From: Alice Taylor
Rama Reminded to Protect Journalists as OSCE Chairperson

Secretary-General of the European Federation of Journalists Ricardo Gutierez has reminded Prime Minister Edi Rama that as he is OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, he should be following the OSCE principles to the letter regarding the protection of journalists

“As OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Edi Rama said, the Prime Minister of Albania, should apply to the letter the principles for the protection of journalists promoted by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. We, therefore, call on the Albanian authorities to stop the illegitimate use of violence by the police and to negotiate a national plan for the protection of journalists with journalists’ representative organizations.”

His comments came in a strongly-worded press release published today, relating to the alleged police brutality against journalists at the hands of the police during the last week. Protests have been ongoing since 8 December after 25-year-old Klodian Rasha was killed by a policeman. During the protests, four journalists were arrested and detained, three reported being assaulted by officers, two had footage deleted, and others were made to sign statements they didn’t write in order to be released.

Many others suffered damage to equipment and effects from tear gas and pepper spray.

The International Federation of Journalists, the ‘parent’ organization of the EFJ also commented. General Secretary Anthony Bellanger called out the “repetitive acts of violence and intimidation” and called on the government to investigate and hold the perpetrators accountable.

“These repetitive acts of violence and intimidation of Albanian police against journalists are unacceptable in a democracy. The government must investigate these attacks and hold the perpetrators accountable.”

The APAJ, who are members of the EFJ and IFJ reiterated the call for Rama and Director of the State Police Ardi Veliu to speak out against the allegations and to condemn such acts against journalists.

“We call on Prime Minister Edi Rama and the general director of the state police Ardi Veliu, to speak publicly against the violence and obstruction of journalists and the media, in general, to do their job during the protests in Tirana and in the other cities; to encourage the identification of those responsible for those acts of violence against media workers. In this case, your silence is an encouragement to the unworthy conduct of the police in open violation of the freedom of media to perform their duty in a democratic state”.

So far, the government and the police have remained tight-lipped on the matter.