Employees arrested for abusing children at orphanage

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Five employees at an orphanage in northern Albania have been arrested for abusing children sheltered there, according to the prosecutor's office.

A statement from the office Thursday said children at the orphanage in Shkodra, 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the capital Tirana, have been physically abused and put in illegal obligatory work, adding that there is evidence three female minors have been "sexually abused."

Prosecutor's press office said that the three female minors have been likely sexually abused from the employees' family members or teenage boys living at the center due to "the negligence of the personnel."

Prosecutors began their investigation after the ombudsman's office provided information of possible abuse.

Ombudsman Igli Totozani told The Associated Press on phone that two months ago his office started the investigation of nine residence centers around the country sheltering 6-18 years old children following hints of abuse from the local media.

"Forced labor, physical and psychological abuse of the children in Shkodra, the most problematic one, were all included in a recommendation to further probe sent to the prosecutor's office two weeks ago," he said.

The orphanage, which is managed by the city hall, also shelters children whose families are unable to support them.

Human rights non-governmental organizations like the Helsinki Committee or Terre des hommes have strongly denounced the abuse and called on the government to take the appropriate steps to protect children.