Urgent measures needed to safeguard journalists in Albania
In the wake of recent events, the SafeJournalists Network (SJN) and the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) join hands to bring attention to the alarming situation plaguing media freedom in Albania. The state of press freedom in the country has taken a disheartening turn, posing an imminent threat to the safety and well-being of journalists.
The partners in the SafeJournalists Network (SJN) and the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), as organisations dedicated to the protection of media freedom and the rights of journalists, are deeply concerned by recent events 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.