State Department: the pressure and lack of money hinder free media in Albania

State Department: the pressure and lack of money hinder free media in Albania

 On Wednesday, the US Department of State published a report on human rights in the world. A number of issues are addressed in the section on Albania. Here are some of them:

The impunity remains a problem. The criminal prosecution and especially the punishment of officials who have committed abuses was sporadic and inconsistent. Officials, politicians, judges, and people with strong business interests were often able to avoid from being punished. As a resuld, the authorities have undertaken an internationally monitored vetting of judges and prosecutors and have disqualified a considerable number of officials for unexplained wealth or links to organized crime.

The corruption continued to be a serious problem in detention centers.

Although the government has mechanisms to investigate and condemn the abuse and corruption, the corruption in the police ranks is a problem.

Freedom of the press and the media

The independent media was active and expressed a variety of views, albeit there were attempts to exert direct and indirect political and economic pressure on the media, including threats and violence against journalists who tried to investigate crime and corruption. Business owners have freely used their media to benefit favors and promote their interests to political parties. Most private television owners used their broadcasts to influence government actions against other businesses.

Political pressure, corruption and lack of funds limited the independent press media. The journalists are believed to practice self-censorship. Economic uncertainty due to the absence of mandatory employment contracts reduced the independence of journalists and contributed to the bias of reporting. The Albanian Journalists Union continued to report major delays in salary payments for journalists in most media outlets, in some cases up to 10 months. Financial problems have led some journalists to rely more on external sources of income by raising questions of integrity.

NGOs claimed that the professional ethics was a low priority for some of the portals, estimated to amount to around 700, raising concerns about spreading false news to the benefit of particular financial or political interests. The dramatic growth of online media brought a variety of views.

The economic crisis and management practices in the Albanian media have reduced the finances and the quality of reporting in the media.

There have been numerous reports of violence and threats against media members, while political and business interests pressured journalists.

On August 30, an unknown person shot 10 times at the home of the crime reporter Klodiana Lala's parents. Mrs. Lala often reports on organized crime and law enforcement issues, including judicial reform.

In September, the chairman of the Union of Albanian Journalists stated that 12 journalists had applied for asylum in EU member states, citing threats due to their workplaces.

The Censorship:

Journalists often practice self-censorship to avoid violence and harassment and in response to pressure from publishers and editors seeking to advance their political and economic interests.

The authority for electronic and postal communications stated on October 15 that 44 media portals had 72 hours to receive a tax ID number and publish it on their websites or otherwise the Government would shut them down. The list included some research news pages, including BIRN. While by the end of the year, the Government did not closed the portals that had not received the tax identification number.
State Department: the pressure and lack of money hinder free media in Albania State Department: the pressure and lack of money hinder free media in Albania Thursday, March 14, 2019 Rating: 5
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