Environmental concerns among civil society and citizens continue to cause tension
As previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, journalists and media workers can often face harassment for conducting critical journalism. In a recent incident, a journalist investigating the dumping of hazardous waste into the Erzen river was attacked while filming. On 10th July 2017, Genci Angjellari, a prominent investigative journalist working for Klan TV was attacked by the manager of the company "Euroteam" after attempting to question her over the company's policy for dealing with medical waste. The manager in question, Mirela Topulli, is reported to have threatened Angjellari, before physically punching him and attempting to grab his microphone. The policies of Euroteam have been questioned after the company was granted a license in 2013 to handle hospital waste, but seemed to lack the appropriate facilities to dispose of hazardous refuse. The confrontation was captured in the video below.
Due to lax implementation of environmental policies, Albania's riverbeds are allegedly some of the most polluted in Europe. Despite repeated pleas from local residents, Albanian authorities have failed to conduct an investigation into Euroteam's reported malpractice until Geni Angjellari's investigation was initiated. An investigation into the incident and company's practices is currently ongoing.
As previously covered on the CIVICUS Monitor, the issue of rubbish in Albania has been a flash point for civil society. Environmental activists and citizens alike have protested against Albania's importing of rubbish from across Europe to aid the country's recycling industry. In light of the heightened tensions, on 21st September 2017 the political opposition called upon Albanian President Edi Rama to hold a referendum on whether Albania should continue importing toxic and hazardous waste from other countries.
Albania Opposition Demand Referendum on Waste Importshttps://t.co/8OCX4cixdd pic.twitter.com/8ljqabBHxf— Balkan Insight (@BalkanInsight) September 21, 2017
There was reportedly a slight decline in the number of protests taking place in Albania over the past few months. While there are no examples of any large scale protests being restricted or unlawfully disrupted, a number of protests took place peacefully. Examples are as follows:
- Football fans supported by politicians and many others protested against a Croatian court ruling that backed Serbia's request to extradite the man who flew a drone bearing a flag of Greater Albania at a match in Belgrade; and
- Tirana residents and activists protested against the construction of new high-rise buildings on a patch of land that had served as a park for the past few years.
Civic Space Developments