From: Exit Staff
Authorities Must Act Over Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, international media freedom organizations have called for action from authorities that, too often, do not work to seek justice for crimes and often are guilty of perpetrating them.

Leading the call was the Coalition For Women In Journalism, which focused on advocating and supporting women and LGBTIQ media workers.

“Disparaging attitudes towards gender in society infiltrate the profession as well. As we call for an end to impunity against journalists, we must be cognizant that while attacks on journalists go unpunished, gendered attacks on women journalists often also go unnoticed,” they said in an online statement.

In 2021 alone, CFWIF recorded 741 violations against women journalists, including workplace harassment, sexual harassment, verbal harassment, legal harassment, physical assault, smear and troll campaigns, threats and intimidation, and nine murders. Many more were attacked because of their race, others were abducted, and some were arrested and arbitrarily detained.

“Nearly all cases involving harassment, threats, organized troll campaigns and intimidation were deeply gendered. In fact, in some instances, gender was invoked to discredit the woman journalist’s reportage,” the CFWIJ found.

Regionally, Turkey was one of the worst offenders when it came to violations against women journalists. Beatings, threats, detentions, and police brutality were just some of the concerning incidents recorded by the CFWIJ this year.

The Coalition notes that when there are no punishments for violations and crimes, it creates the conditions for further violence. They call for “deep structural change” and the recognition and rectification of attitudes that hinder and target women journalists.

Founding Director of the Coalition, Kiran Nazish, told Exit that since the beginning of their work documenting press freedom violations against women and LGBTIQ media workers, they had seen an astonishing rise in the frequency and seriousness of incidents.

“And all our investigations against these incidents lead to an overarching fuel that makes them possible, i.e., impunity. I would like to emphasize that for democracy to prevail; we have to revive the importance of accountability for crimes against journalists. We must remember that nations fail without robust journalism and a free press.”

The Coalition has previously highlighted several issues in Albania, both of which remain unpunished.

In February 2021, a female journalist at a local TV station in Gjirokaster was sexually assaulted by her boss. The incident was made public through a video shared on social media and appeared to show the  owner of the station touching the young woman’s behind. He admitted it was him in the video, but said the video was a trap, and he was playing up to it.

The problem in Albania, and the Balkan region is that many women do not report instances of abuse, violence, or threats against them. This stems from a mixture of fear of repercussions, but also that the courts will not deal with the situation correctly, and they could find themselves blacklisted from working elsewhere. A report by the Albanian Helsinki Committee confirmed this and noted that incidences of discrimination, abuse, and sexual harassment were high. 

They also reported on death threats made against Exit journalist Alice Taylor in August 2021. Despite Taylor providing the police with information to identify the individual, and the threat being particularly direct and descriptive, no action was taken.

Also, in 2018, journalist Klodiana Lala’s house was sprayed with machine-gun fire while her family, including two children were inside. The police said it was not related to her work and was a result of a “family conflict”, something the family adamantly denied. No one has been arrested for the incident.

Of all the crimes committed against journalists in recent years in Albania, no convictions have taken place.