From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Mayor Veliaj and Municipality Employee Share Picture of Naked Minor on Twitter Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj cuddling a child. Source: Facebook.

Epidamn Zeqo, the Director of Strategic Planning at the Municipality of Tirana, and Erion Veliaj, the Mayor of Tirana have shared a picture of a naked minor on Twitter.

Exit has censored the images.

The image was posted by Zeqo with the caption “Summer days in Tirana” and a heart eye emoji, the accompanying image shows a small child with their back to the camera completely naked.

The tweet was shared with his 854 followers before being retweeted by the Mayor of Tirana who has 162.1k followers.

Posting an image of a naked child on social media poses a number of issues. Firstly, the child in the image is a minor (in this case an infant) and is unable to give their consent to having an image of their naked body shared.

Secondly, it is not clear whose child this is. If it is not the child of Zeqo, did the parent of the child consent? Did they sign a release form? Are the parents aware that this image is now available to be downloaded by billions of people from all over the world? If it is his child, he should be aware that publishing a naked photo of his child is not appropriate, as well as the fact the child has not given their consent.

Thirdly, posting nudity on social media is restricted across all major platforms and in the case of Twitter, it violates the non-consensual nudity policy. 

“You may not post or share intimate photos or videos of someone that were produced or distributed without their consent. Sharing explicit sexual images or videos of someone online without their consent is a severe violation of their privacy and the Twitter Rules.”

Fourthly, it is also illegal in a number of countries and can be construed as the dissemination of child pornography.

In the UK for example, it is illegal to create and distribute an indecent image of a child which would meet the definition of child pornography. A conviction for this offence would lead the individual to be classed as a sex offender. It is a similar situation in Australia, South Africa, USA, and a number of EU countries.

Lastly, it is concerning that government officials, employees and civil servants are willingly sharing such an image with no consideration that it can and probably will fall into the wrong hands. 

There is no way to restrict or track who saves the image, what it is used for, and who accesses it once it has been posted to the internet. In other words, if the child, or the parents were to revoke consent, there would be no way to take it down completely as the damage would have already been done.

Whilst the Mayor continues to insist and propagandise that Tirana is a “child friendly city” the use of naked images of minors should not be used as a tool. Such images are not only morally wrong and potentially illegal, but they are in extreme bad taste when used by politicians. Let us also not forget that worrying fact that this ignores a human rights to consent, in this case as the child appears to be around two years old. Lastly it shows completely ignorance or disregard for what may happen to this image- where it could end up and what it could be used for. All in the name of propaganda.

Veliaj has been criticised for using children that are not his at every available PR opportunity. There are countless images online of him kissing, hugging, touching, and even wrestling other people’s children at public events- something that is unheard of and definitely not acceptable for Western politicians or public figures.

A quick look at his Facebook page shows that he has no qualms in basing his political image on interaction and physical contact with children, a fact that raises a number of moral issues such as whether it is ok to utilize children to further a political agenda.

When you take into account the pending child abuse charges against two Municipality employees and their protection of a Kindergarten teacher (and Socialist Party vote collector) Nashi Shehapi who allegedly beat and traumatised a three-year-old, it all seems a bit fake.

You can see an archive of photos of Veliaj in physical interactions with young children here.