Several international and local media freedom organizations urged Albanian parliament today to reject the two government-proposed draft laws on online media. Prime Minister Edi Rama has asked his Socialist majority in parliament to pass the “anti-defamation package” on December 19.
The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ/IFJ) backed calls of the Association of Professional Journalists of Albania (APJA) on the Albanian parliament to reject the two draft laws threatening freedom of expression and media freedom in Albania.
If adopted, amendments to the Law on Audiovisual Media and the Law on Electronic Communications would grant government bodies, the Albanian Media Authority (AMA) and Albanian Communication and Postal Authorities (AKEP), the power to instantly block media websites and impose excessive fines for any violations of dignity and privacy. It would also introduce mandatory registration requirements for online media.
The Association of Professional Journalists of Albania (APJA) warns that these new laws would give the regulatory bodies “quasi tribunal competences”. Although these bodies are independent by law, there are no guarantees they will operate independently in practice.
Yesterday, the OSCE Media Freedom representative Harlem Desir also warned against the approval of the draft laws and made extensive recommendations for improvement.
Seven press freedom organization also warned the Albanian government yesterday “that the proposals are not in line with best practices on self-regulation and would have an adverse impact on freedom of expression in Albania.”
It’s not clear if Albanian and international journalists’ concerns will succeed in making the Socialist majority bring the necessary changes to the draft laws and align them with international media freedom standards.