From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Judiciary Undergo Freedom of Expression Training

Albanian judges and prosecutors have undergone intensive training on freedom of expression and the media as a part of a joint European Union and Council of Europe initiative.

The School of Magistrates organised the training with the Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Media in Albania (JUFREX) project, a collaboration between the two international organisations.

Participants were put through training methodology, including group work analysis, discussion and presentations. Topic included Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe standards on freedom of expression. Those in attendance used local jurisprudence to examine the application of these standards in Albania.

The project aims to enlarge the pool of certified local trainers of the School of Magistrates who can train their peers through cascade training.

Albania continues to struggle with issues relating to the freedom of expression and media freedom. In July, ARTICLE19 ranked Albania as 74th in the world in terms of the former.

The report noted that Albania was part of the 1/3 of world countries that used the pandemic to pass emergency laws with no time limits.

It also mentioned the murder of media owner Kastriot Reçi and the government’s takeover of 2 independent channels as motivation for its score.

Albania scored highly on several negative indicators, including official disinformation campaigns, abusive enforcement, receiving a score of 3/3 on restrictions of media freedom.

The country also performed poorly on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, with just its score falling again in 2021.

RSF: Albania’s Ranking Increases, But Overall Score Declines

After falling for several years down to 84th place in 2019 with a score of 30.59 out of a possible 100 (with 100 being the worst and 0 being the best), in 2020, it continued its downward trend once again.

It was beaten by Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Maldives, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. It performed better than neighbouring North Macedonia, Serbia, and EU Member State Hungary.

SLAPP Case against BIRN Aims to Intimidate Journalists, Says Co-Author of Investigative Article

One issue journalists face in Albania is the use of SLAPP or vexatious lawsuits in the country’s courts. These suits are filed, often without grounds, with the intention of silencing journalists, financially exhausting them, and stopping stories from being published.