Detlef Palm

Welcome to the 8th edition of the International Human Rights Film Festival in Albania. As in previous years, the Festival enjoys the financial support and engagement of many institutions, private businesses, foreign missions and individuals. On behalf of the Board of the Festival, I sincerely like to thank all for their contributions. Without you, the event would not be possible.

Human rights are not just violated in distant wars, dictatorial regimes or far-flung crises. Every country has its share of human rights issues, and so does Albania. There was a public outcry when women got killed by enraged husbands. Far fewer people get disturbed by people being evicted from their dwellings without any place to go. There is some public concern when children cannot reunite with their parents because of passport issues.

We mostly hear about the excesses, and often our own reactions are also extreme. But for every woman killed by her husband, there might be thousand women who get regularly battered without making the news. For every child forced to beg on the street there might be many more children who don’t go to school because of a disability or other circumstances – and remain deprived for the rest of their lives. Here, the society as a whole and we as individuals are asked to intervene, to make noise, help shape public opinion, and create accountability systems that prevent every-day human rights violations festering into some shocking drama.

Albania is a State Party to all major Human Rights Treaties, and continues to submit its progress reports to the Treaty Bodies. There are long lists of recommendations on what needs to be done, in order to comply with international obligations. Legislation can be quickly adopted. But it also requires a heightened sense among the general public of what is right or wrong, when to intervene, and when to seek and obtain justice.

The International Human Rights Film Festival Albania continues to be a platform for such public dialogue. It means to promote the understanding that lasting solutions are only those that protect and promote the dignity and human rights of those most at risk.

One focus of this year’s festival is gender-based violence, a hideous issue that many people still think of as “sensitive”. I am sure that the films will provide more insights on how other countries and cultures deal with this gross violation of human rights, and perhaps the Festival – and all of us – will contribute to making a difference in Albania.

There are also many other films with different themes. I cordially invite you to watch the movies, meet film directors and like-minded folk, contribute to the discussions in the daily forums, or simply enjoy the atmosphere at the Marubi premises.

Wishing you an enjoyable and indeed thought-provoking IHRFFA 2013.

Detlef Palm
UNICEF Representative
Chairperson of the Board, IHRFFA