37 Organizations from all over Democratic World on Albanian Government: Withdraw Anti-Defamation Package

There are 37 organizations from around the world, 35 of which are part of the Solidarity Platform, which have joined the statement of Albanian media organizations and the Albanian Helsinki Committee, calling on the Albanian government to withdraw the anti-defamation draft law package proposed to the Assembly and in case of non-withdrawal, they call on the Assembly to immediately dismiss it. 

In the statement published by the Albanian Helsinki Committee, it is stressed that part of the signatory organizations are 10 Helsinki Committees with a high reputation and prominent activities for the protection of human rights and freedoms, both nationally and internationally and having their offices in the Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Poland, Greece, etc.


Civil society organizations from Albania and other countries call upon the government of Albania to withdraw the two draft laws proposed to Parliament and showcased in public as the "Anti-Defamation Package". We also call upon the Parliament of Albania to, in case the government does not withdraw the bills, dismiss them without delay. Earlier this month, at the 26th Ministerial Council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Albania assumed the 2020 Chairmanship of the OSCE. Albania, inspired by a sense of responsibility and driven by the determination to contribute to the security and stability of our continent and to the prosperity of our people, will be looked at to lead other participating states in implementing OSCE commitments, including on freedom of the media. Adopting the newly proposed legislation would go contrary to the role of Albania as a Chairing state. The importance of freedom of expression in a democratic society is reflected by the ample protection given to it in international law, both at global and in regional level, including in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. 

The signatory organizations note that the two draft laws of the anti-defamation package provide the Albanian Media Authority and Albanian Communication and Postal Authority with quasi-judicial competences to sanction media outlets, while these bodies, although independent by definition in the law, provide no functional guarantees to operate independently in practice, as should the courts. 
Albania has sufficient laws already to regulate cases in which media violate the rights of others and in this context, there are precedents decided on in Albanian courts. 

We underline that self-regulation rather than legal regulation of the media is important, in particular in countries in transition to democracy, as is Albania, where often media is connected with known interests of the businesses or political parties. Self-regulation entails a combination of standards laid down in ethical codes of conduct for the media, which are necessary to support freedom of expression, and of procedures to allow this conduct to be monitored and to hold media accountable. Self-regulation preserves the independence of the media and protects it from the partisan interventions of the government. 

The signatories call upon international bodies, including the OSCE, the EU and the Council of Europe, whose presence in Albania contributes to the rule of law and human rights, to take a clear and public stance on these two draft laws, disapproving them as initiatives that violate freedom of expression. 

37 Organizations from all over Democratic World on Albanian Government: Withdraw Anti-Defamation Package 37 Organizations from all over Democratic World on Albanian Government: Withdraw Anti-Defamation Package Monday, December 16, 2019 Rating: 5
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