From: Alice Taylor
Elisa Spiropali Promises Council of Europe to Protect Journalists, Support Independent Media

The Albanian government has adopted several resolutions through the Council of Europe to safeguard freedom of expression, protect journalists, and ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t impact media and access to information.

Last week, a conference was held between Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society at the Council of Europe. Minister Elisa Spiropali represented Albania at the event.

By adopting the resolutions, Albania has pledged to make the prevention of violence against journalists a political priority, acknowledging the serious concern over impunity for such attacks. 

They will now “dedicate specific attention and resources to stemming impunity for killings of, attacks on and ill-treatment of journalists and other media actors.”

This will be done by creating “early warning mechanisms and threat assessments,” ensuring investigations are “prompt and effective,” and recognizing crimes against journalists as a specific category of crimes or aggravated circumstances with higher penalties.

They also promised to support independent media:

“In the context of the digitalization of the media and information environment, the Ministers recognized the crucial importance of plural, reliable and trustworthy information free from undue state or private control for any democratic society. They pledged to address the increasing disinformation by supporting a plural and independent media landscape.”

Furthermore, Spiropali, on behalf of the Albanian government, will “swiftly and decisively condemn any attacks on journalists” as attacks on democracy and support journalists with coordinated action from the highest political level.

The government has also pledged to address specific risks faced by women journalists, including online harassment.

“We furthermore resolve to appropriately address the threats, abuse, and intimidation faced by journalists and other media actors on the grounds of ethnic or national origin, language, religion or sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics,” it continues.

Lastly, the Albanian government has promised to create and enact a national action plan dedicated to solely ensuring the safety of journalists. This will include urgency-based priorities supported with operational leadership and strong political will.

“We commit to devise, based on Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 and best practices of Council of Europe member States and other jurisdictions, dedicated national action plans on the safety of journalists, setting a comprehensive and effective program of activity, with urgency-based priorities and adequate resources for their implementation,” the resolution reads.

It adds that civil society, academics, journalists, and professional associations will be a part of this process.

The resolutions will be welcome news for Albania’s media community struggling for funding against pressure, intimidation, threats, and various laws designed to have a “chilling effect”  on media freedom.

Exit contacted Spiropali to ask when a more detailed plan of action regarding the enforcement of the resolution will be presented but no reply was forthcoming.