From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Press Freedom Watchdog Call on Albanian Government to Protect Journalists

Reporters Without Borders has called on the Albanian government to protect journalists against “serious violence” inflicted upon them whilst carrying out their duties during the ongoing protests.

“Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Albanian authorities to protect journalists, who have repeatedly been among the victims of serious violence during the past four months of demonstrations calling for Prime Minister Edi Rama’s departure on the grounds of suspected corruption.”

The international press freedom watchdog stated that “every week, serious injuries have been sustained by journalists” and that they have learned at least four have been the victims of “significant acts of aggression”. RSF point the finger at both demonstrators and politicians, describing a “current climate of intimidation and violence towards journalists” and urge the authorities to intervene.

“We condemn the current climate of intimidation and violence towards journalists and we call on the authorities to take immediate measures so that the attacks stop,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk.

In their statement, Ades-Mevel also criticised the “anti-media rhetoric of certain politicians” stating that it needed to be condemned for the sake of the country’s democratic reform efforts. She also stated that the matter needed to be addressed in order to progress in its bid to join the European Union.

She added: “Given the current political situation and the imminence of local elections on 30 June, we are concerned that further incidents could damage Albania’s image and the EU accession process.”

RSF noted acts of state violence to Eliza Gjediku and Arbed Dajçi during the protests on 13 April, the hospitalisation due to tear gas of Isa Myzyraj and Marsela Karapanço, the assault of Ola Xama by a Guard of the Republic, and the public sexual harassment of Enkelejda Mema by Skënder Gjinushi.

Journalists reported as suffering from violence inflicted by protestors included Besfort Kryeziu, Eno Xhaja, Mateo Brahja, and Arsen Rusta.