From: Alice Taylor
Reporters Without Borders Condemn Police Attack on Journalist in Albania

Reporters Without Borders has reacted to the latest case of police violence against a journalist in Albania.

In a Tweet, the media freedom organization called for “an investigation into the officers’ behavior”.

News24 journalist Ergys Gjencaj was violently apprehended, thrown to the ground, had his phone confiscated, and was detained for more than one hour by police. He had been near the scene of an anti-drugs bust and was attempting to film what was happening.

The Albanian Media Council condemned the attack, stating it demonstrates “a pattern of recurring behavior from the police and cannot be considered isolated.”

They also said this does not reflect well on Albania’s European Union membership aspirations and reminded the police that the journalists were just doing their job.

Tirana’s Prosecutor announced they were investigating the incident.

There have been numerous instances of violence from police against journalists over the last couple of years. During the Opposition-led anti-government protests in 2019, a number of journalists suffered injuries as a result of police violence, as well as indiscriminate gas usage.

Then moments prior to the demolition of the National Theatre, armed police stormed the location and removed activists inside. One of those removed included Exit’s illustrator and photographer Diversanti. He was detained and his belongings were destroyed under the ruins of the theatre.

During the subsequent protests, at least two journalists claimed they were assaulted by officers, and another, Alfred Lela was arbitrarily detained.

In June 2020, police stopped Report TV journalist Elvis Hila from filming the demolition of properties along the beach. They detained him inside a police vehicle and deleted footage.

In December 2020, at least four journalists were arrested while on duty. They claimed they were forcibly detained, assaulted, and insulted, had their mobiles seized and footage erased. Some said they were forced to sign “confessions” as a condition for their release.