EU Must Respond to Albania’s Draconian Media Laws

The text of the corrections and complaints will be scripted by the ethics commission and failure to comply will result in a fine of 6,598 euros.

If the online media outlets refuse to comply with the rulings of the ethics administrative body, they could also face fines from the Electronic Communication and Postal Authority that run to 825,000 euros and were originally drafted for big telecoms providers.

All the fines imposed by the ethics commission will have to be paid immediately, and only after being handed over by media outlets can they undergo a legal review by the courts.

The draft laws do not discriminate between the online publications of powerful media houses and personal blogs, and are expected to have a chilling effect on local journalists, increasing the already widespread practice of self-censorship.

To put the fines in perspective, one should consider that most Albanian journalists receive less income in a year than the proposed sanctions for a single story.

That's why, in early June, a fact-finding mission comprising seven well-known international media freedom organisations described the proposed legislation as a "draconian regulation scheme" which runs contrary to best practices internationally.

The response in Albania to the proposed legislation has been mixed, with media outlets that toe the government line coming out in support, while those against have called it a stunt by a government mired in corruption scandals, accusations of ties to organised crime and violent streets protest by the opposition.

Illustration. Photo: Pixnio

The proposed legislation comes against the backdrop of a climate of increased threats, verbal and physical attacks against journalists and an overall deterioration of...

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