Tag Archive for: selfregulation

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.

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

Albania: Government should withdraw “anti-defamation” legislative package introducing state regulation of online media outlets!

On 3 July the Albanian Government’s Council of Ministers approved a series of amendments known as the “anti-defamation package” which include amendments to law Nr.97/2013 “On Audio Visual Media in the Republic of Albania and law Nr.9918 “On Electronic Communications in the Republic of Albania.” The legislative package is a cosmetic review of highly-criticised amendments submitted in December 2018.
26 July 2019
Our organisations raised our grave concerns with the proposed legislation during our June 2019 meeting with Prime Minister Edi Rama, urging that the amendments be brought into line with international standards. However the revised amendments of 3 July continue to fall far short of OSCE, Council of Europe and international best practice. The OSCE and local journalists and civil society have repeatedly raised their serious concerns that this package would be detrimental to freedom of expression online. We join Albanian civil society and independent media in calling on the Government of Albania to withdraw these two bills and call on parliament not to approve them.
Amendments to law Nr.97/2013 “On Audio Visual Media in the Republic of Albania
The draft laws approved by the Albanian government would empower a state administrative body to regulate the content of online media outlets. These draft laws seek to impose a regime of administrative control on online media through the Audio Visual Media Authority (AMA), a measure which is unprecedented in democratic states. Article 11/2 states that “the scope of work of the Complaints Council is to oversee the provisions of this law, the Code and regulations approved by AMA, particularly related to the respect of dignity and fundamental human rights.” The AMA is an institution whose board members are nominated and dismissed on the discretion of political parties. Through the Complaints Council that is part of AMA, the draft laws seek to replace a model of self-regulation of online media restrict the role of courts.
The changes proposed in the law Nr.97/2013 “On Audio Visual Media in the Republic of Albania,” indirectly impose the registration of the ‘provider of media services’ as a precondition to receive ‘fiscal benefits and other benefits of the kind.’ This draft law gives the Complaints Council the power to oblige electronic publications service providers to publish an apology, remove content or insert a pop-up notice in cases of violations of provisions on dignity and privacy. The obligation imposed on online media outlets to protect the ‘dignity and privacy’ of citizens is overly broad and vaguely defined.
We are concerned that it could empower the Complaint Council to become a censorship body, by ordering the removal of online media content on an almost discretionary manner and without a court order. An administrative body, such as AMA, cannot and should not shoulder competencies to review defamation, which should be adjudicated by the courts through criminal and civil procedure.
The draft law also empowers the Complaints Council to impose administrative fines that vary from 100,000 lek to 1 million lek (from €820 to €8200), which have to be paid before the legal review is exhausted. These administrative fines do not differentiate between private citizens and national broadcasters, raising concerns about proportionality.
Law Nr.9918 “On Electronic Communications in the Republic of Albania”
Amendments proposed to the law Nr.9918 “On electronic Communications in the Republic of Albania,” open the way for superimposed regulation of online media, not only from AMA but also from the Authority of Postal and Electronic Communications (AKEP). Changes proposed to article 137 of this law, expose ‘providers of electronic communications’, which do not abide by AKEP rulings/orders that relate to the acts and decisions of the Complaints Council of AMA, or any other body with legal competences in this field, to fines up to 100 million lek (€820,000).
Both proposed draft laws go against international best practices that aim at the self-regulation of online media and not its regulation by the state, through administrative censorship bodies. These draft bills also have not been drafted through a transparent procedure in consultation with all interested stakeholders, a concern we raised in a meeting with Prime Minister Edi Rama during our press freedom mission in June 2019.
We call on the Government of Albania to withdraw these two bills and call on parliament not to approve them, on account of the objections raised by journalists, civil society and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Instead of seeking further administrative regulations on defamation, the government should seek its complete decriminalization, as suggested by best international practices. We urge the government of Albania to ensure that a meaningful consultation process with journalists and civil society is undertaken with the next draft of the amendments.
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
Reporters Sans Frontières/ Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

AMC talks ethics at the newsroom of Syri.net

z. Mark Marku dhe Z. Sokol Shameti në bisedë me gazetarët e Syri.net

The Albanian Media Council has launched a friendly tour through several news media outlets to talk to journalists about ethics in the media. This tour comes after last year’s troubling findings, where in 40 media the average violation of ethics was 9 (violations) a day.

The last meeting was held at the Syri.net editorial board with the presence of 2 experts of ethics, Mr. Mark Mark and Mr. Sokol Shameti.

One of the points that was discussed was one of the most common violations in online media and that was “presumption of innocence and reporting of judicial practices”. In many cases, journalists consider the individual to be a criminal even though there is no court decision that he is. According to the Albanian Code of Ethics of Journalist no one should be considered guilty without a court decision.

This highly productive meeting for Syri.net journalists’ daily work, is part of a project supported by OSFA and the EU.

(in the picture, Dr. Mark Marku and Sokol Shameti in the newsroom of Syri.NET)