From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Government Pledges to Ensure Media Law Meets Venice Commission Recommendations

The Albanian government told the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Riberio, that they will modify the “anti-defamation” package in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission before adopting them.

Following her visit to Tirana this week, a statement published on the OSCE website reiterated that any legislative amendments must also conform to international human rights standards and OSCE commitments. Ribiero added that any legislative processes should be conducted inclusively, involving all relevant stakeholders such as media NGOs and journalists.

The package in its final public form did not comply with the Venice Commission recommendations. It was passed by the parliament in December 2020 before being vetoed by President Ilir Meta and returned to parliament. As per Albanian law, it needs a simple majority for it to become law.

The package will bring all online media under the supervision of the Audiovisual Media Authority, chaired by a long-time communications adviser to Prime Minister Edi Rama. Armela Krasniqi, a career Socialist Party and Rama aid, was elected to the position in June despite calls from the EU to wait until the opposition was back in parliament and a more balanced vote could be taken.

AMA will be able to levy fines, force pop-ups and retractions, and various other measures without the need for a court ruling. Media or journalists will only be able to appeal decisions after the penalty has been paid or carried out.

Ribiero also discussed other pressing issues, including the safety of journalists with a focus on online safety for female journalists. Other concerns included access to information, disinformation, and the independence of the public broadcaster.

Rama caused controversy during the OSCE South East Europe Media Conference. He pushed for regulation of online media, limits on freedom of expression, and compared online media to Nazi’s and pedophiles. 

Despite multiple calls on the EU to include the withdrawal of the media package from parliament, the EC confirmed to Exit that it had no plans to heed them.