Last Updated 14 November 2016

Albania is a constitutionally secular country, while the religious demographic of the country has a Muslim majority there is also a strong Albanian Orthodox and Roman Catholic population. The constitution and legal system along with a secular education system protects universal human rights. However there are agreements with religious groups in place that provide a number of privileges to those groups including tax-exemption status.

Systemic Discrimination
Mostly Satisfactory
Free and Equal

Constitution and government

Free speech and freedom of religion is protected by article 10 of Albania’s secular constitution. However while the constitution protects religious communities and confirms the neutrality of the state with regards questions of beliefs and conscience it doesn’t explicitly protect non-religious communities. It makes explicitly clear that the equality and independence of religious communities is to be respected by the state and by each other, this statement specifically identifies religious communities and mentions nothing of the non-religious.

Article 10(2) however, says that “The state is neutral in questions of belief and conscience, and also, it guarantees the freedom of their expression in public life.” Which seems to imply that the expression of any belief is constitutionally protected, religious or otherwise.

Additionally, the preamble states that the constitution is established “to guarantee the fundamental human rights and freedoms, with a spirit of tolerance and religious coexistence”, which again specifically identifies the religious but make no mention of those without religion. Though it should be noted that the majority of the preamble and the constitution as a whole respects the the individual and protects universal human rights.

Education and children’s rights

According to the Ministry of Education, public schools are secular and the law prohibits ideological and religious indoctrination. Religion is not taught in public schools. Religious groups, including Muslims and Catholic and Orthodox Christian, run numerous state-licensed private schools. These private schools may teach religion, but their curricula must comply with national education standards.

Family, community and society

Registration of Religious Groups

The government does not require registration or licensing of religious groups; however, a state committee maintains records on foreign religious organizations that solicit its assistance.

Registration grants religious groups the right to hold bank accounts and own property, as well as some level of tax-exempt status. The four traditional religious communities signed agreements with the government in 2008 granting them wider tax exemptions and other privileges.

(It remains unclear whether similar advantages could be obtained by specifically secular worldview organizations.)

Article 10 of the constitution calls for separate bilateral agreements to regulate relations between the government and religious communities. The Catholic Church, Muslim, Orthodox, and Bektashi communities all established such relations. Among the advantages of having the agreement are an official recognition of the community, prioritized property restitution, and tax exemptions.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

While the constitution guarantees freedom of expression, Albania lacks strong, independent media. Most media outlets are seen as proxies for one or other of the two main political parties. Reporters have little job security and are vulnerable to lawsuits, intimidation, and even physical attacks by those facing media scrutiny. Journalists critical of the government have experienced official harassment, physical attacks, death threats, and other forms of intimidation. There are no government restrictions on internet access.

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