Protestors Mobilise in Tirana as allegations of police surveillance emerge

Assembly

There have been several recent protests in Albania focusing on a variety of different issues. On 6th June the minority Albanian Cham community who were expelled by Greek during the Second World War, protested against the recent visit of the Greek Foreign Minister to Tirana. Supporters of the Party for Justice, Integration and Unity, which represents the Cham community, protested in order to demand that the 'law of war' established between Greece and Albania in 1940 be lifted. The law does not permit the Albanian Cham minority from claiming back the confiscated property worth hundreds of millions Euros. There were clashes between protesters and police during these demonstrations, however they did not escalate and no arrests were made. On 14 th May LGBTI activists rode bicycles for a Pride rally, under the slogan “Courage” in central Tirana to protest against discrimination and demand amendments to the Family Code so that partners of the same sex can legally marry or cohabit. Other recent protests related to judicial reform, oil workers’ pay and environmental activists mobilising over a proposed hydro-power plant on the river Vjosa.

Expression

Concerns about state surveillance of journalists have surfaced as an investigation opened on 18th May into electronic equipment allegedly used for wiretapping 375 high-level officials and journalists. The revelation calls into question the conditions faced by media outlets and journalists that are critical of the government. Furthermore, the difficulties involved in accessing government information continue to undermine the strength of investigative reporting.  

In a separate development, on 12th May, sports journalist Eduard Ilnica was beaten by a football club chief for exposing violent behaviour on the pitch. Finally, the Audiovisual Media Authority recently approved a regulation granting officials the power to investigate the origin of funding for radio stations which carry religious content.