OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir stated on Monday that he is ready to work with Albanian government to improve the two online media laws vetoed by President Ilir Meta.
After reviewing the president’s arguments, Desir stated his office could assist the government particularly in improving issues related to fines and the principle of proportionality.
“The Representative recalls that nothing in the new legislation should impede the freedom of expression and media freedom. He hopes that the new reading will allow for further clarification and improvement of the laws to ensure their full compliance with international standards and OSCE commitments.”
This weekend, President Ilir Meta returned to parliament two laws – “On Audiovisual Media” and “On Electronic Communication”. He argued that they violate constitutional principles, the right to freedom of expression, press and the right to information, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights.
Meta called on the Parliament to review the laws accordingly. His decision was welcomed by the Reporters without Borders.
Head of Socialist Party parliamentary group Taulant Balla said today that President Meta was ordered by opposition leader Lulzim Basha to veto the laws.
“I want to reiterate that the legal improvements were fully certified by an important partner, OSCE, also in the framework of the historical fact that Albania has the honor to lead this organization […],” he added.
Prime Minister Edi Rama has also stated that the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media had agreed with the final version before adoption in Parliament. However, in an interview for Exit News, Desir said that despite improvements made to the drafts before adoption, his office still had concerns on some of their content.
The Socialist majority dismissed the sharp criticism from journalists, local and international media organizations, the Council of Europe, and Members of the European Parliament, and on December 18, 2019, they passed the laws in Parliament.
The Albanian constitution prescribes that the President can return a law to Parliament only once. The majority of the MPs can either rewrite the law or dismiss his veto and pass the law with a simple majority. Balla said they will pass the laws again, without changes, in the first session after the president’s decision reaches them.