Ignoring All Concerns Parliamentary Majority Endorses Bill on NGOs’ Registration

Against the background of internal and international criticism, the majority has endorsed the draft law “On the registration of non-profit organizations” with 83 votes in favor, nine against, and three abstentions.

The bill was approved by the parliamentary law committee in February this year and Thursday’s oaky turned it into law. Under its provisions, all NGOs must be publicly registered and must make public all information relating to owners and donors. This information will be available to all members of the public.

According to the Global NPO Coalition on FATF, the law has some “fundamental problematic issues which may lead to restrictions on the right to establish an NGO.” This, they stated, included the obligation to register all NGOs, contrary to the international standards on freedom of association.

In the meantime, the Amnesty International accused Albania of weaponizing anti-terrorism laws to silence critics and crackdown on NGOs. It said Albania and other countries were “hiding behind the fig leaf” of international organizations’ recommendations for tackling money laundering and other financial crimes.

But speaking in plenary session in support of the bill on Thursday Justice Minister Etilda Gjonaj said the goal of the law was to overcome bureaucracy. According to what she said, it will become much easier for those who live outside of Tirana to register an NGO or their involvement in one. The Minister added that it is in “full compliance with international best practices.” Gjonaj did not say a word on the criticism made against the law ignoring all the concerns expressed massively. / argumentum.al