From: Alice Taylor
International Press Institute Slams Albanian Government’s Plan to Pass Media Law Without Venice Commission Changes

The International Press Institute has spoken of their concern that the Albanian government plan to pass the controversial “defamation package” laws without implementing the changes suggested by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.

In a Twitter post, they stated that media freedom in Albania is already deteriorating and that the passing of the law will worsen the situation.

The Socialist Party government drafted a law which would bring online media portals and potentially blog sites, under the supervision of state institutions. These institutions would have the power to block sites and issue fines without a court case, investigation, or court order. The right of appeal would only then be given once the fine has been paid. The law has been widely criticised by the EU, EC, CoE, OSCE, MEPs, international journalist organisations, local journalist organisations, and members of local and international civil society. It’s believed it will have a “chilling impact” on media freedom and freedom of expression in Albania and would worsen an already precarious situation.

The Venice Commission made a number of comments on the law, culminating in that recommendation that self-regulation of journalists is supported, rather than additional administrative legislation. They widely criticised the draft including the powers given to AMA what they said were not competent and at risk of political influence.