Albanian Media Council equips media members of the Alliance for Ethical Media with masks and disinfectants

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many sectors where one of the hardest hit is the media.

From the distribution of masks and disinfectants to Ora News

Journalists are at risk of being infected with COVID-19 from exposure during their daily work.

Thanks to a gift fund from the European Center for Press and Media Freedom, the Albanian Media Council began distributing masks and disinfectants to journalists during the first week of December.

From the distribution of masks and disinfectants to the editorial office of

The partner media and member media of the Ethical Media Alliance were beneficiaries , such as, Gazeta Dita,,,,, Gazeta Shqip,,,, Ora News, Ora Tv,, Birn,,,, TVT,

2020 has been a challenging year for journalists in Albania

By Loneta Progni

2020 has been a challenging year for journalists in Albania, who in addition to the pandemic have also faced attacks of various forms. Initially, a series of offensive words were used against journalists by the Prime Minister Edi Rama himself, such as: cauldrons, cadres, pigs, villains, unread, lazy, liars, parasites, etc. At least 12 journalists were directly attacked, escorted to police stations while they were doing their job, raped, their apartments or vehicles were attacked, etc. These events have provoked international reactions from Reporters Without Borders, Mapping Media Freedom, the International Press Institute, etc.

Various international organizations have criticized Albania in recent years, regarding the freedom of the media and the relations of the authorities in relation to journalists. Below we bring to the attention of journalists who have been detained, attacked, raped during the past year.

On the evening of December 10, on the second day of protests after the murder of 25-year-old Klodian Rasha by the Eagles, Ora News journalist Xhoi Malësia was detained by the police while he was on a live broadcast. The journalist also denounced the violence against him at the police station. Reporters Without Borders called for an independent investigation into the police’s abusive behavior.

“The feeling of being detained for me was an unprecedented experience, whether as a journalist or an ordinary person. It was a big mistake in all possible procedural aspects; an extremely serious action in accessing fundamental rights and freedoms.

My case is being represented by the Albanian Helsinki Committee. Currently, however, we face several “fronts” of justice. First, we filed a criminal report with the Tirana Prosecutor’s Office, where we claim that several criminal offenses were committed throughout the incident. Among the most important are “abuse of office” and “unlawful deprivation or obstruction of liberty”. Secondly, we are facing at the administrative level at the Internal Affairs and Complaints Service (CIA) at the State Police. There we allege procedural violations by police officers. And third, after concluding these two steps, we will file a civil lawsuit claiming civil and moral damages. The fourth step, if our justice will not provide an answer that we consider necessary, will be the lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg Court). This institution has handled similar cases and has a sufficient precedent for handling my case “, says Malësia.

Another act of violence during the December protests was committed by the police against the journalist and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Koha Jonë, Qamil Xhani. The aggression against Xhani was done while he was doing his job as a journalist very close to his editorial office. The arrest, handcuffing and ill-treatment of Xhani was also condemned by the Albanian Media Council as a disturbing signal that the police no longer respect any democratic standard, where the basic one is to allow free reporting from the field and not to harass journalists on duty.

The morning of October 30, 2020 marked another shocking event, after a quantity of explosives exploded in the courtyard of the house of the journalist of Nea 24 in Lezha, Elidon Ndreka. Thankfully there were no injured persons, but only material damage. Ndreka connects the event with the task he has been exercising for years as a field journalist, as he emphasizes that he and his family do not have personal conflicts.

On August 14, 2020, Ora News published the messages, which according to them, were sent to the phone of the president of “Yldon Media Group”, Ylli Ndroqi by the mayor Erion Veliaj. What stands out in these messages are the constant insults and threats against the journalist and the then director of information on this television, Beti Njuma. “I do not forgive her, we will be here.” “I cooperate with you, not with the idiot you got.” “You let a beast come in between us.” “A lot of courage after all.” These are just some of the messages where the journalist’s name appeared, and among other things there was pressure to change the editorial line.

On June 17, 2020, Report TV journalist Elvis Hila was escorted by police while reporting on the IKMT action in Shengjin, where several illegal constructions were demolished. The journalist denounced that the Chief of Order at the Lezha police station, Agron Qullhaje, took his phone and the police escorted him to the police station. According to Hilë, the chief of order Agron Qullhaje checked the journalist’s phone, violating his privacy.

May 17, 2020, after the collapse of the National Theater, marked another moment which provoked many reactions in Albania and abroad: violence against journalist Alfred Lela. Videos circulated in traditional and online media clearly showed the rape and escort of the journalist.

‘Mapping Media Freedom’ which has focused on the restrictions, threats and violations that affect media professionals in Europe, while they do their job, has reflected the arrest of the director of, Alfred Lela during the protest against the demolition of the National Theater. Through this reaction he condemned the arrest and called for public pardon. Similar reactions were posted by the International Press Institute and many national and international organizations. On the other hand, Prime Minister Edi Rama publicly denied the violence exercised by the police against the journalist.

After the demolition of the National Theater, episodes of violence and insults were recorded against reporters and field operators, including Report TV operator Mirsald Hajdarmataj, who was severely beaten and insulted by police.

On April 25, 2020, the road officer who was later suspended from duty Anxhelo Bardhi, accompanied by one of his friends, raped the journalist of Fier Xhoen Osmënaj, damaging his car.

March 10, 2020 marked another arbitrary escort to the police station by the police against Fax News journalist Bekim Bici. The European Center for Press and Media Freedom reacted to the illegal escort of journalist Bekim Bici, seeking clarification from the Albanian authorities. The Vienna-based International Media Institute also joined the reaction. On January 14, 2020, the car of the Lezha journalist, Gjergj Figuri, was deliberately attacked.

Will 2021 be the end of pandemic and also violation of freedom of speech?


The European Union and the Council of Europe launch a new campaign aimed at fighting hate speech in the Western Balkans

15 December 2020 – Hate speech is on the rise across Europe, jeopardising social cohesion and putting human rights under threat. The Western Balkans region is not immune to hate speech that particularly targets individuals from vulnerable groups, who have already been affected by stigma and discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic. To counter this phenomenon in the region, the European Union and the Council of Europe are launching today a new campaign for the Western Balkans – “Block the hatred. Share the love.”

Considering the epidemiological situation, the campaign will take place entirely online, through dedicated Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages: “Block the hatred. Share the love.” and will be ongoing in the years to come. Civil activists, journalists, students and all those who think that love can fight hate, are invited to be part of this campaign by following and sharing the posts, by using their messages to respond to various forms of hate affecting their private and community life or that of family members, friends or any other individuals.

Not only institutions, but also people, each and every individual, should be ready to respond to hate speech. Today, I joined the campaign to say ‘BLOCK THE HATRED, SHARE THE LOVE’ and I’m inviting you to do the same. Join us and keep following the campaign in the years to come”, said the Head of the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe, Meglena Kuneva.

The Director of the Office of Council of Europe Directorate General of Programmes, Verena Taylor, added: “Our anti-discrimination body, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, has produced clear guidelines for states, and for civil society, on how to address hate speech. One visible and strong instrument is the No Hate Speech campaign, launched in the framework of the Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey. We invite all to join the Europe-wide movement against hate speech, to take a stand for diversity and equality”.

The No-Hate Speech Ambassadors, prominent public figures from the Western Balkans who came forward to respond to the call of the movement against hate speech, will actively take part in the campaign.

The videos and other materials can be found on the campaign’s social media channels and on the  website of the Horizontal Facility programme.

The campaign is implemented under the action on “Promotion of diversity and equality in the Western Balkans, that is a part of the joint European Union/Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022”, implemented by the Anti-Discrimination Department of the Council of Europe.


Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022

The Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022 (Horizontal Facility II) is a co-operation initiative of the European Union and Council of Europe with the Western Balkans region and Turkey. The programme supports tailored reform processes agreed with the authorities, in line with relevant Council of Europe monitoring and advisory bodies’ recommendations, in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy.

The programme enables the beneficiaries to meet their reform agendas and to comply with the European standards, including where relevant within the framework of the EU enlargement process. Tailor-made and demand-driven support is provided to further improve legal and policy frameworks and build institutional capacities, reinforcing the functioning of institutions. The programme aims at bringing substantial improvements directly to the lives of citizens through its actions.


SafeJournalists: Concerns about continuous pressures against media in Albania

In the past weeks, several cases have been threatening independence of journalists’ work in Albania through increased number of lawsuits against them, particularly investigative journalists. SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) are becoming frequent in the Albanian media landscape as a mechanism to censor, intimidate or silence independent media, investigative journalists, and critics by burdening them with the cost of legal defense until they abandon their opposition or criticism. There have been three cases of SLAPP in Albania only in December 2020, contributing to deterioration of media freedom.

The SLAPP cases in December 2020 are related to the public-private partnership of the Government of Albania regarding incinerators in Elbasan. In the first week of December 2020, BIRN Albania was sued  for articles about the incinerator deal it had published. The second SLAPP case is against Artan Rama, an investigative journalist, who published an investigative article “Behind the scenes of a second contract for the Elbasan Incinerator” on 6 November 2020. Earlier, the Chief of Cabinet of the Ministry of Defense sued the journalist Juli Ristani, who published in the newspaper Shqip an investigative article about obtaining scholarships for military medical studies in Greece, offered by NATO.

BIRN Albania stood by the report and said they are ready to fight the matter in court. The lawsuit came after BIRN Albania published an article about incinerators. “The lawsuit is unfounded and intended to intimidate journalists through costly and lengthy legal processes to make them reluctant to report,” said BIRN Albania Executive Director, Kristina Voko for Citizen ChannelAsked by BIRN Albania, Artan Rama said that he stands by the published article and will defend it in court. “I think it has two purposes. First, an attempt by the company to present a positive image to the public, as by passing the case on to a court in hopes that it can publicly convey, a priori, the idea that an injustice has been done to it and second, a threat for any journalist involved in reporting on public-private partnership concession contracts, including these companies,” Rama said for Citizen Channel.

Media experts, civil society organizations, and other independent media organizations have reacted, emphasizing that these lawsuits have little legal basis but are being used as a mechanism to intimidate and censor the investigation of corruption.

Blerjana Bino, SafeJournalists Network researcher, points out that “In Albania, we are witnessing continuous attempts to crack down on independent media such as the case with SLAPP cases against investigative journalists and increase in criminal penalties for defamation. Recently, a working document of the Ministry of Justice, leaked in the media, shows the Government’s attempts to tighten further penalties for defamation, which is already a criminal offense in Albania contrary to international best practices. Thus, few independent media in the country face pressures, intimidation, and threats in various manners and who need support to counter abusive power.”

SafeJournalists Network, representing more than 8,200 media professionals in the Western Balkans, stands in solidarity with Albania colleagues and expresses concern about unfavorable court practices against the media. Also, SafeJournalists Network condemns the Government’s attempts to passrestrictive regulations by increasing defamation penalties and impacting independent media work.

Each attack on journalists is an attack on all citizens’ public interest, democracy, and rights.


Skopje – Belgrade – Podgorica – Pristina – Sarajevo – Zagreb, 11.12.2020.


Association of Journalists of Kosovo

Association of Journalists of Macedonia

BH Journalists Association

Croatian Journalists’ Association

Independent Journalists Association of Serbia

Trade Union of Media of Montenegro


Three years after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia

The murder of the investigative journalist, Dafne Caruana Galizia in Malta, has been the headline of the foreign media since the moment when a bomb attack on her car took her life, in October 2017. Today is the third anniversary of the murder of the journalist.

Seen as a violent attack on free speech in a peaceful EU member state, her death sparked a political “earthquake” that ousted a prime minister and led to major constitutional changes in the former British colony.

However, three years later, justice has not yet been done for Caruana Galizia’s family. There were no trials or convictions. The three accused of planting the bomb that killed him will not stand trial until next year.

Daphne’s assassination is a bad signal for all democracies, because it tells corrupt officials that if they kill journalists who investigate them, they can throw it at them.

The Albanian Media Council on the anniversary of the murder of the Maltese journalist, wants to express maximum support for the work of all journalists like Daphne who are in constant danger by publicly exposing corrupt affairs and corrupt politicians in Albania. The pressure is great, the propaganda is at its peak, so examples like Daphne show that today journalists need to be more united than ever.

Today marks 3 years since the assassination of journalist Dafne Caruana Galizia who was investigating corruption scandals in her country that went to the highest levels of business policy in Malta, a country of the European Union.

Hearings and interviews with people involved in the case will be published in the Daphne Project, an international reporting collaboration involving the Guardian, Forbidden Stories, Reuters and the Times of Malta.

Cukal’s reaction on “Për të fol” and “Ilva Now” shows on anti-defamation package

The Chairman of the Media Council, Koloreto Cukali has been invited to a live broadcast on the show Për të fol by journalist Omer Saraçi where he has spoken out against the anti-defamation package.

“The government demands control over the media, especially when the upcoming elections are expected, after several months. It is very necessary to control the narrative of what is said. If this law is passed violently now, it will be a tool of self-censorship because no one will be able to write for fear of receiving 2-3 fines which will take him out of business. “It is a totally regressive law and at the wrong time,” said Cukali.

He added that to his knowledge it is a draft which is kept secret and is in consultation with the Council of Europe and also specified that the OSCE is not involved in the review of this draft. Cukali also said that this law deprives the Court of its right.

“The purpose of the first law, what we have seen and not the draft that we do not know what it is, was this, that AMA makes an enforceable decision immediately and you go to court after two years, but in the meantime you have been penalized and the fine is “harvested within three days of execution,” he said.

Asked if there could be another out-of-court institution that could rectify the situation, Koloreto Cukali said that self-regulation is the best way to resolve it and that members of the Alliance for Ethical Media Alliance through the Council are working to build a self-regulation mechanism. , which requires its own time.

“Europe has given it a solution, the best way is self-regulation. An institution, a grievance council but not set up by the government or government institutions. An institution set up by the journalists themselves who undertakes to resolve all grievances that citizens have with the relevant media. Will this work best? Will it solve all the problems? Of course not. In Germany there are media councils which have set up these mechanisms, but when the parties do not find a solution in These self-regulatory mechanisms have the final say only in the court, which is an intermediary institution for resolving problems amicably, but if the parties are not convinced of the decisions of these institutions, they always go to court and have all the necessary instruments to find a solution We are working to build such a mechanism. It takes some time. The pandemic did not help us because our whole life stopped but we will take the process for granted  on September and early October and we will build these mechanisms even if the government insists on passing the law by force in parliament. “These will be lifelong mechanisms, that law is not lifelong,” said the chairman of the Media Council.

Koloreto has taken the same stance about the anti-defamation pact on the show “Ilva Now” under the direction of journalist Ilva Tare where he was invited in direct contact during the discussion with other media experts.

The Safe Journalists Network speaks out against the “Anti-Defamation” Law

The Safe Journalists Network has expressed concern about the government’s plans to pass the controversial “anti-defamation package” law without taking into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission.

The Safe Journalists Network is a regional platform represents more than 8,200 professional media outlets in the Western Balkans.

“While it is important to address issues of hate speech, defamation, disinformation and other related phenomena attributed usually to the online media, it has to be done by consulting relevant stakeholders and with the meaningful participation of civil society and media organisations. Self-regulation is paramount here as well as supporting the professionalism and independence of media”., said Blerjana Bino from the Network of Safe Journalists.

According to Bino, if the government is determined to pass the media law, then it will have to face a small part of the opposition left in the Assembly, as the Parliament is currently with one party.

From December 2018 when the first draft of the Anti-Defamation package was proposed by the Council of Ministers until December 19, 2019, when the amendments to the laws were approved by the Albanian Parliament, have been confirmed as major concerns for freedom of expression, for Democracy and the Rule of Law by the Venice Opinion on Albanian and foreign media organizations.

Bulgarian government uses violence against journalists and media workers covering anti-government protests

Citizens of Sofia took to the streets on September 2nd to protest against corruption and abuse of power. Dissatisfied with the government led by Boyko Borisov and Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev, they demanded her resignation. According to eyewitness reports, police used excessive violence against protesters, journalists and media workers, something that is increasingly being seen in Europe.

The European Center for Freedom of the Press and Media said police used indiscriminate tear gas against journalists from various media outlets covering the protests. As a result, many media workers have sought medical help.

“Journalists and media workers play a vital role in covering public protests, ensuring independent control of all movements and reinforcing the importance of the fundamental right to protest and free assembly. ECPMF calls on Bulgarian authorities to fully and transparently investigate all reported cases of excessive use of force against journalists and bring them to justice. ”

Freelance journalist Dimitar Kenarov crawled across the sidewalk, was kicked in the face and head, and his camera was damaged. Despite the fact that he consistently identified himself as a journalist and had a clear visible “PRESS” sign on his mask, this was ignored by the authorities. He was handcuffed to the ground for hours before being taken to a police station where he received a warning and was later released.

The same scenario was encountered by Albania at the beginning of this year, the police used force against journalists who reported on the demolition of the National Theater and the numerous protests that were previously organized in its defense. Several journalists were attacked and detained while covering the event. Also, during the anti-government protests of 2019, tear gas was used against citizens as well as journalists who reported from the field causing incidents. Police allegedly attacked media workers.

EWB/ Media freedom shrinks in Southeast Europe due to COVID-19 crisis

The Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria, in co-operation with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, organized a panel discussion yesterday on the space occupied by media freedom in Southeast Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This panel concluded that excessive government control, the slide of democracy based on the pre-existing trend of media capture and the tightening of the space for media freedom, are similar consequences when it comes to the imposed COVID-19 measures throughout Southeast Europe. (Click here to read full article.)

The panel consisted of Zef Preci, Executive Director, Albanian Center for Economic Research (ACER) from Tirana, Irina Nedeva, President of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) from Bulgaria, Ruslan Stefanov, Program Director of Centre for Study of Democracy, Elena Calistru, Director and Founder of Funky Citizens from Romania and Igor Novakovic, Research Director, International and Security Affairs Centre (ISAC) from Serbia.

Media, Newspapers; Photo: Pixabay

Ruslan Stefanov, Program Director of Centre for Study of Democracy pointed that  disturbing trends could be observed during pandemics, adding that in addition to the deteriorating economic situation of the media, the internal tendencies of the authorities could also be observed.

„First is the return of the global power politics and fight for hearts and minds, especially in SEE“, he said.

Zef Preci, Executive Director, Albanian Center for Economic Research (ACER) from Tirana said that at the time of the pandemic COVID-19 media did not have the means to monitor and verify the information released by the government and the role of the media was to clarify the information, not to provide information. new.

„The anti-defamation package was adopted by the Parliament, although all international bodies expressed concerns over it, as it gives Government the authority to regulate online media, for example by blocking a web-site“, he pointed out.

Press Release – Presence of OSCE in Albania on “WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY”

The OSCE in Albania has issued a press statement on World Press Freedom Day in which it says it stands by Albanian journalists in their mission, especially in times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The official statement also reiterated the OSCE’s recommendations to the media. One of them is the self-regulation of the media as an important alternative to its proper functioning in contrast to regulation through government.

OSCE Full Declaration

On the World Press Freedom Day, the OSCE Presence in Albania stands by the Albanian journalists in fulfilling media’s crucial mission in democratic countries at any times, and especially in times of crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic. We support them in their efforts for proper working contracts, better access to information, freedom of expression, and increased professionalism.

On this occasion, we also reiterate the OSCE’s recommendations for access for journalists to public events in particular during election campaigns, deconcentration of media ownership, and full decriminalization of defamation, and encourage media self-regulation as a superior alternative to government regulation.