Albania

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

Police brutality and killing in response to COVID-19 curfew breach sparks protests

During this reporting period, there were days of protests staged by hundreds of Albanians in response to the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Klodian Rasha by a police officer for breaching a coronavirus-related curfew on 8th December 2020. The protesters gathered at various locations, but police condemned the actions, which flouted government COVID-19 guidelines on public gatherings and they used tear gas to disperse the protests. It was reported that nine police officers, a protester and a journalist were injured. According to a preliminary report by the ombudsman, 124 people have been detained, of whom 57 were minors, some under the age of 14. In addition journalists covering protests also faced assaults and detention.
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Police brutality and killing in response to COVID-19 curfew breach sparks protests

Journalist verbally attacked by the President; poor quality of information promotes fake news

An NGO that provides support for all gender identities in Albania, has said that the COVID-19 circumstances have worsened conditions of the LGBTI community. In addition, Pink Embassy, an NGO working to protect and advance the rights of the LGBTI community in Albania, called on the government to allow for all LGBTI people to be able get married and adopt children. Several protests were staged during the reporting period including by prisoners and oil workers who went on a hunger strike and by university students. Fact-checker, Faktoje has found that the poor quality of information in Albania has led to the spread of fake news, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several incidents took place againt journalists, including verbal attacks by the President. Read more

Journalist verbally attacked by the President; poor quality of information promotes fake news