In February 2020, the project staff completed the analysis of 919 court decisions in four first instance courts and three courts of appeal for a period of 2
years. In this regard, the staff of the project conducted an analysis of the First Instance Court and Appeal Court decisions in Fier, Korça, Shkodra, Tirana for the
period 2018-2019. Several meetings were also organized with legal actors involved in the alternative sentences (AS) execution process. The project staff
drafted a report based on the evaluation of court decisions and interviews with relevant stakeholders.
In February - May 2020, the project staff continued to work with the Alternative Sentence Manual using the findings discovered during the first phase and also substantial research in the Albanian and international legal framework regarding Alternative Sentences.
The staff of the project prepared the modules for the training tailored to each of the institutions and professional groups mandated by law to engage in
awarding or/and implementing Alternative Sentences.
In April 2019, SCI started the implementation of the project: Community Governance: challenges to the functioning of citizens' participation mechanisms in Korca district. During this project, SCI identified the potential Agents of Change in all 6 municipalities of Korca District, trained them, and engaged with the Korca District Council via an MoU for facilitating their communication and ensuring the sustainability of the project. And last but not least, the project established an online platform (http://agjentetendryshimit.com/) displaying the full mapping of the ‘agents of change’ present in every region in all the six municipalities of Korca district. The agents of change serve as a focal point for the communities they live in, in order to address their problems, concerns, and suggestions related to local governance institutions. Thanks to a functional network of local actors that effectively participate in community governance mechanisms in Korça district, the agents of change can cooperate with the local governance institutions.
In September 2019 SCI started the implementation of the project “Alternative Sentences - Alternative for a Better Life”, financially supported by the Netherlands Embassy as part of the MATRA - Rule of Law program.  aims to improve the award and implementation of alternative sentences in Albania by drafting a practical manual on implementations of PBS law, training, judges & prosecutors – in collaboration with the School of Magistrates; lawyers-in collaboration with the School of Advocacy, training Pbs- in close collaboration with the National Probation Service Directorate; and also training of local government representatives, NGO representatives, police, etc through organizing workshops in each district. This project aims to give the relevant stakeholders a reference book (Manual) for proper implementation of the law and equip them with knowledge and skills for a more effective practical implementation of the Albanian legal framework.
In March 2019, it was accomplished “Improved Awarding and Implementation of Alternative Sentences” project, funded from Save the Children and CILPS a program financed by the EU called “Civic Engagement For A Functional Judiciary System And Access To Justice In Albania”. Through this project, SCI contributed in: (i) improving the rate and quality of alternative sentences awarded by the courts and monitored by Probation Services (PbS) offices in Tropoja, Dibra, Kruja (in Northern Albania), and Përmet, Pogradec, Saranda (in Southern Albania) and beyond; and (ii) enhancing opportunities for first-time and low risk offenders to have their rights respected and to reintegrate in society and conduct a life away from crime, once they complete their sentence. 
Based on the review of the legal framework related to alternative sentencing; the findings of SCI’s review of the alternative sentences that were awarded by the courts in project’s target areas during 2016; the reports on individual cases of offenders that are carrying out alternative sentences that PbS offices submit to the prosecutors of each case; the findings of the interviews with key stakeholders; and the findings of the focus groups with offenders that are serving or have completed alternative sentences, the LLE, with assistance by LRs, prepared a Report on Alternative Sentencing. This report includes: quantitative data on the percentage of alternative sentences awarded by the courts in project’s target areas as compared to the total of penal cases adjudicated by these courts in 2016; analysis of the quality of the court decisions on alternative sentences awarded by these courts; analysis of best practices and concerns related to the implementation of alternative sentences; and recommendations for improving the quantity and quality of court decisions that award alternative sentences, as well as the implementation of these sentences.
In February 2019, SCI organized at the Center for Openness and Dialogue (COD) in Tirana the photo exhibition Balkan Girl Power, which concluded activities under a regional initiative undertaken by five partner organizations: SCI in Albania; National Youth Council of North Macedonia (NYCM); iACT in Montenegro; Organization for the Promotion of Activism (OPA) in Serbia; and the Artpolis Center - Art and Community from Kosovo. The exhibition was attended by more than 150 people that were invited and it stayed open until the end of February 2019. Renowned Albanian-British artist Lala Meredith Vula opened the exhibition with a speech and it was closed with awards for the best photos. Balkan Girl Power exhibition was opened also in Ulcinj, Montenegro as part of Seanema Film Festival.

During February – July 2018, SCI implemented the project “AIS Network, E-Democracy (For an Active and Inclusive Society-digital Citizenship)”, together with two organizations: “Woman in Development,” Korçë, and “Eye of New Media,” Gjirokastër.

Project activities were implemented over 6 months in the municipalities of Devoll, Tepelena, and Libohova. The aim of the project was to improve the quality of life for citizens living in the municipalities of Devoll, Tepelenë, and Libohova, by giving them the opportunity to participate in the policy-making process and, more specifically, on issues related to service delivery by the offices and agencies of the respective municipalities.

SCI and its partners established two local coalitions, one in Libohova and one in Tepelena, with the participation of active community members. These coalitions, in close collaboration with Devolli Local Coalition (that was already established by a former project implemented by SCI’s local partner in Korça). Project’s staff of the project conducted also two Community Based Scorecards in the municipalities of Tepelena and Libohova and monitored the implementation of the municipal budget of the three municipalities. The results were shared at two open forums that took plane in each municipality with participants from local government institutions, members of local coalitions, and active citizens. The project introduced also a new initiative, the “E-Democracy”, using IT to build an interactive online platform (www.e-demokracia.al) to serve citizens of the three municipalities. Through this platform they can submit their problems, concerns, and suggestions related to the services delivered by the municipalities, and the comments submitted in the platform are then reported to the LG institutions by the members of the coalitions. This platform is very user friendly and the citizens can find in it useful information regarding the services offered by local governance institutions. Upon project’s completion, the members of local coalitions took over the administration of the page, guaranteeing its sustainability.

During April - August 2018, SCI implemented the project “For Open and Citizen-Friendly Municipalities”, funded by the ACTION SEE –Accountability, Technology, and Institutional Openness Network in SEE, funded by the European Union. SCI implemented project activities in 5 months in the municipalities Fushe - Arrez, Kurbin, Shijak, Rrogozhina, and Maliq. The project focused on municipalities that had not yet started to prepare their Transparency Program and assisted them to start this process.

 This project worked to:

  • Conduct analysis of the Requests and Complaints Registers at each municipality;
  • Conduct analysis of the position of the Municipal Information Coordinator and its scope of work in each municipality;

Carry out an awareness raising campaign targeting citizens living in these municipalities educating them about their right to access municipal information and services.

Upon project’s completion, two municipalities finalized and updated their Transparency Programs, three municipalities began to draft their Transparency Program, in accordance with the legal requirements in force in Albania. The five municipalities targeted by the project, now:

  • Have registers dedicated to the requests/complaints of the citizens;
  • Municipal staff are more aware of the legal obligations that they have to respond to citizens’ requests;
  • Each municipality has a well elaborated scope of work for the position of the Municipal Information Coordinator;
  • Citizens, business groups, and other local actors in each municipality have a better understanding of their rights to access information related to the municipality and of the mechanisms that they can use to request information and/or services.

As part of the project, SCI’s Director, Olda Ceta, participated in a study visit to Cardiff (Wales) and Edinburgh (Scotland) organized for the representatives of the organizations who had implemented successful projects in the framework of ACTION SEE program. During the two visits, participants learned more about the models for civic inclusion and participatory democracy processes.

In April 1, 2018, SCI began to implement the project “Improved Awarding and Implementation of Alternative Sentences,” a one-year project with a budget of 23,800 Euro funded by Monitoring the Judicial System Sub-Grants Program, implemented by Save the Children and CILSP with EU funds.

This project aims to:

  • improve the rate and quality of alternative sentences awarded by the courts and monitored by Probation Services (PbS) offices in Tropoja, Dibra, Kruja (in Northern Albania), and Përmet, Pogradec, Saranda (in Southern Albania) and beyond;
  • enhance opportunities for first-time and low risk offenders to have their rights respected and to reintegrate in society and conduct a life away from crime, once they complete their sentence.

During the reporting period, SCI completed the following activities: 

  • Signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Probation Services, upon approval by the Ministry of Justice; Provided training to a group of graduate law students that are serving as junior experts for this project;
  • Prepared the Monitoring Protocol for assessing the court decision mandating alternative sentences, and the interview questionnaire for the interviews with judges in the respective courts;
  • Met with the Head Judges and Prosecutors in the respective courts to present the project’s goal, approach, and activities, and ensured their cooperation;
  • Made copies of court decisions mandating alternative services and began assessing them based on the Monitoring Protocol;
  • Began organizing focus groups with offenders that will serve to highlight the offenders’ experience while carrying out these sentences, and to get their feedback on ways to improve the implementation of these sentences so that they can best serve to pave the way for the offenders’ reintegration in the society and in a life away from crime.

This project is expected to be accomplished by March 31, 2019.

Since May 2017, SCI is part of the NWG on Monitoring Public Administration Reform, as a component of the regional WeBER platform (simultaneously under implementation in Western Balkans) led by IDM in Albania. During May – December 2017, SCI contributed to the activities and position papers developed by NWG.

During March 2016 – March 2017, SCI was a partner to IDRA in implementing the Corruption Proofing of Legislation Project. SCI assisted IDRA to recruit legal experts that were trained on corruption proofing techniques; assisted IDRA to organize their training; and organized the launching event for the project. In March 2017, SCI organized the event where IDRA launched the online platform containing the legal acts reviewed by the corruption proofing     experts trained by this project.

Since May 2017, SCI is part of the NWG on Monitoring Public Administration Reform, as a component of the regional WeBER platform (simultaneously under implementation in Western Balkans) led by IDM in Albania. During May – December 2017, SCI contributed to the activities and position papers developed by NWG.

During June 2016 – April 2017, SCI contributed to the implementation of the second phase of STAR 2 program to monitor the implementation of the Administrative and Territorial Reform (ATR) in Albania. SCI’s Program Manager conducted qualitative research and organized focus groups with municipalities’ employees and community members in five municipalities. Upon completion of the field work, SCI submitted individual reports for each municipality on the municipality’s work in terms of efficiency, transparency, rule of law, accountability, and citizens’ participation. SCI presented and discussed the reports with stakeholders in each municipality.

Since December 2016, SCI is part of the Justice for All Coalition in Albania, comprised of leading human rights organizations and networks in the country. The Coalition contributes to establish a transparent, independent, efficient, and trustworthy judiciary. The Coalition’s work is supported by the USAID mission and EU mission in Albania. SCI’s Legal Expert Vjollca Meçaj played a leading role in preparing and presenting the Coalition’s recommendations at the public consultation tables organized by the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Issues, Human Rights, and Public Administration, as well as in developing the Coalition’s positions and public statements related to key issues such as justice reform; the process of the interim evaluation of judges and prosecutors; and the establishment of the structures for the vetting process.

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