Albania opens communist secret police archives


The Albanian parliament passed a law Thursday opening secret police files on civilians that have been kept shut tight since the fall of the feared communist regime.

Unofficial sources have estimated that about 20 percent of Albanians collaborated with the notorious Sigurimi secret police, informing on “suspicious” activities of friends, neighbours, colleagues or even family members.

Western intelligence sources believe up to 10,000 people worked for the secret organisation during the communist period.

The Sigurimi, a powerful tool in the iron-fisted rule of longtime dictator Enver Hoxha, was established when he came to power after World War II in a bid to suppress opposition or anti-communist protests.

Following the regime’s collapse in 1991, six years after Hoxha’s death, the Sigurimi was dissolved and replaced by the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

The law allows access to the files by people who were monitored by the regime, who collaborated with the regime, and to all institutions interested in them.

The files will be examined by a five-member committee who will make them available to those interested.

The committee will also deliver “certificates of non-collaboration” with the regime to those seeking a post in the state administration or running for office.

The law bans former Sigurimi from taking public office, but that does not include persons who collaborated with the secret police between 1944 and 1990. Legislation aimed at preventing that was passed by parliament in 2008, but later rejected by the constitutional court and contested by the European Union.

According to experts, a large part of secret police files were destroyed in 1991 and 1992 while the communists were still in power, and also in 1997 during an armed rebellion in Albania.

At least 7,000 opponents of the communist regime were killed and more than 100,000 deported to labor camps, where many of them died.