The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has requested the opinion of the Venice Commission on the controversial “anti-defamation” laws passed by the Socialist Party majority in December.
As well as being opposed by local journalists, NGOs and human rights organisations, the laws were also criticised by the European Union, the Council of Europe and the OSCE Representative on Media Freedom Harlem Desir.
The government has falsely claimed on a number of occasions that the laws have the support of Desir and other international organisations when this is not the case. Desir clarified his position in an interview with Exit after the laws were passed by Parliament, stating he still had concerns, there was still work to be done and that he did not support the law 100%.
President Ilir Meta returned the law to Parliament, noting that it infringed on constitutional and human rights. Taulant Balla, head of the Socialist Party’s parliamentary group announced that they would “dismiss the decree of the President” and move forward with the law.
The vote against the President’s veto of the law is scheduled for 30 January. As the Socialist Party hold a majority in parliament, it is expected to pass uncontested.
The laws will bring online media platforms under the de facto control of the government. The Albanian Media Authority will have jurisdiction over any complaints filed about online content and can levy heavy fines and remove content without a court or appeal procedure.
The Venice Commission is a body of the CoE comprised of independent experts in the field of constitutional law.