Albania parliament bans use of small boats

The Albanian parliament has voted to ban the use of small boats and speedboats as the government tries to stop smuggling of people, drugs and weapons from its waters into the European Union, a spokeswoman said. The moratorium was passed Monday evening with 70 votes in favor, six against and one abstention. It bans for the next three years the use of small boats apart from those licensed for fishing or transport and those used by the police and military, said spokeswoman Suela Ruseti.

Breaking the law will result in fines of up to 1 million leks (US$10,340; Ђ 8,550) and confiscation of the boat. Opposition parliamentarians boycotted voting, as they have done for the past month, claiming voting procedure has been broken by the majority.

Albania has become a popular transit point for smugglers taking people, drugs and weapons into the European Union, due to its lax border controls, weak judiciary and corrupt police force. The international community has told Albania it must curb human trafficking if it wants to join the European Union and NATO.

"The law affects 1,000-2,000 Albanians who have speedboats but gives the possibility for thousands of others to be issued visas and go abroad to their children," said Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha. "That's a price we have to pay. We know that speedboats have turned into a bad symbol for us," he added, reports the AP.


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