Albania opens former secret police archives

Albanian government allows Communist regime’s victims to access secret police archives

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Albanian government passed legislation on Thursday allowing access to the classified files of the past Communist regime’s secret police.

The government approved the law with an 84-22 majority. Through the passed legislation, the government aims for the victims of Sigurimi - Albania’s  former secret police - to access the files of the Albania’s communist regime and reveal their secrets.  According to the new legislation, former members of the Sigurimi will not be able to serve in the civil service or in public office in the future.

Spartak Ngjela, an Albanian lawyer and politician who spent 14 years in prison under the the stalinist government, talked about the importance of being able to access the classified files. He described the importance of the Sigurimi by saying that without the secret police the communist regime would not have lasted long.

"I want to open all the files of these agents, these spies, everyone who is involved in the state terror,” Ngjela said.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama also mentioned the Sigurimi when he was a mayor.

"This is a never-ending soap opera since the first day of the falling of communism. Communism in Albania was like an atomic bomb on the mindset of the people. The explosion has ended but the radiation still hurts," he said.

From 1944 to 1990, the communist regime governed Albania until students overthrew it in protests. The regime imprisoned about 100,000 Albanians in forced labor and internment camps, and executed 7,000 of its opponents with the help of Sigurimi.

The Communist regime employed 800 officers in the secret police department and used a variety of unpaid informants. Some researchers estimate that 17 percent of the population had ties to the secret service.

During the years of the communist regime, Albania experienced political killings, death penalties, long term imprisonments and disappearances by carried out by the Sigurimi while also industrializing, seeing significant economic growth, and progressing in education and health services during the same period.

TRTWorld and agencies