From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Journalists and Civil Society to Protest ‘Chilling’ Media Laws

The Albanian Media Council along with media organisations, journalists and civil society has announced a protest for Wednesday 18 December to protest against the two so-called “anti-defamation laws” that will infringe on the freedom of online media portals in the country.

Under the hashtag “#MOSnaPREKfjalen (don’t censor my speech),  organisers call for the attendance of journalists, media workers, and members of the public to congregate in front of Parliament. Attendees are invited to tie a black scarf over their mouths to symbolise the way that the government is attempting to silence journalists.

Organisers also call on publishers to put the poster of the event on their front pages, on social networks, and for TV journalists to express solidarity by wearing a black scarf during broadcasts.

Tirana Police have granted a permit to protestors for both 18 and 19 of December, the day before the law is due to pass and the day it is expected to.

The decision to protest was made last Friday during a roundtable organised by the Council. During the event, those in attendance decided that protesting, as well as asking the President to reject the law, appealing to the constitutional court, and lobbying embassies and international organisations should be the way forward. The Council also announced they plan to create their own self-regulation platform, removing the need for further government interference in the media. 

A declaration signed by Council members and journalists called on the government to repeal the law, calling it an “unprecedented act in a democratic world”.  They added that the attempt to regulate the media in this way constitutes as “the basis for serious violations of fundamental human rights and can be transformed into a cornerstone of a dictatorial regime.”

Despite criticism from the Council of Europe, OSCE, international media freedom organisations, the EU, local media organisations and journalists, and opposition the Socialist Party majority Law Commission voted in favour of the law today. This means that it is more than likely to pass in Plenary on the 19 December, despite the widespread outrage.