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International Law & Religion 16 th Annual Symposium Brikena KASMI Connecting Communities of Discourse: How the Judiciary, Academia, Government and International.

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Presentation on theme: "International Law & Religion 16 th Annual Symposium Brikena KASMI Connecting Communities of Discourse: How the Judiciary, Academia, Government and International."— Presentation transcript:

1 International Law & Religion 16 th Annual Symposium Brikena KASMI Connecting Communities of Discourse: How the Judiciary, Academia, Government and International Institutions Further the Work of Religious Freedom ALBANIA

2 Religion in Albania The free exercise of religion; Freedom of religion, religious liberty in Albania State – religion relations: Is it a matter of control Or other assistance and mutual collaboration.

3 Some history Albania was first declared an independent state in Previously, the Ottoman Empire occupation required conversion to the Islamic religion Despite the conversions and the resistance there have been always three or four main religious in Albania (Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox, Bektashi) and the different divisions of those.

4 Religion of Albanians is Albanianism. (Pashko VASA) In 1912, after Albania proclaimed independence, the state declared that there was no official belief in Albania. After World War I Government in place re-declared the independence of religious communities from the state authorities in Albania. From 1920 – 1925, some progress in the free exercise of religion and religious freedom was made.

5 Progress was shown in: -Requiring the separation of the religious communities from the state -the free practice of religious belief (3 different beliefs) -the enactment of some laws to establish principles relating to the organization and supervision of the religious communities ( The aforementioned acts obliged religious communities to establish independent organizations; Catholics in Albania remained dependent on the Vatican Church)

6 King Ahmet Zog from 1925 – He first tried to do a religious census of the population forming a legal state basis which regulated the establishment and organization of religious communities in Albania Law on Religious Communities in Albania 1929 Act

7 Communist Regime Constitution proclaimed the separation of the state from the religious communities allowed them to self-regulate their internal affairs. the state was allowed by law to give financial assistance to the religious communities 1976 Constitution of the Socialist Peoples Republic of Albania affirmed the states 1967 policy against religious belief by that time, many cult objects were destroyed practice of religion was prohibited

8 Democracy Constitutional principles (as reflected in a law of April 29, 1992), reaffirmed the recognition of religious liberty, and provided: Article 7 – the Secular State: (1)The Republic of Albania is a secular state; and that (2)The state observes the freedom of religious belief and creates conditions to exercise it.

9 Legal Basis Albanian constitution approved in 1998: The freedom of religion is protected by means of constitutional provisions in articles, 3, 9, 10, 18, 24 and 167.

10 Form the basis for religious coexistence (3); Prohibit religious hatred (9); Provide for non-discrimination on the basis of religious or philosophical beliefs (18); Establish freedom to choose or to change ones religion or beliefs, as well as to express them individually or collectively, in public or private life, through cult, education, practices or the performance of rituals (24). Affirm the right of everybody to take part or not in a religious community or in religious practices or to make his beliefs or faith public.

11 Article 10 Article 10, of the Albanian Constitution (1998) provides that: In the Republic of Albania there is no official religion. The state is neutral in questions of belief and conscience, and also, it guarantees the freedom of their expression in public life. The state recognizes the equality of religious communities. The state and the religious communities mutually respect the independence of one another and work together for the good of each of them and for all.

12 Thereto, it provides that: (5) Relations between the state and religious communities are regulated on the basis of agreements entered into between their representatives and the Council of Ministers. These agreements are ratified by the Assembly. Religious communities are juridical persons. They have independence in the administration of their properties according to their principles, rules and canons, to the extent that interests of third parties are not infringed.

13 Issues the legal establishment of religious communities; relations between the State and religious communities

14 The legal establishment of religious communities religious communities are to be judicial persons. the registration of a religious community giving it its own personality is required so that it can acquire other rights and duties within the Albanian community such as long-term stay permits, labor permissions, performance of activity, tax registration religious communities must form judicial persons which have a non-profit mission; whose activity is conducted in an independent manner and without being influenced by the state – Law 8788

15 religious communities must choose either a form of association, foundation or center to be funded in Albania. The law regulates issues related to establishment, registration, activities, transformation, merger, interruption of activity, or dissolution. Draft the bylaws in front of an Albanian public notary: (i) Statute, (ii) Incorporation Act, (iii) program of activity and (Iv) Request to the court for the registration. Permission with the state organ – for foreign NGOs is required (By means of Council of Ministers 459 dated 23 September 1999 On the establishment of the state committee on cults; was established the state institution which collaborates, represents the state and settles the relations with the religious, humanitarian communities in Albania) The Tirana District Court registers the NGOs in Albania

16 Bylaws provide for the governing bodies of the community, rights and duties of members and governing bodies, etc. As such, a religious community must adopt a form of organization according to the governing bodies required by our law, but maintain their own rules inside their organizations. Thus, the 2 standards that a religious community may apply

17 Purpose of court registration A court decision is needed which reviews the documents in a judicial proceeding. includes a judicial review of the compliance of the legitimate aim, purpose, mission and activity as well as formal requirement for registration as stipulated in our constitution and legislation on the establishment and registration of the non-governmental (profit) organizations (laws 8788; 8789)

18 New Developments A working group have been formed for drafting a law on religious communities A draft law was sent to the Venice commission for review. It returned with some special remarks and the whole draft might be considered ready for approval. A working group to create a register within the court for religious communities that will include all their relevant data

19 Relations Between the Albanian State and Religions Article 10 of the constitution provides that every religious community is entitled to an agreement with the state (to be ratified in the Parliament), and sets the general principles of mutual collaboration between of the state and religious communities. Article 10 also states: The state and the religious communities mutually respect the independence of one another and work together for the good of each of them and for all. 4 agreements have already been signed and ratified in January 2008 with the Bektashi religion, Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic Church the law on non-governmental organizations provides for support and facilitation of their activities from the state. The form of assistance includes tax exemption, state aid on different fields of activity, etc.

20 New Developments May 5, 2009, new law no , On the financial assistance of the religious communities that have entered into the agreement with the Council of Ministers In recent years, many actions have been taken for returning property to the ex-owners – religious communities. When it has not been possible, religious communities have been treated in priority for compensation by means of law

21 Conclusions History has shown in Albania that, although there have been difficulties, there has been harmony and religious tolerance in our country. Nonetheless, we must continue to encourage collaboration and good relations between religions that are present in Albania. For many years in Albania, religions have been required to borrow a form of organization in order to formally and legally exist. Government institutions, academics, and lawyers need to work together to make more frequent changes so as to comply with the needs and requirements in a democratic society and to conform the law according the citizens interest. Court oversight of the registration of a religion should be limited, under the law, to checking compliance with the national interest. Any other oversight should be conducted by appropriate administrative offices rather than courts.

22 Free exercise religion and religious liberty are critical elements human freedom. While various legal requirements may be necessary, we need to be vigilant to assure that government oversight does not become too limiting. Finally, mutual assistance to be given from the state to the religion has only been an issue in paper given the level of development of our state economy. But some forms of assistance have been chosen for the 4 traditional religious communities. However, such assistance should also be provided to other religious communities so as to avoid improper discriminations.

23 Time for questions…comments Brikena Kasmi


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