The Civil Society Organizations call upon the government of Albania to withdraw the two draft laws proposed to Parliament and showcased in public as the “Anti-Defamation Package”. We also call upon the Parliament of Albania that, in case that the government doesn’t withdraw the bills, to dismiss themwithout delays.
The importance that the freedom of expression has in a democratic society is reflected by the ample protection given to it in international law, both at global and in regional level, including in Article 19 of the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on the article 19 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the article 19 of the American Convention on Human Rights and as well, the article 10 of the European Convention on Human rights.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, approved about 230 years ago (in 14 December 1791) prevents the government from making laws which regulate an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.
Signatory organizations note that the two draft-laws of the anti-defamation package provide for the Albanian Media Authority and Albanian Communication and Postal Authority, quasi-tribunal competences, of sanctioning nature against media outlets, while these bodies, although independent by definition in the law, provide no functional guarantees to operate independently in practice, as should are the courts.
Albania has enough laws to regulate cases when media violate the rights of others and in this context there are precedents judged in our courts.
The need to have self-regulation of the media and NO legal regulation of it, is a matter of special importance in countries in transition to democracy, as it is our country, where often media is connected with known interests of the businesses or political parties. Self-regulation is the combination of standards imposed by ethical codes of conduct for the media, which are necessary to support freedom of expression and to enable that this conduct is monitored and held accountable. Self-regulation preserves the independence of the media and protects it from the partisan interventions of the government.
The signatories call upon international bodies, (such as OSCE, EU or Council of Europe), which presence in Albania contributes to the rule of law and human rights, to take a clear and public stance regarding these two draft laws, as initiatives that violate freedom of expression.
List of signatories:
Civil Rights Defenders
Instituti Shqiptari Medias
Këshilli Shqiptar i Medias
Komiteti shqiptar i Helsinkit
Lidhja e Gazetarëve të Shqipërisë
Qendra Res Publica
Qendra Shqiptare MediaLook
Qendra Shqiptare për Gazetari Cilësore
Shoqata e Gazetarëve Profesionistë të Shqipërisë
Unioni i Gazetarëve Shqiptarë