On the day that Prime Minister Edi Rama threatened to sue a German journalist for publishing wiretaps that appear to implicate him in rigging elections, an international delegation of media freedom organisations arrived in Tirana.
The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Article 19, EFJ Europe, Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Press Institute, SEEMO-Media, IFEX, and Reporters Without Borders are visiting the country between 18 and 21 June.
Next week, a coalition of 7 international press freedom organisations — @ECPMF along with our members @article19org, @pressfreedom, @EFJEurope, @globalfreemedia, @RSF_inter, and @SEEMO_FreeMedia — will carry out a joint advocacy mission to #Albania. pic.twitter.com/eocvfAsZTU
— IFEX (@IFEX) June 13, 2019
The delegation will meet with journalists, editors, civil society representatives, the Prime Minister, and other media stakeholders, to ascertain the state of media freedom and to advocate for the freedom and safety of journalists. A number of interviews will take place over the next few days, culminating in a press conference that will be held on 21st of June at the Rogner Hotel.
The current climate for journalists in Albania has come under international criticism in recent months. The CPJ and IPI reported on the government’s illegal revocation of Exit journalist Alice Taylor’s residence permit, and the smear campaign against her. RSF and CPJ have also commented on the violence used against journalists and media workers during the ongoing anti-government protests that have been taking place in the capital over the last 4 months. RSF also heavily criticised attacks on the media from government, in their annual World Press Freedom 2019 Index.
They described the threats, intimidation, and harassment received by journalists as reaching “unprecedented levels” in 2018 and described how “journalists were subjected to insults, death threats and legal proceedings designed to intimidate and deter them from investigating corruption”.
In addition to the delegation and their mission, a media freedom conference is being held today at the Tirana International Hotel. Entitled “New challenges for media freedom in South East Europe” the event is organised by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Albanian Media Institute.
Bringing together journalists, editors and media experts from all over the Balkan region, they will discuss current developments in media freedom, challenges in freedom of expression, new trends, and the credibility of journalism “in times of revival of populism through social media”.
Some key topics up for discussion during the planned panels include the current risks to freedom of expression, how traditional media and look beyond its boundaries, and the credibility of journalism when compared to social media.
Panelists will include local and regional representatives from Deutsche Welle, Centre for Investigative Reporting, Faktenfinder, and various NGOs.
Journalists from Exit will be meeting with the delegation to discuss the increasingly dangerous climate for professional and independent journalism in Albania.