On April 16, 2020, the Albanian Parliament passed the new amendments to the Criminal Code, as part of the measures taken to cope with the difficult situation created by the COVID-19 outbreak. The adopted amendments include criminal punishments for individuals who violate the rules and orders established by the government and for those who directly or indirectly endanger other people’s life and health, during the continuance of the state of emergency.
The amendments adopted by the Albanian Parliament differ from the original draft proposed by the Commission of Law, which provided much more severe punishments for the violators. Mitigations of the punishments is due to the fact that they were opposed by the Albanian Ombudsman and some human rights organizations as disproportionate, and also reviewed by the President of the Republic of Albania.
The Criminal Code is amended with the Article 242/1. The lawmaker aims to punish persons who refuse to follow the rules and protocols imposed by the state authorities during the state of emergency or during the state of the epidemic.
This particular criminal punishment provided in this amendment will be applied only in cases when a person refuses to obey or commits actions in violation of the rules adopted by the government, is a recidivist (Repeat offender). In such case, this action shall be considered as criminal contravention and the violator will be fined or will be sentenced to imprisonment up to 6 (six) months.
In the same article it provided that, if the violation of the rules set by the government is repeatedly committed during the exercise of a commercial activity, endangering the health of people, the violator, which although not precisely stipulated but logically should refer to the owners or the representative of the legal entity, will be fined or will be sentenced to imprisonment up to 2 (two) years.
In addition, in the last paragraph, this article provides cases when a person, whether he is or not a carrier of an infectious disease, is ordered by the Competent Authority to be isolated or quarantined and does not follow the orders. This action will be considered a criminal offense and is punished from 2 to 3 years of imprisonment.
The Criminal Code is further amended by the Article 89/b, which is directly related to the spread of infectious diseases and also provides some more severe punishments.
According to the amended provision, the intentional spread of an infectious disease with a high risk for the health, by performing actions or omissions by a person who has been diagnosed as a carrier of the disease or by a person who intends to spread it, is considered a criminal offense and is punished from 2 to 5 years of imprisonment.
In cases when the above mentioned offense is committed due to gross negligence, the violator will be fined or will be sentenced to imprisonment up to 2 (two) years. The same offense, when it has caused severe health consequences or becomes dangerous to human life, is punished from 3 to 8 years of imprisonment.