President Meta Vetoes Coronavirus Legislation Punishing Media

Albanian President Ilir Meta has sent back to Parliament the special normative acts of the government that would increase penalties for television channels that violate coronavirus social distancing measures.

According to these normative acts, transmissions wherein people fail to maintain a 2 meter distance between them would be fined €8,000 (1 million ALL). In cases of repeated offenses, the audiovisual media may also be partially or entirely shut down.

According to the Albanian constitution, normative acts that have the force of laws can be issued by the Council of Ministers in times of national emergency. They are then immediately submitted to Parliament and lose force retroactively if they are not passed in 45 days.

Meta refused to decree the normative acts, however, arguing that the penalties that would be imposed by these laws are disproportional and risk infringing on the freedoms of the press. He also stated that the normative acts were approved 5 days after the state of national emergency had ended.

The normative act approved by the government has been used at least twice to impose fines on media transmissions. 

On May 11, journalist Artur Zheji’s talk show was issued a €8,000 fine for having three guests in the studio.

On May 14, the same fine was issued to journalist Sonila Meco’s “Tempora” show because she had invited two guests the previous day.

On the same day, May 14, the National Health Inspectorate (IShSh) demanded the shutdown of Meco and Zheji’s broadcaster, Ora Radio and Television (Ora RTV), ordering the interruption of its broadcast signal.