From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Another Journalist Verbally and Physically Assaulted by Government Employee

On Tuesday, journalist Ola Xama from TV Klan was verbally and physically assaulted by a Guard of the Republic in Tirana.

This is the fourth case of violence against a journalist, committed by a state employee in April alone.

Xama was waiting inside the Assembly building with other colleagues, ready to interview Bank of Albania governor Gent Sejko. Whilst waiting patiently to conduct her work, one of the guards violently pushed her out of the way, stating that she had obstructed a socialist party deputy.

The journalist told the guard that it was not necessary to hurt him in order for her to move out of the way, and that she would have readily moved after being asked to verbally. The guard then proceeded to verbally abuse Xama, in full view of her colleagues and other witnesses.

Xama stated; “ I decided to speak out this time because I am angry about the act the guard committed. Just as I respect his work, he must also respect mine.” Xama explained that a similar incident had happened four years ago but that it was not reported.

The individual who assaulted Ms Xama was a Guard of the Republic. These individuals are entrusted with protecting state officials and state residences and they fall under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior.

But this is not the first case of state guards and employees exercising violence against journalists whilst they are conducting their work. Under two weeks ago, journalist Renaldo Salianji was violently pushed by the guards of Attorney General Arta Marku, whilst he was trying to ask for a comment about the robbery at Rinas.

Journalists Dorjana Bezat and Erion Skendaj were also forcibly prevented from reporting on the forced evictions of the Bregu i Lumit area of Tirana.

This is as well as Artur Cani being prevented from filming and threatened with arrest for trying to film Erion Veliaj at a public event at the Artificial Lake, and the gassing and assault of a number of journalists at the last opposition protest.

Albania dropped seven places in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index this year, with threats to journalists, concentrated media ownership and the use of legal proceedings cited as serious concerns for media freedom in the country.

Edi Rama responded by tweeting that the media is not being blackmailed, despite just approving a law that will see the state give millions of euros to a handful of broadcasters.

Xama stated she believes violence is perpetrated against journalists because those that inflict it do not fear any consequences or punishments.

Exit contacted the Ministry of the Interior for comment, but had not received any response at the time of publishing.