From: Exit Staff
CoE: 2019 Was Worst Year for Albanian Media Freedom

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called on all Member States to “create an enabling and favourable media environment and to review their legislation to this end, seeking to prevent any misuse of different laws or provisions why may impact on media freedom.”

Threats to media freedom and the safety of journalists have become so numerous, repeated and serious that they are jeopardizing not only citizens’ right to be properly informed but also “the stability and smooth functioning of our democratic societies”, the Assembly said today.

PACE condemned the rise of aggressive behavior and violent verbal attacks by political figures and representatives of the authorities against journalists and called on all political leaders to combat the phenomenon. 

The Assembly adopted a resolution to this end, noting that media freedom and the safety of journalists in member states was becoming “particularly worrying”.

According to data from the CoE platform to promote the protection of journalists and safety of journalists, between 2015 and 2019, 26 journalists have been murdered, 22 cases of impunity for murdered journalists, 109 journalists arrested, and a staggering 638 incidents categorized as “serious press freedom violations.”

Albania has managed to rack up a total of 17 alerts, a high number considering the population size and the fact that many incidents do not end up being reported due to fear.

Almost half of the attacks in the country were “attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists”, followed by “harassment and intimidation of journalists”, and “other acts having a chilling effect on media freedom”. 

2019 was the worst year for Albania with a total of seven alerts. Highlights of Albania’s rap sheet include the smear campaign against Exit journalist Alice Taylor when she was 6 months pregnant, police attacks against journalist Eliza Gjediku and photographer Enver Doçi, shutting down of two critical talk shows on News 24, Prime Minister Edi Rama pressuring the media, blocking of information website, and approval of “anti-defamation” laws.

Also reported was the introduction of the new “anti-defamation” package that poses a threat to online media. Criticized heavily by the EU, EC, CoE, OSCE, and local, international journalism and human rights organisations and the President of Albania Ilir Meta, Rama insists that the law has international approval and will pass.

Having been returned to parliament by Meta who called it unconstitutional and asked the Venice Commission for their opinion on it, the law is set to pass regardless in the Socialist Party majority parliament tomorrow.

The European Center for Press and Media Freedom have welcomed the forthcoming of an opinion by the Venice Commission and have called on the government not to vote it before the opinion has been presented.