European Federation of Journalists

Albania: Call for accountability to enable free press

Albania's former Prime Minister Sali Berisha addresses journalists during a press conference in Tirana on May 20, 2021. Credits: GENT SHKULLAKU / AFP

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), joined the undersigned organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) in solidarity with the SafeJournalists Network (SJN) in expressing great concerns by recent developments in Albania, which not only highlight a deteriorating environment for press freedom, but also pose a severe threat to the safety of journalists and their ability to inform the public. We call on the Albanian authorities and the international community to condemn these attacks against press freedom and to ensure the safety of journalists in Albania.

The verbal assault on BIRN Albania journalist Ola Xama by Tirana’s Mayor, Erion Veliaj, in response to her investigative report on corruption is not only unacceptable but also undermines the very fabric of free speech and press freedom. A democratic society is built on the principles of transparency and accountability, and the Mayor’s behaviour sets a dangerous precedent for public discourse. It is the duty of public officials to respond to investigative reports with professionalism and respect for the role of journalism in holding power accountable, not with attacks on journalists’ credibility.

The threats received by Marsi Korreshi and her SYRI TV crew in Rrogozhina during their coverage of a political event further underscore the precarious situation faced by journalists in Albania. Although police responded quickly to the incident, it’s alarming that members of the media are facing intimidation and threats simply for carrying out their professional duties. 

Lastly, former Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s attempt to discredit BIRN Albania, a reputable and independent media organisation, presents a serious threat to media freedom in Albania. His allegations, made without evidence, not only attempts to undermine the credibility of an important news outlet but may also incite further attacks against media freedom and journalists’ safety. Moreover, his actions could foster an environment where disinformation thrives, which is detrimental to the public’s right to accurate and factual information.

Journalists should be able to work in an environment free from intimidation, threats and violence. We call on all public officials in Albania to act responsibly, respect the role of the media, and refrain from engaging in personal attacks and unfounded accusations against journalists.

The role of the media in a democratic society is paramount. The public depends on free and independent media for information, holding power accountable, and contributing to public discourse. Therefore, any attempts to undermine the media should be viewed as an attack on democracy itself. It is our collective responsibility to protect and uphold press freedom, and we stand in solidarity with journalists in Albania.


Signed:

Media Freedom Rapid Response 

  • ARTICLE 19 Europe
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT) 
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

SafeJournalists Network

  • Association of Journalists of Kosovo
  • Association of Journalists of Macedonia
  • BH Journalists Association
  • Croatian Journalists’ Association
  • Independent Journalists Association of Serbia
  • Trade Union of Media of Montenegro

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries.