Rights Mission Tells Albanian Politicians to Stop Attacking Media

Seven international rights organisations have urged politicians of all sides in polarised Albania to stop their smear campaigns against journalists, and have urged the authorities to fully investigate recent unresolved attacks on reporters. They also urged the media community to show solidarity and report cases of threats and intimidation.

In Tirana on Friday at the end of their three-day mission, the organisations criticised both Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha for their verbal attacks on the media.

"During meetings with journalists, the delegation was informed that Prime Minister Rama constantly refers to them as 'garbage bins'. Likewise, the leader of the opposition, Lulzim Basha, refers to media as 'captured and bought,'" said Flutura Kusari, from the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom.

"Such language denigrates journalists and makes them appear a legitimate target for aggression in the eyes of the public, increasing the risk of threats or violence against them," she added.

The mission said that Rama had promised to stop using the term "Kazan" for journalists, meaning garbage can, following their request.

"We are deeply concerned by an increase in smear language against journalists by politicians because this conduct opens the way for threats and harassment," Sarah Clarke, from Article 19, said.

"We are also concerned about self-censorship and are shocked by the close relationship between politicians and media owners," she added.

The organizations repeated concerns about the initiatives of the Albanian government to change media laws and introduce mandatory registration requirements for online media and create an administrative body with the power to fine...

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