Quarantine violators in Albania risk up to 8 years in jail as parliament amends criminal code

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TIRANA, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Violators of anti-pandemic restrictions in Albania will face a maximum penalty of eight years in jail, as lawmakers approved amendments of the Criminal Code on Thursday.

Under the amended law, the violation of the government measures under a state of natural disaster will be punished by fine or up to six months imprisonment.

Violators who do not comply with the quarantine order will be sentenced from two to three years in prison, while violators of quarantine order who spread the infectious disease to others will be sentenced from two to five years in prison.

Violators who cause the death of one or more people by not complying with government orders for quarantine will be sentenced from three to eight years in prison.

Last week, the Albanian government proposed to introduce in the Criminal Code harsh prison sentences for those who violate the government-imposed measures under the state of natural disaster emergency.

The amendment has spurred heated debate among the majority and opposition lawmakers.

Speaking in the parliament, Prime Minister Edi Rama called on opposition lawmakers to vote for the amendment of the Criminal Code. "I urge you not to cooperate with COVID-19 and vote in favor of the code," he said.

The draft law approved on Thursday had taken into consideration the suggestions and recommendations made by the Legal Affairs Committee of the parliament and the President of Albania Ilir Meta.

Meta has expressed concern over the proposed amendment in the Criminal Code and called for a milder term of imprisonment for quarantine violators.

Under the original draft proposal of the government, violators who caused the death of a person by not complying with government orders for quarantine were to be sentenced from five to 15 years in prison.

The parliament resumed work Thursday for the first time after more than a month of suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Lawmakers returned to the Assembly hall under strict rules. All of them wore masks and protective gloves and had their temperature measured at the entrance.

A total of 88 lawmakers voted in favor of the draft law, while 13 voted against and one abstained.

Health authorities confirmed 24 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 518, with 277 recoveries and 26 fatalities. Enditem

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