Safe Journalists has called out the Albanian authorities for the detention and human rights abuses of journalists during the ongoing protests.
In a statement issued over the weekend, they noted how two journalists were detained by the police while reporting from the protests over the murder of Klodian Rasha by the police. Both journalists reported violence and abuse of their human rights by the police during their detention
On 11 December, Xhoi Malesia, Ora News RTV journalist was arrested while filming and reporting. He was released after three hours but reported various rights violations.
“I was detained by the police while filming the protest, although I identified myself as a journalist. I was taken to the police station, where I was beaten and insulted by the police officers.” He told Safe Journalists that he had been beaten, was not allowed a phone call, and was forced to sign a statement he didn’t write, in order to be released.
The next day, Qamil Xhani, the editor-in-chief of Kohan Jone was also arrested while on duty. He had been reporting on violence inflicted on protestors by the police. He asked the police to stop, but he was handcuffed and detained along with around 50 protestors. Xhani said he was hit on the head and the back and his mobile was seized and all footage deleted. He also said he was forced to sign a statement admitting he had participated in an illegal gathering.
The police have not yet commented on the detention of journalists.
Researcher from Safe Journalists, Blerjana Bino said that these are not sporadic cases.
“There have been previous abusive behaviours by the police towards the media which are not acceptable. The situation is aggravated by the silence of the General Police Directory. The state authorities must investigate these cases properly, identify the police force members who violated journalists’ rights and sanction them. They should apologise to Malësia and Xhani, compensate the damage and make sure it does not happen again.”
She called for the authorities to investigate the testimonies, identify the police involved and ensure they face justice.
Safe Journalists represents more than 8200 media professionals throughout the Western Balkans.