Albania: Activists opposing hydropower plants face consistent harassment from local authorities & companies, says new NGO report; incl. company statement

The report "Communities under Pressure - Findings from Valbona, Albania” by Center for Human Rights alleges that activists and community members who object to proliferation of hydropower plants in Valbona, Albania are facing consistent harassment from local authorities and companies.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies mentioned in the report to respond. Gener 2 has responded. Tplani SHpK and Brecani Security have not yet responded. We did not invite Valbona Project Company and 4A- AL as contact information was not available.

Materials with full information and the responses & non-responses are below.

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Report
1 July 2019

Communities under Pressure - Findings from Valbona, Albania

Author: Center for Human Rights, American Bar Association

The Center for Human Rights of the American Bar Association (the Center) investigated reports that activists and community members who objected to the proliferation of hydropower plants (HPPs) in Valbona, Albania were facing consistent harassment from local state and company actors...A rapid increase in the construction of small HPPs in Valbona has raised concerns among members of the impacted communities. There are three HPPs under active construction in Valbona, with reports of 11 additional HPPs underway...This report describes instances of alleged harassment as reported by respondents...Gener 2, along with its subsidiary Dragobia Energy, is the company in charge of the two largest HPPs in Valbona that are under active construction. Activists and community members who are outspoken against the company reported that these companies have been actively pressuring them. For example, Gener 2 has filed a lawsuit against the local environmental NGO, TOKA and its Director, Catherine Bohne, for defamation over their public reporting and organizing on the issues surrounding the HPPs...The security company hired by Gener 2, Brecani Security (Brecani), was responsible for physically assaulting one of the crew members of a TV station as they filmed Gener 2’s construction crews continuing to build an HPP despite a court order to stop work...

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Company response
1 July 2019

Response by Gener 2

Author: Gener 2

The report is inaccurate in its conclusions, as it starts with wrong figures (11 HPPs) and the author has made little or no effort in truly understanding the issues or simply does not understand the problems. The report portrays a community under threat by a company and by the government but it does so using the beliefs and opinions of unknown people...The report also misrepresents court decisions, omits information, and appears to favor one side by cherry picking information...While the report claims to be an investigation on allegations of harassments, in reality it reads more like a selection of opinions and beliefs chosen by the author...Gener 2 always complies with the law on every aspect and it conducts public consultations as required. The report makes the wrongful assumption that Gener 2 does not comply with its responsibilities...Gener 2 has in a place a grievance mechanism which has been active and functional since the beginning of the project. We have addressed all the claims that have been presented to us, including human rights impact and continue to do so effectively...Gener 2 has not, it is not, and will never retaliate or consider retaliating against TOKA or any of the community members...Gener 2 has taken many steps to resolve any issues and is in constant discussions with representatives of the community, with the community members, with the local authorities, the central government, and environmental experts. 

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Company non-response
30 June 2019

Brecani Security did not respond

Company non-response
30 June 2019

Tplani SHpK did not respond