Two International Media Freedom Watchdogs Call Out Rama’s Treatment of Journalists

Two of the world’s leading independent media freedom organisations and watchdogs have today reported on the violence used by the state on journalists on Saturday’s protest.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) described how two journalists had been badly injured “amid great tension”.

They then urged the Albanian authorities not to use “disproportionate force” during protests, particularly when journalists and photographers are conducting their work.

In addition to this comment, the Committee to Protect Journalists published a report of Saturday’s events– their second such report about Albania in less than a month having reported on the smear attack against British journalist Alice Taylor.

In their most recent report, they reported on the facts of the evening which include reference to photos, video footage, and firsthand accounts detailing the violence that occurred.

“Eliza Gjediku, a reporter for local TV station Tema TV, was incapacitated by the tear gas and was sent to a local hospital for treatment”

They also made reference to the head injury suffered by photographer Arben Dajçi who claimed it was as a result of being hit by a policeman.

CPJ noted that they had contacted Endri Fuga for comment, yet like the case of Alice Taylor, he had failed to comment at the time of press.

On Sunday, Albanian journalists protested outside of the General Prosecutor’s Office in Tirana. Carrying signs and demanding better rights, an end to state violence and intimidation, and justice for crimes committed against them. Despite this, the government is yet to comment on any of the injuries incurred by journalists or civilians.

The Albanian Ombudsman released a statement on Monday condemning the use of tear gas as well as the reason why it was used, the quantity, frequency, density, and type- noting the fact that all of this information was kept secret from members of the public.

Referring to its use of “disproportionate” and the “favourite instrument” used by authorities to obstruct the constitutional right of citizens.

The Ombudsman added:

“The Ombudsman considers the treatment of media and journalists as a threat to public security as one of the most worrying signals of a situation in which press freedom is questioned.”

In the statement published on their official website, the Ombudsman also noted the problematic arrest of protestors, including a young man with mental health issues. Another protestor was treated in hospital, whilst handcuffed to a bed, despite not being under arrest at the time.

A total of 37 protestors have been apprehended after the events on Saturday. One witness to arrests described how he saw police waiting outside the PD Headquarters and just arresting “random people” as they walked home.

A number of protestors are also still in prison, being held without charge or bail, since February 16 this year. They are still awaiting the prosecutor to investigate whether they should be charged with any crime, and to date, no evidence has been presented to support the allegations made against the.

An employee of the Municipality of Tirana, publicly humiliated an Exit journalist, posting pictures of her partner taking part in the protest whilst alleging that her comments relating to media freedom infringements were not independent. Apparently her lack of fluency in Albanian also made her incapable of commenting on the protests, despite photographic and video evidence being readily available.