Tag Archive for: freedom of expression

Regional Declaration of Press Councils in South East Europe

Sarajevo, 17 November 2021

Signing of the Decalaration of the Regional Press Councils of South-East Europe and Turkey

Signing of the Declaration of the Regional Press Councils of South-East Europe and Turkey






















We, the representatives of Press and Media Councils from South East Europe and Turkey,

Recognizing the role of journalism in producing and disseminating public interest information, especially in times of crisis, and emphasizing the overriding importance of this role remaining free from capture or distorting influence;

Reminding the critical role played by media self-regulation in fostering media freedom through ensuring enforcement of journalistic ethical standards, helping minimize state intervention in the field of media freedom, and serving to decrease judicial action against the media;

Highlighting the importance of public trust in media and the challenges of maintaining media professionalism in an environment where new forms of media are constantly evolving;

Recalling the endeavour of press and media councils to adapt their codes of ethics to the new digital media ecosystem providing journalists with specific guidelines on how to work in this environment;

Alarmed by the dire financial situation of press and media councils causing existential threats to the independence and sustainability of these bodies;

Deploring ongoing threats to the safety of journalists in the region and alarmed by the resurgence of political threats to media independence, such as the abuse of State resources, including advertising, efforts by political figures to capture media, withdrawal of accreditation from journalists, harsh attacks which aim to stigmatise and discredit the media, and the targeting of the media through the abuse of judicial proceedings;

Stressing the potential threats of government’s attempts to regulate online media in particular the potential impact on the role of media self-regulation and thereby the existence of press and media councils;

Acknowledging that a lack of transparency of media ownership can promote the undue concentration of media ownership and thereby limit media diversity,

Mindful of the new opportunities that social media platforms offer to journalists to disseminate their work, yet also noting that platforms are not neutral but have assumed an active curatorial or editorial role, including through the use of algorithmic systems, in the dissemination of content produced by media and other actors;

Alarmed by the growing number of malicious actors targeting and attacking independent media on social media platforms to reduce or prevent their distribution and outreach on these platforms;

Troubled by the increasing number of complaints received by press and media councils regarding the proliferation, amplification, and promotion of potentially online harmful content, including disinformation and hate speech;

Noting the variety of new media actors online performing journalistic work and the importance of cooperation among them in pursuit of journalism as a public good;

Highlighting the urgency of equipping citizens with media and information literacy skills to enable them to navigate the evolving information landscape notably by the capacity to distinguish reliable from unreliable information and support professional journalism;


We, therefore, call on media professionals of the region to:

ABIDE by media professional standards and codes of ethics developed by press and media councils and other media actors and ensure that they are aware and sufficiently trained on professional standards;

ENSURE visibility of adherence to the system of media self-regulation and thereby supporting citizens in distinguishing media outlets committed to the system of media self-regulation from those outside of the system and in informing them about the existence of a free of charge complaint mechanism when there is a potential breach of media professional standards;

ENSURE the transparency of their ownership and to support media and journalists’ organizations in their efforts for improving the working conditions of all media workers thereby contributing to restoring trust in media;

CONTRIBUTE to the financing of the press and media councils to ensure the independence of media self-regulation and sustainability;


We, therefore, call on public authorities and institutions to:

PROMOTE media pluralism and safeguard the sustainability of journalism through support to media linked to ensuring compliance of media with professional standards or abidance to media self-regulation;

PROMOTE media and information literacy in formal and informal education;

ENSURE that representatives of press and media councils are consulted and engaged in all initiatives related or pertaining to media (self)-regulation online and offline;

REFRAIN from undue regulation of the digital media environment and not in line with international standards related to freedom of expression;


We, therefore, call on internet platforms to:

COOPERATE with media self-regulation and civil society organizations at the local level in order to safeguard and enhance guarantees for the full exercise of the right to information and freedom of expression, both online and offline;

COLLABORATE with media and press councils to install a dialogue and develop appropriate actions to mitigate online harmful content while prioritizing information of public interest on internet platforms;

PROVIDE opportunities to members of media and press councils for specific appeal mechanisms and inquiries related to their journalistic content being taken down on social media platforms;

ASSIGN dedicated local representatives available for interaction with media and press councils;

ENSURE that the local contexts – in particular related to political aspects and online harmful content – are taken into consideration in content moderation, both in taking down, downranking, and increasing visibility, of journalistic content online, by increasing the level of human moderators adequately trained on sensitive local political, cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic aspects.




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 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.