Opposition MP Ina Zhupa Meets with Dismissed RTSH Journalists

Source/Author: SJ
Source/Photo: SJ

On Friday, opposition MP Ina Zhupa organized a meeting with 28 journalists and operators recently dismissed from Albanian Public Television (RTSH). The attendees claimed that their dismissals were unjust and illegal, accusing RTSH Director Alfred Peza of massive layoffs to replace them with his trusted individuals. Zhupa highlighted that the dismissals, involving long-term and newly appointed staff, are a violation of the law and called for the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecution (SPAK) to investigate the matter. Many of the dismissed employees have filed lawsuits challenging their termination.

Upon his appointment, Alfred Peza dismissed dozens of RTSH employees. The Parliamentary Committee for Education and Means of Public Information had previously summoned Peza for a hearing regarding this situation, which he refused, sending the Chairman of the Governing Board/Council, Leka Bungo, instead. Bungo admitted the problem, stating that 146 employees were dismissed, with 46 terminations deemed unjust by the court. This situation is expected to cause financial losses to the state budget due to potential compensation for the dismissed employees.

The Safe Journalists Network has raised concerns about the alleged unlawful dismissals from the public broadcasters and has sent a letter of concern, but RTSH has not responded. The Network argued that for RTSH to maintain its credibility and the trust of its employees and the public, it is crucial that the General Director clarify the basis of these staffing changes, demonstrating that proper channels and procedures were followed as required by law. Previously the Network has sent an open letter expressing deep concern regarding the recent appointment of Mr. Alfred Peza as the General Director of the public service media – Albanian Radio Television (RTSH). The concerns stem from Mr. Peza’s significant political history, including his tenure as a Member of Parliament for the Socialist Party (in government since 2013) from 2013-2017 and as Secretary of Relations with Civil Society and Media of the Socialist Party until September 2021. In the context of Albania’s media landscape, where the struggle for media freedom is ongoing, the impartiality of the public broadcasting service carries significant weight as in principle it plays a crucial role in strengthening democratic processes.