Albania is to take back 200 prisoners from the UK after the countries last December pledged to fight organized crime and illegal migration together.
“200 Albanian prisoners in prisons in England and Wales serving sentences of four years or more will return in the next two years to serve the remainder of their sentences in Albanian prisons,” Albania’s Ministry of Justice said in a press release.
It added that, under the terms of the agreement, Britain will pay the costs of housing the prisoners for the entire duration of their sentences in Albania, enabling Albania to invest further in the improvement of conditions in its prison system.
In April, the two countries said through official releases that the other agreement, that of returning illegal migrants to Albania, has started to be implemented as well, with some 1,000 people returned.
The two countries signed an agreement in December to tackle the issue of illegal migration through a joint task force, declaring that their law enforcements would work together in fighting organised crime and illegal immigration.
Since the start of this year, some 15,000 Albanians have crossed the English Channel, which divides France from the UK, out of a total of 44,000 migrants arriving by boat.
The “small boat” crossings have become a huge political issue in the UK, where the government is under pressure to do more to reduce both legal and illegal migration and curb organised crime.
In March, the UK government proposed a new “Stop the Boats” bill, intended to crack down on illegal migration, in many cases by Albanians using small boats to cross the Channel from France.
The UK government claims the new bill will make it easier for the authorities to detain and deport people who arrive illegally. However, concerns have been raised that it could prove ineffective or treat human trafficking victims and unaccompanied children unfairly.
In March, during Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s visit to London, he and his British counterpart Rishi Sunak pledged to cooperate further on the migration issue.
Source: Balkan Insight