The Albanian Helsinki Committee, the Pro LGBT Association and Civil Rights Defenders call for respect for freedom of the press and an end to censorship and self-censorship.
During these 26 years of democracy and pluralism in our country, the press has made valuable contribution to encouraging public debate for the interest of the public. However, professional journalists are faced with serious problems in the process of carrying out their mission and these problems keep them from carrying out their duty with dignity. In this regard, it is disturbing that there are still journalists who work in informality, whose salary is not paid regularly or who do not receive social and health insurance. Therefore, they should be guaranteed protection and support in order to improve their working conditions.
A report published by BIRN Albania highlighted the ties of media with politics and business. For as long as pressure on the media continues, there will be no freedom of speech in Albania.
With regard to the government, as has been stated several times by the Strasbourg Court as well, the permissible boundaries of criticism should be broader. In a democratic system, teh action or inaction of a government should be the object of rigorous critique by the print and broadcast media. However, that requires the press to be independent, uninfluenced by politics, business and the biased and client-based stances and influences. Freedom of the press provides the society one of the best ways for the development and formation of the positions and opinions of their leaders. Politicians should be more tolerant toward criticism directed at them by the daily press.
The broad public demands more information and more enhanced analysis from the press, especially on issues affecting public interest, economic and social problems as well as their freedoms and rights. We notice that news about political developments in the country take up considerable space, while little attention is devoted to problems of and discrimination toward society’s vulnerable groups, such as Roma, Egyptians, LGBTI persons, women, children, persons with disabilities and the poor.
The free press should be characterized by the truth, journalistic ethics, and non-violation of the person’s integrity and privacy. Albania needs the media’s investigative role and quality to be increased.
According to the media freedom index for 2016, Reporters without Borders stated that Albania did not see progress and ranks at the same spot as the previous year, precisely 82nd among the 180 countries that have been analyzed worldwide. Such data require reflection and attention by regulatory authorities in the field of media, journalists, representatives of non-profit organizations that protect the rights and freedoms of citizens, and civil society in general.
We believe that the media is an important factor in the fight for justice and against poverty and for giving a voice to the society’s most vulnerable groups. Guaranteeing media freedom also helps the public debate and increases the responsibility of elected representatives and other officials who should serve citizens. In this regard, more work is required both from newsrooms and from journalists in order to attain the standards of a democratic society where citizens’ rights and freedoms are respected and guaranteed. /m.g