In 2019, The Government of Albania drafted an anti-defamation legal package that regulates the electronic media.
The draft laws oblige online publication sites to consider any written complaint by every person on the program published by the site, including request for content removal. In cases where the online media overturn the complaint or do not give a response within 72 hours, then it is in the competencies of AMA to assess it and impose sanctions if the decision is not in line with the response given by the online media. International standards and best practices with regards to media freedom and ethical issues, such as the right to respond to a complaint, encourage media self-regulation on these issues.
The package was widely opposed by the journalists’ community and human rights organisations, according to which the proposed draft laws expanded the role Albanian Media Authority (AMA) and the Authority Electronic and Postal Communications giving them almost judicial competences, with a sanctioning nature against media. The anti-defamation legal package was opposed by media organizations as a violation of the right to freedom of expression. They issued three public statements during 2019 to address their concerns especially with the fines that according to them are non-proportional and the measures are drastic.
Even the international organisations reacted to the legal package. The Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media issued an analysis of the draft laws, presenting some recommendations for further improvements.
Nevertheless, the package was approved by the Parliament on 19th December 2019, but the President did not enact the Law and turned it back for further improvements. Following this, and after the pressure from national organizations and international institutions, the Parliament withdrew from its further review, and the Monitoring Committee of the Albanian Parliament requested the opinion of the Venice Commission regarding this package. The opinion from Venice Commission is expected to be released by the end of March 2020.
0 – 20 Fully disabling environment20 – 40 Disabling environment
40 – 60 Partially enabling environment60 – 80 Enabling environment
80 – 100 Fully enabling environment
Defamation remains a criminal offence, although not charged with imprisonment.
Interviews with the surveyed CSOs do not evidence any infringement of the right of freedom of expression. Nevertheless, media organizations express concern about the pressure exercised on journalists by the government and public officials in cases of opposing opinions and articles to the government.