11 September 2020
Civil Society Calls Upon Parliament of Albania to Dismiss the Current Anti-Defamation Law and Starts the Process from Scratch
Fifteen civil society organizations of Albania had been informed in an informal way for yet another attempt by the Parliamentary majority of the Socialist Party to push forward, in an incorrect and not transparent way, the controversial law on online media, in what seems to be an attempt to ignore the Opinion of the Venice Commission and to bypass some serious concerns expressed in that Opinion.
The organizations had been informed that the Parliament of Albania plans to revise the Decree of President Meta for the returning of the law for further parliamentary discussions based on clause 86 of the Regulation. If so, the Parliament will limit its discussion on matters on which the Decree of the President has explicitly expressed objections.
Organizations observe that this is the wrong way to treat this problem and fails to address the main concerns raised by the Opinion of the Venice Commission. Due to this, the organizations call upon the Parliament of Albania to accept the decree of the President and start the process from scratch because only in this way we can be sure that such initiative for changing of the laws will be fully compatible with Albania Constitution and International standards on freedom of speech.
If the Parliament deals only with concerns expressed by the decree of the President, the Parliament will ignore several grave concerns raised by the civil society and the Venice Commission, thus bringing a law that could hamper freedom of speech in Albania.
The organizations recall paragraphs 71 and 72 of the Venice Commission Opinion to emphasise that the current draft-law cannot and should not be enforced. The paragraph 71 reads:
“The Venice Commission, while appreciating that a comprehensive reform of the AMA enhancing its independence and professionalism may be a politically challenging endeavor, advises against extending the mandate of the AMA in the field of the online media without a corresponding strengthening of its independence and professionalism.”
Organizations observe that independence and professionalism of this institution (AMA), as recommended by the Venice Commission, cannot be simply achieved by correcting laws, nonetheless in the conditions of urgency expressed in this situation, but demands a long and meaningful debates among stakeholders.
The organizations emphasize also that the paragraph 72 of the Venice Commission it is recommended that problem of malicious or irresponsible media behaviour in the internet “Albanian authorities to support the setting-up of an effectively functioning and independent self-regulatory body,” instead of insisting on proposed model of administrative regulation.
Based on above-mentioned arguments, the organizations demand from the Parliament of Albania to stop plans to create laws that violates the Constitution of Albania and international standards.
Organizations express their readiness to help the Parliament of Albania in dealing with these concerns.
The list of organizations:
Civil Rights Defenders
Grupi Shqiptar per te drejtat e njeriut
Këshilli Shqiptar i Medias
Komiteti shqiptar i Helsinkit
Lidhja e Gazetarëve të Shqipërisë
New Media Network
Qendra Res Publica
Qendra Shqiptare MediaLook
Qendra Shqiptare për Gazetari Cilësore
Shoqata e Gazetarëve Profesionistë të Shqipërisë
Shoqata e Gazetarëve Europianë të Shqipërisë
Unioni i Gazetarëve Shqiptarë