SafeJournalists Network sent a letter of concern on 28 September 2021 to the European Federation of Journalists, the European Broadcasting Union and Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement regarding the current situation of jeopardizing media freedom in Albania.
First of all, SafeJournalists Network expressed its concern about the delayed election of the Director General of the Public Service Broadcaster in Albania (Radio Televizioni Shqiptar – RTSH) for more than 7 months now.
“We express our concern that there is no substantial justification for the delay in electing a new Director General, whose role is crucial for the performance of the RTSH as the only public service media in Albania. We are also concerned about the proposals from the transitional director of the institution for changing the organizational structure of RTSH which are in contradiction with his mandate as a transitional acting director. This transition period might lead to potential abuse of power and distortion in the functioning of RTSH which could potentially impact overall media freedom in Albania”, it is stated in the letter.
SafeJournalists Network also expressed its concern regarding the establishment a new Agency for Media and Information, that will centralise all governmental public communication, monitor media and which will be led by the government’s spokesperson, whose position will be “at the same level as that of a state minister” and reporting to the Prime Minister Office. It is said in the letter that they are concerned by the practice of centralising communication and closing the doors to journalists, particularly independent, critical and investigative journalists by hindering media freedom in Albania.
They also asked in letters from everyone to react and provide support and assistance as much as they could so Albania could ensure that European standards of freedom of expression and media are upheld.
SafeJournalists Network, that gathers more than 8,200 members in the Western Balkans, composed of journalist associations (BH Journalists Association, Trade Union of Media of Montenegro, Croatian Journalists Association, Association of Journalists of Kosovo, Association of Journalists of Macedonia and Independent Journalists Association of Serbia), including journalists from Albania, act upon violations of journalists’ rights, endangering their safety and limitation of media freedoms.