Reports Without Borders (RSF) asked the European Union to demand a clear engagement by the Albanian government with regards to the protection of journalists and media freedom.
In a statement released on Tuesday, RSF focused on the “legislative threat” posed by the anti-defamation package proposed by Prime Minister Edi Rama. The package seeks to place all media platforms under the control of the Audio-Visual Media Authority (AMA).
According to RSF, such a configuration would allow AMA “to impose disproportionate sanctions on news websites and would probably encourage self-censorship.”
Therefore, the RSF “urges the European institutions to demand clear guarantees by Albania that are consistent with its desire to join the European Union.”
First introduced in 2018, the anti-defamation package went through several drafts before being tabled. The Venice Commission issued an opinion on it, stating that “the draft amendments are not ready for adoption in their current form.”
In March 2020, published a report outlining the tasks and reforms Albania must accomplish before the first intergovernmental conference, including “amending the media law in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.”
Several EU figures and Members of the European Parliament spoke out against the media law over 2020.
However, in March 2021, the EU Rapporteur to Albania claimed that the law had been withdrawn, despite the law still being on Parliament’s agenda. Likewise, the EU Ambassador to Albania has stated that Albania has met all the conditions set by the European Council in 2020, although to date, no new versions of the controversial media law have been made public.
Indeed, per the RSF’s statement, the European Commission had noted that “that Albania’s ruling Socialist Party ‘has given clear indications that it does not intend to pursue the adoption of this pending legislation and that it would comply with the Venice Commission’s recommendations if the legislation were to be adopted in the future.’”