SafeJournalists Network sent a letter to Mr Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Ms Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and Ms Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Right calling upon them to exercise the influence of their authority and resolutely demand of the Albanian government to prevent use of excessive force by Police against journalist and media professionals and to secure maximum safety of journalists who report from protests and risk own health and safety to provide citizens with objective information.
The Network’s letter states that journalists’ associations of the Western Balkan region warn about recorded use of excessive force against journalists, arbitrary detentions and violation of their human rights. The regional network of journalists’ organisations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia expressed their concern that, considering that protests are likely to continue, the police force members will not hesitate to attack journalists and other media professionals again.
In its letter SafeJournalists Network stated that it only requests for the law to be respected and journalists to be allowed to do their work without hindrance:
“The right of journalists to report in public interest without fear of being threatened, physically
attacked, detained, blackmailed, their equipment seized, and material deleted by the police, or
members of the public are safeguarded by different national and international legislations. Albania is also a signatory of different conventions such are the European Convention on Human Rights, Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and others”.
It warned that over the period of four days, four incidents were reported, all by the members of the police force:
- On December, 11, the police detained Xhoi Malësia, a journalist and news anchor at Ora News RTV, while filming the protests.
- On December 11, Qamil Xhani, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Koha Jone, was also detained while on duty.
- On 12 December two incidents against journalists by the police force members in the town of Durres were reported:
- Durrës Lajm editor Shefqet Duka was stopped by the police as he left media premises near the Liria Square where the protests were taking place.
- Aldo Mustafa, local journalist of Syri.net TV in the city of Durrës was on duty reporting live from the protest when he was attacked by the police officer and was not allowed to film and report the detention of protestors by the police.
The letter by Association of Journalists of Kosovo, Association of Journalists of Macedonia
BH Journalists Association, Croatian Journalists’ Association, Independent Journalists Association of Serbia and Trade Union of Media of Montenegro ends with a reminder that that “each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and rights of all citizens”.
To find out more about SafeJournalists Network visit www.safejournalists.net.