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Traditionally, access to the justice system has been more focused on access to justice per se rather than on the quality of justice itself. It mainly referred to those institutional arrangements which aimed to assure that people who lack resources to protect their legal rights and solve their law-related problems have access to the justice system. From the rights-based approach, access to the justice system is important to protect people’s rights and promote their social inclusion while barriers to access reinforce poverty and social exclusion. Thus, access to the justice system should be seen from a holistic point of view. Being aware of cultural diversity, it should target new ways of achieving justice by directing attention to the real problems faced by people who experience legal events and reinforcing access to information by supporting cultural change. The Roma population in Albania is recognized as ethno-linguistic minority in the Constitution of 1998 which guarantees people who belong to minorities exercise in full equality before the law, human rights and freedoms. Moreover, since 1999, Albania has ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and it is committed to effectively protect them from discrimination, providing equal opportunity and the possibility to exercise their rights as well as equality before law and equal protection by law.
Using a bottom-up approach and a set of primary and secondary data, this paper aims to assess the accessibility of the justice system in Albania based on the perceptions of the Roma minority. It highlights its main strengths, barriers, challenges and difficulties and addresses some key issues to be taken into consideration to make the justice system in Albania accessible for all.
This paper is composed of four parts. Following the first part which covers introduction and literature review on access to justice with a special emphasis on the evolution of this concept over time and barriers faced by socially excluded and minority groups to access it, the second part provides a general overview of Roma minority in Albania including legislative framework and institutional framework to protect minority rights. Analysis of the results of data collected during field work about Roma minority’s perceptions on access to justice system has been provided in the third part. Finally, some conclusions and recommendations are drawn in the fourth part.