Case Studies

Mainstreaming Gender in the framework of the Juvenile Justice System Baseline Study in Albania (Swedish Mandate)

At the request of the Government of Sweden, ISSAT supported a baseline study of the juvenile justice system in Albania linked to the recently launched Swedish Juvenile Justice programme in Albania. The aim of the study was to provide a snapshot of the current juvenile justice system against which the programme could measure progress over time.

The approach, comprised of a desk review and field deployment. It aimed to analyse the existing strengths and weaknesses of the legal framework, structures, capacity, and coordination systems governing the juvenile justice system. The assessment used a problem-solving approach: first identifying the needs and then understanding the institutional factors that drive the juvenile justice needs in Albania. The methodology incorporated a 3+2 model that assessed capacity, procedures and tools dedicated to juvenile justice cases using three internal factors (management, accountability and capacity) and two external factors (inter-institutional relations and institutional ability to implement mandate). Based on available sex-disaggregated data, the assessment generated several insights on gender-balanced representation and inclusiveness within the target institutions.

From the onset, the methodology envisioned the participation of women police officers, judges and prosecutors in the data-collection process to broaden the perspectives of the juvenile justice system (40% of practitioners interviewed during the mission were women). The ISSAT team also counted on the support of local women justice experts to help in analysing the differential needs, access, participation, resources and impact on boy and girls in the Albanian juvenile justice system.

Key takeaways:

  • The mission team’s active seeking of different perspectives from the national actors allowed for a stronger social-cultural understanding behind the obstacles impacting access to services. For example, the team identified when girls in conflict with the law reach the age of juvenile criminal responsibility, social-cultural norms tend to influence the decision of police to divert the justice system and send the girls back to their families.  Currently, girls account for less than 1% of the overall number of cases reported by the police. Their absence from the juvenile justice system indicates a problem in the reporting of cases when girls are in conflict with law but also equates to marginalisation from any judicial rehabilitation programmes.
  • The 3+2 model was useful in identifying gaps in victim-centered services significantly impacting one sex over another. For example, in spite of established procedures prescribing the interventions of psychologists, their actual role in the process remains poorly defined and incoherent, contributing to largely passive and observer roles with limited engagement to protect the juvenile. There is no active information sharing between the different psychologists involved limiting the ability to monitor the extent to which the juvenile is traumatized by the process nor to develop more robust psychological assessments over time. The disproportionate representation of boys in the system implies their greater vulnerability to this potential psychological harm.
  • Although all juveniles in detention or pre-Trial detention have access to vocational training programmes, the relevance of the training (including carpentry, welding, electrician certification and plumbing) can be questioned. In particular, concern was raised by the low participation rates and the relevance of vocational training activities with the interests of the juveniles in general and girls in particular. In the future, the reliance of vocational training activities on manual labour or the physical strength of the juveniles could be a factor discouraging officers to process the girls through the system.
  • The 3+2 model helped to identify accountability gaps in the overall system. Monitoring and statistics on performance of institutions remains weak. There is a high degree of discrepancy between even basic statistics on number of cases reported between the institutions. This lack of basic data impairs the ability to devise informed strategies for boys and girls in conflict with the law
  • The methodology applied enabled the team to identify a gender imbalance in the participation and access to juvenile justice system as a result of numerous intra-and interinstitutional disarticulations. This is reflected by the general lack of understanding of what information should be collected (and by whom) related to the background and circumstance of the juvenile and the very limited data sharing between the institutions, particularly gender-focused data. Moreover, it is common to find that all institutions interview the juvenile to collect the same information without taking into account the different needs of boys and girls. Case file information transferred from prosecutors to probation is usually very basic with no information provided on background or circumstance.


  • As a means of promoting greater individualization of sentencing as well as alternate sanctions for boys and girls, probation service will need to produce pre-sentencing reports with a greater gender equality focus for all cases of juveniles in conflict with the law. Methodologies should be developed utilizing sex-disaggregated information with subsequent guidance influenced accordingly within institutions and coherently between institutions.
  • There is little awareness or even understanding of how diversion should work in practice. While diversion is frequently, albeit informally, used by police for cases related to girls there is currently no vision or clarity on what cases would be eligible or should qualify for prosecution or court referred diversion (eg. mediation). There is an opportunity to share experiences as well as provide awareness on diversion measures (including restorative justice) that are more gender inclusive while gradually helping the institutions to develop a vision or even system of diversion that could clarify what steps/measures would be taken in practice and what pre-conditions/circumstance diversion measures should be applied.
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Small Grants Scheme (SGS) in Albania: Swedish Support on Community Policing Programme (SACP)


Since the collapse of communism, Albania has experienced two phases of SSR. The first one saw official military and security institutions remain heavily dependent on political elites until the 1997 crisis, while the second one consisted on the introduction of major reforms, culminating with the country’s accession to NATO in 2009 (Qesaruku and Baka, 2010). The international community has been greatly involved in supporting SSR programmes, for instance through the deployment of the EU Multinational Advisory Police Element (MAPE) until 2001, or the Weapons in Exchange for Development programme led by UNDP (Ryan, 2006).

In this context, Sweden has a long history of support to Albania. In partnership with UNDP, it first led on Small Arms and Light Weapons collection project, and later co-implemented with UNICEF, a Juvenile Justice programme working in pre-detention and detention sites dealing with minors in conflict with the law. The on-going Swedish Support on Community Policing Programme (SACP) finds particular resonance in the Albanian State Police’s 2014-2017 Strategy, which highlights the centrality of community policing as their chosen model.

Overall, substantial progress has been made, but Albania is still facing endemic crime and widespread corruption, which in turn hampers public trust in security institutions.

Entry point

The importance of community policing as a strategy for the Albania State Police allowed the SACP to focus on three main areas:

1) support for the identification and start-up of a performance management mechanism for the ASP;

2) partnership development, including youth and police partnerships; 

3) tackling domestic violence.

Addressing partnership development, the Small Grants Scheme (SGS) is part of the SACP and is based on the notion that the police need to develop trust with the population it is serving, namely by focusing specifically on youth and improving the image of the police. Committees have been established in several locations in Albania, comprised of representatives from the local governments, regional education directorates, the police, parents’ boards, minority communities, and youth councils. These committees award small grants (up to 5’000€) to individuals, NGOs or consortiums to implement grassroots projects.

Of various nature, these projects should either: build partnerships between the police and schools; aim to promote and involve young people in activities on education; cultivate a sense of community; build partnerships with vulnerable groups and increase confidence of these groups towards the police; find alternatives for peaceful conflict resolution and civic education youth; raise the awareness of young people on issues such as drug abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, diversity issues, traffic/road safety, gambling, and bullying (Guidelines on Small Grant Schemes, Swedish Support to the Ministry of Interior/Albanian State Police on Community Policing). Once an individual project is selected, the grant is administered and managed by the Programme Management Team (PMT) in cooperation with the Albanian State Police and local stakeholders.       

Lessons identified

The SGS are based on participatory approaches, and have therefore strengthened:

  • Accessibility: the committees are present in several districts of the Albanian territory, a decentralisation allowed by the design of the programme, and which overcomes issues of geographic distance and weak infrastructure. Also, the eligibility criteria for grants are flexible, since recipients of the grants can be individuals or groups.
  • Local ownership: projects implemented at a local scale, with local actors, achieve limited but tangible results in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and ensure local ownership of the project. Civil society actors and local communities are empowered through joint decision-making, and their relationship with local authorities is strengthened.
  • Representativity: local actors, including representatives of vulnerable groups and local associations, play a central role in proposing grassroots initiatives and selecting them for implementation.


The committees positively impact dialogue at the local level, by bringing stakeholders together to discuss security concerns and identify solutions and priorities in dealing with these issues. The selection and implementation processes are furthermore considered transparent, thanks namely to a clear communication strategy and good media coverage of the various projects. Overall, the impression that the projects are locally owned is widespread.

The Small Grants Scheme is currently in its fourth phase, which encompasses 17 projects. Since the effective launch of the programme in 2013, almost 40 initiatives have been put into place, reaching up to several hundred participants at the time. Partnerships between schools and the Albanian State Police have been particularly numerous, and activities across projects have been diverse – ranging from training workshops on crime prevention, to awareness-raising sessions with youth, the production of promotional and educative material, and cultural or sports events. Regarding themes, the SGS has similarly encouraged diversity by addressing the harmful effects of alcohol, drugs and gambling, discrimination faced by the LGBT community, human trafficking and armed criminality, and by fostering alternative resolution of conflict mechanisms and the development of trust between vulnerable groups and the police. 

Selected resources 

Lessons from Community Policing: process, tools and transparency, Victoria Walker, ISSAT Blog, 2014

Swedish Support on Community Policing Programme in Albania, SACP website

Security sector reform in Albania: Challenges and failures since the collapse of communism, M. Qesaruku and B. Baka, 2010.

Security Sector Reform in Albania, Initiative for Peacebuilding, 2009

An Evaluation of the UNDP’s Support to Security Sector Reform in the Republic of Albania, UNDP, 2006

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Applying an Anthropological Perspective to Social Contracts in Albania

Selected Resources: 

Video: Albanian Symposium: Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini - Robert Elsie (10 November 2012, Leiden), AlbaFact

Publication: The Kanun in Present Day Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro- Tanya Mangalakova, International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations

Publication: Security Sector Reform in Albania- Intiative for Peacebuilding

Albania presents a case study where citizen and state do not have an idealised institutional social contract relationship such as what is outlined in Western social contract theory. Rather, social norms based on mostly personal forms of interaction between citizens persist. In specific realms of society these are still expressed though the cultural custom of ‘besa’. For security and justice sector reform to take place, such interpersonal social contracts and their spaces need to be understood and not simply sidelined for a citizen-state relationship that is not present.

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Policy and Research Papers

Policy paper on reducing overcrowding in detention facilities

This policy paper was produced by a working group led by the OSCE Presence in Albania with the participation of officials of the Ministry of Justice, General Directorate of Prisons, Probation Service, and the European Union Tweeting Project on the Penitentiary System.

For full access to the Policy paper on reducing overcrowding in detention facilities, please follow the link.


Survey on Access to Justice in Albania

The survey consists in a questionnaire administered to 1758 persons (as well as interviews and focus groups), we conclude that almost half of the population has had legal problems in the last five years, and that these have largely gone unresolved due to a lack of legal awareness in society and the underperformance of justice sector institutions. This is particularly true for members of disadvantaged groups, including the poor, those with a low level of formal education, the Roma, members of the LGBTI community, victims of domestic violence and others. 

For full access to the Survey on Access to Justice in Albania, please follow the link. 


Children’s Equitable Access to Justice: Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Focusing on Albania, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Montenegro, Children’s Equitable Access to Justice: Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (hereafter Children’s Equitable Access to Justice) provides insights from children, their families and justice sector professionals on why children become involved in justice systems, where children go to seek justice, the main obstacles they face in the process and whether justice procedures are child-sensitive.

For full access to the report on Children’s Equitable Access to Justice: Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, please follow the link. 


UNDP’s Engagement with the Media for Governance, Sustainable Development and Peace

This report features 13 case studies that together highlight the range and impact of UNDP’s engagement with the media for the purpose of achieving development outcomes. First, it seeks to demonstrate that, across development contexts, UNDP has increasingly identified media engagement as a priority for its policy and programmes. Second, the report seeks to outline UNDP’s comparative advantage and unique role in this area of work as well as to spark new approaches on media engagement and build new partnerships with media actors, the private sector, civil society and governments. Finally, by delving into the challenges and lessons learned across UNDP’s initiatives, the report seeks to contribute to broader debates among a range of stakeholders on how to design more effective and sustainable policies and programmes to support the roles of the media, which can better meet the needs and challenges of today’s complex media ecosystems.

To access the full report, UNDP’s Engagement with the Media for Governance, Sustainable Development and Peace, kindly follow the link. 


Albania: Gender-related Human Resources Policies in Armed Forces

This overview of gender-related human resources policies in the Albanian Armed Forces seeks to contribute to the very fragmented and incomplete literature on human resources policies in armed forces. It is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis, but a reference for other armed forces in considering ways in which they can promote the retention, recruitment, promotion and full participation of women. It is accompanied by an overview of human resources policies in the armed forces of Ghana and the Netherlands.

For full access to Gender-related Human Resources Policies in Armed Forces, kindly follow the link.


An Evaluation of UNDP's Suppport to the Security Sector Reform in Albania

"This evaluation was initiated by the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery of UNDP in New York. It examines the work undertaken by the UNDP Support to Security Sector Reform Programme in Albania, which commenced in January 2004. The programme is still running and so this evaluation necessarily had to evaluate an on-going process. Funding difficulties experienced by the programme prompted the evaluation to concentrate on two areas: how to consolidate the gains already made by established projects and how to develop the programme further in order to improve its contribution to communitybased policing in the Republic of Albania.

Subsequent sections of the report examine the objectives and activities of the programme and
provide a detailed analysis of its outcomes. The report presents a series of recommendations that emerge from the findings of the evaluation."


Media reporting on peace, conflict and security issues

A free and impartial media should be one of the pillars of a stable society. Media organisations have direct communication with a considerable portion of the population and are in a powerful position to support peace and security-related efforts. In a country like Kosovo, with a violent past, the media needs to pay special attention when covering emotionally charged issues, as failure to do so threatens to heighten tensions.

This study, ‘Media reporting on peace, conflict and security issues: How objective and conflict-sensitive is media coverage and reporting on these issues?’, examines the existing legal framework governing media and the perceptions of citizens on whether media outlets are sensitive or partisan in their reporting. Amongst other things, these perceptions are key in shaping people’s opinions and perceptions of Kosovar institutions. Currently, there are two regulatory bodies for press and broadcast media, but nothing for online media.

In recent months the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue has been prioritised in the media, and though the reporting is generally perceived to be impartial, there is a potential for inciting conflict if there is ambiguity and a perceived lack of objective reporting, particularly the use of conflict-insensitive language. This report concludes with suggestions for how media outlets could work towards more conflict sensitive news coverage.

This report was the result of joint work and collaboration between 11 organisations, including members of the Forum for Security in Pristina and Conflict Prevention Forum in the north, and through community dialogue meetings and desk research facilitated by FIQ and AKTIV.

This paper is available in English, Albanian and Serbian on the Saferworld website.


Monitoring and Evaluation Arrangements for the Support to Security Sector Reform Programme in Albania: A Case Study

This report assesses the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) arrangements for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project entitled ‘Support to the Security Sector Reform (SSSR) programme in Albania’. Research for this project was carried out in Tirana in May 2008. It is one of five case studies carried out as part of the Saferworld project, 'Evaluating for Security: Developing specific guidance on monitoring and evaluating Security Sector Reform interventions’.

Together with a wider desk review and supplementary research into the broader M&E systems used by the major SSR donors, the case studies provide an evidence base from which specific guidance on monitoring and evaluating SSR can be developed.



Security Sector Governance in the Western Balkans: Self-Assessment Studies on Defence, Intelligence, Police and Border Management Reform

In order to institutionalise democratically-based security sectors and achieve Euro-Atlantic integration, Western Balkan countries need to change their value systems substantially. This book, published by the Austrian Ministry of Defence and the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) in cooperation with the Partnership for Peace Consortium, is an assessment of the status of security sector reform (SSR) in the Western Balkans. Despite legislative progress, all security institutions in the region need to be more transparent and accountable, and improve their policy formulation and implementation capacities.


Defence and Security Sector Governance and Reform in South East Europe

This volume analyzes the Stability Pact South East Europe Self-Assessment Studies with the three-fold aim of enhancing the relevance of the original papers, examining their findings for the benefit of local, national, regional and international decision-makers, and preparing the ground for a possible more comprehensive phase of the Stock-Taking Programme. Western and regional contributors were asked to assess the quality of the papers, address any omissions, add contextual information they perceived to be relevant, and, on the basis of those findings, make constructive suggestions and recommendations for enhanced international institutional engagement in the region. Three types of analyses were commissioned: analyses of the self-assessment papers by country; region-wide analyses of the topical papers; and a conclusive chapter surveying not only the self-assessment papers in the original volumes but also the thematic and national analyses in this volume, data from the Swiss MFA Stabilit


The Evolution of Civil-Military Relations in South East Europe

This book, authored by a multi-national team, draws a complicated, yet logically evolving picture of the problems in the security sector reform field of South-East Europe, examining the post-totalitarian and post-conflict challenges to be faced.


From exchanging weapons for development to security sector reform in Albania

"The present UNIDIR project aims at evaluating weapon collection and Weapons for Development programmes by applying Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) methodology"--p. 3


Security Sector Transformation in Southeastern Europe and the Middle East

For most countries, security today is primarily measured in non-military terms and threats to security are non-military in nature. These threats include incompetent government, corruption, organized crime, insecure borders, smuggling (weapons, drugs, contraband, people), illegal migration, ethnic and religious conflict, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, shortage of natural resources (e.g., water) and, of course, terrorism. As security is no longer just a military concern, it is no longer just the preserve of MODs and MFAs which have, to date, been the main ministries involved in security cooperation. It is no longer possible to draw a clear distinction between external security and internal security. Security henceforth requires the coordination of the 'external' ministries (i.e., MOD and MFA) and their agencies (armed forces, intelligence services) with those of the 'interior' ministries: internal affairs, education, finance, overseas development, transport, environment; health, etc., with their agencies (policing forces, security services, disaster relief agencies, etc.). Security today takes in social development and demands the involvement of all elements of society in a way which security in the Cold War days did not. Meeting these new security requirements demands fundamental reform of national structures, patterns of investment, and systems of government. Likewise it demands the evolution of international institutions on a truly radical scale.


Other Documents

National Justice for Children Strategy and Action Plan

The commitment of the Government to develop this Justice for Children Strategy - accompanied by an action plan and setting priorities, objectives, concrete measures as well as comprehensive and measurable indicators - is crucial to guide authorities in obtaining effective and sustainable results and to positively impact the lives of all children involved in justice processes.

For full access to the National Justice for Children Strategy and Action Plan, please follow the link. 

Other Document

Programme Design: Assisting Sweden to design programmes to support Community Policing in Albania

ISSAT has reinforced Sweden in its support of the MoI and ASP over the past five years to develop Community Policing in Albania. The first mandate in 2010-2011 was to help design the programme: Swedish support to Albania on Community Policing (SACP). It focused on three areas:

1) support for the identification and start-up of a performance management mechanism for the ASP;

2) partnership development, including youth and police partnerships; and

3) tackling domestic violence.

Other Document