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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Albania targets speedboat outlaws
File image of a speedboat
Smugglers have used speedboats to cross the Adriatic
The Albanian parliament has banned speedboats and other small private vessels from coastal waters, to tackle drugs and people smuggling.

Hefty fines will punish anyone caught flouting the ban - although boats used for fishing and transport, as well as police and military ships, are exempt.

The three-year ban will affect around 2,000 speedboat owners.

Correspondents say smugglers are attracted by lax border controls, a weak judiciary and corrupt police.

Parliament voted by a majority of 70 to six to bring in the new law on Monday.

Albania has been told to curb human trafficking if it wants to ease the visa regime for Albanians seeking entry to the EU, the BBC's Nazim Rashidi reports from the capital, Tirana.

The boats have been used for drugs or human trafficking to Greece and Italy, mainly to smuggle in illegal immigrants who want a better life in the EU, he says.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha said speedboats had become a bad symbol for the country as Albania has become a transit point for other illegal immigrants wanting to cross into the EU.

"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," he said.

"That's a price we have to pay."


SEE ALSO:
Albania vote keeps EU door ajar
05 Jul 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Albania
13 Sep 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Albania
01 Sep 05 |  Country profiles


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