Isabel Santos the EU’s rapporteur for Albania claimed in a press conference today that the controversial anti-defamation package has been withdrawn by the Albanian government.
When asked by Exit, how the European Commission could consider this condition fulfilled when it has still not been amended in-line with the Venice Commission recommendations, she said:
“As for the defamation laws, it was withdrawn,” she said.
“I was on the frontline in that battle, I was very clear that this is a red line that should not be passed. The government has withdrawn it from parliament.”
When asked about plans to increase penalties for defamation, she said:
“We will keep a close eye on the situation and ensure any laws are in line with Venice Commission recommendations.”
This is the first time any indication that it has been withdrawn from parliament. The Albanian government has not made any public announcement of any kind relating to the law, what stage it is at, or whether it is still being considered.
In December, it was known that the Council of Europe was reviewing the current draft of the law but that there were issues with its compliance with the Venice Commission.
Koloreto Cukali from the Albanian Media Council told Exit:
“The fact they didn’t manage to pass quality control, doesn’t mean they withdrew it. The process was kept so secret, we don’t know what stage it is at and we have had no public announcement or notification that it has been withdrawn.”
The controversial draft law and amendments would bring all online media under the control of a government-appointed body that would have the power to fine, block, and insert popups onto sites that breach their standards. This body would effectively have the powers of a court while being ex judicial. The Venice Commission heavily criticized the law and provided a number of recommendations so it could be brought in line with international standards.
The EU made it one of the conditions for Albania to attend the first intergovernmental conference.