Strengthening border control capacities in Albania


1. Objective

The overall objective of the project is to provide a balanced package of assistance in priority areas to the Government of Albania so that it is better able to counter illicit trafficking and disrupt organized criminal activities. It will provide direct assistance in order to strengthen the government's capacities to detect illicit drugs and other trafficking activities through the provision of technical equipment and training, especially at the eastern border crossing points and the green border.

The project aims to introduce modern concepts of an 'intelligence-led' approach to Police and Customs enforcement services as well as promote national and regional information exchange and cross border cooperation. In addition, it focuses on sensitive operational areas and strengthen regional cooperation at the operational level.

The project is designed as a continuation of the successfully implemented first phase of ALB/G70. It aims to fulfil the following objectives:

  • Involve all drug related entities covering a wide range of subjects and covering more geographical areas;
  • Explore with those entities how to build on models of use;
  • Evaluate the continuation of activities to produce guidelines and samples for all entireties on how to encourage joint undertaking of operations and exchange of information;
  • Implement a wide range of activities such as workshop and training;
  • Encourage officers and prosecutors to share their experiences with other intuitions locally and abroad in order to continue with the dissemination of information.


2. Results Achieved To Date Based on Indicators

As stated in the recent report of EU on Albania, the country has made progress in the fight against organized crime, but it is still in an early phase. The country still lacks a unified, interinstitutional response in the fight against organized crime. Poor cooperation among various entities that are engaged in the implementation of the Integrated Border Management Strategy is of serious concern. Albania has made progress in improving its border security, but its ability to further develop and sustain these efforts, particularly in the area of IBM, remains a challenge. Based on the UNODC initiative of creating joint teams of border police and customs, operational Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) between national authorities were developed during the first phase of the project. Such cooperation has also led to the joint use of equipment and thus a shared responsibility in the fight against illicit trafficking. Recently both custom authorities and border police have become more involved in the interdiction of illicit trafficking, an area which until recently they considered to be the sole responsibility of anti-drug units. Albania continues to be a country of origin and production of the cannabis sativa plant, as well as a transit country for the trafficking of hard drugs, mainly of heroin. Despite the fact that the figures regarding narcotics seizures are the highest in the last four years, one must be careful not to confuse progress with success. Criminal intelligence as a tool in disrupting drug trafficking and dismantling drug tracking groups is now being widely used, and it has led to greater levels of information exchange between both national entities and regional ones.

In addition, Albanian police and customs officers have become better equipped and trained, and the coordination between the two law enforcement agencies has improved. In terms of equipment and training, UNODC technical assistance has contributed to making Albania's borders less porous. With regard to Anti-Human Trafficking issues, a new perception and attitude has been introduced, leading to an improvement in the assistance provided to victims and the roles each of these agencies plays in investigating Anti-Human Trafficking cases. For the period of September - December 2009, the technical assistance provided contributed to the drafting of an in-depth comparative analysis of the challenges and successes of the law enforcement entities operating at land border crossings; to generating a deeper understanding of the roles that each entity plays in effectively fighting illicit trafficking; in highlighting different models of how border police, customs and anti drug unit work together to advance their performance; and it also offered good examples of practices and legislation against trafficking in persons with regard to victim's assistance, compensation and witness protection.


3. Project Activities

a. Trainings

Training of trainers on border control techniques and the establishment of a national curricula

From 7 - 18 December 2009, a group of three officers from the Albanian Customs Administration and three officers from the Border and Migration Police attended a training course on how to "Train the Trainer to Train" conducted by the Turkish International Academy against Drugs and Organized Crime (TADOC) in Ankara, Turkey.

While at the Academy, the participants increased their know-how on all the subject matters covered during the training, which were in general novel and very helpful. The theoretical knowledge of some essential theories in the training field (modern pedagogy), the approach of organizing classes, and the application of the theory in practice is expected to be very useful for the officers. Based on both the theoretical and practical experience they acquired as potential trainers in different professional areas, UNODC believes that the completed training serves as a good impetus for them to further develop and enhance this knowledge in the future. This cluster of officer is also expected to attend a practical training course on vehicle search techniques, which will increase the number of trainers trained within the framework of ALB/G70 to 12.


UNODC believes that such an activity will enable both of the administrations involved to make the first steps towards preparing a training course on site.


Joint Training on the Use of DTF Equipment

The training on the use of DTF equipment was conducted by two Albanian trainers who had benefited from the UNODC funded three-week Training Techniques Course in Turkey. In addition, they had also been trained in Car Search Techniques by HM Revenue Customs in Dover, UK, also funded by UNODC.

Organized in Vlora, Albania from 23-26 November 2009, a total of 14 officers (7 from customs and 7 from the border police) participated. The training modules consisted mostly of slides which demonstrated the subject matter for the course. Separate instructions in Albanian on the use of specialized equipment such as the endoscope were also prepared. The three days of classroom training were interactive; the material was interesting; and the students enjoyed working in small groups, making presentations and contributing to the course in general. On the final day the Anti Drugs Squad team participated in the training in the Port of Vlora, making available their hydraulic car lift for use in examining a vehicle. Instructions were also given on how to use the endoscope, the "Buster" sonic device and other equipment.


The feedback questionnaire from the students indicated a score of 96% satisfaction.


Training on Basic Intelligence Techniques for the Officers from Anti Drug Units in Gjirokastra, Vlora, Lezha and Saranda

Four analysts from the Department of Criminal Intelligence in the Ministry of Intelligence visited Anti Drug Units in Gjirokstara, Vlora, Lezha and Shkodra in order to train the staff on the use of Memex. The training was conducted by the Albanian trainers that were previously trained under a twin project with the Austrian Government. 12 anti drug officers from the above directorates benefited from this raining which will take place in the third week of December 2009.


b. Assessments

Provision of Advice on the Effective Use of Intelligence Techniques and Software in the Development of Intelligence Products

During an assessment mission that took place in Albania from 21 - 24 December 2009, the participating expert assessed (i) the national intelligence model, (ii) checked to see if the model was serving as a mechanism to promote intelligence-led policing, including criminal intelligence regarding drug trafficking, (iii) assessed the need to develop training standards regarding criminal intelligence for all affected levels of law enforcement personnel which would include training objectives, the number of hours, the frequency of training, etc., (iv) met with all relevant stakeholders and international representatives in Albania . At the end of the mission the expert prepared a report with recommendations which was shared with the authorities and considered by UNODC for further intervention.


Review the Roles of Prosecution and Police in Investigating Human Trafficking Cases

From 22 - 27 November 2009, an international expert visited Tirana in order to assess Albanian legislation in regards to the responsibility of prosecution and police agencies in investigating human trafficking cases, the number of prosecutions and convictions, as well as the presence of appropriate sentences for all forms of human trafficking ensuring that law enforcement structures have conducted fair and partial investigations and that judicial processes guaranteeing the rights of all parties. The expert also ensured that Anti-Human Trafficking training included both pro-active investigation techniques (specialist level) and low level intelligence gathering techniques (at generalist level). In addition, the expert assessed the knowledge and skills of law enforcement officers on pro-active investigation techniques by paying attention to the specific human trafficking responsibilities and roles taken on by various institutions (anti trafficking police investigators, prosecutors and judges of the Serious Crime Court). During her mission in Tirana, the expert also met with senior authorities from the Ministry of Interior, including the Deputy Minister of Interior and the Head of the Serious Crime Prosecution Office. Since the completion of her mission, she prepared her mission report, which was then shared with the appropriate authorities.


Evaluation and Advice on the Establishment and Systematization of the Training Capacities of the Customs Directorate

Through the assistance of the World Customs Organization, UNODC succeeded in subcontracting a training expert from 8 - 14 December 2009, whose main tasks involved assessing the overall training orientation of the Customs Administration in Albania; assessing the training structure seeing as it represents one of the three sectors subject to the Directory of Personnel and Training; assessing any serious attempt to enhance the sustainability of the training that focuses on the allocation of funds; as well conducting an assessment of the customs curricula on career development for the staff, for the processing of training data, and the proper archiving of training materials (modules, training evaluations etc.). The expert also reviewed the levels of communication and cooperation between the Personnel Sector (personnel files of officers) and the Training Sector. Furthermore, the expert held a meeting with the customs authorities, representatives of the EU who assist the Customs Administration, and representatives from the Ministry of Finance. The mission constituted the first time that the Customs Administration had conducted an audit of its training capacities and needs, and was therefore considered highly relevant.


c. Provision of Equipment


Provision of Priority Rummage Equipment for the ports Kakavija, Qafe Bote, Saranda, as well as Hani Hotit

12 search tool kits were procured for the aforementioned border crossing points in order to facilitate the daily operations of the customs and police in interdicting illicit activities at both the land and blue border.

Provision of Drug Task Force (DTF) Vehicle and Rummage Equipment for Shengjin Port Due to the recent operation of a ferry between the Italian port of Bari and Shengjin, police sources have confirmed that this might be a new potential route of trafficking of narcotics and drugs, warranting assistance in providing the proper law enforcement agencies with the proper equipment. Since many border crossing points are already in the process of being renovated and updated therefore with IPA assistance, it was advised to assist in the procurement of vehicle and rummage equipment for the use by a joint mobile team of officers, which had trained by UNODC in the use of such equipment. The vehicle and equipment have been procured by the UNODC Project Office in Tirana, and are scheduled to be delivered to the Albanian authorities during an upcoming handover ceremony.

Provision of Basic Equipment of Off-Road Vehicle for Anti Drug Units and the Anti-Human Trafficking sector

Three off-road vehicles were procured for the Anti Drug Unit in Lezha and Anti-Human Trafficking units in Gjirokastra and Vlora. It is expected that these off-road vehicles will support the day to day operations of both the Albanian Anti Drug and Anti-Human Trafficking officers. In addition, UNODC procured 15,000 Evidence Temper bags for the Central Service for the fight against drugs, which will contribute to the better preservation of seized drugs, as well as an improved use of them as evidence in investigations. Furthermore, 20 printers have been donated to the Serious Crime Prosecution Office in order to support their daily work in investigating Human Trafficking cases.

Provision of Hard- and Software for Handling Drug Related Data including Memex Licenses

16 PC, 6 network printers and 2 laptops were procured by UNODC for the Anti Drug Unit at the Ministry of Interior and the Customs Directorate. In addition, the Albanian police also benefited from 4 Memex licenses for handling criminal intelligence. The licenses are operational and have already been installed by the respective department at the Albanian State Police Directorate.

Provision of Equipment to Blue Border Training Facility in Vlora

The enhancement of training capacities of the Border Police is one of the main objectives of ALB/G70 Phase II. Therefore, training occupies an important part of the assistance provided to the Albanian Government. As such, the training facility in Vlora was renovated with the assistance of Guardia di Finnaza, and the proper equipment was provided by UNODC. For this purpose office furniture and related equipment was procured in order to make this facility fully operational, contributing to the training of border police officers and cadets.

Provision of Passport Readers for 20 Border Control Points in Albania

Upon the request of the Albanian Government, 20 biometric passport readers were procured and delivered to the Albanian Border and Migration Police. Specifications for these pieces of equipment were identified in cooperation with the authorities in order to ensure that they were fully compatible with the software used by the Ministry of the Interior. The provision of these passport readers will contribute to the visa liberalization process, for which the use of such readers at all Border Control Points in the country is mandatory.

Provision of Equipment to a Computer Examination Laboratory as Identified by Pameca

Cyber crime and crimes committed in instances where electronic evidence is likely to be detected is a recent phenomenon in Albania. In order to properly respond to meet these new challenges, the Albanian State Police has received assistance from the international community. A donation ceremony was organized on 5 November 2009 during which the Albanian Minister of Interior, Mr. Lulzim Basha, the Ambassador of the US, HE John Withers, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany H. E. Mr. Bernd Borschadt, and the Director General of the Albanian State Police, Mr. Hysni Burgaj participated and greeted the participants.

With the support of ICITAP and the UNODC, two senior specialists, one assigned to the Serious Crimes Prosecution and the other to the Criminal Intelligence Analysis Directorate, worked together in developing a service manual in handbook form that gives precise, yet simple to follow directions on the recognition of possible electronic evidence, its protection and preservation, and the methods of transmitting such evidence safely to the new computer forensics laboratory for analysis. 1,500 copies of this handbook have been designed so that it can be oriented and distributed throughout the Albanian State Police. In addition, this handbook has been designed so that it can be carried out by all patrols, as well as generalist and criminal investigators as part of their regular equipment. A more comprehensive training manual has also been developed by these specialists, which will be used to train prosecutors and judges at the Magistrate School. UNODC has taken into consideration equipment already identified by PAMECA and placed a request for the procurement of needed equipment for the Cyber Crime Sector. UNODC will donate sophisticated computer hardware and software that is completely compatible and will greatly enhance the capabilities of the Forensics Section of the Cyber Crime Sector.


d. Study Tour

Study Tour of Selected Anti-Human Trafficking Officers and Prosecutors to an EU Country in order to Benefit from the Experience in Undertaking Joint Operations in the Fight against Human Trafficking

Four Albanian officers and prosecutors visited Brussels upon the invitation of the Belgian Ministry of Justice in order to undertake a study tour on the roles of prosecution and police in investigating human trafficking cases. The study tour was preceded by the drafting of the Terms of Reference (TORs) and a Letter of Acceptance for the Belgian authorities in their capacity as the hosting entities. In this process UNODC Project Office in Tirana was assisted by the UNODC Anti-Human Trafficking Unit. The visit was expected to generate a deeper understanding of the roles that each entity plays in effectively fighting human trafficking, and offer the participants the chance to receive feedback and advice on their local efforts, while also exposing them to different approaches from an EU country.