Albanian PM Sparks Outrage, Saying COVID-19 Patients Can’t Vote

Albanian Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama has outraged human rights organisations with a recent claim that patients with COVID-19 should "continue to stay at home" for the April 25 elections and not try to vote.

"We will do the same as all other countries did for those who tested positive … this is not a question, they must stay at home and self-quarantine," Rama told a press conference on Tuesday.

Erida Skëndaj, head of the Albanian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, told BIRN on Friday that the PM was violating basic human rights and going against the constitution, which says all citizens must be allowed to vote, sick or not.

Skëndaj said the Albanian constitiution allows that "in exceptional cases … for example, there may be restrictions on the right to vote of citizens serving sentences of imprisonment.

"But … citizens infected with COVID in a free state and who are not in these categories, explicitly defined in the constitution, cannot be restricted to vote by law," Skëndaj added.

Experts also highlighted that countries in the region, such as Kosovo, Montenegro and Northern Macedonia, allowed this right to citizens infected with COVID in the last elections held in them.

Albi Çela, founder of the Rule of Law Albania platform, also told BIRN that stopping people infected with COVID from voting would be unconstitutional and unjustifiable.

"The constitution explicitly provides that the only people excempted from the right to vote are those declared mentally incompetent by a final court ruling, and in some circumstances, those serving prison.

"Every other Albanian citizen has the right to vote, and the government has a positive obligation to ensure it. This would also be in violation of the European...

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