Court Proceedings for Criminal Offences against Free Elections during 2005-2015

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Open Data Albania is investigating into the trend and volume of election-related criminal offences in Albania over the last decade. The data refer to the Annual Statistical Reports of the Ministry of Justice. The current Criminal Code contains twelve articles on criminal offences and criminal contraventions that affect the electoral process. In 2012 only, the lawmakers have introduced four articles providing for new election-related criminal offences.

The Criminal Code contains some articles that provide for criminal offences against  free elections and the democratic electoral system: Article 325 Obstruction of subjects in the elections of representative bodies; Article 326 Falsification of documents and election results; 326 letter a Intentional damage of election materials; Article 327 Violation of voting secrecy; 327 letter a Voting more than once or voting without being identified; Article 328 Giving remunerations or promises; 328/a Forcing someone to participate in political activities; Article 329 Intimidation of, or violence against, participants in elections; Article 330 Obstruction of voters; 330/a Abandonment of duty by members of the election commissions; Article 331 Violation of the right to elect; Article 332 Misuse of military authority. Court proceedings may also be initiated based on the Electoral Code, which provides for criminal offences, which refer to the Criminal Code. Some of the punishable acts, according to the Electoral Code, include the intentional damaging or taking the (election commission) stamp outside voting centers (Article 103), refusal to count ballot boxes recognized as regular (Article 115), allowing voters to vote more than once, or on behalf of other voters (Article 106).

In 2007, there as a number of 55 court proceedings initiated, including 55 offenders, while in 2011, there were 1 court proceedings and 9 offenders.

There have been six general and local electoral processes in Albania over the last ten years. According to the court official statistics, there have been a total of 86 alleged election-related criminal offences during these six elections, involving 137 offenders. This includes 54 proceedings and 64 offenders based on the provisions of the Electoral Code.



Source: Annual Statistical Reports of MoJ 2005-2015
Comments: ODA



Source: Annual Statistical Reports of MoJ 2005-2015
Comments: ODA

The most frequent criminal offence over the last decade was the falsification of election documents and results (Article 326 of the Criminal Code). Over the last ten years, the court has carried out 17 proceedings, involving 56 offenders. The falsification of election documents and results is done for purposes of changing the election results by deliberately presenting inaccurate data, replacing accurate data by false ones, or by illegally stuffing the ballot boxes.

The second paragraph of Article 326 considers as aggravating circumstances the cases when this offence is committed by the people, who are actually responsible for administering the electoral process, or when such offence has serious consequences for the voting process, affects the integrity of the election results, or leads to making them invalid. The law requires the punishment of such criminal offence by 3 to 7 years of imprisonment.

The other criminal offences provided for in this section have been relatively infrequent. During 2005-2015, there have been 7 people punished for violating the secrecy of voting, and 5 for having obstructed electoral subjects.

No one has been punished, on the other hand for other criminal offences, such as intentional damaging of electoral materials, voting more than once or without being identified, forcing to participate in political activities, obstruction of voters, abandonment of duty by members of election commissions, and misuse of military authority.  Misuse of military authority refers to the use of such authority to influence military members under one?s power by giving them orders, advice, or by disseminating any other type of propaganda.


Source: Annual Statistical Reports of MoJ 2005-2015
Comments: ODA

Special subjects to election-related criminal offences are the people responsible for electoral administration, those who hold state functions, or duties in the public and non-public education institutions, and the military.

The toughest sanction, three to eight years of imprisonment, is foreseen for the criminal offence of intentional damaging of electoral materials in aggravated circumstances (Article 326/a, second paragraph).

Vote buying, a phenomenon reported by citizens, and local and international election observers, corresponds with Article 328 ?Giving compensation and promises?. According to this article, offering or giving money or material goods, making promises for jobs, or for any other favors, in exchange for getting a signature for a candidate to run, for voting a certain manner or for participating or not in voting, constitutes a criminal contravention and is punishable by six months up to two years.

Acceptance of money, material goods, premises, or other favors in exchange for the above acts constitutes criminal contraventions and is punishable by a fine. This article, which was amended in the Criminal Code in 2012, has not marked any court proceedings in the reporting years. The sanctions foreseen for such high risk activity is too low, i.e. only two years of imprisonment.



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    Contributer: Kejsi Kosta
    Translated by: Etleva Kondakciu
    Edited by: ODA