On social media, Prime Minister Edi Rama has threatened to “forcibly intervene” in media who spread “fake news,” citing the “state of emergency” he claimed his government declared yesterday.
I warn for the last time the portals and information channels that under the conditions and legal framework of the State of Emergency I will be obligated to forcibly intervene to close them down until the end of this dramatic phase, if they continue with fake news that creates panic!
In this extraordinary situation, where every word needs to be weighed, it is intolerable that local or foreign insane charlatanisms are published or that the rational statements and explanations of experts, as always, are distorted! STOP AND STOP NOW! IMMEDIATELY!!!
Even though the Prime Minister claims to have declared the “state of emergency,” this requires a parliamentary vote, which so far has not taken place. According to Constitution art. 173(1):
In case of danger to the constitutional order and to public security, the Assembly, with request of the Council of Ministers, may decide for a state of emergency in one part or the whole territory of the state, which lasts for as long as this danger continues, but not longer than 60 days.
Similarly, the State of Emergency Law states in art. 2:
The state of emergency is declared by a decision of the Popular Assembly. When the Popular Assembly has not met, it is declared with a decree by the President.
An actual state of emergency would give the state far-reaching powers, beyond the forced closure of media, including the use of tear gas and lethal force against any form of protest.
In reality, the Council of Ministers declared yesterday a “State of Natural Disaster in the Counties of Durrës and Tirana.” The decision makes no reference of art. 173 of the Constitution, which defines the state of emergency. Furthermore, the decision does not mention any limits imposed on the freedom of the press.
Prime Minister Edi Rama appears to purposefully blur the clear legal boundaries between extraordinary measures (masat e jashtëzakonshme), which allow for the reallocation of funds and the using state property for shelter, and the state of emergency (gjendja e jashtëzakonshme), which gives the state far-reaching powers to suppress protest, suspend constitutional rights, and use lethal force.