation between police forces in the Balkans
Opatija, Croatia, 8 April 2014: Since 1999, the SDC has been supporting cross-border cooperation initiatives between the police forces of Western Balkans. Representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as well as Switzerland and the Secretariat of the Police Cooperation Convention for South Eastern Europe met on 8 April 2014 at a Ministerial Conference designed to share good practices on the issue.
On the occasion of the Conference, the SDC webpage has published an interview with an Albanian customs officer participating in the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme in Albania, supported by the SDC. The interview can be found under the following link:
Albanian INSTAT and UNODC Launch Findings of the Survey on Impact of Bribery and Crime on Private Enterprises in Albania
Tirana, 7 April 2014: The Institute of Statistics of Albania (INSTAT) and UNODC have launched the Survey on Impact of Bribery and Crime on Private Enterprises in the country. The study was prepared by INSTAT and UNODC with the financial support of the EU as part of a broader research project on corruption in Western Balkans which has been previously reported on (please refer to articles below).
The launch was attended by the Director of INSTAT as well as senior officials and representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Economy, Industry and Entrepreneurship, Ministry of Integration, Customs Administration, Taxation Directorate, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the EU Delegation in Tirana, international organizations and media.
The survey was developed using a common and solid methodology which has been developed together with the national partners. The survey reports that corruption is the second most significant obstacle to doing business in Albania, after high taxes. Among other findings based on around 2,000 responses were:
- The bribery prevalence rate among businesses is 15.7 per cent.
- Bribe-paying businesses paid an average of 4.6 bribes to public officials in the 12 months prior to the survey.
- There are some variations in the prevalence of bribery across business sectors in Albania: Accommodation and Food service activities (20.3 per cent); Transportation and Storage (20.1 per cent); Building and Construction (18.7 per cent); Manufacturing, Electricity, Gas and Water supply (14.1 per cent) and Wholesale trade and Retail trade (14 per cent).
- In Albania, 35.7 per cent of bribes are paid in cash. The mean amount paid per bribe is 53,000 Leke which corresponds to 904 EUR-PPP.
- The main purposes of paying bribes are to speed up a procedure (39.1 per cent), to make the finalization of a procedure possible (16.8 per cent) and receiving better treatment (7.2 per cent). In addition, 13.5 per cent of bribes paid served no specific immediate purpose.
- The prevalence rate of bribes paid to public officials is highest for police officers (12.5 per cent), customs officers (12.3 per cent), tax/revenues officers (10.7 per cent) and municipal or provincial officers (10.2 per cent).
- Only 2.2 per cent of the businesses paying bribes had reported bribery incidents to official authorities in Albania. Over one third (36.2 per cent) of business representatives did not report bribery because they consider there is no need to report bribery as it is common practice to pay or give gifts to public officials. In addition, almost one quarter (23.6 per cent) of respondents stated they did not report bribery because it would be pointless to report it as nobody would care about it.
UNODC commended the Government of Albania for its excellent cooperation in the undertaking of the research and for acknowledging the need to conduct this evidence-based survey as part of an on-going effort to curb corruption. In her address, the UNODC officer noted: "With this study, it is possible to provide concrete informative elements about corruption; we now have a better understanding of the nature of corruption and its impact on the businesses, economic and social development of Albania". Appreciation was also expressed towards the EU which has provided funding for the project.
UNODC Container Control mission visits Montenegro
Podgorica and Bar, 3 April 2014: UNODC mission has visited Podgorica and Bar in order to meet with Montenegro law enforcement agencies to discuss the establishment of the Joint Port Unit in the port of Bar under the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP).
The establishing of the Joint Unit and making it operational was discussed. Setting of the Joint Unit will be followed by analysis of the container traffic, agreeing on arrangements for the operational work, and eventually conducting of a practical training at the end of September 2014.
UNODC briefed officials about the CCP developments in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and possibilities to further explore cooperation with Croatia in this area. Since the port of Bar has a Memorandum of Understanding on the exchange of information with the port of Bari in Italy, ways to further strengthen cooperation with Italian colleagues will also be investigated.
Meeting between UNODC Chief and Austrian Interior Minister focuses on South Eastern Europe, Afghanistan
Vienna, 3 April 2014 (United Nations Information Service): The Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, met with the Austrian Minister of the Interior, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, today to discuss UNODC's activities in South Eastern Europe and elsewhere.
After the meeting, Mr. Fedotov said, "I welcome Austria's strong support for our work and UNODC is ready to continue our excellent cooperation in the Balkans under the umbrella of the South Eastern Europe Regional Programme."
"The importance of UNODC's Regional Programme extends far beyond the Balkans," Mr. Fedotov said. "The programme is tightly linked to other regional programmes, particularly in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, where it is part of our overall integrated approach to drugs and crime."
The so-called Balkans route is one of the main conduits for heroin coming out of Afghanistan. UNODC estimates that around 60-65 tons of heroin, valued at some US$13 billion, moves along the Balkans route to destinations in Western and Central Europe.
Mr. Fedotov also informed the minister that, in West and Central Asia, drugs and crime remain a threat to sustainable development and healthy institutions. Last year, UNODC's Afghan Opium Survey found that cultivation of opium had risen by 36 per cent, and opium production by 49 per cent.
In late 2013, UNODC organized a founding meeting of international organizations in Istanbul to discuss how best to counter heroin's movement from Afghanistan to Europe.
Known as "networking the networks" the initiative is a component of an inter-regional drug control approach that is based on shared responsibility and fully aligned with the Paris Pact Initiative - a coalition of over 70 countries united to confront opiates.