MFRR partners write letter of concern to Albanian government regarding the plan to amend the country's audio visual laws

16 September 2020

mfrr logo

Dear Chairperson of the Parliament, Mr Gramoz Ruçi,

 

Dear Honourable Members of Parliament,

 

We are writing to express our grave concern about the apparent plans of the Parliament of Albania to ignore the issues raised in Venice Commission Opinion No. 980/2020 of 19 June 2020, further threatening press freedom and the right to freedom of expression and to information in Albania.

 

The undersigned organisations, including partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response, are alarmed by reports that the Parliament plans to reconsider the Amendments to Law No. 97/2013 ‘on Audio Visual Media in the Republic of Albania’ on the basis of article 86 of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly, which prescribes that the Parliament considers only the issues introduced by the President of the Republic. Consequently, the Assembly would ignore the problems raised in the aforementioned Opinion of the Venice Commission and by domestic and international civil society organisations.

 

In this regard, we reiterate our serious concern that the amendments in their current form fall short of international law and standards. As noted also by the Venice Commission, the legislative proposals suffer from vagueness and have a number of fundamental flaws, including:

  • An overly broad scope of application that may include individual bloggers and social media users;
  • Requiring de-anonymisation of all Albanian online media resources, which is especially problematic in light of the overly broad scope of application;
  • Entrusting weighty administrative powers to the Albanian Media Authority and the Complaints Committee, without first ensuring that these institutions are sufficiently independent; and,
  • A lack of adequate procedural safeguards in the complaints procedure.

As such, the proposed amendments risk causing a chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression online and restricting Albanian citizens’ right to access to information.

 

We share the opinion of the Venice Commission and 15 Albanian civil society organisations that the problem of malicious or irresponsible media behaviour on the internet would be more appropriately tackled through the establishment of an independent self-regulatory body, which involves all stakeholders in the media community and is empowered to ensure an effective and well-respected system of media accountability.

 

Accordingly, we urge you to rethink the current legislative procedure and instead put in place a transparent process that leads to appropriate legislation that addresses all the Venice Commission’s recommendations, and to include civil society and representatives of the media throughout this process. We fear that pushing ahead with these amendments in blatant disregard of the important issues raised by the Venice Commission will further damage hopes of progress on press freedom and undermine Albania’s pursuit of EU accession.

Signed

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

ARTICLE 19

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

This letter is coordinated by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom as part of 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 an consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) with ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). The project is co-funded by the European Commission. www.mfrr.eu

MFRR_ECPMF part of MFRR Logos_2400px

Read news by categories:

Related news

Press release

Report It campaign to highlight threats against journalists and media workers and encourage everyone to speak up and speak out

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), which coordinates the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) has today launched the ‘Report It’ campaign amid increased threats to journalists and media workers across Europe. In addition to creating awareness about different threats to press and media freedom, the Report It campaign encourages everyone to speak up and speak out against violations that they witness or experience in this regard.

READ MORE
Statement

ECPMF and MFRR partners write letter to the Greek authorities voicing concern over restricted access for media workers to Moria refugee camp

The Greek authorities are undermining press freedom and threatening the public’s right to know by restricting access for media workers to sites where refugees and asylum seekers are held following the fire that destroyed the Moria camp

READ MORE
Statement

MFRR partners write letter of concern to Albanian government regarding the plan to amend the country’s audio visual laws

We are writing to express our grave concern about the apparent plans of the Parliament of Albania to ignore the issues raised in Venice Commission Opinion No. 980/2020 of 19 June 2020, further threatening press freedom and the right to freedom of expression and to information in Albania.

READ MORE
Statement

ECPMF sign joint statement issuing 5 demands for an ambitious European Democracy Action Plan

Democracies in Europe have been faced with numerous challenges over the past decade, including increasing political polarisation, closing democratic space, increased mass surveillance, popular disillusionment with representative politics and democratic institutions, and increasingly assertive authoritarian global players. There is widespread recognition of the fact that democracy is under pressure across the world.

READ MORE
Press release

Wegen wiederholter Zusammenstöße: ECPMF veröffentlicht Codex, um Verhältnis zwischen Polizei und Presse in Deutschland zu verbessern

Das Verhältnis von Polizei und Journalist:innen ist angespannt. Medienschaffende beklagen ungerechtfertigte Behinderungen ihrer Arbeit, die zu Lasten der Pressefreiheit gingen. Zugleich kritisieren Polizist:innen, dass ihre Arbeit medial verzerrt dargestellt wird. Das ECPMF und Partnerhaben ein Codex entwickelt, um einen Dialog zu starten.

READ MORE
Statement

ECPMF calls on Turkey drop the charges against journalist Oktay Candemir and return his confiscated property

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, as part of  Media Freedom Rapid Response calls on the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against freelance journalist Oktay Candemir and to return his confiscated property in full and without delay.

READ MORE