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Copyright: Albanian Media Institute - Instituti Shqiptar i Medias, 2011
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International and Albanian media freedom organizations strongly criticize the two draft laws on online media.

TrainingSeveral international and local media freedom organizations expressed their concern and harshly criticized the two government-proposed draft laws on online media. Prime Minister Edi Rama has asked his Socialist majority in parliament to pass the "anti-defamation package" on December 18.

The OSCE Media Freedom representative Harlem Desir in a statement warned against the approval of the draft laws and made extensive recommendations for improvement.

The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ/IFJ) backed calls of the Association of Professional Journalists of Albania (APJA) on the Albanian parliament to reject the two draft laws threatening freedom of expression and media freedom in Albania. They urged Albanian parliament to reject the two government-proposed draft laws on online media. If adopted, amendments to the Law on Audiovisual Media and the Law on Electronic Communications would grant government bodies, the Albanian Media Authority (AMA) and Albanian Communication and Postal Authorities (AKEP), the power to instantly block media websites and impose excessive fines for any violations of dignity and privacy. It would also introduce mandatory registration requirements for online media. A statement was also issued by Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana asking EU and the Italian Government to intervene.

A group of the world's leading media freedom organizations : the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists, International Press Institute, and Reporters Without Borders in their statement called for the government to "drop their dogged pursuance of these draft laws and restart the process". The organisations note that the "proposals are not in line with best practices on self-regulation and would have an adverse impact on freedom of expression in Albania". This, they added comes at a time when the country is due to take the Presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in January 2020 and that the adoption of these laws would be "problematic" at this time.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, published a statement urging the Parliament of Albania to review the current drafts on online media and bring them in line with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and Council of Europe standards. "These laws are in need of urgent improvement. Several provisions are indeed not compatible with international and European human rights standards which protect freedom of expression and freedom of the media", says Mrs. Mijatovic. The discretionary powers given to regulatory bodies, the possibility to impose excessive fines and to block media websites without a court order, as well as the introduction of state regulation of online media, may deal a strong blow to freedom of expression and media freedom in the country. It is of the utmost importance to ensure that the Internet remains an open and public forum and that self-regulation by the media, including online media, prevails.

Civil society organizations from Albania and other countries called upon the government of Albania to withdraw the two draft laws proposed to Parliament. A statement of 35 human rights groups from different countries supported 15 Albanian local media freedom organizations who have criticised the draft laws. The signatory organizations note that the two draft laws of the anti-defamation package provide the Albanian Media Authority and Albanian Communication and Postal Authority with quasi-judicial competences to sanction media outlets, while these bodies, although independent by definition in the law, provide no functional guarantees to operate independently in practice, as should the courts. They mention that Albania has sufficiently laws already to regulate cases in which media violate the rights of others and in this context there are precedents decided on in Albanian courts.

List of signatories:

Civic Solidarity Platform members:

1. Netherlands Helsinki Committee
2. Norwegian Helsinki Committee
3. Macedonian Helsinki Committee
4. Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
5. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland)
6. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
7. Helsinki Citizens' Assembly ─ Vanadzor
8. Helsinki Committee of Armenia
9. Helsinki Association Armenia
10. Human Rights Centre ZMINA
11. The Human Rights Movement: Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan
12. Human Rights Matter (Berlin)
13. Humanrights.ch
14. Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan
15. Human Rights Monitoring Institute
16. Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement (UMDPL)
17. Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights
18. Centre de la protection internationale (France)
19. Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)
20. Citizens' Watch
21. Crude Accountability
22. The Swedish OSCE-network
23. DRA ─ For a European Civil Society (Berlin)
24. Public Association "Dignity"
25. Public Verdict Foundation
26. Public Foundation Golos Svobody Kyrgyzstan
27. Promo LEX
28. Reporters' Freedom and Safety
29. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
30. Office of Civil Freedoms (Tajikistan)
31. Truth Hounds
32. Institute for Reporter's Freedom and Safety
33. Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF)
34. ZARA ─ Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassimus-Arbeit (Civil Courage and Anti-Racism Work)

35. Greek Helsinki Monitor

NGOs in Albania:

1. BIRN Albania
2. Civil Rights Defenders
3. Citizens Channel
4. Faktoje
5. Instituti Shqiptar i Medias
6. Instituti Shqiptar i Shkencave
7. Këshilli Shqiptar i Medias
8. Komiteti Shqiptar i Helsinkit
9. Lidhja e Gazetarëve të Shqipërisë
10. Qendra Res Publica
11. Qendra Shqiptare MediaLook
12. Qendra Shqiptare për Gazetari Cilësore
13. Shoqata e Gazetarëve Profesionistë të Shqipërisë
14. Unioni i Gazetarëve Shqiptarë