Albania passes new law on former secret police

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania on Monday passed a law removing from public posts people linked with the feared former Communist secret police, despite criticism from opposition parties and concerns within the international community.

Lawmakers voted 74-2 for the law, while one abstained. The remaining 63 deputies in the 140-seat Parliament boycotted the vote.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha said Albania needed “to cleanse itself from the communist calamity.”

The law applies to all former members and associates of the Sigurimi secret police, from November 1944 when Albania was liberated from Nazi occupiers until the collapse of Communism in December 1990.

The opposition Socialists and other smaller parties boycotted, saying they feared the law would be exploited by Berisha’s Democrats to hit at political opponents.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe urged a postponement of the debate.

“The law has serious constitutional and political implications, and postponing the vote to allow for wider consultation and public debate would be welcome,” the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights said in a statement.

The United States and Britain also urged postponement.

For more than four decades, Albania was a xenophobic Communist dictatorship in which the secret services wielded vast power.

source:http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iJnbDNeasS4wKJKR4L_vHTG2tARAD957UVC01

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