SafeJournalists: Detentions and human rights abuse of journalists in Albania are unacceptable

Two journalists were detained by the police while reporting from the street protests caused by the police killing of Klodian Rasha on December 8. Both reported violence and abuse of their human rights by the police officers.

On December, 11, the police detained Xhoi Malësia, a journalist and news anchor at Ora News RTV, while filming the protests. Malësia was
released after three hours, but reported abuse of his rights: “I was detained by the police while filming the protest, although I identified myself as a journalist. I was taken to the police station, where I was beaten and insulted by the police officers” said Malësia for SafeJournalists Network and added that he hadn’t been given the right to make a phone call. “I was released three hours later, after signing a statement I didn’t write, but which was imposed by the police officers as a condition to be released”. Malësia has filed a criminal complaint against the police with support of the Helsinki Committee.

On December 12, Qamil Xhani, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Koha Jone, was also detained while on duty. After Xhani had finished
reporting he witnessed police violence against protesters. He asked the police to stop, but was handcuffed and detained with 50
protesters. Xhani stated [3] that he had been hit on the head and his back. The police seized his mobile phone and deleted all footage.
Xhani, too,  was pressured to sign a statement admitting that he had been detained for “participation in an illegal gathering”. After the
Koha Jone publisher contacted the General Director of Police directly, and the issue was reported live on the evening TV program he was

Although the police made no official statement about detention of journalists so far, the preliminary report by the Ombudsman states
that in the case of Malësia, the police representatives verbally confirmed that he was not kept in a detention room at the police
station and was not treated as a detainee.
Blerjana Bino, the Safe Journalists researcher, stated that these are not sporadic cases: “There have been previous abusive behaviours by
the police towards the media which are not acceptable. The situation is aggravated by the silence of the General Police Directory. The
state authorities must investigate these cases properly, identify the police force members who violated journalists’ rights and
sanction them. They should apologise to Malësia and Xhani, compensate the damage and make sure it does not happen again.”

SafeJournalists Network, representing more than 8,200 media professionals in the Western Balkans warns against the use of police
force against journalists reporting from protests. Journalists on duty and must be secured safety and a right to do their job, not be
hindered. We are in particular concerned that Malësia and Xhani reported abuse of their human rights through violence, seizure of
equipment, blackmailing and other pressures.

We expect the Albanian authorities to further investigate these testimonies, identify police force members who participated in it and sanction them.

We also call on all journalists to be careful when reporting from violent protests, have their PRESS identification cards visible and
stay away from dangerous situations.
SafeJournalists Network will inform relevant national and international stakeholders about this case. Each attack on journalists is an attack on all citizens’ public interest, democracy, and rights.

Skopje – Belgrade – Podgorica – Pristina – Sarajevo –Zagreb, 12.12.2020.

Association of Journalists of Kosovo

Association of Journalists of Macedonia

BH Journalists Association

Croatian Journalists’ Association

Independent Journalists Association of Serbia

Trade Union of Media of Montenegro

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