Tag Archive for: albanian government

Media and Civil Rights Organizations declare themselves against the new attempts to pass the Defamation Package


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:

BIRN Albania

Civil Rights Defenders

Citizens Channel


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


Statement of Albanian Journalists

Gathered in Hotel Tirana on December 13th, The Albanian Journalists made the following statement about the new laws against freedom of media.


Journalists, media, organizations and social groups through this statement calls upon the Government of Albania to immediately withdraw the two draft-laws presented as “Andi-Defamation Package”. This request is not negotiable. We call upon the government of Albania to immediately withdraw them.Organizations assess that the two draft-laws, the one that aim to transform the Audiovisual Media (AMA) Authority in a censorship office and the other, that aims to transform the Communication Authority in an office for the execution of the AMA decisions of censorship, are of no precedent in the democratic world. Questions of ethics, such as the right for answer against a claim, or the right to respond before the publication of an allegation, in any democratic country are a matter of the codes of ethics and of the structures of self-regulation. Matters of hybrid warfare, disinformation, the financing of media or of political parties and groups by dirty money sourced by politicians or organized crime are a matter that should be investigated by law enforcement agencies within the rights and duties granted to them by existing laws, such as penal code or penal procedural code. Albania has laws that regulate the matters when media infringe upon the rights of others and any further intervention, including that of the creation of an administrative body, are absolutely not necessary in a democratic country. The matters of defamation or libel in the Republic of Albania and in any other country under the rule of law should be settled only in courts as independent power. The attempt to substitute courts with organs directly controlled by political power creates the basis for serious violation of the human rights and could be used as a founding stone for a dictatorial regime.

Albania, libertà di stampa a rischio. Fnsi: «Governo italiano e Ue intervengano»

Comunicato Stampa della Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana

«Il parlamento e il governo dell’Albania si preparano ad assestare il colpo di grazia alla libertà di stampa nel silenzio assordante della comunità internazionale. La prossima settimana comincerà l’iter parlamentare della proposta di legge, fortemente voluta dal governo, che con il pretesto di contrastare il fenomeno delle fake news, permetterà ad un’autorità pubblica di nomina governativa di chiudere e oscurare i siti web di informazione. La Federazione nazionale della Stampa italiana fa sua la denuncia dei colleghi albanesi e invita l’Unione europea e il Consiglio d’Europa, ma anche il governo italiano, che con l’Albania intrattiene solidi rapporti diplomatici e commerciali, ad accendere i riflettori sulle azioni liberticide messe in atto nel Paese delle Aquile ai danni dei giornalisti e degli operatori dei media. In Albania da anni la stampa non viene messa nelle condizioni di seguire gli eventi cui partecipano il premier, il sindaco di Tirana e i loro partiti. Le conferenze stampa sono cadute in disuso e, quando vengono convocate, non viene permesso ai giornalisti di fare domande. È una situazione inaccettabile, che non può lasciare indifferenti le istituzioni e i governi europei. Se è vero che l’Albania è candidata ad entrare nell’Unione europea, è impensabile che i negoziati possano svolgersi soltanto su questioni di natura economico-finanziaria e non essere estesi alla garanzia del rispetto delle libertà e dei diritti fondamentali, a cominciare dalla libertà di espressione e di stampa». Lo afferma, in una nota, Raffaele Lorusso, segretario generale della FNSI e componente del Comitato esecutivo della Federazione internazionale dei giornalisti.

Internationals “kill” Rama’s package of online media in Parliament

* from Aleksandra Bogdani, BIRN

Representatives of the EU, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the United Nations unanimously criticized the violation of freedom of expression through draft laws on online media control, and called on lawmakers to take a step back.

International institutions invited in the round of consultations on the “anti-defamation package” unanimously on Monday criticized the Rama government’s draft laws on regulating online media at the Law Commission.

Representatives of European Union, OSCE, Council of Europe and United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights voiced concerns over the violation of media freedom in Albania and called on lawmakers to take a step back with the proposed bills.

Scheduled to take place initially at 10am, the meeting with representatives of international organizations was postponed for two and a half hours and started again late, as Socialist MPs were present at Prime Minister Edi Rama’s marathon presentation of which he called “special anti-PKK packages”.

Upon arriving at the chamber, the Law Commission Chairman Ulsi Manja spoke of the drafts as “improved” and “agreed with the vast majority of internationals and especially the OSCE”, a claim that heavily stonewalled with the opinions expressed from representatives of these organizations.

Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Tirana, Monika Bylaite, said at the beginning of her speech that the Commission had submitted its comments twice in February and June and hinted that not all concerns about freedom of expression were taken into account.

“The Commission proposes less agressive approaches, such as the media self-regulation. European and international standards on freedom of expression are key in this process and I urge the commission to fully take them into account, ”said Bylaite, who added that the EU shares concerns that the increase of AMA’s competences affects freedom of expression.

Irina Radu, head of the OSCE’s Media Office, initially disputed the statements of the majority of the MPs that the drafts had been agreed with the OSCE, adding that despite some improvements there were still concerns.

“Our office in Vienna has helped and hired experts on this legislation at the request of the Albanian prime minister from the beginning, but it is not the same as saying that the OSCE approved these draft laws,” said Radu at the roundtable.

“We are concerned that the AMA is heavily present in the law. We would like the issues to be settled in the court and in no way by AMA. We notice that the fines have been reduced, but they are still disproportionate,” she added.

In a diversive attempt, the legal package rapporteur Klotilda Bushka underestimated the criticism of EU and OSCE representatives in Tirana, claiming that the opinions of the Vienna Office for Media Freedom and the European Commission in Brussels were taken into account.

Klotilda Bushka and Vasilika Hysi, The 2 Albanian co-relators of the socalled "Anti-defamation" package | Photo : BIRN

Bushka and Hysi, the 2 Albanian co-relators of the socalled “Anti-defamation” package | Photo : BIRN

“The last legal opinion from Vienna came in October and all their comments were reflected in the draft prepared on 12 November 2019. I thank the EU and OSCE experts for their expertise,” Bushka said.

“We have a long process, almost a year of consulting so much. It is time to be concrete and start discussing the articles in detail, ”she suggested.

Along the same lines, co-rapporteur Vasilika Hysi asked for concrete opinions from representatives of the Council of Europe on how hate speech, child protection, xenophobia or homophobia can be restricted – which according to her are commonly found in portals.

Vice/Chairman of the EU Delegation in Tirana, Monika Bylaite and the Expert of te Council of Europe, Dierde Kevin - Photo - BIRN

Vice/Chairman of the EU Delegation in Tirana, Monika Bylaite and the Expert of te Council of Europe, Dierde Kevin – Photo – BIRN

But Council of Europe expert Deirdre Kevin attacked the essence of the purpose of the bills, not considering the article-by-article discussion to be useful. In an exhaustive analysis, Kevin said the government’s draft laws run counter to a series of Council of Europe recommendations and resolutions promoting self-regulation in the media.

“Looking at both versions, the purpose of these amendments is almost the same, despite minor changes referred to by the OSCE. So we can briefly discuss changes to the essence and purpose of the law, which puts online publications in a statutory regulation regime that is considered normal for audiovisual media and licensed entities only,” said Deirdre Kevin, considering the government’s proposal unusual.

“… the essence of the purpose of the law is again problematic and does not meet the standards of freedom of expression,” she said, stressing that the standard is self-regulation and addressing complaints through the media council.

The Council of Europe expert also dismissed the government’s claims that the bills address disinformation and hate speech, adding that they are more focused on defamation claims.”

In the multitude of issues that make this process complex, it is difficult to imagine how the Regulatory Authority could respond within 72 hours to any particular complaint because the court notes that there are different levels of protection for people and politicians are less protected against criticism. There are also demands to separate facts from judgments and opinions, ”she stressed.

Kevin asked if the bill also included newspaper websites, and following the “No” response from reporters, deepened her criticism on the grounds that the draft was both discriminatory and unfair.

In the face of the mishmash created by the version changes, expert Kevin’s only suggestion to lawmakers was to “take a step back and consider restarting work, as this kind of regulation is not in line with Council of Europe standards and any European practices that can be identified ”.

Even UN representative Fjoralba Shkodra, who read a comment prepared by the Commissioner for Human Rights, did not spare criticism of the draft laws.

“The fines are very high and this measure could lead in the opposite direction, to silence journalists and investigative media,” Shkodra told the Commission.“

The issue of rights must be resolved under the jurisdiction of the courts. The issue of fake news and disinformation needs to be resolved in promoting and strengthening the quality of the media and not by banning freedom of expression, ”she added.

In addition to unspared criticism, discussions at the Law Commission highlighted also some paradoxes. AMA Chairman Gentian Sala noted contradictions between the statements of international organizations, also adding that the AMA Board had made its position public. In a November 18 statement, most bodily members opposed changes to the AMA organic law.

Parliamentary Comission of Laws and Human Rights | Foto - BIRN

Parliamentary Comission of Laws and Human Rights | Photo – BIRN

While the head of the Law Commission, Ulsi Manja, considered the criticisms as “different points of view” and he also called on AMA Chairman and international organizations, to submit the comments on the legal changes in writing.

Deputy Head of the EU Delegation, Monika Bylaite, once again reinforced the approach taken by the four organizations present at the roundtable.

“The four organizations here said the same thing, that the approach should be easier. We are for a self-regulatory approach, ”Bylaite said.

MP Ralf Gjoni who asked for a speech on behalf of the opposition, asked if the bill also regulates ERTV, the prime minister’s own straming tv on Facebook, and, while expressing his support for the regulation, criticized the fact that such an initiative comes to Parliament from Prime Minister Rama.

“The owner of ERTV and the owner of the Socialist Party brings legal initiative to the media in Parliament. While MPs are given this spoon-filled mess by the Council of Ministers or the Prime Minister and they are told to vote it, ”Gjoni said, adding that the bills should not be voted without 100% agreement with the internationals.

* This English version is a rough translation from the Albanian version

Copyright: Reporter.al

Statement on the Draft Law on Media

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:

BIRN Albania

Civil Rights Defenders

Citizens Channel


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

REACTION: The new draft-law on media, worse than the previous one!

The Albanian Media Council reacts with concern about the new draft-law on media, the so-called “defamation package”, passed by the Government on July 3rd, 2019, which is expected to be submitted for approval to the Parliament soon.

First, the draft-law, being completely a new draft, has not been offered for any consultation or round-table with the stakeholders, which goes against the law for the public consultation.

Second, this draft-law breaks the principle of self-regulation of media ethics in Europe. This draft-law puts the resolution of ethical issues in the hands of an administrative body, namely AMA (Audiovisual Media Authority), whose Board in turn is chosen by political parties, therefore violating the European principle on media freedom.

Third, the draft-law gives the authority to sanction the media to an office within AMA, namely Council of Complaints Office. But,

a) AMA, does not have the proper capacity to operate this duty. AMA is already failing to perform its own duties (such as collecting payments from television operators) so it cannot cope with tough and complicated tasks such as controling, judging and sanctioning the ethical violations.

b) AMA does not provide any guarantee that the employees of the Council of Complaints Office have the integrity, the independence and the right qualifications required to conduct a judgement on ethical violations.

Fourth, this draft-law puts the right to judge on topics of freedom of expression to an Administrative Body. This right should only lay in the jurisdiction of the Albanian Courts. The judgment about where the freedom of expression ends and where the other rights start, such as the right to privacy or the right to protect the honor and dignity of a person, cannot be left on the hands of an Administrative Body such as the Office of the Appeals Council AMA. This is only in the competence of the Albanian Courts that possess all the instruments to judge and decide on these cases.

Fifth, the law has a lot of technical problems on itself, starting from the formulation, the tight deadlines set for reaction, the high sanctions and the imposition of fixed sanctions which are unconstitutional.

Sixth, this draft is politically made on bad faith, because it contains principles that it supposedly seeks to respect, but through formulations it violates them, indeed. High sanctions, tight deadlines, and AMA’s lack of warranty for an independent judgment will induce  self-censorship among media and journalists.

Therefore, the Alabanian Media Council requires that the Government urgently withdraws this draft law*.

Also, the AMC invites international organizations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union to exert the necessary pressure not to pass this law because of the violation of the media and the freedom of self-censorship.

A joint declaration in block  of a group of Media stakeholders and organizations will be available soon.

* We came of late to the alert of another attempt to impose extraordinarily fines from the ammendments made to the Law of AKEP, adjacent to the AMA draft-law. That draft passed unnoticed, and merits a detailed analyses and rejection.