Court protects the right to freedom of information

Court protects the right to freedom of information
(Photo by Carsten Koall / Getty Images).

Peaceful Assembly

The following protests were documented:

  • In the beginning of the second school semester, students from Elbasan, supported by their parents, protested against the lack of conditions to attend classes. Students called for an improvement in the schooling conditions, especially the heating system, bearing in mind the weather conditions in Albania during the winter. The students refused to go back to school.
  • Residents of four villages of Maliq, Korca joined forces to protest against poor infrastructure. They gathered to express their dissatisfaction due to the negligence of the road connecting their villages. The collapsed road has affected their everyday life, as it brings difficulties in commuting, both for cars and pedestrians.
  • Protests against the hydropower plants in the Mat area, organised and staged by residents from the village of Zall-Gjoçaj, continued in the reporting period. Protests have been ongoing for two years now.

Expression

The Media Freedom Rapid Response monitoring report which included 378 violations of media freedom across 29 EU Member States and candidate countries in 2020, stated that Albania contributed 5% of the total. Put in numbers, out of 378 violent attacks that took place in 29 countries, 19 occurred in Albania.

In a related development, MFRR reports that Fjona Çela, a journalist with Fax News television, a Tirana based informational TV station, was prevented from interviewing medical and public health professionals by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MHSP) media advisor and spokesperson. She had been repeatedly denied or ignored when making official requests to the Ministry’s media advisor, Etiola Kola, relating to her coverage on the COVID-19 pandemic. The media advisor also threatened to ban the journalist from press conferences.

In a positive development, in mid-January a landmark ruling regarding freedom of information in Albania was handed down. The court ruled in favour of media outlet Faktoje regarding its appeal for the government to make public the travel expenses of all ministries for the previous years. Faktoje has won a historic case against 11 state institutions who refused to provide this information, taking the “state” to court on grounds of violating the Law on Right to Information.