From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Government Yet to Amend or Withdraw Anti-Defamation Package

The Albanian government has still not amended or withdrawn the “anti-defamation” package from the agenda of parliament, despite calls for it to be brought in line with EU standards.

Widely criticsed by the European Union, Parliament and Commission, the Council of Europe, international media freedom organisations, local stakeholders, and President Ilir Meta who vetoed it, the government has refused to remove it from parliaments agenda meaning it can be passed at any time, with a simple majority.

The package would bring all online media under the supervision of the Audiovisual Media Authority which is headed by Prime Minister Edi Rama’s long-time communications aid, Armela Krasniqi. It foresees large fines, orders to remove content, and the enforcing of pop-ups, without a court order and with no right to appeal until the penalty has been carried out.

Meta returned it to parliament in December 2020, and it has sat on the agenda ever since. If it is voted by a simple majority, it enters into force without the president’s agreement. The Albanian government has repeatedly said it will not pass the law in its current form and will bring it in line with Venice Commission recommendations.

The Venice Commission said it should be scrapped, that self-regulation is preferable, and the package has significant potential for abuse.

Despite this, a Freedom of Information request sent by fact-checking portal Faktoje confirmed that it has not been amended, and no draft has been submitted. Furthermore, Rama’s office did not respond to questions on a new draft or any consultations with local media actors.

Various representatives from Albanian media organisations confirmed they had not been invited to any consultations on the matter.

While Rama said he will not pass the law as it is, at an OSCE media event in 2021, he was clear that he believes self-regulation would not work.