Safe Journalist Network Letter of Concern about the Election of the General Director of RTSH (Albanian Radio and Television)

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    Safe Journalists Network in Western Balkans is writing to express our deep concern regarding the recent appointment of Mr. Alfred Peza as the General Director of the public service media – Albanian Radio Television (RTSH).

    Our 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.

    According to the Law on Audiovisual Media No. 97/2013, Article 104, individuals who have held positions as deputies or candidates for deputies in the last two legislatures, or are or have been members of political parties or organizations, are not eligible to hold the position of General Director in public television. Despite not holding a seat as a Member of Parliament in the past two terms, Mr. Peza’s political affiliations and activities nevertheless prompt significant scrutiny regarding his suitability for this role.

    Furthermore, the RTSH Statute Article 10 underlines the necessity of maintaining political neutrality for the role of the General Director, stating that “the General Director should not take instructions from a political grouping or party.” However, considering Mr. Peza’s substantial political background and the extent of his involvement in partisan activities, it becomes difficult to envision how he will maintain the requisite political independence and neutrality.

    This underlines the critical importance of rigorously upholding the provisions of the statute to safeguard the impartiality of the RTSH. We notice with concern that the selection process was also marked by limited competition from other candidates, further raising concerns about the legitimacy of the appointment. The presence of other candidates with connections to Mr. Peza brings into question the fairness and openness of the selection process.

    We strongly urge the Parliamentary Commission for Education and Public Information Means in Albania to meticulously review these concerns. It is paramount to ensure that the principles of impartiality, independence, and professionalism remain cornerstones of the RTSH.

    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. We are looking forward to your prompt action in this matter to protect the integrity of the public broadcasting service and to uphold the principles of free and fair journalism. SAFEJOURNALISTS.NET Each attack on journalists is an attack on the public interest, democracy, and rights of all citizens.

    Signed by:

    BH Journalists Association

    Trade Union of Media of Montenegro

    Croatian Journalists Association

    Association of Journalists of Kosovo

    Association of Journalists of Macedonia

    Independent Journalists Association of Serbia