On November 11th, 2023, the ECtHR found Albania responsible for violating the right to life by failing to identify and punish the perpetrator of the death of a protester in front of the Prime Minister’s Office. The victim, A.N., was shot in the head during a protest in front of the Prime Minister of Albania’s office in 2011, as a result of what he died. The protest, organized by the Albanian Socialist Party, turned critical when some protesters entered the building. The police removed the protesters from the building by shooting at them, which resulted in the instant death of 3 people and the death of the victim in the hospital. None of the deceased had participated in the riots or entered the building. An investigation was opened and two officers were convicted of manslaughter by the death of two victims and consequently sentenced to prison. The officers alleged that they had fired in the air and not directly at the demonstrators. As a result, the Tirana Court of Appeal found that the use of force was excessive, but considered that firing in the air was a legal way of repelling the demonstrators. As for A.N.’s death, the investigation is still opened, but the victim’s relatives received compensation for the death of the victim, given that the judicial authorities found a violation of the “Firearms Act”.

The ECtHR found a violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the ECHR, given that the investigation on the victim’s death had not been effective as it had failed to establish the truth or lead to the identification and punishment of those responsible. In this regard, the ECtHR considered that there were several doubts as to whether the authorities had attempted to divert or inappropriately interfere with the investigation. For example, police officers made hasty public statements just after A.N. was shot, saying that the victim had been shot at point-blank and with weapons other than those used by the National Guard and the police force. Likewise, video records of the incident, stored on an external drive located in the Prime Minister’s Office, had been suspiciously erased. Furthermore, the ECtHR also found that the State had failed to clarify whether the victim in the present case had been directly targeted and to what extent the death could be attributed to orders given by commanding officers. In relation to the use of force, the ECtHR concluded that there were deficiencies at the time in the legal framework for the use of firearms in the context of crowd-control operations, as well as in the planning and control of the demonstrations. The ECtHR also held that the authorities failed to show that the use of lethal force had been absolutely necessary in the circumstances that led to the death of the victim. The judgment can be found here and the press release here.