Opposition protests come to an end ahead of elections
Thousands of opposition supporters protest in Albania's capital of Tirana to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama pic.twitter.com/BwmQn5bToX— AFP news agency (@AFP) May 13, 2017
On 13th May 2017, anti-terror security officers in Albania detained 20 people prior to a protest organised that day by the opposition Democratic Party of Albania. Approximately 50,000 protesters marched to Prime Minister Edi Rama’s office to demand his resignation and call for free and fair elections, which were held 25th June. The 20 detained individuals were held by police on grounds of security concerns until the protest came to an end.
On 18th May, the Democratic Party announced they had reached an agreement with the government and were returning to parliament, following three months of protests and political stalemate. Under the new agreement, the opposition Democratic Party will nominate a number of key government ministers. The agreement was heralded by the EU as demonstrating "democratic maturity".
#Historia_Ime LGBTI PRIDE IN TIRANA WILL TAKE PLACE DESPITE THE PROTEST OF THE OPPOSITION https://t.co/Tvccluw7Qm #Albania— BALKAN NEWS (@balkannews) May 8, 2017
In recent months peaceful protests have taken place across the country without police interference, including:
- On 19th April, rail workers in Durres protested to demand a monthly wage increase.
- On 13th May, Albania’s LGBTI community organised a parade through the main roads of Tirana. Participants were escorted by police as a safety precaution.
- On 5th June, Zharessa residents attempted to block a Socialist Party leader's electoral meeting, demanding indemnification of their homes that were destroyed by earthquakes in the region. Protesters carried banners stating, "no elections without indemnification".
#Albania: Two media outlets and four journalists sued by judge @ApjAlbania https://t.co/4blHKKv18a— EFJ (@EFJEUROPE) June 16, 2017
As previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, freedom of expression continues to be restricted in Albania, with media outlets and civil society groups practicing self-censorship.
In a recent development, on 9th June Gjin Gjoni, judge and member of Albania’s High Council of Justice, filed defamation lawsuits against two separate media outlets and four journalists. Gjoni’s lawsuits target the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania and its reporters, Aleksandra Bogdani and Besar Doci, as well as the daily Shqiptarja and journalists Adriatic Doci and Elton Qyno. Gjoni is seeking seven million lek (60,000 USD) in damages for stories published by the news outlets on his criminal investigation and hidden assets. Gjoni alleges that the articles have damaged his and his family's reputations.
The Union of Albanian Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have each condemned the defamation cases in a statement, as Mogens Blicher Bjerrgård, EFJ’s president, asserted:
“The EFJ believes that the malicious use of the law, in this case, is a means of pressure and harassment against journalists. It seems clear that the real aim of the lawsuit is to intimidate and to silence journalists reporting on matters of public interest”.
Civic Space Developments