Albania: Press freedom organisations and journalist associations call for swift justice following deadly attack on Top Channel

Today, 27 March 2023, security guard Pal Kola, 60, was shot dead by unknown assailants on the premises of the leading national TV station Top Channel, where he was stationed in a booth outside the building​​. The heinous attack took place around one o’clock in the morning. State police have since established a dedicated investigative team and are working closely with the Prosecutor’s Office to actively pursue the perpetrators. A car suspected to have been used in the crime was found burned out a few kilometres away from the crime, together with two Kalashnikov rifles. 

 

The undersigned partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response and the Safe Journalists Network are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking attack. Our thoughts are with Pal Kola’s family, friends and co-workers. We call on the police and prosecutorial services to conduct a prompt, effective, independent and transparent investigation to establish the motive and circumstances of the shooting. We will follow the case closely until all perpetrators and masterminds have been brought to justice. 

 

Our organisations welcome that the Professional Association of Journalists, President Bajram Begaj, Prime Minister Edi Rama and many other public figures from across the political spectrum have also denounced the attack and called for a decisive response from law enforcement. The killing of Kola is set against a background of unacceptable, frequent violence against media professionals in Albania. Mere weeks before the shooting, a crew from Top Channel’s investigative TV show Fiks Fare were threatened at gunpoint while filming a report about the illegal extraction of inert materials from a river bank outside Tirana. 

 

The recent cases of violence against journalists underscore the threats media professionals face in their work. Delays in efforts to hold those responsible accountable result in impunity. We also urge the authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent future attacks. We will continue to advocate for journalists’ and media workers’ safety and security, including through better implementation of international and regional standards developed within the Council of Europe, European Union and United Nations.

 

Signed:

ARTICLE 19 Europe

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

International Press Institute (IPI)

OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

Safe Journalists Network

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. This project provides legal and practical support, public advocacy and information to protect journalists and media workers. The MFRR is organised by a consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) including ARTICLE 19 Europe, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). The project is co-funded by the European Commission.

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