Albania

Protests against cost of living crisis, calls for PM to remove repeated bans on journalists

Several protests took place against the cost of living crisis. Additionally, on 1st July 2022, A2 journalist Klevin Muka was told by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama that he needed to undergo “re-education” and that he would be barred from press conferences for three months. This case sparked angry reactions among Albanian journalists, who protested outside the Prime Minister’s office in Tirana on 4th July 2022. On 6th July 2022, the International Press Institute (IPI), together with other media outlets, sent an open letter to Rama asking him to reverse the ban on Muka and on Syri.net TV journalist Ambrioza Meta.

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Protests against cost of living crisis, calls for PM to remove repeated bans on journalists

Prime Minister refuses to answer journalist’s questions, several journalists targeted due to reporting on prosecutor’s vetting

On 30th March 2022, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama refused to answer a question from Syri.net TV journalist Ambrioza Meta about the country’s decline in the RSF Press Freedom Index, saying she needed to be “re-educated” and that he would refuse to take any questions from her for 60 days due to what he considered to be unprofessional behaviour. This is not the first time that Meta had been mistreated by Rama. Several journalists reporting on the high-profile public hearings regarding the vetting process of Elizabeta Imeraj, Head of the Tirana Prosecution Office have faced attacks. Read more

Prime Minister refuses to answer journalist’s questions, several journalists targeted due to reporting on prosecutor’s vetting

Protests against rising prices met with excessive force and detentions

Several protests organised by civil society organisations and activists were held in March 2022 throughout Albania against rising prices, in particular those of oil and gas. Protesters demanded transparency, accountability and the breakup of monopolies. One of the protests in Tirana ended with the police arresting 16 people on charges of “illegal gathering” and “breaking up public order”. Human Rights groups documented “irregularities in the police documentation of the arrests and that some detainees were held in poor conditions”. Read more

Protests against rising prices met with excessive force and detentions

Protests led by former Democratic Party leader turn violent

In January 2022, protests led by former Democratic Party (PD) leader Sali Berisha turned violent after hundreds of protesters broke into the party’s headquarters during clashes with staff members and had to be dispersed by police with the use of water cannon and tear gas. 34 people have been arrested for their role in the protest Read more

Protests led by former Democratic Party leader turn violent

The fight for environmental rights continues

After years of protests, a group of local residents and the NGO Toka claimed a major victory as the municipal enforcement office in Tropoja ordered government agencies and private companies to stop work on two hydropower plants on the Valbona River. There have been other similar victories in several regions. Separately, in November 2021, environmental organisations condemned and protested against the start of construction work on the Vlora airport, claiming that the Environmental Impact Assessment Study was not conducted properly. Several physical attacks were documented against jouranlist, while the Prime Minister continued to publically vilifiy them. Read more

The fight for environmental rights continues

Trade unionists targeted; Centralised agency to control media relations

On 24th August 2021, miner and trade unionist Beqir Durici won a lawsuit for unfair dismissal against the Albchrome mining company. However, days later, on 27th August 2021, Elton Debreshi, head of the United Miners Union of Bulqize and an independent candidate in the 2021 General Elections, had his car attacked with a bomb, while other unionists faced harassment. Protests related to environmental rights took place: group of citizens of the Laknas village blocked workers of the company Bio-Product from entering the “Plepat e Brukës” forest and continuing the construction of an agritourist business, in another case criminal complaints were filed by 123 residents of Lumas against the Salillari construction company. Separately, the Albanian government approved the creation of a new agency centralising control over public relations and government information. The new Agency for Media and Information is tasked to conduct public and media relations for every ministry and other central institution. The decision raised concerns for media freedom. Read more

Trade unionists targeted; Centralised agency to control media relations

CSO Coalition formed to continue fight for environmental rights

Several communities suffering the impacts of a hydropower plant construction in Albania came together to form a coalition to work towards protecting all rivers in the future. Several protests wre staged in relation to environmental rights, while hospitality workers and business owners staged protests against COVID-19 measures. Read more

CSO Coalition formed to continue fight for environmental rights

Protests over gender-based violence; media banned from parliamentary sittings

In a major positive ruling, on 5th May 2021, Albania's Constitutional Court scrapped the provision in the penal code which deemed rallies held without police permission illegal. The Court found the obligation to request police permission to stage a protest unconstitutional and ordered parliament to revise the country's penal code. During this period, several protests were staged against gender based violence. Protests were also staged against the government’s new media regulation that restricts accredited journalists’ access to parliamentary sessions. Following protests and concerns raised journalists associations, the Assembly issued an explanation and invited journalists to discuss the decision to ban them from the assembly hall. Read more

Protests over gender-based violence; media banned from parliamentary sittings

Media outlet under pressure to reveal its sources over confidential data leak

Several protests were staged during this period over environmental rights, labour rights and property rights. In a concerning development, in March 2021, the government included concerning provisions in the Electoral Code which may have a potential chilling effect on media freedom during the electoral period. Added to this, in mid-April 2021, media revealed a data leak of more than 910,000 Albanian citizens’ personal information, which was allegedly collected illegally by the government to be used in the electoral campaign. After the media portal Lapsi.al refused to reveal its sources, the Special Anti-Corruption and Organised Crime Prosecution ordered immediate execution of the court order demanding the portal submit evidence of how they got the alleged document in their possession and hand over their equipment. The media outlet was also targeted in a public statement made by Prime Minister Edi Rama regarding the scandal. Read more

Media outlet under pressure to reveal its sources over confidential data leak

Court protects the right to freedom of information

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. During the reporting period, several protests were staged in relation to environmental rights, infrastructure and education. Read more

Court protects the right to freedom of information